Strippers that eat human flesh. Judge David Johnson wrote his senior thesis on that very subject.
The final battle for the soul of mankind will be fought in a bar full of possessed strippers.
Yes, the movie lives up to the awesomeness of that tagline.
Facts of the Case
When Quinn (Devon Sawa) pulls into the parking lot of the scummy-looking "Devil's Den" strip club, he expects the worst. But his hormones quickly secrete when he takes a gander at the beautiful ladies gyrating on stage. Thrilled to be surrounded by naked exotic beauties—and currently owning a hoard of Spanish Fly—Quinn is prepared for the night of his life. Unfortunately, what first had the makings to be a bout of legendary debauchery suddenly becomes blood-soaked terror-romp. The women are actually flesh-eating ghouls that feast on the patrons of the bar and the bloodbath commences almost immediately.
Quinn joins forces with a mysterious government assassin (Kelly Hu, X2: X-Men United), a clueless blonde named Candy (Karen Maxwell) and the bad-ass demon-slaying samurai (Ken Foree). Together, this random quartet will stand against the horde of shapely monsters and much blood will be shed.
Yes. This is what I'm talking about. Devil's Den is a very funny, very bloody horror-comedy, and exactly the kind of entertaining film that validates the direct-to-DVD distribution market. It shows that creative, witty people are actually working in the realm of low-budget horror, a genre that at times seems to be dominated by so many hacks. Look, Devil's Den isn't perfect and its aping of that other strippers-turning-into-bloodthirsty-demonic-freaks film is glaringly derivative, but it absolutely succeeds at what it intends to do: entertain the junior high schooler that still lurks within us all.
This is a funny film, and not in that inadvertent sucky way; the writing is fast and sharp, the acting is well-tuned to the goofball characterization and, most importantly, the film doesn't take itself seriously. That last one is a fatal flaw that deep sixes so may Z-grade gore films, and I've endured so many of these humorless confections Amnesty International may be bringing a lawsuit against DVD Verdict on my behalf. Devil's Den is a movie about ghoulish strippers getting hacked apart by a stoner loser, a big black samurai dude and Kelly Hu; the filmmakers recognize the inherent inanity of the gimmick and craft a suitable movie around it.
The axis on which Devil's Den turns is Devon Sawa, who is no stranger to horror-comedies (he made his bones in Idle Hands). The guy puts together a great comic performance as the hapless protagonist and elevates a character that could have easily been unbearable and grating to the film's most entertaining aspect. And there's some stiff competition, what with all the decapitations and topless strippers chewing on severed arms. But Sawa is the man and injects an already-funny script with perfect delivery. The other three actors hold their own, with special mention to Ken Foree who chews on some sharp lines himself and Karen Maxwell and her hilarious idiot blonde caricature. Kelly Hu, while gorgeous and a noteworthy physical presence, can't seem to escape from the clichéd smart-mouth femme fatale that you've seen in trillions of other movies.
So, is Devil's Den more comedy than horror or more horror than comedy? I think it's the former. The laughs are consistent and there aren't any scares to speak of. Blood and gore? Sure! Lots of it. Ghouls getting beheaded, blood spurting from mangled corpses, prosthetic limbs being chomped on, it's all there. But the horror violence is extremely cartoonish, and more in line with Peter Jackson's gore-drenched works. No, making you laugh is the prime motivation with this film and it delivers. My favorite scene: a completely random skit involving Zatoichi and how he would handle the demon strippers.
Thankfully, a dope flick is rewarded with a spiffy DVD. The film looks (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) and sounds (Dolby Digital 5.1) very good. Extras include a decent making-of documentary, a lively audio commentary by the filmmakers, a blooper reel, still gallery and the screenplay on DVD-ROM.
Sometimes, when you navigate a sea of pointless drivel, you happen upon an oasis. Okay, I murdered that metaphor, but all I wanted to say was that Devil's Den is a great, funny, gory movie. Definitely check it out for some late-night fun.
Not ghoul-ty. Ka-pow!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Starz Home Entertainment
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