Directed by Jeff Burr
Monday, March 16, 2009
The first thing that must be said, what with this being a supernatural horror movie blog, is that Straight into Darkness is first and foremost a war movie that also includes horror and supernatural overtones. Honestly, I vacillated for months on this movie, bouncing between wanting and not wanting to see it. I finally acquired Straight into Darkness when I saw in a sale bin at the Brentwood, TN Blockbuster Video – one of my greatest sources for $3.50 horror DVDs – which made the decision an easy one. I bought it for $3.50, the effective equivalent of buying it from Amazon.com for fifty cents. (As I write, it sells for about $2 – big savings achieved!)
Reviews of Straight into Darkness are mixed. The movie does not seem to be very well-understood – a common complaint of those proffering bad reviews. It appears the more thoughtful reviewers liked it more consistently than those who did not sound as intelligent, so it could, in a sense, be considered a brainy affair.
Won’t you join me in despising the fellow with the bright, bleached-white teeth? I feel certain you will, especially during the first third of the movie.
DVD Cover – Straight into Darkness
A Film by Jeff Burr
When two young American GIs desert their platoon in the final days of World War II, they will find themselves struggling against all odds to stay alive. Their strange and violent journey will bring them together with a band of orphans who are expertly trained killing machines in an attempt to defeat a Nazi battalion. With the perfect combination of horror and action, Straight Into Darkness is a haunting and powerful war film that is unforgettable.
Review quotes on the DVD cover:
- Strikingly original and eerily compelling (LA Times)
- A sleeper hit. . .a gritty, hard-hitting war tale with disturbing supernatural overtones. (San Francisco Chronicle)
- A horrifying descent into violence and madness. . .with hair-raising action scenes. (E-filmcritic.com)
My Thoughts on Straight into Darkness
Were one to blend a high-quality war movie and Children of the Corn with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Straight into Darkness might be the result.
This tale of two AWOL Yank soldiers running for their lives in Nazi-occupied France is by turns exciting and creepy. Two Allied prisoners — Privates Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) — are under arrest after being caught in AWOL status, but manage to escape the MPs escorting them when their jeep is blown up by a mine. Thus begins a sick and twisted journey into hell.
Deming is quickly revealed as a bloodthirsty creep/jackass and Losey as a thoughtful man of conscience: on the run, Deming has the only gun, forcing Losey to do his will. Losey has memory bursts of home life, as well as what appear to be psychic viewings of past events – all of which erupt on the screen in high-saturation color, in contrast to the desaturated look of much of the film.
As Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) battle each other’s problems, they come across various disturbances in the balance of humanity, such as the cannibal priest and an eerie section of the forest where dozens of men apparently hung themselves, dangling like meatbag (thanks, Bender) ornaments.
The climax of Straight into Darkness begins when they come across a seemingly abandoned building — a bizarre fortress of amputees and freaks, orphans led by Deacon (veteran David Warner) who have been trained to protect themselves from the war-torn outside world.
This surreal and twisted film could be thought of as half art-house and half exploitation (because of the children, a la those of the Corn) with a healthy dose of the supernatural, which puts the war film on some horror movie lists. Some have compared it to Tod Browning’s Freaks. After two decades of toiling in the slasher film sequel factory, Jeff Burr has finally been able to express his dark, ingenious vision – a definite and significant step up for Burr from the mediocre hacker seconds and thirds like Puppetmaster 4 and 5, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Pumpkinhead 2, and so the list goes. Are we sure this is the same Jeff Burr? Great job.
Movie Reviews – Straight into Darkness
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Straight into Darkness (50 critic/50 user)
Dread Central Reviews Straight into Darkness (2.5 of 5)
Variety Reviews Straight into Darkness
Movie Shark Deblore Reviews Straight into Darkness (excellent)
Leonid Mamchenkov Reviews Straight into Darkness
References and Resources
Amazon.com – Straight into Darkness
IMDB – Straight into Darkness (52)
Running time: 95 min.
Language: English, German dialogue
There are no subtitles on my DVD, which stinks. I turn on the subtitles even for movies in English — it’s a habit that helps me catch more of what’s going on.
Camera (FotoKem color), Viorel Sergovici; editor, Lawrence Maddox; music, Michael Convertino; production designer, Calin Papura; art director, Adrian Cancer; costume designers, Tora Dragomir, Gabriela Ricsan; sound, Viorel Ghiocel; stunt coordinator, Bogdan Uritescu; assistant director, Lewis Cojocar; second unit director, Will Huston; second unit camera, Radu Aldea; casting, Perry Bullington, Robert MacDonald. Reviewed at the Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles, May 20, 2004.