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THE DARK SIDE CRITIC reviews great horror films that YOU may NEVER get to see! PART ONE…

Posted on January 20th, 2009
Posted on January 20th, 2009

ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006) ****

No, you’re not reading the date wrong. Director Jonathan Levine made this movie a few years ago but it never saw U.S. distribution. It seems the always fickle Weinsteins had a knee-jerk response to the box office failure of “Grindhouse” and decided to cancel the release of “Mandy Lane.” It’s changed ownership a couple of times, but still hasn’t seen so much as a DVD release. I suppose whomever is in charge of the property still has hopes of a theatrical release, but as time passes, the window for that possibility closes fast. It’s a shame because as slasher/horror films go, this one pretty damned original.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard), a high school nobody, returns from her summer break a complete knockout. All the guys begin to notice her and her demure response to their advances only increases their interest. After a tragic accident claims the life of one of her admirers, she abandons her old life and friends to hang with the “in” crowd. She runs off with her new buddies to a ranch out in the sticks for a weekend of booze, drugs and sex. The problem is Mandy doesn’t do booze, sex or drugs and her new friends see her as a corruptible challenge. As the party gets out of hand, her friends start dying one by one.

It sounds like a typical slasher film, but the style gives it a retro/indie feel. It’s shot to appear like a film from the 70’s, with washed-out colors and experimental editing. It has zero “jump scares” typically associated with slasher films and instead goes for a slow burn of mood and tension at a deliberate pace. “Mandy Lane” suddenly changes pace in the third act, progressing with the harrowing momentum of the “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” It reveals twists and motivations that explain why Amber Heard has gotten so much attention for her performance as Mandy Lane. If you think you know what’s going to happen, guess again.

I can see why the bigwigs are nervous about a theatrical release for this one. It’s different and fresh which makes it a risk in the eyes of the giant Hollywood machine. “Mandy Lane” is the antithesis of megablockbuster slasher films, like the “My Bloody Valentine” and “Friday the 13th” remakes. Exactly the reason why I’d like to see it released so it can at least get a cult following. Alas, I’m afraid you’ll eventually see this one end up on a DVD shelf with no fair warning. If you come across it in the future, give it a chance.

Tell Mandy Lane “The Dark Side” sent ya.

Check out the excellent trailer for the film below. The date at the end of the trailer announces the UK February release of last year...


(cracks a beer open) Expand my brain, learning juice!

-The Dark Side Critic

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Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

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