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By Lilith Von Horror December 8, 2016
One of the most striking aspects of this movie is its wonderful ability to top each shocking moment with imagination and a true sense of never knowing when it can go too far. Nothing seems to be off the menu in Dreaming Purple Neon, a horror film that goes over the top and does so with no apologies or regard for good taste. And that is a good thing.
Director Todd Sheets, known for being a pioneer of microbudget gore movies has crafted a sort of low budget epic here, a wildly entertaining demon movie cramming a handful of incredible effects scenes with thought-provoking themes and some actual interesting political views poking through all the bodily fluids. At the heart of the film is a pretty strong story about a guy, Dallas, returning home to make amends with his ex girlfriend Denise, played by genre vet Eli Degeer. But the town is not the same as he left it. Seems an evil cult has taken control of everything through the spreading of a demonic drug known as PURPLE NEON. The cult is led by Cyrus, played with marvelous menace by newcomer Jack McCord. He makes a deliciously evil bad guy, only topped by another fresh face, Ricky Farr as Tyrone Kane. Ricky, along with Sheets’ mainstay Antwoine Steele as his side man Ray Ray, truly have the best bad guy scenes in the movie, with their banter back and forth coming straight out of the glorious action movies of the 70s.
The breakout performance for me was Millie Milan as Cat. Her character seemed to be the reason the two storylines meet in the middle and all hell breaks loose. Millie makes Cat a likeable character despite her flaws and we really feel for her as the story progresses and she pays for her mistakes. And so do all her friends, including Dallas and Denise. Another great character is the Dentist, played by Nick Randol. I enjoyed watching him go from mild mannered nice guy to demon ass kicking hero.
It’s a horror exploitation film deep in it’s twisted soul and it certainly delivers. For every instance of naked flesh, blood and gore, there's an insightful sequence that propels the story and makes you give a damn about the characters involved, some scenes explore the nature of humankind and our nasty addictions, and the depiction of sex as an evil tool that leads to further corruption of the body. And there is an abundance of nudity here. Both men and women. Full and in your face with no regard for political correctness. I truly applaud the actors and actresses who had the guts to do these scenes. Some of them are truly shocking in a modern horror film. And the scenes do not feel gratuitous. It actually MAKES SENSE why they are naked, not like many horror films that just throw in nudity because they lack talent to do anything else. Not the case here. Director Todd Sheets shows true skill at making these scenes matter and doing so with a assured hand and some real style.
But this movie isn’t really here to deliver a character study or deep, thoughtful moments between damaged people. It’s about horror, splatter, gore and having fun at all costs. And with Dreaming Purple Neon, Todd Sheets delivers as much as his no doubt meager budget will allow. There is blood, gore, splatter, goop, slime and more blood. I have to give a special moment to the special effects team for all of this wonderful, old school effects work. It is all practical. And truly most of the film never uses CGI. There are some computer generated effects, but they are perfectly integrated at the end of the film, and considering the budget, they are very impressive. Without giving away spoilers, I will just say that the effects succeed in bringing Hell on Earth.
And Dreaming Purple Neon is a great looking movie. The visual approach points towards Suspiria, Alucarda, The Devil’s Rain and other 70s demonic movies while also adding original artistic touches. The use of color is smart, not overdone, and emphasizes mood and atmosphere in important areas of the movie. The camerawork and composition show a great eye for detail that is both pleasing and busy enough to keep your attention visually. The location work, and the huge complex sets are lush by comparison with many other microbudget horrors, and Sheets makes sure to utilize them to their fullest potential. In many ways, these locations become almost as important as any of the characters in the film. In addition, even though it is an homage to 70s and 80s horror and drive in movies, The film shows some shocking originality throughout it’s running time. Clocking in at 1 hour and 49 minutes, it never feels slow or padded. Every minute of the running time seems needed to tell the epic story.
The final thing I want to mention is how much fun this movie was. It was actually a really good time! The pacing was perfect, really creating a rhythm that works. The editing is sharp, the composition is tight and the effects are perfectly splattery. This is one of my favorite movies of 2016 and I am ready to watch it again, this time with a room full of friends, a few beers and pizza. No better movie to watch with a group of horror fans! Part homage to classics of a bygone time and part modern horror with no rules, Dreaming Purple Neon certainly lived up to my expectations and actually shocked me a few times as well.
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