It Watches opens to a car driving down the winding road, followed by two motorcycles. The bright daylight and smooth music feels different from other Dave Parker films, however his name is all over the credits with him writing, directing and editing the movie so I have great confidence and indeed, inside the car we got a couple of guys talking about working on a reality TV show. Characters in the entertainment industry doing scary stuff is a staple of Parker’s work and I feel like I’m back on familiar territory.
Arriving at the house where he is spending a getaway weekend, our main character, his arm in a sling, is struck by an eerie bout of déjà vu. We explore the house with its featureless walls and Gothic chandelier and he begins to video diary so as to let us know what exactly is going on here. Indeed, the entire film will be a mixture of found footage and traditionally shot – not necessarily leaning to heavily one way or the other.
Occasionally we get glimpses of cameras hidden in the corners, but it’s not until 18 minutes in that we really see someone is watching him through those cameras. They note the arrival of a woman to the house.
The peril and paranoia start up shortly after that my neighbor drops by and the girlfriend vanishes. The film really begins to gain speed just before its halfway mark turning into a frantic paranoid descent laced with off-kilter camera angles and occasional jump scares. This movie demands your attention. Frequently the creepiest elements happen in the background, and you’ll miss it if you’re not paying attention. This is not a film to put on for background noise or to watch while you do something else. With this movie, Parker shows s real interest in the subtle and in a more holistic approach to storytelling where things not front and Center are just as important as everything the camera is focused on.
If I have any complaints it’s that the twist at the end feels a little sudden and clumsy, but nevertheless it’s evidence of growth as a filmmaker. This is a maturation of artistry, and attempt to build suspense and create scarce without throwing gallons of blood on the screen. It’s a departure, but it’s a good one and I’m glad to see Parker showthese kind of chops – even though I kind of miss the monsters and blood.
I genuinely want to see more from this director, and I hope everybody reading this will run out and support his current projects as well as any upcoming ones because this is definitely one of those kind of directors horror really deserves
One of the things that I ‘m always struck by in Parker’s work is how he evolves and grows as a filmmaker. The Hills Run Red is the kind of film I almost expect him to make when not bound by the house style of Full Moon. There’s horror and thriller mixed together in this, with a grittier take than the sort of thing we’d seen before with him.
The Hills Run Red is the story of a young filmmaker trying to research and document the making and existence of a notorious cult film by the same name. To this end he tracks down the director’s daughter who is the only surviving cast member (shades of Manos!) and together with his small crew, they make the pilgrimage to where the movie was born.
There’s still buckets of blood and a masked killer in this film, but it’s far more layered than The Dead Hate the Living. It’s not as straightforward a story, and it’s not really until you get to the end that you realize just how much misdirection there’s been here.
Mixing obsession, degradation while it twists the heroe’s journey archtype, the Hills Run Red may just be Parker’s best work.
While the he’s not in charge of this entire film, Dave Parker does get featured prominently in this seasonal anthology. While Tales of Halloween is actually full of good stuff, we’re really just going to focus on Parker’s contribution ; Sweet Tooth, which kicks off the film as the first story.
It’s the hours after Trick or Treating and our main character had dumped his candy out on the floor, in front of his babysitter. Just the fact that the kids dressed as Snake Pliskin while watching Night of the Living Dead it’s a pretty amazing start. It’s an immediate sign to the audience that the director is one of us and loves film – a constant in most of Parker’s work. I also love the urban legend hook, with the babysitter’s boyfriend spinning a terrifying yarn about the kid who would become the legendary “Sweet Tooth”. It almost feels like Willy Wonka gone horribly wrong.
It’s a tough thing to start off and anthology but Parker goes straight for the gore in crafting the Legend of sweet tooth. Parker uses interesting concepts, a familiar light palette and a brilliant looking monster to create a gory, fun short here that is as effective as any feature
A lot of Dave Parker’s early work is in documentaries or clip shows. Masters of Horror is one of those standards, a special with documentary like interviews strung together with movie clips and occasional host narration by Bruce Campbell. It’s pretty standard Halloween fare for the SyFy channel so why are we looking at it?
Masters of Horror solidify’s Parker’s love of film and of genre. It’s present in a lot of his work, s it makes absolute sense to do these kind of features on the very subject his passions are rooted in. You can see this in the way he approaches the interviews, first pulling out the standard stories everyone’s heard at every horror convention. But then delving just a touch deeper, grabbing something fresher, not as well known.
Wes Craven is a great example, first giving the traditional story about how Freddy Kruger was based on a childhood memory of a tramp on the street staring hu at him through the window. But then they move on to a story from Serpent and the Rainbow (Possibly Craven’s finest work actually, and a highly underrated film) where one of the cameramen mentioned to a voodoo priest that he’d like to be indoctrinated into Voodoo.
“Oh you will be,” the priest replied.
Within days the cameraman was a changed person and Craven reflected that on the day before shooting, the guy knocked on his door to quit and head back to the states. As Craven tells the story, Parker juxtaposes his narrative with unrelated scenes from Serpent and the Rainbow, matching it up perfectly, to the point that when Craven talks about him pounding on the door, we have a shot of Bill Pullman doing just that….before the camera rotates and reveals he’s in a coffin.
This video of full of flair like that, and a great illustration of Parker’s film chops, both as an editor and as someone convincing the presentation. It’s a good indicator of where he will go on later in his feature work.
I saw the box for The Dead Hate the Living on the shelf at record exchange. The gruesome monster on the cover combined with the trusty Full Moon logo left me feeling pretty good about snatching it up. Truth is, it has become of my favorite Full Moon films.
The plot is straightforward. An aspiring horror film director sneaks his crew and himself into an abandoned hospital to make his dream movie. When exploring the basement, they discover a dead body and do what any sane, rational person making a movie in an illegal location would do… They decide to use the body in the movie. While fiddling with the equipment, they accidentally resurrect the corpse, a mad scientist who summons two more undead friends and the trio set about our helpless filmmakers, intent on murdering them all and converting them into zombies.
The Dead Hate the Living is one of those films that’s actually grown better as it ages with me. When I first bought this, I liked horror movies but I wasn’t as knowledgeable – and this film is packed full of references, some more obscure than others. They’re not ham-fisted homages like “Dr Craven” or “Police Officer Romero” showing up. It’s more stuff like the main character running from zombies and asking “What would Bruce Campbell do? “. The references are fun in the context, jokes made at the characters expense rather than a wink and a nudge to the audience.
You can tell that Parker really loves the genre as well, it’s evident in every frame of the film – the hurdles and difficulties of making a horror movie and being in one comes off nicely, the perils of filmmaking and the expertise behind make up effects… It all pulls from real life experience.
Most of all, this has the fun that Full Moon Features are known for. It has the manic, almost comic book feel to it, complete with an ending that homages The Beyond (an ending I didn’t care for actually until I was older and understood what it was the referencing).
Fun characters, well done gore, and great looking monsters, and of course, a good behind-the-scenes featurette that really makes you love Parker all the more. It’s a great first feature.
It actually really bothers me that it would be another nine years before he’d get his next turn in the directors chair.
Back in the day, one of the things that drew me to Full Moon features was their bonus features. every movie had a “Video Zone” featurette on the making of the movie. This was back before the was such a thing as DVD extras – in fact, it was back before there was such a thing as DVDs!
Dave Parker got his start making a lot of these short making-of documentaries. Eventually he’d graduate to doing his first feature with Full Moon, though he’d keep working on special features for films like X3 and Superman Returns. Chances are, you’ve seen his work and never even knew it.
In addition to he proficient behind the scenes work, Parker is a talented feature director. His work sometimes gets confused because while he’s done three features proper, he’s also got credits in things like “The Dead Reborn” (Which uses footage culled from his first film, but isn’t as a whole, his actual movie) or “Bimbo Movie Bash” which is just a clip show compilation. We’re going to ignore stuff like that and his “Masters of Horror” TV doc and really focus on his feature work and the stuff that reflects his most creative work. There’s only a few of these, but he’s one of these guys I really wish more people knew about!