Over the years, Full Moon has been a distrubutor for various other small production companies such as Tempe Entertainment. One such small endeavors was Three A.M. films which put out all of two movies. Today we’ll cover the one that looks less bad.
When I compiled this list of 31 movies off of Full Moon Streaming’s website I grabbed all the “marquee” films, all the ones by directors I liked or featuring actors I like or adapting stories I like, but I also threw in a few wildcards. I had no expectation for any of these movies but their trailers made them look decent so I’d give them a shot. Vengeance is from 2001, historically not a great period for Full Moon releases or indie horror in general, yet here I found a diamond in the rough.
Our story follows Eric (Michael Galvin) a young man (or teenager, his age is difficult to pinpoint) who has come to visit his grandfather (Mark Vollmers) in the small town of Harvest. Eric begins having dreams of a little girl named Julia and her mother being killed by men in masks, soon an adult Julia begins visiting him in his dreams and trying to convince him to kill himself so that they can be together and he begins sleepwalking, burning a number of old men to death.
There’s nothing special about the plot to Vengeance, it’s not a bad one but it’s pretty cliche as this sort of movie goes. What sets this movie apart from various other ghosts-out-for-revenge movies is the way it’s directed. This movie is dripping with atmosphere, it’s haunting and ethereal, not scary per se but certainly unsettling in a way that’s hard to understand or explain. The camerawork is amazing for something this low-budget, using a variety of film stocks and techniques, at times with a 70s exploitation vibe, others hearkening to early Sam Raimi. There’s a certain early Fall feeling to the movie, amplified by the rural setting, dynamic camerawork and some (mostly) great music choices. Night of the Living Dead and Flesheater both had this feeling for me.
What works best for Vengeance of the Dead, something that most Full Moon movies lack, is a sense of reality. Obviously the happenings in this movie are pure gothic fantasy, but the characters interact in a way that feels genuine and talk like actual people, even though the acting isn’t the greatest. The movie doesn’t go out of its way to spell things out for you, there’s no long expository speeches, we get the little information we need and the film shows us the rest though it’s fairly easy to put the puzzle together once a couple pieces fall into place. Even the love story at the heart of the film works and I was left taken aback by how affecting this little movie made for seemingly almost nothing worked.
This is a cheap cheap cheap movie with most of the baggage that that kind of thing entails, but it was obviously a carefully crafted labor of love for the people behind it. It is slow and it has the contractually obligated Full Moon T&A scene attached in the middle for no good reason, but beneath this bargain-bin veneer lies an understated spooky masterpiece.
Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Depends on your tolerance for slow-burn atmospheric ghost stories, but I’m gonna say “Buy.”
If You Liked This, Watch: The Amityville Horror (1979), The Shining (1980), Session 9 (2001), The Hunted (2013), Ghost Story (1981), Prison (1987), Stir of Echoes (1999)