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STUDIO: LIONS GATE
MSRP: $19.98
RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Commentary (director & Mr. Lordi)
• Behind-the-Scenes
• 2 Music Vids (“Hard Rock Halleluja” & “Would You Love a Monsterman”)
• World Premiere w/ Interviews & Live Performance

The Pitch

Like watching an autistic all-thumbs otaku buttonMASH his way through Silent Hill… with GWAR as the end-level boss-battles.

The Humans

Cast: Skye Bennett, Noah Huntley, Dominique McElligot, Ronald Pickup, William Hope, Leon Herbert
Director: Pete Riski

Lordi: Mr. Lordi, Amen, OX, Awa, Kita


“We am, is, are, and be they whom as are known as… the Electric Mayhem!”

The Nutshell

An all-too-familiar and puzzled group of lost souls are trapped on the excuse our mess as we remodel, build, and renovate to serve you better” floors of St. Elsewhere. The horror fodder, hamstrung by a wheelchair-bound horror-kid cliché (who just may be the key to unlocking the WTF) attempt survival, while a horde of McFarlane Movie Monster Maniacs occasionally terrorizes them after visiting hours.

The Lowdown

Expectations can be hellish. You may ask “How can a left-field horror flick, helmed by a 1st-time feature director, which isn’t a remake or sequel, nor based on a comic book/classic tale/urban legend, possessing no big stars or even ‘horror convention guest’ genre-staples, immigrating from the land of the ice and snow, and going direct to video, be laden with any expectations?”

Name: Kita
Position: Drums
Monster Manual Taxonomy: Extra-Terrestrial Man-Beast
Enjoys: Smashin’ drums/skulls/groupies.


You may have never heard of the band, Lordi (or maybe you have, if you caught Creature-Corner’s past coverage), but these Hard Rockin’ Hellraisers have their own Finnish postage stamp, soft drink (Lordi Cola), and a square in Mr. Lordi’s hometown, Rovaniemi, renamed after them. Decked out like citizens (nay, elected officials) of Barker’s Midian, Mr. Lordi, Amen, OX, Awa, and Kita perform their operatic All Hallows’ anthem pop in full (Slipknot lacks discipline) latex make-up, masks, and demon-gear while on stage. I’ve been a bandwagon fan ever since my exposure here on CHUD and CC. I’ve poured over their infectious arockalyptic discography and adore their slick and bombastic video oeuvre (where I was 1st exposed to director, Pete Riski).

Now, I was only 2 when Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park debuted on television, but that band (advertised in just about every Marvel Comic I possessed as a kid) saturated the pop culture fringe of my late 70s childhood. And it’s fairly clear how much of a direct influence Kiss had on Lordi front-monster, Tomi Putaansuu, not to mention that heavy metal and horror have had a long-term relationship… Kiss, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Ozzy, Helloween, Rob Zombie, my pants party, etc. Apparently not aware that Gwar already existed, Tomi solved the puzzle box and summoned the other original members of his Ceno-band (a sorta Frankenstein of Norwegian black-metal Dimmu Borgir and the Saturday-morn Groovy Goolies) in the early 90s. A few creature/member swaps later and a sweep at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest (with their pounding crowd-pleaser, Hard Rock Hallelujah) insured a rise up through the foreign metal ranks and nurtured the inevitable stage-to-screen transition. I’ve been chomping at the bit for Dark Floors, following news, spoiling myself with stills and teasers, waiting for Ghost House Underground to import it. Well, it arrived in time for Halloween in October, and… I’m sadly disappointed.


Name: Awa
Position: Keyboards
Monster Manual Taxonomy: Vampire-Countess-Ghost-Witch
Enjoys: Scaring the Jesus, Mary, and/or Joseph out of Darby O’ Gill.

A dour siege-movie remix of Neon Maniacs (how can you not love Percy Rodriguez’ trailer narration?), “The Lordi Motion Picture” role-reverses Phantom of the Park and casts the band as the villains. Their bestial countenance lends to this approach, but because this vanity project is feature length (unlike say, MJ’s Thriller), and mostly because they attempt to build suspense pre/post-attack (AKA pseudo plot and pseudo character development for the humans), we don’t get nearly enough of Lordi in the running time. The movie gets by on atmosphere and cinematography during the sans-monster material (mutilated bodies and flickering fluorescence amidst a filthy abandoned hospital set does most of the heavy lifting) but barely makes up for the annoying, trite herd of clueless whiners. We’re blessed with original audience surrogates such as: Black Security Guard, Homeless Nutcase, Yuppy Asshole, Protective Father, Non-Descript Nurse, and Mumbly “I want the red crayon!” Kid-Conundrum (who also appears to be a Monster Magnet).

I’ve got no real gripe with the film’s excellent production design, FX, and overall look. The creature designs (thanks to the band’s stage personas) are unique enough to almost counteract the 4th generation Xerox feel of the proceedings. It’s a Creature Feature (with Slasher trappings) for sure, but they also manage to mix things up by tossing in time loops, alternate dimensions, and zombies. I like unpredictable kitchen-sink horror, however Dark Floors just seems to crib too much from other sources, giving this movie’s kitchen sink a slight standard model (and rusty) sheen… begotten from Konami’s S.H. begotten from Jacob’s Ladder begotten from Lovecraft (madness, parallel worlds, inexplicable abominations, etc). I don’t mind artsy or ambiguous (we don’t know the monsters origins or motives) because it works for the surreal script on hand, but I needed more punch here. I already know what the monsters look like… now rock my soxxx off.


Name: OX
Position: Bass
Monster Manual Taxonomy: HellBull
Enjoys: Informing anyone and everyone that “fox” rhymes with “socks”.

That leads to my main complaint… The film-makers’ biggest misstep was to leave Lordi’s music out the movie. It was a decision made early on, according to the commentary, but there’s a distinct void present in the film (and my heart), like the gaping maw of Kita. After seeing how much personality and presence the band expresses through their videos and catchy tunes, the feature presentation suffers greatly from that exclusion. Mr. Lordi and crew are mostly reduced to silent raging juggernauts (Voorhees X 5) with only a slim number of victims available (spreading the gore too thin). I wanted over-the-top. I wanted a non-stop carnage-spewing Monster Show. I wanted a Wild Zero Guitarmageddon for the ages (or at least a Tenacious D’s “Tribute”). I wanted a Hard Rock Hallelujah rock opera (will REPO! The Genetic Opera fill the void?). I wanted a Lordi-palooza. I wanted… the Arockalypse. Christmas did not come early this year for me.

I know this review reads more like an over-zealous soapbox endorsement of the band, instead of an in-depth critique of the DVD, but I’d rather turn on a few new music fans, instead of scaring people away with review-puke hurled at the merely OK-ish flick. As a fan of their sound, I was glad to see a new song recorded exclusively for Floors, “Beast Loose in Paradise”, during the credits, but I really needed a music video of it, playing alongside the scrolling names, to leave me feeling more pumped about my viewing experience. The movie is too high quality (and self-serious) to be a guilty pleasure, but too standard to stand out as truly special. The production value of their videos is there, but not the entertainment value… and certainly not the epic vibe. It had all the makings to be a cult classic, but alas, it only serves as a checkbox for the Lordi completist or perhaps a pleasant surprise for the uninformed Lordi-virgin. If you read this piece and investigated any of my links, your Lordi cherry has been popped, so watch Dark Floors at your own peril/indifference.

I may just have expected too much.


Name: Amen
Position: Guitar
Monster Manual Taxonomy: Mummy
Enjoys: Getting sand in the vaginas of whiny internet geeks.

The Package

Audio/video presentation is atmospheric and theatrical quality. Very professional. I’m mixed about the cover image. It doesn’t spoil the look of the  monsters (like the cover of every Fangoria), but it doesn’t do much to sell the flick either. I would have opted, in this case, for a group shot to pique the interest of potential horror browsers. Representative of the movie’s Lordi-shortage, there’s a thumbnail of OX on the back cover, but you get no hint of the band’s full majesty.

Special Features: Watching the band in full-makeup giving interviews was surreal and yet, disconcerting, since they don’t actually stay in monstrous character. It was amusing to hear Mr. Lordi’s smarmy attitude and thick accent in the commentary for a bit before I started to zone out on the 2nd or 3rd viewing. Most of the additional behind-the-scenes is fluff (don’t expect any revealing make-up FX footage… top secret!). Personally, if this disc was a full collection of Lordi’s music videos (you only get 2 here) and the feature film was included as a bonus, I would have given the DVD a better rating.

Overall, this Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare is way too short on the Rock… and/or Roll.


Name: Mr. Lordi
Position:
Front-monster

Monster Manual Taxonomy: Unholy Overlord

Enjoys: Eviscerating hecklers who refer to him as “Mister Mister Lordi” or “Twisted Sister Lordi”… Seems to be OK with “Fister Lordi”.


6.0 out of 10 (film)

7.0 (disc)

9.0 (2 music videos, band itself)

* Some of the screengrabs may have been brightened for easier viewing. Band member pics with instruments (#2 in each pair) are screengrabs from their music vid, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, and not from the feature film. 1st and last pics are publicity stills.