Fed up of the usual 'saw' rip offs and constant dire torture porn wannabees? Fancy a trip down memory lane for a little old skool 80s horror exploitation? In the need for a fix of the old red stuff fused with Tom Savini style splatter effects? Well, look no further - because FX pro turned director Robert J Halls' second feature 'Laid To Rest' has arrived, and for me at least - it's a welcome return to horror movies of old and a pretty good horror flick in it's own right.
Telling the story of a young girl (played by Bobbie Sue Luther) who wakes up in a coffin with a bad case of brain freeze and no memory of her own identity, she narrowly escapes the clutches of serial killer (and horror icon in waiting) 'Chrome Skull' who we learn has kidnapped her for his own lurid pleasures. Making her way across town, she is taken in by couple Tucker and Cindy (played very well by Kevin Gage and Lena Headey) - at first not believing the girl's claims of her kidnapping, then learning the hard way as 'ol Chrome Skull turns up to ply his trade in the only way he knows how. To go on about the story would ruin it, but rest assured the following 75 minutes manages to throw in great little character performances and excellent gore effects. The pace is non stop and even though the story is paper thin, director Hall has the noggin to keep everything fast moving and throws up enough 'look behind you!' moments to keep you entertained and almost forget the films inadequacies.
Actors Kevin Gage and Sean Whalen (still memorable from Wes Craven's People Under the Stairs) fair very well in this movie and both of them combined steal the many scenes that they appear in and form the emotional back story for the movie. Unfortunately, star Bobbie Sue Luther doesn't fair so well in her role as her character seems too underwritten and in some scenes, she comes across as quite selfish who puts others in the way of harm to further her own needs. You donn't really root for her character at all and by the end I was left perplexed if it was her acting style or the screenplay that was at fault - either way, she wasn't somebody you felt compelled to identify with and ultimately you don't feel anything for her as the film progresses. However, the supporting cast were all very good in their respective roles and the film utilised both them and numerous different locations to keep the movie swift and interesting.
Director Hall has a nice eye for the macabre and understands how to keep a horror movie speeding along even though the screenplay isn't much to write home about. Ultimately, coming off as a bizarre hybrid of 'Phantasm' and 'Halloween' by way of 'The Prowler' - this new movie is a real treat for horror fans and it's a shame it has been relegated as a direct to video movie. If a little more budget had been afforded to the film, this could have been a major contender and is easily more enjoyable than any of those recent Michael Bay horror remakes or the already mentioned 'Saw' riffs. This isn't to say the movie isn't polished or looks good, it excels in both departments - its just a shame it cannot be seen on the big screen where I feel it would have proved to be really effective.
Kudos also has to go to the main character Chrome Skull as well. A strange little creation that is both menacing, weird and oddly amusing in equal measure. His look is both original and creepy and is destined to be a future horror icon alongside recent inductees such as Saw and Captain Spalding.
All in all, a great addition to the genre and a definite recommendation for a purchase, considering the price that Amazon are asking for it. Seek it out.