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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Stake Land
As the world finds itself on the brink of destruction, due to the outbreak of a hellish pandemic that has swept across the globe and its continents with irrepressible speed, turning most of the population into ferocious beast-like vampires, it seems the institution of man is doomed to rot away among the already shattered monuments of past glories.
In the midst of the...
Published 14 months ago by WriterofWords

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Waking up to a nightmare....
Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster.

A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities.

And it's up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden....

It's...
Published 9 months ago by Mr. Corey S. Newcombe


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Stake Land, 8 Oct 2013
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As the world finds itself on the brink of destruction, due to the outbreak of a hellish pandemic that has swept across the globe and its continents with irrepressible speed, turning most of the population into ferocious beast-like vampires, it seems the institution of man is doomed to rot away among the already shattered monuments of past glories.
In the midst of the crumbling civilization of the new world, we meet Mister (Nick Damici), a rough n' ready death dealer to the bloodsuckers and his partner in crime, the young boy Martin (Connor Paolo), as they travel through the ravaged states and locked down communities of this fallen America. Their goal is to make it up north to Canada or more specifically the renowned safe-haven, New Eden, which is rumored to be one of the last bastions remaining for the human race.
But the dangers of the new world order are ubiquitously present and as the union ventures forth, they become entangled with a brutal "legion" known as the Brotherhood, a right-wing militant group who perceives the feral bloodsuckers and the eruption that spawn them as the work of God, which they in turn have been chosen to uphold and regulate as his sworn servants and new-found earthly rulers. As conflicts between the two factions turns to out and out warfare, the confines of New Eden conversely, comes to represent a dream that slowly but surely slips further and further away.

Stake Land is the second feature from the writer, star and director team of Jim Mickle and Nick Damici and after the very promising debut that was the New York based rat virus disaster film, Mulberry Street (2006), the boys really hits it out of the park with this, their sophomore effort.
Stake Land should down a trait for those with a preference for films such as George A. Romero's various zombie entries, 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002), 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo 2007) and all the apocalyptic features available out there but perhaps most palpably the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009).
Stake Land, at its core however, feels more like an old school western than anything else, albeit one that is jam-packed by ferocious blood sucking monsters. Our heroes are roaming through the desolated landscape, making stops at random checkpoints along their route, for whiskey, women and the occasional haircut. They are men of the land, drifters that travel by day and spend their nights sitting passively by the scarcely illuminating campfire hoping most of all to catch a few hours of sleep, before once again venturing out into the world to do battle with any and all in it. A fantastic approach to the narrative that pays off immeasurably in regards to creating a somber atmosphere and effective and appealing characters.
And speaking of characters or rather the actors portraying them, I'm quite pleased to report that by and large, their efforts are exceedingly rewarding. Nick Damici shines overall however, as his representation of the gruff bad to the bone vampire hunter Mister, embodies everything that a mean, hard-core alpha-male needs to be in order to work effectively on screen. Mister is the sort of disestablished loner that John Carpenter perfected in crafting, at the early stages of his career and to experience that kind of character without having the filmmakers pussy out and compromising his anti-heroic antics at the altar of bland, crowed-pleasing "entertainment", constitutes a great deal of admiration, not to mention enjoyment in yours truly. The youngster Martin, played by Connor Paolo, is likewise handled with great expertise and manages to invoke sympathy rather than annoyance (as so many child- and teenage characters seem to do) and furthermore plays wonderful alongside the reticent Mister, instilling in him a vague sense of compassion and humanity.
The rest of the characters are well-defined and inspire empathy and even though their efforts aren't always the greatest, they mostly work in the context of the scenes they are present in. Particularly impressive is Kelly McGillis (who is far removed from her image as a 80s sexpot) as the anonymous nun who come to function as a sort of surrogate mother for Martin, and also Danielle Harris as a young barmaid with a crippling component, growing inside of her.
The film's main antagonists, the vampires, are all brutal growling undomesticated beasts as far removed from the velvet draped, sickly romanticized counterpart as humanly possible (and all the better for it, I might add).
Director Jim Mickle and producer Larry Fessenden have managed to achieve an incredible effective vision of a world gone up in flames on a relatively minuscule budget (rumored to be around $4 million) and technically the film shines high above most of its genre equivalents. The cinematography by Ryan Samul, shot on the very popular Red One camera, places great importance on capturing the environments and the terrific works of the art department in particular, and both are brilliantly executed.
This is wide-screen cinema at its finest which begs to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Furthermore it has to be said that the decision to shoot in the economically dejected environment of Pottstown, Pennsylvania aids the production team immensely in capturing an area that positively reeks of poverty and despair, a location that don't seem to need that much in the way of set dressing, to pull off that all pervasive air of the post-apocalyptic landscape. From abandoned corrosive railways to industrialized coal towns, this film accomplishes the look and feel of a society that's crumbling away, which expertly amplifies the film's, admittedly less than subtle subtext concerning America's, and the world's for that matter, ostensibly downfall, with reverberations of financial ruin and religious fanaticism banging away in the background. And as a fellow left-winger I can help but punch the air, when sampling a genre film which has the balls to amalgamate its story with social and/or political conscience/agendas.
Lastly I want to place great emphasis on the beautiful score by Jeff Grace as it truly is one of the very best I've ever heard in regards to establishing mood and overall ambiance.

With great emphasis on the importance of three dimensional characters and the necessity and value of atmosphere to go along with the depiction of the landscapes they travel through, the film, very skillfully manages to accomplish that rare quality of making the viewer connect and therefore care for the outcome of the story and the faith of its characters.
If I were to nitpick I'd say that the voice-over can get a little banal at times and the revelation regarding the identity of the final foe is both disappointing and contradictory to the established narrative (a shame, since it is very well set up).
But a few minor flaws can't diminish from what is arguably an absolutely flawlessly executed film, which fortunately insist on taking itself serious and doesn't pander to the one-liner craving horror-comedy crowd (more please). Ultimately Stake Land is as tense and brutal a film, as it is a humanistic and moving one, yes, this reviewer felt the tears pressing as the end credits started to roll. A rare example of a vampire movie that doesn't suck (pun intended).

Reviewed here is the region free Blu-ray from Metrodome, released in the UK. The feature is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and the quality of the image is absolutely flawless, which is also the case regarding the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack - truly a demo-disc to be sure.
As for the extras, you get a whole helluva lot, starting with two very entertaining and informative audio commentary tracks. The first with Jim Mickle, Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Larry Fessenden, and Brent Kunkle, and the second with Jim Mickle, Peter Phok, Adam Falk, Ryan Samul, Graham Reznick, and Jeff Grace.
`Going for the Throat: The Making of Stake Land' is next and as the title insinuates, it's an hour long Making-of that presents an overwhelming amount of behind-the-scenes footage, spiced up by interviews with the director, producer, and stars. It's a fantastic watch for fans of the film and for people interested in the filmmaking process.
Then there are the director's pre-production diaries where we get even more behind-the-scenes material, broken into sections of Pre-production, Storyboards, Visual FX, Post-production, the Toronto Film Festival premiere and Q&A. The entire thing clocks in at around 50 minutes and is well worth seeing.
Then there's a featurette entitled `WFX Breakdown' (3 minutes) which shows you the specifics pertaining to the digital effects. Lastly you get seven short films, or webisodes, that explore the backgrounds of several of the main characters and the film's theatrical trailer. This constitutes a fantastic package for a truly wonderful film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Waking up to a nightmare...., 13 Mar 2014
Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster.

A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities.

And it's up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden....

It's really hard to describe this movie in one single genre. From the upstart, you would instantly think that this would be in the horror section, but hen you look a little closer at the subject matter.

Vampires are just a little distraction in this movie, as this really is about religion and the lack of faith, or, indeed, to much faith in the midst of a tragic event.

The movie is some sort of hybrid of Doomsday, Mad Max, The Road, and even Zombieland, but it stays it's own movie, it only has the feel of the previous movies mentioned.

The cast are all great and deliver good performances, and just when you think the set pieces couldn't get better than perfunctory, we have the standout scene of the helicopter dropping vampires into a crowd.

It's like nothing you have seen before, but feels very similar, but well worth the watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FORGET THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE - HERE COMES THE VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE! A REFRESHINGLY DIFFERENT VAMPIRE MOVIE., 23 July 2014
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This review is from: Stake Land (Double-Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
THE MOVIE

STAKE LAND follows a young boy, Martin (Connor Paolo) and a rogue vampire slayer who is only called Mister (Nick Damici) through post-apocalyptic America. The apocalypse was not caused by a nuclear world war or zombies, but by a pandemic of vampirism for a change.
Martin and Mister are on their way to Canada - The New Eden - after Mister saves Martin from a vampire attack during which his parents were killed. He has taken the boy under his wing and trains him in survival.
During their journey through America they come across several survivors, including a nun whom Mister saves from being raped by two thugs, a pregnant girl Belle (Danielle Harris) and a religious cult that feeds people to the vampires.

STAKE LAND combines survival horror with some action, drama and road movie and iy works out surprisingly well. Don't be expecting FROM DUSK TILL DAWN or JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES here, STAKE LAND's emphasis is more on the survival/drama part and less on non-stop action and splatter scenes. STAKE LAND still contains some pretty bloody scenes, though.
The brilliant script was written by director Jim Mickle and main actor Nick Damici and is full of surprises and plot twists.
Jim Mickle did a fabulous job behind the camera as well: the pacing is just right for introducing the characters thoroughly but never too slow to get boring. The somber piano score by Jeff Grace reflects the general mood of the film.
The CGI effects are clearly not realistic - this is a low budget production, let's not forget that - STAKE LAND clearly is not a movie to be watched only for the gore and SFX.
The acting overall is good, especially Nick Damici (Mister), Connor Paolo (Martin), Kelly McGillis (the Sister), Sean Nelson (Willie) and Danielle Harrison (Belle).

A refreshingly different vampire movie that is a welcome surprise and far superior to the endless flow of bad carbon copy vamp movies out there. Don't expect a superb show like THE WALKING DEAD, this had a low budget of about half a mill, but it is definitely worth a look!

RATING: 8 / 10

THE BLU-RAY

Reviewed version: 2011 Metrodome Group Double Disc Edition UK DVD
Feature running time: 95 mins. (uncut)
Rating: R (MPAA) / 15 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 / 16:9
Audio: English 5.1, English 2.0
Subtitles: None
Extras: 2 Audio Commentaries on Disc 1, Making of (approx. 60 mins.), Video diaries, Featurettes
Region: 2

Picture: B
Audio: B
Extras: A

There is an annoying non-skipable TWIX commercial before you can access the main menu. Things like this should be forbidden.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE ROAD PLUS VAMPIRES, 27 July 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Stake Land (Double-Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
They are called vampires, but in some ways they act more like zombies. This is a post apocalyptic world. This movie reminded me of Zombieland, but without the humor. A man and a teen are traveling in a car. Sometimes the teen narrates. Humans have formed into groups, some religious cults, and some have resorted to cannibalism. They are headed to New Eden, although we don't know exactly why. Along the way they pick up a nun (Kelly McGillis), who was attacked by rapists, who in turn are killed by our heroes, Mister (Nick Damici) and Martin (Connor Paolo). Turns out there is a large group of people known as the Brotherhood who work with the Vampires and used them to bring down civilization, all which is God's plan (no doubt inspired by a certain US political group). Eventually a pregnant Danielle Harris joins the group.

Vampire teeth have become the new currency. What we didn't find out what caused the infection or how it was spread. What was interesting is that our heroes head north because the vampires are cold blooded and don't like the cold. The movie plot was good, but the characters were softly written. There was no real effort to give them personalities unlike Zombieland which spoiled us.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the American Scream, 3 Jun 2011
By 
N. Cannon (UK, London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stake Land (Double-Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Not another Vampire film I hear you cry!?....
but wait! this one's different!!!
...yeah? that's what they all say!!!.....

This is no Twilight (thank God) and if you must make comparisons Stake Land has more in common with The Road than any run of the mill vamp flick.
THis how I imagined I am Legend would be (should have been) before I saw it and wondered where the budget went once I saw the totally unbelievable vampires
Firstly, Stake Land is shot with a real cinematographers eye, one used to composing shots and attention to detail, not the spawn of some MTv, retina frazzled, Red Bull junkie, razorblading shaky cam shots together to give us migraines!
Secondly, we get fully believable characters and a storyline that unfolds, steadily, almost dream/Nightmare like at times with the voiceover from Martin, the teenage protagonist we meet in the opening scene, taken under the wing of the nameless "Mister" an enigmatic vampire slayer, they then attempt to make their way to the mythical "New Eden"

The Vampires in Stake Land are more like zombies, not the Romero shuffling undead, but the 28Days/Weeks later blood starved manic crazies and they come in several varieties, I won't spoil that discovery for you.

Like the indie hit Monsters earlier this year, Stake Land is another independent film that belies it's budget and delivers something outside the big studio stranglehold, to give us something different and fresh. don't think cheesey vampire flick, think more like, a post apocalyptic vampire flick directed by Terrence Malick.
Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intresting Twist, 7 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. K. Miller "Keithybabes" (NE England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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If you like Vamp movies and post apocolyptic movies this is an interesting and entrtaining movie. not exactly groundbreaking in terms of plot, acting etc but entertaining, satisfying and a decent way to spend a couple of hours on a Friday night. Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well made apocalyptic vampire horror..., 18 Dec 2011
I'd heard a little bit of buzz about Stake Land recently which encouraged me to add the movie to my rental queue. Made for just $4m it is certainly quite an accomplished post-apocalyptic vampire movie that has plenty of scares and some good character development. Special effects are nothing outstanding, but still very good and the bleak soundtrack suits the feel of the film very well. The cast are all quite good, and I enjoyed the involvement of Kelly McGillis as the nun, a character which introduced us to the more subdued religious tones of the film (some crazy religious nuts throughout). Whilst nothing new, Stake Land is a well polished horror from Jim Mickle. Genre fans will enjoy it enough to warrant a purchase. 3.5/5
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2.0 out of 5 stars The cast are all great and deliver good performances, 2 Nov 2014
This review is from: Stake Land (Blu-ray)
Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster.

A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities.

And it's up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden....

It's really hard to describe this movie in one single genre. From the upstart, you would instantly think that this would be in the horror section, but hen you look a little closer at the subject matter.

Vampires are just a little distraction in this movie, as this really is about religion and the lack of faith, or, indeed, to much faith in the midst of a tragic event.

The movie is some sort of hybrid of Doomsday, Mad Max, The Road, and even Zombieland, but it stays it's own movie, it only has the feel of the previous movies mentioned.

The cast are all great and deliver good performances, and just when you think the set pieces couldn't get better than perfunctory, we have the standout scene of the helicopter dropping vampires into a crowd.

It's like nothing you have seen before, but feels very similar, but well worth the watch.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best vampire movie of the century so far, 23 Jan 2012
By 
Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
The old vampire genre has been getting a bit long in the tooth (sorry!) of late, with far too many slick, sexy and sanitised takes on the time-honoured blood-sucking mythos. Stake Land reverses this trend by making its vampires filthy, rotten, berserk and borderline zombie-like. This, coupled with the undeniable appeal of a compelling road movie where you can't wait to see what's around the next bend and plenty of well-crafted survival-horror elements makes for an unforgettable experience.

I know it's a bit cheap to make comparisons, but if you can imagine the best elements of The Walking Dead and The Road combined into a 98 minute adrenaline rush, you'll get some notion of how good Stake Land is.

Blu-ray presentation is impeccable, with some panoramic North-American vistas that look terrific in HD and the 5.1 surround sound is everything you'd expect. Plenty of extras including an above-average extended behind-the-scenes feature.

Stake Land deserves a place in every horror fan's collection.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Decent Vampire Movie..., 5 July 2011
By 
Stephen Mcguigan (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stake Land (Double-Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
I think most people would agree that the majority of vampire movies made in the past few years have been far from brilliant. To put it bluntly, Twilight has turned the vampire genre into a complete joke. Most vampire fans want vampires that explode when sunlight hits them, not vampires that sparkle. So is Stake Land the movie to bring the vampire genre back from the brink? Not quite, but it's a good start.

The movie starts with a young boy and a man travelling together across a post-apocalyptic America that has been ravaged by vampires. They are trying to reach the safe haven known as "New Eden", but will they make it in one piece? On their journey our intrepid heroes meet an array of interesting and memorable characters: human and vampire. While there is some gore in the movie it is not over the top and the vampire effects are very well done. I don't really want to say much more about the plot because I don't want to ruin the movie for people. I will say that the plot, pacing and the dialogue flow smoothly; there's also a few good twists I didn't see coming.

I'm trying to think of a movie that I could compare this to and can only say it's very much like The Road, but with vampires added into the mix. This movie is definitely worth a watch and is a welcome return to form for vampire movies.

8/10
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Stake Land (Double-Disc Edition) [DVD]
Stake Land (Double-Disc Edition) [DVD] by Jim Mickle (DVD - 2011)
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