'Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder: Special Edition'
(Michael Rooker, Leslie Hope, Tony Todd, Kevin Zegers, Shawn Thompson, Andrew Jackson, et al / Blu ray / R / (1998) 2018 / MVD Rewind)
Overview: A demon is summoned to take the soul of a young boy, who has the potential to become a saint. By doing this, he will open a doorway to Hell, and destroy the world.
Blu-ray Verdict: Trust me when I say that 'Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder' is a completely awesome little horror flick that has wrongly gathered copious amounts of dust since it's mid-'90s release.
Forgotten and forsaken, it should have spawned an epic franchise in the vein of stuff like 'Wishmaster,' but oh well, we've still got the original beloved entry.
Now, just exactly how much of what we see in the film is based on actual Bram Stoker work is up for debate and a little beyond the scant research that I have done. That said, it's a tidy little concept that's executed with B-movie earnestness and a love for the spooky corner of cinema.
The plot concerns a priest named Father Vassey, played by genre titan Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Guardians Of The Galaxy). Vassey is probing the rural Midwestern belt of the US looking for an ancient demon shapeshifter who feeds on both darkness and human souls.
Said souls resemble a cloud of dust reflected through hundreds of crystal prisms so believe me when I say that he's not your common garden variety preacher to have to deal with such an entity!
Sporting two laser sighted semi automatic handguns which come handy in tight shadowy corners, and the jaded will to kick some supernatural ass, although not so much in the name of the Lord (he doesn't believe in God anymore), but more for a dark and much more personal crusade against the Shadowbuilder.
The demon hovers around a young boy, hungering for a soul within that has the potential to provide it Sainthood and also open a doorway to Hell in one stroke! Vassey is a determined and resourceful badass, relying on nearby townsfolk for help and support and I'm pleased to report that Rooker sells the schlocky tone with remarkable gravity that is his trademark.
He almost always plays extreme characters in tense narratives and keeps up the energy like clockwork. There's a hilarious turn from a dreadlock adorned Tony Todd (Candyman) as Evert Covey, a backwoods eccentric with a penchant for Rastafarian speech and a part to play in the drama once we realize he isn't there solely for comic relief!
'Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder' was once, and for the longest time, so very hard to find, let alone the fact that nobody had ever seen it either, so I was super stoked to receive this brand new MVD Rewind Blu-ray edition of it for review today.
The film, if you haven't figured it out from my review thus far, is a right royal little B-movie cinematic treasure and a fantasy horror classic for those mid-'90s ages.
This brand new Blu-ray Special Edition comes with en masse of Special Features, such as a wonderful trilogy of NEW! (as they exclaim them to be) featurettes: "Making of Shadowbuilder" (featuring director Jamie Dixon, writer Michael Stokes and stars Andrew Jackson and Tony Todd); "Shadowbuilder: Visual Effects" and "Shadowbuilder: Kevin Zegers".
"Making of" us a brilliant flashback, but done today look at how 'Shadowbuilder' came to be, from pages to screens, but also it reveals a lot more about Director Jamie Dixon's state of mind at the time. As both he and Writer Mike Stokes explain, they were not under any pressure to make the best horror film out there at the time, but were under the microscope to bring something fresh to the genre.
Whilst staying "true" to the pages of Bram Stoker's novel, Stokes would always talk with the three principal actors - Andrew Jackson, who played Shadowbuilder, Michael Rooker, who played Father Vassey, and Tony Todd, who played Evert Covey - about what it was Stoker had been trying to get across in his written characters. All seemingly listened and Dixon is proud to admit, more than once, they were most definitely the best trio of actors for the job.
Also look out for a retro flashback Audio Commentary from Director Jamie Dixon that, for my money, was one of the most interesting of its genre that I've heard in the last decade. It's like at every turn of every scene Dixon recalled what was happening behind the camera and what things just couldn't be done due to time and budget constraints.
Oh, and as for the rolling credits that we all let pass us by, sometimes when you watch them back after 30 years you see names that you had no idea were even in the flick! Not quite on that level, but a fan fact nonetheless, as I watched them, I noticed the actor and actress playing Mr. & Mrs. Butterman were the same people that voiced Rudolph and Hermie the Elf in the '60s classic 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer'! This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature
Original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM)
Audio Commentary from Director Jamie Dixon
NEW! "Making of Shadowbuilder" featurette (HD, 33:22) (featuring director Jamie Dixon, writer Michael Stokes and stars Andrew Jackson (The Shadowbuilder) and Tony Todd (Covey)
NEW! "Shadowbuilder: Visual Effects" featurette (HD, 13:26)
NEW! "Shadowbuilder: Kevin Zegers" featurette (HD, 5:00)
Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)