Beneath Still Waters
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // $26.98 // April 10, 2007
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted April 8, 2007
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Graphical Version
The Movie

By the time filmmaker Brian Yuzna was finishing up with the worst movie of his career, his production company was on the verge of closing up shop. With Yuzna and his Spanish cohorts at the helm, Fantastic Factory delivered a variety of genre titles between 2001 and 2005, Dagon, Beyond Re-Animator, and Rottweiler among them. The shingle's final film is the Lovecraft and Carpenter inspired Beneath Still Waters, which is just about as goofy a horror flick as you're ever likely to come across.

Stealing a whole bunch of pages from John Carpenter's The Fog, Beneath Still Waters is about a small Spanish town that's about to celebrate its 400th birthday, only there's one catch: 400 years ago the town fathers flooded a nearby village and left the local satanists chained inside a church as the waters poured in. To make matters worse, two really stupid young boys intercede on behalf of the shackled devil-lovers, and then we flash forward to...

...400 years later, and the town of Marienbad is getting all riled up for their big party. The local mayor, transplanted directly out of Spielberg's Jaws, orders his subordinates to ignore a mysterious death because ... hey, it's party time and we can't go scaring everyone off! Meanwhile an aspiring reporter and a swaggering diver-dude do all they can to get to the bottom of the waterlogged mysteries. Also there's a subplot about the world's most inept babysitter.

Mr. Yuzna, who has directed a few very "interesting" movies in his time (including Society, The Dentist, and Faust) as well as more than a few turkeys (Silent Night Deadly Night Part 4!) seems halfway out the door on Beneath Still Waters. Scenes that are (allegedly) meant to be creepy or disturbing come off more as kooky and chintzy; the voice dubbing could be (charitably) described as silly; the special effects (both practical and computerized) are woefully inadequate; and the whole dreary movie reeks of earlier, better films.

With the dissolution of Filmax's Fantastic shingle, here's hoping Mr. Yuzna moves on to a whole new ballgame -- preferably in tandem with his old partner Stuart Gordon. The guy's clearly got a thing for gruesome horror fare, but he's wasting his talents (and our time) on sub-par and recycled material like Beneath Still Waters.

The DVD

Video: It's certainly not the most beautiful-looking movie you'll ever see (in fact it's rather grungy and dank), but the anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer does all it can with the lame material.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, which gets really loud in a few of the final scenes. Otherwise you'll get the goofily over-dubbed dialogue in fine form. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Extras:

Just a bunch of trailers.

Final Thoughts

You'd think a southern-fried stew full of Lovecraft, Carpenter and Spielberg influences would make for a fairly decent way to spend 91 minutes ... until you actually sit through this particular flick.



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