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Horror movie marketing lesson #1-A: No matter how bad your movie is, if someone at a distributor thinks they can package the thing to look enticing, it will eventually find distribution. No matter how tiresome, stupid, derivative, and mindless it is. Case #28,675: The Choke, which comes to DVD courtesy of Veloicty Entertainment, aka the low end cheapie department of the normally superlative ThinkFilm banner.
But as a guy who loves to give any horror flick a shot, be it studio-borne, foreign, or mega-low-budget, I hit play on The Choke hoping to find a little buried treasure before coming here to tell you all about it. Sadly, that well of good will lasted only about 12 minutes, because that's when I realized that The Choke is one of the silliest, loudest, and most aggravating slasher retreads since, say, 1984 -- which is when these flicks were churned out at a most merciless clip.
Here's your plot: A band of young rockers, including the two "stars" who are planning to bail and betray their pals the following day, find themselves trapped in a grungy warehouse / "night club," stalked by a killer who has a flair with sharp objects. One character is killed every 16 minutes or so, and these moments are punctuated by dialogue volleys so dire and painful that they defy description. Plus, every single character, from the virginal whiner and the raunchy drummer to the death-obsessed goth gal and the perverted club owner, is so amazingly hateful and obnoxious that you won't even care who gets killed next, where and why. You'll be tempted to just hit STOP and kill 'em all at the same time.
Aside from the intermittent dispatches and the aforementioned blather showers, there's simply nothing here. Like 82% of the 21,000 slasher flicks produced between 1979 and today, The Choke aims to mix a "whodunnit" formula into the equation. It's a failed infusion, partially because you'll be able to spot the killer by the end of Act I, but mainly because every character is such a jerk, you simply won't care who's the one behind the axe.
Chock full of awful dialogue, amateur hour acting performances, and a devotion to formula so unwavering that it boggles the mind, The Choke is as unpleasant as its title suggests ... and it's about 20 years too late to earn any sort of cult-like noteriety.
Plus it's really, really boring.
Video: The widescreen (1.78:1) transfer isn't all that terrible, considering the nature of the movie we're discussing.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, with optional subtitles in Spanish only.
There's an audio commentary with director Juan Mas, cinematographer Doug Cheney, editor Jason Payne, and screenwriters Jessica Dolan & Susannah Lowber. Were I to comment on this commentary track, I might give you the impression that I listened to more than 3.5 minutes of the thing. I did not. The Choke gang seems like a cool crew of young filmmakers; makes me wish I could say something nicer about their movie. Honest.
The Choke: The Legend Begins is your standard 16-minute making-of featurette, only the gimmick here is that the cast members are pretending that The Choke is a real band and that the murders in the flick really happened. Call it a mini-mocku-rockumentary if you like. I prefer to get finished with this disc already.
Rounding out the platter is a handful of trailers for The Choke, Cuban Blood, and Andre the Butcher.
This is the kind of "horror" movie in which the still-living characters come across a few dead, gory bodies -- and then four minutes later they're having Melrose Place-style arguments about who cheated on whom and why the virgin girl won't put out already. Meanwhile, everyone watching the movie goes "Um, don't you have other shit to worry about right now? Idiots."