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Attack Of The Morningside Monster

Apprehensive Films // Unrated // January 20, 2015
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted January 20, 2015 | E-mail the Author
Attack Of The Morningside Monster:
Attack your DVD player with this truly original horror drama from director Chris Ethridge. Featuring a fantastic cast including the increasingly more-awesome Tiffany Shepis, Attack tackles heavy themes with humor, horror, torture and more. Yeah, you might guess the twist fairly easily. Even I, the world's most clueless reviewer, caught on eventually, but that didn't stop me from having one of the best times I've had with an independent, low budget horror feature, in many months.

A wildly assured grasp of tone leads you into the story of a few residents in the quaint village of Morningside. Sheriff Tom Haulk (Robert Pralgo) has his hands full trying to balance the needs of his greenhorn deputy son while chasing down some sleazy drug runners. His best friend Mark (Nicholas Brendon) leans on Tom while caring for his cancer-stricken wife, and if that's not enough, a killer with a weird mask and a stone battle-axe has been leaving mutilated corpses strewn about the neighborhood. It's up to Tom and his other deputy Klara (Shepis) to not only help Mark do right by his spouse, but also to stop the flow of drugs and blood that threaten to turn Morningside into a graveyard.

Some nice gory bits and tension cap a movie with more important things on its mind, while easy-breezy fun (think Scream meets The Gilmore Girls) sets you the viewer up for a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Early scenes with the sleazy drug dealers are pure rough comedy, as druggie Clyde (Mike Stanley) tries to keep his cool with hapless customers and his two goofball partners. Everyone knows everybody in this town, but no-one knows exactly what anyone else is doing, leading to some choice encounters and bits of dialog, before things heat up. When Mark's plight is introduced, it's heartbreaking, which is underscored by the easy chemistry between all of the actors.

And then, there's that murderer, a very unwelcome element in the mix. Attack won't have you cowering in fear, though some of the squelchy bits will definitely please the horror crowd. What makes this movie so enjoyable, however, is the dialog, and the consistently good performances from nearly everyone involved. With Clyde's goony helpers being the only mild weak point, Shepis, Pralgo and Brendon are left to fully commit to their roles. Their camaraderie is completely believable, and as they get sucked into the mire, you want nothing more than to see them succeed.

A mix of horror, drama, and a little comedy might seem like a tough combination to peddle, but Attack Of The Morningside Monster does it with style and confidence. Great performances, serious plot developments, gooey gore, and fine suspense make this a movie that gels its disparate elements perfectly. Shepis, Pralgo and Brendon anchor events in a world that seems real, leading to a wholly satisfying, fantastic horror movie. Recommended.

The DVD

Video:
Attack lunges for you in an anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen presentation that looks pretty darn good. Details are solid for DVD, especially in the foreground and middle ground, though not so hot in some of the darker scenes. Colors are nicely realistic to the source, outside shots look rich, fluorescent interiors not so lovely. Artifacting, and other compression issues are not a problem, and digital grain is a welcome no-show.

Sound:
You can choose between Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Audio and a 5.1 Audio track. Neither one is going to rock your socks off, though you certainly get a bit more action with the 5.1 option, which sports a wide dynamic range and some effective placement during suspenseful scenes. The dialog and other audio elements are balanced nicely.

Extras:
Trailers for Attack and a Commentary Track with director Ethridge, writer Jayson Palmer, and producer Michael H. Harper constitute your extras. The commentary track is informative and entertaining, with lots of meta discussion about what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish, in addition to scene specific commentary.

Final Thoughts:
A mix of horror, drama, and a little comedy might seem like a tough combination to peddle, but Attack Of The Morningside Monster does it with style and confidence. Great performances, serious plot developments, gooey gore, and fine suspense make this a movie that gels its disparate elements perfectly. Shepis, Pralgo and Brendon anchor events in a world that seems real, leading to a wholly satisfying, fantastic horror movie. Recommended.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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