Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cleveland and Vampires

As you well know by now, I got a soft spot for vampire books and especially movies. The other day, hanging out and chatting with Pete from Blue Arrow Records, this comes up and he pulls out this dvd that he says I gotta check out. The film was titled Revival of Darkness: Beyond the Grave and Pete told me it was made by a local guy. He didn't know much more than that, but from the cover images and the description on the back, I was sold, and dropped my $10.

It took a few days before I got around to watching it, but when I did I realized I'd discovered something that I'm going to be talking about -- and obnoxiously forcing friends to watch -- for years to come.

Directed, written, and produced by Randy and Marieann Rosko, who work under the name Doom and Gloom Productions. The tandem also star in the film, along with other folks like James Paul Konya, Rachael Ann Lane, Brandy Fankhauser, and John Dominic Dembek. I'm pretty sure that none of these folks are full-time professional actors, though my apologies if any of them are. The film has a sense of amateurism that no honest viewer could ignore mentioning, but at the same time the sense of ambition and enthusiasm is such that it becomes as important as the execution. In a way, the effort reminds me of that awesome documentary film from several years back, American Movie. If you haven't seen that, you must - it is as funny as it is heartbreaking, though anyone truly self-aware will realize that being smug about the effort documented on-screen misses the entire points: these dudes are creating something, something they feel passionate about. They are out there doing it. Are you?

At first you'll want, as I admit I did, to watch this film in an ironic way. There are many points throughout the movie that are simply hilarious, and certainly not in the way the director or the actors intended. Whether scenery chewing or - my favorite - the casket scenes, you will laugh and laugh some more when you watch this. One thing you won't be is frightened.

But as the film wore on and, especially, afterwards when I was telling folks about it, the thing I kept coming back to was that this was a real movie. A real, full-out effort to make a feature length movie. And while the execution on some of the dimensions wasn't professional, the effort that the director and actors put in was astonishing. This film was filmed over the course of at least one calendar year, and probably dozens if not hundreds of hours of footage were edited together to make the approximately 1.5 hour final product. The packaging, too, is legit - this isn't some DVD-R in a paper slip - there is a front and back to the boxing and inside a two-sided full color insert with chapter names and numbers and production information. On the film itself is a bunch of commissioned and locally composed music both by local rock bands and professional string players from local orchestras. And the site selection on the film is great, whether in Lakewood clubs or at recognizable cemetaries.

So, all you film junkies out there, I really encourage you to drop a 10-spot on this next time you see it for sale. It is a fun watch, even if you are being snarky, but more importantly, you'll be supporting/rewarding a massive effort by a group of hard-working local artists. Buy it here (a site I cannot vouch for) or, better yet, stop into Blue Arrow and get it from Pete. If you see it for sale anywhere else (or were involved with the production of the film in the first place) comment below or send me an email at

Check out the trailer below:


Kelly and José said...

i love american movie. this one sounds promising


MarieAnn Raguso said...

We are divorced now! However, I wanted to say THANK YOU for this review! I really wish I would have found it faster! I'm a little more professional now, however on a private organization scale.

YOU SIR, rock!