Because I often mock low-budget filmmakers and actors for not caring, I want to tell a story about people who do care. The ancient Native American spirit of the Wendigo has possessed a woman, played by Deanna Visalle. She films a scene where, entirely naked, she runs through snowy woodland. Now, standard B-movie fare, in one sense; but Visalle is also the producer of this movie, and the director, Len Kabasinski, shot the scene on a 30 minute lunch break from his day job. Can you imagine any other director and producer making a movie in such circumstances? My hat is doffed to both of them.
As we’re close to the release of ISCFC favourite Len Kabasinski’s new movie “Angel of Reckoning”, we thought we’d catch up with the rest of his oeuvre and encourage you, dear reader, to drop a few dollars on it when it comes out (or buy the newly re-edited and remastered “Apocalypse Female Warriors”, which is great). Len’s a nationally-ranked martial artist and makes movies in whatever time he can find, but is differentiated from the mass of other low-budget filmmakers by a couple of things. First, he has a sense of humour; second, he seems absolutely willing to learn from his mistakes and constantly improve; and third, he obviously loves this stuff, and isn’t following trends.
It’s nice that he’s willing to learn from his mistakes, because sad to say “Wendigo: Bound By Blood” has a fair few of them. It’s worth watching, but be prepared to lean your head to the side a bit, as the use of dutch angles is so prevalent I was beginning to wonder if the entire world was skewed and I was seeing it wrong. And, one of the main actresses appears to blow a line in the monologue which is repeated at the beginning and end of the movie – that what we saw was the best take indicates some tough decisions must have been made.
But never mind that for now. After the monologue explaining to us what the wendigo is, we meet a couple who are hiking through the woods, completely lost. The guy says at one point that they’ve been walking for two days, but they appear to have a tent and are able to make fire, so…did they just lose their food? The people from “Alive” went a lot longer before they started seeing their companions as giant floating burgers and legs of chicken. So, he’s about to carve his girlfriend up for dinner but the Wendigo possesses her and just straight up eats him. I think – my DVD had a pretty bad stutter in the first half of the movie and I feel like I missed a few things.
The Wendigo doesn’t really play much of a part in the rest of proceedings – unless it possessed one of the main cast during a DVD stutter, which is entirely possible. The story we get, though, is an interesting one. A man and a woman are witnesses to some mob crime and have been brought to the snowy wastes by a couple of Feds to keep them safe; however, he’s secretly in the employ of the Mob and is leading a group of assassins, led by the Len himself (under the screen name Leon South) to where they are. At the same time, the local Sheriff (Brian Anthony, a Kabasinski regular) is investigating one of the Wendigo’s kills, and falls into a partnership with a native Doctor, Angeni Stonechild (Cheyenne King). These three stories circle each other until they come together in a pretty badass final shootout in and around a cabin.
Firstly, it’s an interesting change of style for Kabasinski. He’s out in the snowy woods, and it’s a more deliberately paced style he’s gone for, usually being one of the few low-budget directors who fills his movies with incident. It looks great, apart from the dutch angles (which smarter film critics than me have already told him about, so I won’t bang on about it too much), and I like that he’s trying new things.
The acting is really ropey in places, though. Anthony is fine, King tries her best (blown line notwithstanding) and, once again, “Leon South” is the strongest actor in one of his own movies. He reminded me of David Caruso from “CSI: Miami”, but as a psychotic assassin, and I enjoyed every bit of his performance. Everyone else, on the other hand…they’re about as good as you’d expect for a movie made on a shoestring budget by people snatching time wherever they could. I did like that the two witnesses hated each other, and there’s a few nice touches that make it through the acting haze. There’s some good martial arts too – Len is clearly a pro, and he tries his best to make his opponents look like a million bucks even when they’re, to put it mildly, not natural screen fighters.
Bear in mind this criticism is coming from someone deep in the hole of low-budget genre cinema, so you may see this and go “what the hell is he talking about?” If you can ignore the occasionally less-than-stellar special effects and non-acting, there’s a lot to enjoy here. The scene where we find the first body is really nicely shot, and the use of music has vastly improved over such work as “Curse Of The Wolf”. Plus, the writing is strong, even if I’m still not entirely sure what happened to the Wendigo.
I appreciate times are hard for us all, but if you have some spare entertainment money, there are many worse ways to spend it than on some KillerWolf movies. Maybe don’t start here, give “Swamp Zombies” and “Apocalypse Female Warriors” a go first, and if you like them maybe move on to this.
Rating: thumbs up