ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Choker (2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Nick Vallelonga

Starring:
Paul Sloan/Hud
Colleen Porch/Logan
Hayley DuMond/Leader
Nick Vallelonga/Frank
PLOT-CRUNCH
A “should be dead” serial killer (Sloan) prowls the LA nights on the hunt for what could be “criminal” aliens…and I don’t mean the “border jumping” kind! What the hell is going on? One thing is for certain; much like my last weekend, there's lot of choking involved! YIPPEE-KA-HEY!
THE LOWDOWN
Choker had me by the collar like a peeved bouncer dragging me out a club at frame 1. The film’s sly aloofness in terms of what was really going on, tagged with it’s clever/novel narrative structure, its gripping wrap around story and its furiously action driven pace, had me going like a Playboy Playmate playing the bamboo flute to win a Centerfold spread. I was genuinely impressed! I actually kept telling myself, “there’s no way they’ll be able to keep to this top notch level throughout’! But behold, up to the hour mark; Choker just wouldn’t stop squeezing its horror/action/Sci -Fi grasp around my throat. And I thanked it for it!

The polished visuals at hand also helped make this noir-ish adventure a more compelling one. When it wasn’t the ambitious shots wooing me, it was the surreal aura communicated via arresting uses of colors. Somebody spent mucho sleepless nights in Post Production on this one, that’s for damn sure! Baby looked good! Furthermore; the talented cast at hand contributed in upping the “yowzer” factor of this zany trip. With lesser actors; the film would not have worked as well. Paul Sloan (Hud) in particular blew my “Long - John’s” clean off! The man had presence, charisma and a tough guy demeanor that I found highly endearing. I don’t use the term often but I’ll use it here “Star potential”. If the world is a fair place (which it isn’t), you’ll hear about Paul Sloan more and more as the hour glass of life sinks away the sands of time. HE ROCKED! Add to all that quality; an engaging score (by Harry Manfredini of Friday the 13Th fame no less), mucho sizzling hot LA babes acting as window dressing, some groovy movie references and a couple of potent action bits and you get a party crasher worthy of the brick wall busting Kool-Aid Man right? RIGHT? Well…almost…

Even though this low on coin/time film never fully capitalized on its fight sequences (they were low on impact and under choreographed) or its “The Hidden” like premise (I craved heavy shoot outs and a car chase); I almost fully forgave it for that. I was having such a riot act with it all! Alas my enthusiasm was eventually dragged down the sewer none the less when the last block kicked in. Think, overly talky, somewhat preachy and long winded. What should’ve ended with a BIG BANG, went out on a dragged whimper. I didn’t want to hear an existential discussion on motherhood, see some silly mook in a Karate outfit tap-tap around (What was that all about?) or witness a rushed "mano et mano" final confrontation. I wanted the shite to hit the fan hardcore till all was shred to smithereens! That didn’t happen. It didn’t help that the remaining characters within the conclusion were the ones I cared less about, hence considerably lessening my involvement in the happenings. Lastly, the flick sported one ending too many where it continued past its peak to give us an unnecessary “there might be a sequel’ wink-wink. In my pointless opinion, that last frame cheapened the whole of the affair. Choker was better than that!

For the most part though; even with my "last segment peeves" in the house, I still boogied to this neck snapping, Choker session. That first hour was some truly potent stuff! The cast and crew should pat themselves on the back (and buttocks) for a job well done. So you gonna choke this one or should I!
GORE
We get lots of slimy white stuff (same thing my last date got on her face) and an autopsy bit with an extra order of entrails courtesy of the talented folks at MastersFX.
ACTING
Paul Sloan (Hud) was magnetic and convincing in his somewhat dual roles. He had me glued to the screen as the killer sharing his thoughts while riveting me as the ass kicking hunter. I expect big things for this guy! Colleen Porch (Logan) showed-off an impeccable delivery and hit emotional levels that went beyond what was on the page. My only upset with her was that she looked funny when holding a gun.

Hayley DuMond (Leader) had the intensity, focus and menace for the role. I loved her! Nick Vallelonga (Frank) gave a grounded and stellar show. Tony Deniso (/Lt. Murcer) owned the scenery when he was on it! I used to love that dude on Crime Story when I was a kid! Great to see him whoop it again! I’m not sure if it was his “cocky” part or Bobby Ray Shafer’s (Lt. Clark) delivery; but the dude got on my nerves big time! Maybe that was the point.
T & A
Although the flick was filled with gorgeous dames, nobody went further than heavy cleavage…TEASES! The ladies get treated real well via a ludicrously cut Paul Sloan dropping his shirt at the drop of a shirt!
DIRECTING
Vallelonga served up a colorful, stylishly shot (loved the triple take shots), tightly paced and overall vibrant effort. Editor David Risotto should also be commended where his tight cutting contribute to the free flowing feel of the film.
SOUNDTRACK
Harry Manfredini put out an exciting and pulse pounding score. Dug it the most! We also get some pop/rock tunes.
BOTTOM LINE
Choker was a glossy, steamily sexy, clipped paced, competently acted and ingeniously written mish-mash of horror, action and Sci-Fi. Sure the fight choreographies could’ve been better and it would’ve been swell if the action had jacked up to a higher level sometimes down the road; but even with those minor snags, the film firmly owned me for an hour. With that said, it was my total devotion to it that made the “out of steam” final act such a crushing blow. They so had me up to that point but instead of choking my lifeforce out, they let me go! As a whole though, I recommend you hunt down Choker; if only to witness just how much one can accomplish with a low budget and lots of talent. "Salute" to all involved! Gulp, Gulp!
BULL'S EYE
Choker was shot on HD in 12 days

The role of Leader and The Coroner were originally written for men but the parts were eventually played by women (Haley Dumond and Katrina Law).

The film was shot in LA, California, USA

Paul Sloan played a soldier in The Scorpion King.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL CHOKER SITE HERE

READ MY INTERVIEW WITH COLLEEN PORCH HERE

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