ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Sundown (1991)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Anthony Hickox

Starring:
Deborah Foreman/Sandy
Bruce Campbell/Van Helsing
Maxwell Caulfield/Shane
David Carradine/Mardulak
PLOT-CRUNCH
In a desert town, Vampires are living and feeding off manufactured blood in the hopes of being able to co-exist with humans. Too bad, the plasma hits the fangs when a section of the vamp population revolts against the “peace and love” attitude of the town, wanting the old “human killing” days back in action. An all out brawl eventually breaks out with a handful of humans trapped in the middle of the fiasco. It becomes vamps against vamps, vamps against humans and vamps against Bruce Campbell…yeah you heard me…BRUCE CAMPBELL! YEEHAW!
THE LOWDOWN
When Anthony Hickox hit the genre stage with Waxwork; I had so much hope in terms of him becoming a prominent champion within the quality B movie scene. From Waxwork to Full Eclipse (I’m bypassing the bah Hellraiser 3), he had me on his side! I was a huge fan! Sadly he eventually hopped on the action bandwagon (Armand Assante and Dolph “great man” Lundgren movies) and our horror war lost a good trooper.

Now I had never seen Hickox’s follow up to the slick Waxwork; “Sundown” and I cracked a big freaking smile when I saw it calling my name from some old video store shelf. I’ve wanted to hit it for a while and there it was, collecting dust in all of its glory! You bet I picked that sucker up! So how was the film? Well pilgrim, although it suffered from a strong case of over ambition; Sundown still managed to be a worthy square-dance in my sofa for exactly that same reason; it’s over ambition. I mean this movie wanted to be everything and then some! No half loaded pistol for this rambling rambler! In one chamber there was the light horror movie bullet, blasting  my way “semi scary” moments and charming takes on the usual devices that come with the vampire subgenre. Then there was the witty comedy shell which rocketed some hilarious spins on known conventions, a gleeful embrace of its B Movie-ness, plenty of clever gnarly sight gags (loved the vamp bats' chit chat sessions) and a group of actors who deliciously cranked it all up to “HAM AND CHEESE”.

An extensive note on the players needs to be put out there where this fruit punch wouldn’t have been as tasty without them in the saddle. I mean Bruce Campbell as a Van Helsing descendant? COME ON! That alone was hilarious and thankfully “The King of Rock n' Dead” was up to the task! And the Matador kept getting the horns via Arrow Fav Deborah Foreman as a naïve vamp with a heart of gold, David Carradine as the dignified Christopher Lee-like Count, Maxwell Caulfield as the Vidal Sassoon villain and much more! The Casting Agent on this project deserves a healthy round of hookers, prostitutes, whores, crack whores, smack whores, yo-yo playing whores, street walkers, sidewalk strollers and a box of “Girl Scout Cookies”…ON ME! GOOD FREAKING JOB! The final potent pellet in this one's chamber was its classy ode to the Western genre by way of its striking desert town, its many showdowns, its exciting “siege” set pieces, its ample shoot outs and it’s almost epic like Western score.

It was a low-down-smutty-shame though that Sundown aimed to be so much at the same time! It often got ahead of itself to then get lost in its own knuckle-shuffle. In my opinion, the narrative needed to be stripped big time! There were too many characters and plot lines at play which made the whole feel unfocused, hence lessening its impact (The human couple and their annoying kids had to go!). The wandering demeanor resulted in the last block being fairly tedious to sit through as well. I mean the movie just wouldn’t freaking end! I was gawking at my watch and talking gibberish to the rattlesnake in my pants as the last 20 minutes of this film rolled on...that's not a good sign! And where the hell was the excessive gore that Waxwork so proudly displayed? Apart from 2 howlers this cow was way too dry for my taste buds. Lastly they were a couple of moments of “suspension of disbelief” here and there...nothing major but I had to rat them out none the less.

When Sundown's War Party of genres was over; I could say that I had an okay time with it all. It definitely gave me an eye/ear full, even though it lost me in places as we rode along the vamp frontier. Your move partner! <Arrow Sings>: BANG BANG she shot me down, BANG BANG, I hit ground, BANG BANG, that awful sound, BANG BANG, my vamp bitch shot me down! Wow did I just quote Cher! I SUCK!
GORE
The flick wasn’t as gory as I had hoped but it still put out; a sweet severed head, bloody bites, an impaling by umbrella, stakings, burning vamps and countless gun shot wounds.
ACTING
Ahhh Deborah Foreman (Sandy)! She’s always been a fav of mine with her fine performances in April Fool’s Day and Waxwork. She charmed my heart here too with her novel brand of charisma and cuteness. She’s a talented actress to boot! Bruce Campbell (Van Helsing) was underused but when he was onscreen; he shined with his bumbling part. I laughed out loud more than once! Maxwell Caulfield (Shane) chewed the scenery with hilarious results and then let his slick hair gap the rest. A fun performance! David Carradine (Mardulak) was kool as a cucumber and brought the necessary aura of class to the role. Loved him! Jim Metzler (David) and Morgan Brittany (Sarah) freaking bored me as the human couple. Their acting was “off” too! M Emmet Walsh (Mort) was at his character actor best while John Ireland (Ethan) had a blast with his villainous role and I had a riot watching him go at it!
T & A
None…like really…none…I’m sad…where’s my mommy…WHERE’S MY MOMMY!
DIRECTING
Hickox knows how to milk a low budget and sugar coat his visuals for maximum yummy-ness. I’m talking; an effective use of slow motion, slick angles, well staged actions scenes and an able handle on the film’s many moods. Good job bud!
SOUNDTRACK
How’s a grandiose and rousing Western like score sound to ya? How’s a lap dance sound to ya? How’s this pathetic review sound to ya?
BOTTOM LINE
Sundown was jumbled and would’ve needed some script or/and Post snip-snips to lean it down for maximum power. Fortunately it still managed to provide some high campy times in a Sombrero via its courageous genre bending ways, it stellar cast and its often dead on tongue in cheek sense of humor. Furthermore, the flick was obviously made with lots of love for the mucho genres at hand and that "loving" burst through the screen! Flawed? Yes. But I’ll take an over ambitious opus over a lazy, cookie cutter assembly line product any day! Come back to us Hickox! We miss ya!
BULL'S EYE
Sundown was Deborah Foreman’s last feature film...sniff...sniff…

Good old Vestron pictures produced and distributed the film. I miss those guys too! They use to rock when in business!

The flick was shot in Utah, USA

Anthony Hickox is the son of director Douglas Hickox, the man behind Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price.

Look out for the kool Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks, Waxwork) in a small role.
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