(A.k.a. DEMONS OF JACK COUNTY)
Hungover former Navy lieutenant Warren (Mikal Vega) is woken in his military cell one morning by the sharp-uniformed Commander Jacobs (Tony Nevada). Jacobs has an offer for Warren: a lighter sentence, if he's prepared to gather some of his old crew and oversee a covert operation.
Initially disinterested, Warren begins to pay more attention when Jacobs makes mention of paranormal activity. It seems demons have fallen to Earth and set their sights on taking over the sleepy Texan town of Jack County. Their motive? To secure the blood of the town's female virgins in a bid to attain the purity required to allow them to enter a hallowed chapel which they aim to overthrow. Now Jacobs wants hard-living Warren and his crew to go in there and put an end to this reign of terror before it spreads any wider.
Incredulous to begin with, Warren is persuaded with surprising ease - and before we know it, he's busy setting about recruiting two old colleagues for his bizarre mission.
Fortunately fellow ex-soldiers Whiskey (Les Brooks Jr) and Red (Matthew Anderson) have precious little going on in their lives - the first is now a janitor, the latter barely scrapes by fixing motorcycles from his home garage - so are similarly quick to jump on board. The trio take to their respective Harley Davidsons and embark on an overnight ride to Texas.
Their first stop is a local lap-dancing bar, where Warren soon wins the attentions of barmaid and dancer Juana (Liana Mendoza). There's a clear chemistry soon established between the pair; the fly in the ointment is Juana's ties to a local biker gang led by the aggressive Pancho (Aldo Gonzalez) and his right-hand man Rafa (Anthony L Fernandez).
When Juana's daughter is attacked by the snout-nosed demons, this brings the bikers and military men together, as both parties vow to put their differences aside and team up to fight the seemingly unstoppable evil. A double-dealing sheriff, a priest with a hidden agenda and a haunted past are just some of the hurdles Warren will need to face along the way.
NAVY SEALS V DEMONS: it's one of those ludicrous, Scy-Fy Channel-worthy titles, isn't it? Something you'd expect to play on a double-bill with something as trashy as SHARKTOPUS, and most likely just as silly in its content.
Bizarrely, director Jeffrey Reyes' film is quite a low-key affair, surprisingly sombre in tone and dim in visual style. It possesses none of the cartoonish action I'd been expecting, and only sporadically evidences a (weak) sense of humour via ill-fitting moments whereby the leads break out of their po-faced characters and toss about poor one-liners for a minute of two.
Speaking of the cast, the three leads all come from military backgrounds. So, there is a hint of authenticity to their grizzled performances. However, they hardly give classic action heroes a run for their money - either in terms of muscular set-pieces (there are precious few) or charisma (between them, they have none).
The demons are curiously underused, perhaps because the budget and TV movie production veneers don't allow for them to be scary (they look like a meshing of practical make-up and bad CGI). Elsewhere, the horror elements are definitely secondary to the plodding plot and a screenplay which brings in far too many characters for the viewer to care for or even keep track of.
The film looks decent and is commendable for not being as daft as its title suggests. But, perhaps, this is its downfall too: none of the promised cheesy fun surfaces.
MVD Visual's blu-ray disc is a region-free affair. It presents the film in its unabridged form, in full 1080p HD resolution. This healthily sized MPEG4-AVC file respects the original 2.35:1 ratio, which naturally is 16x9 enhanced. Considering much of the film occurs in the dark, or in rather dimly-lit interiors, the transfer was never going to be one that you'd use to show off your latest swanky home cinema set-up. However, the numerous shades of black are rendered extremely well with no unwelcome noise or hints of compression to speak of. Colours and flesh-tones appear accurate throughout, while the HD photography ensures images are consistently sharp and clean.
English audio is provided in choices of 2.0 stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes. Both are reliable sources, with the latter edging it slightly, thanks to some beefy separation during the film's more bombastic moments.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page. From there, pop-up menus include an animated scene selection option allowing access to the film by way of 12 chapters.
There are no extras on offer.
NAVY SEALS V DEMONS is more technically proficient than I imagined it would be. It's also less entertaining as a consequence, and never truly gets going. It's a mediocre, low-budget production which will soon be forgotten. It's not bad, per se ... but that's the best I can offer it.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual|