An amorous couple pitch their tent on a beach and start to make out beneath the moonlight. Outside, a mysterious figure limps towards their tent. As the woman strips off, the couple are alarmed to see a shadow against the tent's canvas. They dress hurriedly, but too late - as her back is turned, the woman hears a tear in the canvas and turns to discover her boyfriend gone.

It's an effective opening, well-shot and paced expertly to increase the tension. The use of coloured lighting, a'la Argento, lends a style to proceedings. And the style continues with an attractive titles sequence, making the film look quite cinematic despite it's SOV origins.

Next we meet Lane (Jeff Dylan Graham, DEAD AND ROTTING; ZOMBIEGEDDON), a struggling artist who lives in a house overlooking the beach with his wife Diane (Elizabeth North, SOUTHERN GOTHIC).

Lane tells Diane that she has received a message on their answerphone, from someone claiming to have a book she has been searching for. Lane's fears are confirmed when she tells him it is a book of spells said to be capable of resurrecting the dead. Diane's sister, you see, died in a car accident a while back, and she's never got over it.

Meanwhile we're treated to a bit of big-breasted bondage as we're introduced to their neighbour (Sequoia Rose Fuller, MALEFIC), who interrupts her partner's (and ours) fun to take a call from her friend, and moan about how bored she is - wishing her life was more like Diane's. Diane, after all, is the daughter of a male witch who also died many moons ago ...

Despite Lane's misgivings, Diane invites the enigmatic Hamilton (Lucien Eisenach, DEAD CLOWNS) to their home. Hamilton tells them he bought the book of magic from a church sale, and warns that if it ever came into contact with the only other book of it's kind in the world (yes, there's two of them!) it could have devastating powers.

Diane wants the book but refuses to buy it from the sleazy Hamilton. Instead, much to Lane's disbelief, she shoots him in the head and claims the tome for herself.

Lane is understandably shocked and says they must tell the police. Diane refuses, and reveals that she already owns the other book. She suggests an attempt at re-animating Hamilton - putting things back as they were. Oh, if only it were that simple ...!

When the spell appears to have failed, Lane begrudgingly offers to hack Hamilton's cadaver into pieces, bag it up and dump it in the sea. However, while preparing the body parts for disposal, Lane is aghast when he spies Hamilton's severed hand crawling away at speed!

The pace increases and the atmosphere becomes decidedly paranoid from this point onwards, as Lane and Diane must contend with a mysterious killer on the loose, a nosey neighbour who turns up at the worst times imaginable, and the small matter of a disembodied hand crawling around their house ...

Prior to this, writer/director Steve Sessions made CREMAINS and DEAD CLOWNS. Both of which showed signs of promise, but ultimately failed on too many levels. CADAVER BAY is a substantial improvement on his earlier efforts.

Well-framed, well-shot, stylish and well-paced, CADAVER BAY is a simple story told in a pleasingly direct manner. It's good to see a director these days too, who lets the characters and script entertain their audience, instead of "wowing" us with unnecessary 'film-school'-style gimmickry. Sessions' directiorial style isn't flashy, just assured.

The acting is superior when contemplating other contemporary US indie horror flicks. As, too, are the FX work of Jonathan Fuller. There's some neat zombie make-up, and a couple of gruesome murder set-pieces that stick in the memory.

There are a few interesting nods to other horror films in CADAVER BAY, most notably the opening beach scene that recalls an episode from Herschell Gordon Lewis' BLOOD FEAST, and the crawling hand that brings THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS swiftly to mind.

Overall, a solid effort in the SOV stakes that fills it's 81 minutes with atmosphere, tension and a little humour - not to mention a spot of nudity and violence, for those of us who crave it!

Cryptkeeper's disc offers CADAVER BAY fully uncut, and in it's original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is good, and the stylish use of colours that Sessions employs is given justifiable treatment here, if a little dark at times. Generally, images are clear and crisp. The same can be said of the 2.0 Englsih audio track.

The disc has static interactive menus that include a scene selection menu offering access to the film via 16 chapters (although there's actually 17), and the following extras:

A short trailer, which does a good job of showcasing CADAVER BAY'S atmosphere and gore FX.

A music video by electro-Goth rockers Psychonaut 75, who also feature on the film's soundtrack. The video is an embarrassing attempt at Goth scariness, which comes across as cheap, repetitive and (unintentionally) funny.

Out-takes, which mainly involve the three principal characters laughing and/or winding each other up on set. Brief, at 3 mins.

A decent modern horror yarn that has a contemporary feel to it, while making references to good old-fashioned genre classics too. Well worth a look.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Crypt Keeper
Region 0 NTSC
Rated 18
Extras : see main review