One of old school independent horror director J R Bookwalter's many young proteges Danny Draven came to the fore here at SGM with his debut feature 'Horror Vision', showcasing very promising talent and a great flair behind the camera. So with his new production company 'Darkwave' we're now getting the opportunity to see his latest work in the form of ghetto horror comedy 'Cryptz', but will Draven continue to prove he is a force behind the camera?

Following a teaser opening scene where we see a young black guy being torn apart by some sort of demon vampire, 'Cryptz' opens proper as we meet wannabe rapper Tymez Skwair getting understandable grief from his despairing mother to get off his lazy ass and joining the real world by getting out of his bed and getting a job. With no intention of doing such he slips off out with his homeboys (and fellow would be rappers) Fuzzy Down and Likrish for a bit of hanging around doing pretty much nothing. Kicking back out on the street their gaze falls upon a passing leggy beauty (or 'sweet big titted honey' as the guys call her) in the form of gorgeous club dancer Stesha. Entranced by her the lads set their mind to finding the club where she works and try getting her onboard with their plans for global hip hop domination! Knowing only the name of the club where she works, the aptly named 'Cryptz', they phone Skwair's old friend Truck (super psycho mean man Truck) for help tracking the club down. They're amusingly baffled when Truck warns them not to pursue the matter and orders them to strap down poor Skwair to his bed until the sun rises and not surprisingly ignore his request and as darkness falls Skwair runs screaming like a man possessed out of the house searching the elusive night club. He soon leads his friends right to the hidden entrance of the club and they're happily glad they chose not to heed Truck's words as they find a strip club with a selection of some of the finest ladies they've ever come across. But this club is by no means what it seems and to their misery they soon find out when it comes time for 'lock down' and the luckless customers trapped inside quickly realise that they are lined up as feeding time for the demon vamps that are resident within!

'Cryptz' is a fun light-hearted horror comedy romp that makes for an entertaining diversion for those of us that like the occasional slice of brainless horror fun! And yes, director Draven is welcomingly proving that his earlier work wasn't just a flash in the pan with some nice fluid skilful talent on show delivering a well-paced entry to the genre scene. Of course it is true that 'Cryptz' isn't going to make any great impact on the genre but taken for what it is (a low budget romp) then you'll derive a lot of smirking satisfaction on viewing. The plot is very simply an ultra low budget ghetto variation of 'From Dusk Till Dawn', the clout of Hollywood and its financing is nowhere to be seen but the enthusiasm is present and the make up effects are just as good. The three main leads are a lot of fun also with some great lines of dialogue acting pretty much like a subdued street version of the Three Stooges at times. And lets not forget the ladies of the night as these undead demons are delicious eye candy and look very impressive even when transformed into their demonic alter egos. Perhaps one of the best performance has to go to the films very own Vin Diesel in the form of mean mother Truck played perfectly by the impressive Chyna and also of note is the nice atmospheric score by the very talented Josephine Soegijanty.

Well paced, low budget horror fun and another job done well by director Draven that yet again makes me hope that one day this guy will get to helm a big budget horror movie, as you feel he's got so much more to offer if the funding could be found.

The anarmorphic widescreen print on show here is pin sharp throughout, though you would expect as much from a newly filmed production and it helps considering much of the films sets are inside darkly lit locales. Likewise the audio is clean and sharp throughout highlighting Soegijanty's great score. As for extras well there's absolutely no room here for complaint - in respect to 'Cryptz' there's the regulation expected movie trailer and a welcome behind the scenes documentary that contains interview with just about everyone involved in the films production highlighting the feel good factor that must have been rife on location and the finer details of low budget film production.

But it is the next bonus feature that pushes the boat out as far as extra features go with the inclusion of not only another full length feature but all the bonus feature trimmings that wouldn't be out of place if this had been a release all of its own. The down side of this bonus movie though is the feature itself - 'Ragdoll'.

Playing very much like a lacklustre poor mans R'n'B 'Puppetmaster', the film opens in New Orleans in 1941 where some ghostly demons sent by the mysterious demon Shadowman to terrorise and claim penance from a witchcraft dabbling young mother. The young daughter looks on as her mother is killed then the film cuts to the present where we meet the girl grown up now as the witchcraft dabbling grandmother of upcoming hip hop artist Kwame. To cut a very long story short, Kwame's band are being bullied into being managed by a local drug pushing pimp gangster, onstage he publicly refuses to play the crooks game. The gangster arranges for grandma to get roughed up by some stooges, Kwame uses his family knack for black magic to get the evil spirit Shadowman to bring an old puppet to life and go on a killing spree of revenge!

Now you'll be thinking well that actually sounds ok surely? And yes indeed on paper it does, especially if like me you've a soft spot for Full Moon's low budget horror charm. And with Full Moon stalwart Ted Nicolaou behind the camera lens you'd expect some of that charm to appear onscreen, and at times it is but it's many distractions will detract from any pleasure that could have been gained. The acting in general is often quite pedestrian but the real problem here is that it plays like one big promo feature music video for the soul less music artists being promoted by producers Big City Music. Something that's only reinforced by the films bonus features. Of course there's the welcome movie trailer (which is probably all you'll need to see) but the behind the scenes feature starts by blatantly plugging yet again the music featured in the feature (and a round about admission of using the tag of urban horror to as much) then finally if the movie itself as an extended music video wasn't enough then there's a bonus music video track on show too. Don't get me wrong, 'Ragdoll' isn't the worst you'll ever see and if some judicial editing (of all the dull music scenes) had taken place we would have had a reasonable viewing experience.

But it's the main feature 'Cryptz' that we're here for at the end of the day and a fine slice of low budget horror fun it is too. This budget DVD from Full Moon/Big City is excellent value for money and an impressive package all round. Sure I didn't get a kick from 'Ragdoll' but I'm sure fans of this sorta music perhaps will? Wanna check out some new horror with a strong urban flavour? Then this very well could be for you!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Big City Pictures
Region - All (NTSC)
Rated - R
Ratio - anarmorphic widescreen
Extras :
Theatrical trailers, Behind the scenes, Music video