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DREAMING PURPLE NEON (2016)
Directed by Todd Sheets
Written by Todd Sheets
Starring Jeremy Edwards, Eli DeGeer, Millie Milan, Grant Conrad, Jack McCord, Antwoine Steele, Nick Randol, Ricky Farr, Jolene Loftin, Ana Rojas-Plumberg, Daniel Bell, Glen Moore, Stacy Weible, Jodie Nelles Smith, Dilynn Fawn Harvey, Rachel Lagen, Eve Smith, Brandon Grossheim, Tom Berg, Dave Edwards, Carol Adams, Douglas Epps, Jessica Orne Holroyd, Colin Prouse, Glen Tee
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DREAMING PURPLE NEON is a obviously a low budgeter cobbled together by a group of friends with a deep respect for the horror genre. The film tries really hard to twist concepts and trends of films from the last thirty years and then douse it in gallons and gallons of blood and gore. But while this is a film that might satisfy those with a taste for gore, the amateur level of acting, story, and direction is going to make it a tough sell for non-gorehounds.
The film threads together a few different storylines into one. The heart of it involves a broken hearten cowboy who lost his girl and has just returned to town. A secondary plot involves a pair of hitmen who are after a bag of drugs they gave to their missing secretary. The third being a drug that opens a doorway to hell and lets out all kinds of demons to terrorize all of the people in the cast whose storylines converge in a dentist’s office that happens to be housed above the hideout of a cult making the drug called Purple Neon and hoping to unleash hell on earth by birthing the queen of hell Abbadon.
First the good. There is so much gore in this film, that you might need to take a shower halfway through. It’s not just blood being spattered around. Intestines are pulled out of people’s asses and out of holes in their stomachs. There seems to be a real focus on the intestines in this film as the cultists, demons, and murderers pull all of them out of various orifices along with a ton of blood. Along with the guts, there are plenty of other dismemberings going on here. Faces are torn off. There’s a standing birth of a demon baby. There’s a crawling monster with arms and legs everywhere. Heads are ripped right off of bodies. If you like gore, this one is going to be a very delightful dish.
The problem with DREAMING PURPLE NEON is that a lot of the parts of this film are swiped almost directly from other films. While the drug aspect is new, having it be a portal to hell is a little too much like HELLRAISER’s puzzle boxes—especially when the cultists/demons wear tortured soul masks that resemble Cenobites. There’s even a scene where a metal hook is scraped along the bannister of a stairwell as seen in the original HELLRAISER. There’s also a lot of imagery that will seem familiar if you’ve seen SILENT HILL and BASKIN. On top of that, the film seems to emulate the conversational films that peaked in the nineties with CLERKS, GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS, and especially PULP FICTION with one of the hitmen even wearing a wig similar to Samuel L. Jackson’s in that iconic film. The problem is that too much of the dialog is being spoken by actors that just don’t have the range or training to make it convincing.
The ambitious film turns out to be a bit too self indulgent for its own good as I think a half hour of it could have been trimmed away. While the film does have impressive effects, the momentum of the story often screeches to a halt while the complex and over the top gory effects play out. I think DREAMING PURPLE NEON is an admirable effort. The goals of the filmmakers might have been a bit lofty, but the DIY aspect of this film makes it all go down in a painless and fun way. There is an undeniable love of Grindhouse horror going on in DREAMING PURPLE NEON and that almost made me look past its faults.
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