Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain 2002 Uncut Workprint Review
Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain. Uncut Workprint 2002
Directed by: Christian Viel
Starring: Jennifer Jameson, Chasey Lain, Ginger Lynn
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Ok first things first. I haven’t added anything here for a while, because I recently started a new role and my plan was always to post like a rabbit on Viagra during the first few months so that there was enough for you guys and gals to read and then roll out new stuff on the site when I can.
Now this is an update of a review that I wrote in 2002 and it’s important that I tell you that this is from the workprint that I got my hands on back then (Thanks very much Christian Viel). It turns out that the released copy is nowhere near as good, so please forgive me if you go and buy the DVD and see nothing that I have written here. Lastly, I took the liberty of posting a picture of Chasey Lain. Now this is not from the movie, which was made after she got hooked on drugs and lost that traffic-stopping beauty. But hey, when would I get another excuse, eh? Ok, back to the film…
If you were a director that was looking to cast female victims for a slasher movie, then surely it would make sense to add a couple of porn stars? It’s not as if they’re inexperienced in front of the camera, they have no qualms with the requisite nudity and how many unattractive porn queens can you name? Christian Viel obviously recognized the potential of mixing hardcore actresses with hard-gore effects and so he cast four of adult cinema’s sexiest and most notorious stars. Jenna Jameson, Chasey Lain, Ginger Lynn Allen and Taylor Hayes all turn up for cameos in arguably the most intriguing slasher flick to be released since Scream reinvigorated the genre.
Samhain was originally intended for a cinema release in October 2002 – thus keeping in check with the Halloween-based synopsis. Unfortunately, the shoot was plagued by many problems, which have thus prevented the feature from achieving the exposure that it deserves. Last I heard it had been signed by Film 2000 here in the UK and was penned for a late October release direct to DVD. Unfortunately that label has a peerlessly abysmal track record with DTV slashers. Not content with polluting our shelves with Camp Blood and its follow-up, they were also responsible for unleashing Granny, Bleed and the rancid Paranoid. Could Samhain finally be worthwhile ammunition to their contemptible catalogue cannon?
Five Canadian/American students and their teacher head to Southern Ireland as part of their history course. Upon arrival they are told the legend of a cannibalistic clan that roamed the hills of Scotland and murdered locals for food. The cannibals were eventually caught and burnt at the stake, but it’s rumoured that one of the tribe escaped and headed to the woodland of Ireland to find refuge. After the kids have settled and begun doing what all massacre-fodder does in these flicks, the mandatory goody two-shoes (and definite heroine candidate) begins to be spooked by a shadow creeping around late at night. Could it be that the flesh hungry maniac is still at large in the Forest? Well what do you think…?
It looks as if Samhain’s production was jinxed right from the start. Almost immediately Wal-Mart refused to develop Jenna Jameson’s nude make-up shots and Chasey Lain began acting characteristically like a drugged-out primadonna. Finally to add insult to injury, the producers got cold feet just before the flick was about to hit shelves and began talking of re-editing and removing all the gore. Reports have said that they were unhappy about the copious amounts of violence and they wanted to trim scenes down so it would achieve an R rating. Veil of course disagreed, seeing how his entire synopsis was boosted by its creatively graphic display. Eventually after months of arguments, the director parted company with Warehouse productions and the feature was once again locked in the vaults.
Despite countless disruptions, Veil’s slasher opus is still one of the best genre pieces to be released since the new millennium. The copy I was sent was the pre-release screener, which was obviously a test press without sound effects or the complete soundtrack. But still it boasted a few credible jump-scares, some superb cinematography and a couple of the goriest set pieces that I’ve seen for some time. One guy is disembowelled via his rectum before being strangled with his own intestine, Jenna Jameson is stripped naked and gutted in unflinching close up and Chasey Lain ends up ‘spilling her guts’ after an unfortunate rescue attempt from her boyfriend (Richard Grieco).
Even if the murders are uncommonly gruesome, Samhain never feels mean-spirited, which is basically due to the characters being thinly portrayed as basic slasher clichés. In all honesty the script was perhaps the movies biggest downfall, because the dialogue was not so much inspired by Wes Craven’s Scream movies as it was flagrantly cut and pasted from them. Certainly the inclusion of the mouth-watering Jenna Jameson was a great move by the producers. Her fans will be excited to know that she does whip off her top (as expected) and so does Chasey Lain and Taylor Hayes. But Samhain is no soft porn movie, and it benefits from sticking to the structure that it set out to produce. It’s worth noting that the aforementioned XXX stars almost out-perform the supposed ‘actors’ of the feature, which isn’t much of a complement. Ginger Lynn was at least notable (if you ignore the shameful ‘Oirish’ accent), and her battle with the hulking killer was superbly performed and choreographed by Alan Chou. Taylor and Jenna delivered expectedly poor dramatics, which could have been caused by the numerous problems on-set. Veil’s direction is sharp and he provides some much-needed injections of suspense. Exciting and crisp photography is mixed with a good flair for storytelling and the net result is a slasher extravaganza to satisfy even the most critical gore hounds.
It will be interesting to see what kind of final cut is released of Samhain. Rumour has it that a second director was drafted in to shoot a different ending, and I’m curious as to how much of the explicit gore will remain intact for worldwide distribution. If the end result is only half as good as the rough print that I watched, then it’s still better than nearly all of the genre pieces that have been unleashed over the past ten years. This one is certainly worth checking out… * I watched the DVD recently, just before posting this and it is missing most of the good stuff, so try and see this version if you really want to see how it should’ve looked.
Final Girl: √√
* Review originally posted 12/11/2002