I’m real late to figuring out that STAKE LAND is good. I mean, I saw good reviews in Fangoria or somewhere but, not being familiar with director Jim Mickle (COLD IN JULY, MULBERRY STREET) or co-writer/star Nick Damici at the time, I pictured a different type of low budget zombie-apocalypse-except-with-vampires-instead-of-zombies movie. I must’ve thought it would be something more poser-y, more SyFy-y, more guy-trying-to-be-Bruce-Campbell-or-somebody. I saw Damici with his sunglasses on the cover and imagined a regular guy overreaching in the badass department, when in fact he’s a great character actor being given proper respect as a lead badass without having to leave behind any of his actorly chops.
This is cheap but not at all cheesy. It’s artfully moody, takes place in a fully-realized post-apocalyptic world, is thoroughly grim and serious but not without its fantastical flourishes. It’s not one of those genre deconstructions that deconstructs out all the ingredients you paid for – it has cool monsters and gore. What it lacks in humor it makes up for in the warmth of strangers bonding, working together in a disaster and hoping for a promised land. It’s a good balance of THE ROAD with John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES. (read the rest of this shit…)
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.