Sunday, January 22, 2006

Land of College Prophets (2005)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Lack of big stars or huge budgets is often a blessing in disguise for certain filmmakers, because they often compensate it with increased levels of ingenuity and creative freedom. Group of Connecticut filmmakers known as Hale Manor collective were aware of that and the result was LAND OF COLLEGE PROPHETS, film that wears its "B movie" credentials as a badge of honour.

The film is set in small town with a seemingly mundane community college whose students appear to spend very little time on educating themselves. Instead, they are more interested in preaching various bizarre religious and philosophical concepts on campus or brawling with each other at every conceivable opportunity. The prologue explains this as a tradition started with College Prophets, ancient secret society to whom two protagonists - Tommy (played by Thomas Edward Seymour) and Rye (played by Philip Guerette) - belong. Two of them are best friends and the toughest of all College Prophets, but their friendship comes to an end when Tommy discovers that his girlfriend Bellis (played by Tina Angelillo) sleeps with Rye. In the resulting brutal fight few drops of blood fall in the local well, ominously named The Well That Ate Children. This resurrects the ancient evil force that would poison town's water supply and make people go insane. Tommy and Rye are forced to settle their differences and fight the army of evil zombies led by their arch-enemy Third Reich Jones (played by Paul De Simone).

LAND OF COLLEGE PROPHETS is a surprisingly successful blend of horror, martial arts film parody. What makes it so effective is the contrast between the absurdity of situations and bizarre characters on one side and utmost seriousness with which they are presented on the other. Scenes depicting barroom brawls and similar kinds of immature behaviour are followed by literary and philosophical quotes, as well as the solemn narration by Thomas Edward Seymour.

The acting in the film is good, especially in the case of Run Russo as protagonists' Irish rival who later joins their cause. The cast also includes B-movie veteran Carmine Capoblanco as college professor and film reviewer Phil Hall in his screen debut.

But the most surprising quality of film is Seymour's musical soundtrack which enhances otherwise mundane atmosphere of the film and gives its scenes epic "larger than life" quality. This is best seen in the prologue that introduces characters in the style reminiscent of MORTAL KOMBAT.

The film's worst flaw, on the other hand, is its length. What looks refreshing and fascinating in the first hour is somewhat repetitive in the last twenty minutes. Authors are unable to maintain the quality of humour and some of the jokes in the film don't work.

Despite that, LAND OF COLLEGE PROPHETS is more than pleasant viewing experience that delivers all the best things associated with the phrase "B movie".

RATING: 6/10 (++)