Wow, is this a great year for horror DVD or what? We've been getting all sorts of great flicks, like Synapse's Evil Dead Trap, Anchor Bay's new and improved Argento and Fulci collections, and now, a film that literally sat in limbo for over a year while studios fought over how, or even IF, to distribute it is now playing in the comfort of our own homes.
Mike Mendez's The Convent had already stirred up a legion of devoted fans based on early screenings, festival showings, and just strong word of mouth, and it is thanks to those fans that Mike's great horror/comedy finally fell into the right hands for distribution. Sadly, it didn't get much by way of a theatrical release, but, to be honest, I like watching movies on my system, smoking cigs and drinkin beer. Ahhh, the future of cinema is in my living room.
The Convent is the story of a group of stereotypically obnoxious college types who venture to a condemned catholic school to spray the letters of their fraternity on the schools bell tower. The Convent has been closed down since 1960, when, legend has it, a former student named Christine shot up thechurch, nuns and all, and burnt the place down after being forced into an abortion to hide the fact that it was the head priest's child she was carrying. 40 years later, Christine still lives in town after spending much of her life in an asylum.
Meanwhile the students arrive at the school at the same time a group of Goth-Satanists are trying to awaken the Dark Lord, and the virgin Mo (Perry, who I hope to not only see in every movie ever made from this day on, but also in my future wedding album) is "sacrificed" by the Goths, awakening a force long dormant. It is soon up to Clarissa (Canton) and the older but still tough as nails Christine (Barbeau, obviously having a blast!) to stop the evil nuns from bringing on the apocalypse.
The Convent is not your average horror flick, or your average anything for that matter. The film deftly balances between horror and comedy all the while injecting a furious new energy to the zombie genre that may put off some purists, but will delight those looking for something new and inventive. Mendez's zombies don't lurch or shamble, they move with incredible speed with the aid of some neat clippy editing, and sport bulging neon veins and contacts that make them look like nothing you have ever seen. Sure, much of it is played for laughs, but the results are also pretty creepy, and the gore factor is pretty high given that this is an actual R-rated cut of the film.
The DVD has a load of cool extras, but my personal favorite is the Gore-On- Demand section, which let's you pick through the highlights of the film's many death sequences, and shows you them as they were being shot, giving you a nice feeling of what it was like to be on the Convent set. Visually, the film is crisp and belies it's low-budget origins with colorful and vibrant sets and sequences that measure up to the best DVD's out there. My only gripe is that the film freezes up on me at the same spot every time, and I'm on my 4th copy, so it's either an issue with my Pioneer player, or a glitch in the DVD itself. In any case, The Convent takes a lot of chances, bends all the rules, and comes up with a very fun, energetic, zombedy. If you are sick of the same old shit, The Convent is just what you've been praying for.