Written and directed by Ari Kirschenbaum
Live-Evil is one of those films that you can just feel won’t quite deliver on it’s lofty promises, even for a silly horror feature. The makers claim it will be a mixture of Ghostbusters and Dawn of the Dead, and they have veteran genre star Tony Todd on the billing. These are incredibly high benchmarks. But the set-up is fairly standard, with a little finesse things might work out. Evil has come to town during the Halloween festivities, and a band of local cops will have to face a mysterious threat slowly taking over. Sinister forces are brewing, and drunken student shenanigans might be something more than they first appear. Holding up at the precinct usually lends itself to a good siege situation, right?
A stylish opening title sequence makes several things clear. Firstly the Candyman himself only gets an ‘also starring’ credit signalling a bit part which is a shame, but no surprise. He appears after almost an hour into the running time for a few brief moments. Secondly the production values, while not exactly stellar are decent enough. The masks and inky blood effects are a visually interesting way to get things rolling. The music is also solid throughout with plenty of effective percussion tracks and pulsing electronic sounds; though the jazz bass riffs in other parts are odd to say the least. But these minor points are the best this has to offer, and soon things become more complicated than they need to be.
After the credits the visuals switch to black and white. It does lend a certain amount of atmosphere, particularly in the first scenes. Deputy Hancock (Charlene Amoia) arrives at a party gone wrong and discovers the perplexing villain of the story, who I’ll get to in a moment. This monochrome look disguises some of the digital effects, at least a little. But the in-story reason for this is never clear as glimpses of the evil itself are in colour. Towards the end the whole film switches over to this entirely, leading you to wonder what it’s meant to symbolise, if anything. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to summing up what happens later. More time should have been spent improving the sound effects mix and editing the story into a cohesive narrative. Characters experience mental flashes showing blood seeping from a coffin and more ghoulish masks are shown, but this is all pretty vague to say the least.
The plot itself is just far too incoherent. Back in town a pair of insufferable twerps were caught with a stash of money and guns – apparently they are some of the FBI’s most wanted and were paid to deliver a demonic box which started all this. Hancock arrives to take the mystery party guest into custody, despite them looking like an evil ghost. Good police work this is not – even naked ghouls should get to hear their rights. It proceeds to show everyone nightmare visions such as a serial killer or an abusive father. Sort of like a demonic version of Camille from Red Dwarf, everyone sees it as something new. Some are disturbed and they try to shoot each other in the confusion, but their visions subside… and the evil presence just sits in a cell for most of the movie. Rational behaviour isn’t really something that exists here.
Later there’s some possession, a few jail breaks, some deaths, and everyone stumbles around looking understandably lost. The dead rise from the grave though it’s never clear why, and they begin to form armed gangs and put some kind of plan into action. A few of them ride bikes around. It could have been fun if this was the whole story and some of the make-up effects are creative, with a look close to the rotting father in Creepshow. This third act injects a certain amount of levity which is badly needed. The best character is a university lecturer who seems to exist just to make silly remarks, like he wandered in from another film. On their own some of these ideas are imaginative, but there’s no central focus to any of it even as things wrap up. When so many movies offer comedy and zombies combined more effectively, you’re better off looking elsewhere.