AKA Grave Walkers
Looking at the premise of Live-Evil a feeling of dread might start to sink it, but not for the reasons you’d be expecting. It’s one of those stories that you can just tell won’t quite deliver on the rather lofty promises made by the film makers. They claim it will be a mixture of Ghostbusters and Dawn of the Dead, and they’ve got Candyman himself Tony Todd on the top of the cast list. These are incredibly high benchmarks to try and reach for. Will it somehow all work out for the best, or will it just be another silly VOD story without a budget? The set-up is fairly standard stuff after all, so with a little finesse things might be entertaining at least. After all, you have to be optimistic before watching this kind of fare, even if that’s often a rather foolish approach…
Evil has come to town, as it often does in these kind of features. It’s arrived just in time for the Halloween festivities, thought I’m sure that this is just a happy coincidence. As a result it’s up to a band of local cops and residents to face a mysterious threat which is slowly taking over the neighbourhood. Sinister forces are brewing on this October night. But not everything seems to be linked to drunken party goers and student shenanigans. It’s a perfectly cromulent scenario. After all, a group of characters holding up at the local precinct as things go sour should at least lend itself to a good siege situation. Or at least you’d be forgiven for thinking so. However, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s pull back and start at the beginning.
A stylish opening title sequence makes several things clear. First things first, Tony Todd only gets an ‘also starring’ credit signalling it’s just going to be a bit part, which is of course a big shame. But it’s certainly no surprise all things considered. In fact it’s also no surprise that he appears almost an hour into the running time, for just a few brief moments. The second thing to note is that these credits hint that the production values, while not exactly stellar, will be decent enough. All the masks and the inky blood effects are a visually interesting way to get things rolling. The music here is also solid, and it remains so throughout. There are plenty of effective percussion tracks and pulsing electronic sounds… although the jazz bass riffs in other parts are a little odd to say the least. But I’m afraid these minor positive aspects are the best that this whole feature has to offer, and soon things become more complicated than they need to be.
After this introduction the visuals switch to black and white. It lends everything a certain amount of atmosphere, particularly in the first few 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 also disguises some of the digital effects, at least a little. But the in-story reason for this is never clear as her glimpses of the evil itself are in colour. Towards the end the whole film switches from this style 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 on. More time should have been spent improving the sound effects mix and editing the story into a coherent narrative. Characters experience mental flashes showing blood seeping from a coffin and more ghoulish masks are shown, but this is a pretty sparse bread crumb trail to say the least.
The plot itself is far too convoluted. Back in town a pair of insufferable twerps were caught with a stash of money and guns. Apparently they’re two of the FBI’s Most Wanted and were paid to deliver the demonic box which started all this. Deputy Hancock arrives with her mystery party guest and decides to take them into custody, despite them looking like an evil ghost. Good police work this is not — even naked ghouls should get to hear their rights. The prisoner proceeds to show everyone nightmare visions including serial killers and abusive fathers. In a way it’s like a demonic version of Camille from Red Dwarf; everyone sees it as something new. Some of the victims are disturbed and try to shoot each other in their confusion. But soon their visions subside… and the evil presence just sits in a cell for most of the movie. Unfortunately rational behaviour isn’t really something that exists in this story.
Later on there’s some demonic possession, a few jail breaks, some deaths, and everyone stumbles around looking lost. At this late stage I can sympathise. The dead rise from the grave (though it’s never clear why) and then begin to form armed gangs, putting some kind of plan into action. Who can say what. A few of them ride bikes around, apparently just for fun. It could have been entertaining if this small part was the whole story. Some of the make-up effects are creative, with designs close to the rotting father in part one of 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. Taken 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 films offer comedy and zombies combined more effectively, you’re better off looking elsewhere for your laughs or your gruesome October treats.