18th Jan2014

‘Grindhouse 12: Shadowzone’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Louise Fletcher, David Beecroft, James Hong, Frederick Flynn, Shawn Weatherly, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Lu Leonard, Maureen Flaherty, Robbie Rives | Written and Directed by J.S. Cardone

shadowzone-cast

Now this is more like it! One of Full Moon’s lesser-known movies, Shadowzone originally debuted in 1990, just after Puppet Master exploded on to the scene. It is also the second of three Full Moon Productions (the company name was later changed to Full Moon Entertainment) that were lensed between 1989 and 1991 – the others being Puppet Master and Meridian, both of which have already had the DVD, and in Puppet Master‘s case, Blu-ray, treatment from 88 Films.

Shadowzone sees a group of NASA hyper-sleep researchers conducting tests in an abandoned underground facility in the Nevada desert. When one subject dies during the test, NASA sends in Captain Hickock (Beecroft) to investigate. and what he finds is more horrific than the death itself. The scientists, guided by Dr. Erhart (Fletcher) and Dr. Van Fleet (Hong), have broken the boundaries of dream-state sleep and have tapped into a parallel dimension. However their deadly experiments brings forth an alien life form that decides to stay and prey, assuming any life form it wants, becoming each person’s deepest darkest fear…

I have a confession to make. Shadowzone is one of my favourite non-franchise Full Moon flicks, I already own the US release (bought years ago in Canada) and the 2002 UK release and now we have this new release from 88 Films! Lensed by J.S. Cardone, the director behind the 1982 video nasty The Slayer, the film is heavily influenced by the likes of Alien and The Thing, it even resembles a previous Charles band production, Creepozoids. It’s also from the days when Full Moon productions actually had money behind them and the production values to match, there’s no cheap and nasty DV-shot footage here like modern Band productions, hell no!

Instead we get stylish cinematography from Karen Grossman, another great Richard Band score and, best of all, some fantastic monster work and often times gory effects from one of the best – yet oddly overlooked – SFX guys of the 80s and 90s, Mark Shostrom, whose work has also graced the likes of The Mutilator, Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and Evil Dead 2.

Shadowzone also has a pretty decent cast to go with its higher-than-average production values, including Louise Fletcher, James Hong (who seems to be hamming it up as much as he did in The Vineyard), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. and two popular TV stars of the time: Baywatch‘s Shawn Weatherly and David Beecroft from US soap Falcon Crest. Yes the films finale falls a little flat but the cast, combined with the top-notch production values, make this one of the better Full Moon flicks of the era.

It’s not all great though. This second UK release for Shadowzone – the first being Film 2000′s budget release in 2002 – is the second to disappoint. For me this is one of Full Moon’s best non-franchise flicks, yet it seemingly remains one of the black sheep of Charles Band’s filmic family, with no decent release either side of the pond. I applaud 88 Films for releasing this gem once again but have to wonder why it wasn’t given better treatment a la its Full Moon Productions brethren?

Nevertheless, for fans of Full Moon (and 88 Films completists) this is most-definitely an essential purchase. Shadowzone is out now.

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