One of my favourite character actors is Tony Todd. He’s given us the chills as Candyman, cropped up in Star Trek, 24 and Chuck, and lent his malevolent voice to all manner of stuff, including Batman and Transformers.
Being the consummate actor for hire that he is – he reminds me of Vinnie Price, who also tried his hand at all manner of stuff just to keep on working – Todd has also appeared in some god awful tosh.
Which brings me to The Graves, the debut horror from Chaos! Comics head Brian Pulido. Todd plays the creepy Reverend Abraham Stockton, the head of a bizarre sect awaiting the ascension of some supernatural force in the remote Arizona town of Skull City.
When the Graves sisters, Megan (Clare Grant) and Abby (Jillian Murray), take a road trip before Megan heads to New York, they come across Skull City’s tourist mine, where they witness the brutal killings of a group of fellow visitors.
Soon a family of psychotic serial killers, including Rob Zombie favourite Bill Moseley, is hunting them down. But just as it looks as though our plucky heroines have made good their escape, they fall into the clutches of Todd’s crazy preacher and his equally disturbed followers.
The Graves starts like The Hills Have Eyes meets Tourist Trap before shifting gears into satanic cult territory. In the end, it comes across as a something akin to Robert Fuest’s overlooked 1975 horror, The Devil’s Rain – which also dealt with a group of Satanists hold up in a remote desert town – although the pay off in The Graves is nothing like the satanic meltdown in Fuest’s box-office flop.
While Grant and Murray make credible scream queens – and look pretty fit in their tight fitting T’s – and the film boasts horror stars Todd and Moseley, Pulido’s debut lacks flare, originality and even a decent creature (I just saw a flash of light and heard a screaming noise) to make this worth watching.
Hopefully, Pulido will learn from his mistakes if he ever returns to Skull City.