FEATURE FILM REVIEW
NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS
When miners blast for gold in the 1870's, they accidentally release ancient creatures known as Tommyknockers.
“Not many folks survive an encounter with the Dirt Gang.”Those Tommyknockers aren’t exactly what you’d call friendly, either! Western horror films are definitely unique to themselves, no doubt about that. Dirk (boss) and his band of thieves stroll into town to take some of that modern-day gold for themselves – aka, rob the ol’ bank – and they’re forced to take a hostage after things go awry in the process. After a good ol’ fashioned shoot-out with the marshal in the streets, the Dirt Gang makes their getaway, which sets the chain of events for “Night Of The Tommyknockers” in motion and gets this story moving quickly. Rather than call in the army like the humble townsfolk we’re so diplomatically asking for, they hire a pro bounty hunter and attempt to go after the bank-robbing bandits by taking the law into their own hands.
... AS YOU WOULD PROBABLY EXPECT, MUCH CARNAGE ENSUES, AND THE BLOOD STARTS FLOWIN' PRETTY FAST & FURIOUSLY...
Meanwhile, sitting around the campfire, the Dirt Gang is already forming plans for their next big score, getting ready to move along to the town of Deer Creek in Nevada, to alleviate the burden of having to store all that money from some more banks. They eventually arrive at a complete ghost town, with fresh blood on the countertops and an eerie quiet filling the whole town. You’ll see clever imagery like a ton of guns all available, but no bullets, fresh graves dug, but no bodies, horses spooked – it’s clear that “something ain’t right” and that the Dirt Gang might be in more trouble than the law could ever bring them. I really liked how these bandits we’ve been following end up in a saloon with Nevada’s marshal and are essentially forced to hole up for safety and join forces to survive…at least for a while.
As you would probably expect, much carnage ensues, and the blood starts flowin’ pretty fast & furiously as we all sink our teeth into this horror flick along with the Tommyknockers we see onscreen. To be fair to these creatures, most of the people that get the punishment of death are gettin’ what they deserve – these Tommyknockers are simply doin’ their level best to protect the gold as they’ve been doin’ since time began long ago. If they hadn’t felt threatened, who knows, maybe the Dirt Gang would still be as whole as when the movie started…maybe they would have just passed through town fully unscathed. Of course, that isn’t the case; it’s a horror movie, so eventually, someone’s gotta f*** around & find out.
... NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS LEANS MORE TOWARDS ITS HORROR SIDE THAN COMEDY...
Director Michael Su, and writers Rolfe Kanefsky & Adrian Miles, clearly had some fun making this film. There are some decent laughs along the way through the gore-fest, and not everything you’ll see is intended to be savagely serious, though obviously, it is dire straits for the characters within this movie. Folks keep telling me we need that bit of comic relief inside horror movies so that we don’t end up being too scared of what we experience…and I’m still not convinced that’s really where I stand on that debate. But that’s just me, and it’s not necessarily you – so if you like to have a couple of chuckles whilst people are being torn to bits, then make sure to tune on into “Night Of The Tommyknockers.”
Acting-wise, they lean into that comedic aspect when it’s appropriate, and other characters will remain stoically serious throughout the whole film. I actually thought Richard Grieco did a stellar job as the head bandit Dirk and that Tom Sizemore worked really well as Marshal Steed too. As for the rest, they’re walking a fine line when it comes to the balance they’re looking for between horror and comedy, and to their credit, it’s not the easiest to find. “Night Of The Tommyknockers” leans more towards its horror side than comedy, so it becomes tougher to perhaps be taken as seriously as it should be when it’s being serious – make sense? At the same time, it’s crucial to remember it’s intended to be on the lighter side of horror. I mean, it’s about Tommyknockers, y’all. Don’t be too uptight & enjoy the fun in the mayhem!
...THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT TO GET RIGHT IN MAKING A MOVIE LIKE THIS IS THE LOOK OF THE CREATURES THEMSELVES, AND I THOUGHT THEY TURNED OUT FANTASTIC...
Beyond all things, what I think is the most important aspect to get right in making a movie like “Night Of The Tommyknockers” is the look of the creatures themselves, and I thought they turned out fantastic in this film. They’re creepy, they’re shot smartly by how Su shows them to us onscreen, and they honestly look freakin’ cool. Up until this point in time, I had no real notion of what a Tommyknocker was going to look like, and I feel like I’ve definitely learned to stay far, far away from’em based on what I’ve seen in this movie. I’m gonna meet this movie right in the middle with two & a half stars; it might not be the front-runner this award season, but it satisfies in that popcorn-flick type of way you’d want it to.
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