EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN
Directed by Christian Viel
Produced by Christian Viel
Written by Christian Viel
Director of Photograpy Dan Goyens
Music by Alex Khaskin
Cast: Bobbie Phillips, Howard Rosenstein, Ginger Lynn Allen, Jenna Jameson & Richard Grieco
2003/78 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
Let's say that your friend invited you over for a lasagna dinner. That would be very generous and nice, as lasagna is a tasty Italian treat. But, what if the lasagna contained no cheese, no noodles, and no meat. You'd be left with a bowl of sauce. Viewing EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN is a similar experience, as the film makes many promises and then doesn't deliver on them.
The story of EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN exists near the intersection of mis-direction and bad planning. A teacher (?), Karen (Bobbie Phillips), brings a group of students (?), Shae (Brandi-Ann Milbradt), Jim (Neil Napier), Steve (Phil Price), Barb (Gillian Leigh), and Tara (Heidi Hawkins), to the Irish countryside to learn about the Druids. Once there, Karen reunites with Paul (Howard Rosenstein), her boyfriend (?). As the group begins to explore the area, they meet the grounds caretaker, Gary (Simon Peacock), who tells them that the area is dangerous and relates the legend of Samhain, the Druid harvest celebration which involved sacrificial acts.
But, since it's not time for Samhain, there's no danger, right? Wrong. As it turns out, the real threat in the area are the cannibals who are descendants of Sawney Beane, a real-life 15th century maniac whose family of inbreds would kill and eat wayward tourist. (This legend was the basis of Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES.) At this point, the vacation cottage in which the group is staying becomes a slaughterhouse as the cannibals attack from all sides. Who will survive?
EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN was shot in the spring of 2002 (under the title SAMHAIN) and immediately began to generate buzz around the internet. The film was rumored to be a hardcore fans dream come to true, as it promised to contain copious amounts of gore and the presence of noted porn stars in cameo roles (Ginger Lynn Allen, Jenna Jameson, Chasey Lain, and Taylor Hayes) hinted that there would be at the very least gratuitous nudity, if not more. ('’m fairly certain that I read one on-line report that the film would have hardcore sex.) According to internet reports, once the film was shot, disagreements arose between the filmmakers as how to proceed with the editing of the film. The short version of what I read stated that the producers got cold feet and didn't want to release an incredibly violent film which contained sex as well. (These stories reportedly led to rampant distributions of copies of the film's work-print.)
After years of rumors and speculation, EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN has finally come to DVD in a (presumably) truncated 78-minute cut. This version contains very little gore or nudity. There is some violence in the film, but most of the murders cut away quickly, or show very little blood/gore. The two most infamous scenes in the film, the "internal strangulation" and the "silicone feast" are shown so that the viewer gets an idea of what is happening, but no more. The cannibals are certainly disgusting looking, but they rarely come into the light. Granted, the average viewer would find the film pretty gross, but those looking for something to rival DEAD/ALIVE will find EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN to be quite tame. As for the nudity/sex, there is little of this as well. There are a few breast shots and one quick sex scene, but nothing else. In the scene with Taylor Hayes, it looks as if the image has been cropped to keep her breasts out of the frame at times. And for those of you who want to see the film simply because Jenna Jameson's name is on the box, save your money. She's in the film for about two minutes tops. I wasn't connected with the making of this film in any way, shape, or form, and she's in the movie only slightly longer than I am.
Now that I’ve discussed what the film isn't, let me tell you what EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN is. Even with the sex and gore included, I still don't see how this would have been a very good movie. The story is very hackneyed and predictable. We learn very little about the characters and, as you could probably guess from my synopsis, there isn't even much information about why the group is in Ireland. The dialogue is vacuous and when a comment is made about Ted Raimi, you know that the film has run screaming into fanboy territory. Director Christian Viel has publicly stated that this cut is not one which he approved. I would hope not, as the film is very strangely edited. Scenes overlap and the movie cuts back and forth between actions that don't go together. Also, the murder scenes have been very abruptly edited to the point that even those who weren't familiar with the film would wonder if something had been cut out.
If EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN had lived up to its reputation, it could have become another infamous "video nasty" (if you will). But, the version that we have here is watered-down and boring. The talky cast wanders through the woods and nothing happens for a long time. When it does, it's over very quickly, leaving the viewer to wonder what this film could have been like.
EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN attacks DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 (not 2.35:1 as stated on the DVD box) and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, and looks very good for a low-budget film (Which was shot on 35mm). The colors are very good, most notably the lush greens which fill the background of the movie. The image can be slightly dark at times, and there are some scenes where it's hard to make out the actor's faces. The transfer shows only minute signs of artifacting. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The film's musical score sounds fine as well. My copy did exhibit two moments of audio drop-out during one scene. The instances of surround sound are good and the bass response is adequate.
The only extras on the EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN DVD are uncut versions of the "internal strangulation" and "silicone feast" scenes, both of which are interesting. The first one is still disappointing, as it's nowhere near as explicit as one could imagine. As for the latter...well...it's pretty sick. The DVD box art for this title is terrible. Who is that woman supposed to be?
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©