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Film Review: Dreaming Purple Neon (2016)

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SYNOPSIS:

A drug called purple neon when people abuse it become susceptible to a demon queens demands

REVIEW:

Todd Sheets has been making movies for over 30 years – he released his first short films in 1985 – and he is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, in the last couple years he’s been a busy man, directing six separate features and segments in 2016 alone, and there’s even more on the way. But some things have changed since the days of Blood of the Undead and Kansas City Blender Massacre and all of the Zombie Rampages and Bloodbaths. The budgets are still low, and the bloodshed and gore content are still high, but the stories and the directing keep getting better and better, and gone are the days of strictly shot on video material. This is not to say the early works are bad; on the contrary, there’s a lot of fun to be had with films like Prehistoric Bimbos in Armageddon City and Sorority Babes in the Dance-A-Thon of Death. But with each film, Sheets seems to outdo himself. Case in point: Dreaming Purple Neon.

This film starts out with two criminal dudes, Ray Ray (stunt coordinator Antwoine Steele) and Tyrone (Ricky Farr), killing a guy for ripping them off, then asking their stunned new receptionist, Catriona (aka Cat, played by Millie Milan), to take care of the clean-up. This was not the job she signed up for, and after finding a bag of drugs and guns, she panics, grabs the goods, and leaves, not sure what she’s going to do but confident that this was her last day on the job. She meets up with her friend Denise (Eli DeGeer) at the dentist’s office she works at and tells her what happened, hoping for some friendly advice, but wouldn’t you know it, her now-former employers trail her there and want their “shit.” At the same time, Dallas (Jeremy Edwards), Denise’s ex-boyfriend, and his buddy Chris (Grant Conrad) make their way to visit Denise in hopes of salvaging the former relationship. What we end up with is a classic “wrong place, wrong time” situation for everyone.

Now, this might not sound like much of a horror movie, given the description so far. I mean, this is an Unearthed Films release, right? But this is where Todd Sheets has been really excelling lately, bringing horror from different angles than we might expect (this is something he also pulls off quite well in his latest film, Bonehill Road, a werewolf movie coming from a new direction, but that’s a whole other review). One minute, we’ve got a Reservoir Dogs-style stand-off between drug dealers and dentists and emo-cowboys and innocent bystanders…and the next we’ve got a group of naked people wearing masks and injecting a glowing drug (purple neon) into themselves, a bloody orgy, and a bunch of dead people becoming zombie-like demons. Despite how wild this sounds, going from point A to point B never gets lost, and while the film goes all over the place, it’s in a very structured kind of way. The amount of blood and gore increases right as the story gets wilder and wilder, and by the time we reach the conclusion, we’re in for quite a shock.

Dreaming Purple Neon isn’t perfect; it has its fair share of problems, most directly associated with the budgetary constraints. While some of the acting works, some feels a bit stiff. This is no doubt due as much to inexperience as to clunky dialogue. But for every negative we might notice, there’s at least one other positive. While the writing might be a bit rough when it comes to dialogue, the story itself is impressive and original. And no, this cast won’t be found in the next film by Paul Thomas Anderson (or even by Paul W.S. Anderson), but there are some “diamonds in the rough” here. Eli DeGeer has been getting larger roles in the Todd Sheets/Ron Bonk world of films for good reason, and hopefully we’ll get to see Millie Milan in a whole bunch more films soon (both of them appear in Bonehill Road). And while some lines are delivered on the weak side, when it comes to action scenes, the same actors do a pretty good job…and there is a lot of action here.

Todd Sheets is a filmmaker who established what his films would be all about early on, and he has consistently delivered ever since. Yep, there’s a lot of blood and gore, and thankfully it goes the practical route as opposed to relying on CGI. With Dreaming Purple Neon, Sheets is again wearing many hats: writer, director, editor, and cinematographer, not to mention playing a role in casting, lighting, and visual effects as well. He can never be criticized for not giving his all, whether that “all” be his money or his heart. It’d be hard to believe that any true horror fan could sit down and not find this film at least somewhat enjoyable. I haven’t seen all of his work, but of the films I have seen, this is probably my favorite of Sheets’ movies. Lots of over the top gore, lots of twists and turns, and lots of fun; Dreaming Purple Neon belongs on every horror fan’s “must see” list of the last few years.

Dreaming Purple Neon (2016) is now available at Unearthed Films

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