Director and writer Chase Smith, a talent horror creator, and fine actor along with his firm Spirit World Productions, brings together a suspenseful and actually surprising twist on a slasher subgenre meeting devil possession tale set in 1979. Assisting Chase in the writing duties Richard Krevolin, and based the initial concept from a scenario by Jason Anderson noted for his work on Realm of Souls. This movie hooks the audience early on, and earned twelve nominations, as it all concerns a southern rock band known Dark Roads, which appears to hit a dead end in their careers and needs to find a new direction.
The essence of the movie alludes to the legend involving blues artist Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil for musical greatness, who actually died, from a mysterious death a few years later. It also has been used by many to denounce everything from blues to metal music, as a corruption of the soul and detriment to society.
Introductory narration mentions composer (George Frideric) Handel’s greatest work Messiah and then (Niccolo) Paganini in the 1800s, which many referred to as The Devil’s Violinist, a musical genius to some and the jealous sought to believe he made a pact with the Devil, for his magnificent abilities. Noting Robert Johnson’s supposed deal with the devil and the motto of rock-n-roll tradition living fast and dying young took it place. A good solid intro, layered with images of fine T&A all on display, all told in a southern drawl, opening the audience to Wildman and reckless front man Bobby Gray (David Flannery). Hence the early tales of the devil influencing both music and the musicians thereby having them entice the souls and minds of the innocence listeners. As Bobby gets wild back stage, explicit to all degrees, a tall stranger appears for a few cords, representing obvious Robert Johnson (Eddie George) either reincarnated or the devil himself wearing one’s body to walk among the musicians. Their label threatens to drop them unless they develop a new sound, therefore their band manager Grace King (April Bogenschutz) secures a secluded cabin for the bandmates and a few close friends to recharge, protected by caretaker Joseph Willams (Bill Moseley). Every horror fan knows nothing but trouble is ahead when a beautiful young people trek to an isolated cabin in the woods for a getaway fueled by sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The band flanked by their roadie Ian Cash aka Cowboy (Chase Smith) and driver Miles Graham (Richard Krevolin); both have significant input to the movie. Listen for Lizzy (Jennifer Masty) laughter eerily similar to that heard in the Evil Dead movies. I laid down the groundwork, any further and spoilers come pouring out, therefore take the time seek out this movie on fest circuit or purchase it outright, a great time for a group of horror friends.
Overall, the film never achieves a scary thrill ride, nor does it achieve gore-hound deluxe package, however some of the imagery conjures a devilish feel, balanced with just enough killing, bloodshed and the right amount of tension to interest most horror fans. The visuals all work, wonderful scenery and really enjoy the old style usage of transitional sliding of scenes, reminiscent of Young Frankenstein (1974), refreshing to see, especially during the drug- fueled trips and seeing the music notes double layered images all great creative choices. Lastly, the soundtrack stellar work, themes of “Devil to the Georgia” and dialogue on cue, with a quick reference to Smokey and the Bandit (1977).
Dark Roads 79 definitely qualifies as a unique movie, taking an interest turn on an old music legend, and creating its own world of original horror, showing the independent spirit alive and well, now just a tad more budget and great things lay on the horizon for both Chase Smith and his company.
By the way, a very good music video directed by Chase Smith called “The Road You’re Going Down currently available online, especially if you like southern bluesy track, with voiceovers from the film.