The Red Skulls (2006) – By Jordan Garren

 It’s been quite a while since I last reviewed a Tempe DVD title (namely DAWN) and I thought that they nearly forgot about me, that is until I received my screener of The Red Skulls in the mail. I was nearly sold on the cover art alone, but I pushed that to the back of my mind after I popped the disc into my DVD player. The Red Skulls‘s plot follow Uri, the leader of the Red Skulls, the biggest and baddest youth gang in Bronston (Kentucky?). After seeing his friend Frank get trashed by a rival gang called "The Rats," Uri decides to call it quits. But his change of heart turns out to be a bad idea because the gang gets taken over by a cowardly prick named Lester.

Lester rallies the Red Skulls and starts taking in new members so that the Skulls can take on the Rats. One of the new members is Frank’s brother, Donnie, who joins the game in order to avenge his brother’s death. Because of Donnie’s recent membership with the gang, Uri decides to stick around town and save the wayward teen from a brutal life on the streets. The entire movie comes to a head when the Red Skulls throw a big party before they rush off to battle the Rats. When they finally decide to get their drunken asses in gear, they all begin dipping their mugs into "The Nail." (Just to explain, it’s a coffin-shaped box that is filled with every type of alcohol available.) However, the community booze pot has been spiked with a nasty little cocktail by an angry and vengeful gang member that wants Lester dead. (His name escapes me at the moment, but I think it was…. Jonesie.. maybe?)

Said cocktail is a red liquid that was stolen from a medical warehouse and those that drink it become mindless, mutant, boil-infested cannibals! Soon the party becomes a slaughterhouse and fight for survival begins! Eventually Uri, fellow gang member Ruby (Roza Haidet! ROWWWLLL! She’s cute, especially when she’s angry!), and Donnie’s sister (I think her name’s Chrissie, damn it I’m bad with names!) make it outside, only to be caught between a rock and a hard place. They’ve got the zombie-ish Red Skulls behind them and in front of them is a new obstacle: The Rats! Soon a battle royale breaks out, and the mutants and Rats begin wasting each other. Uri and his two gal-pals enter the melee and eventually, only a handful of gangmembers are left. Uri gets mortally wounded in the end and asks Ruby to take Chrissie out of town and then the movie ends… or not!

The following day (?), two punks from another gang venture into the Red Skulls pad to see the carnage, only to become the snack for a mutant Red Skull. (I won’t reveal who the mutant is, but I will say that it’s not really a big surprise.) Then the film officially ends, leaving only a few loose plot-threads that weren’t all that important to begin with. The Red Skulls is a surprisingly fun horror flick and truly deserves its status as a Tempe "Splatter Rampage" title. There’s numerous gang fights in the film, and once some of the Red Skulls turn into cannibalistic mutants, the blood and gore really starts to fly! The majority of the gore f/x is done very well and is at times pretty inventive and we get to see everything from impalement to disemboweling!

When it comes to blood and guts, this movie succeeds one-hundred percent, however, I think that the Campbell brothers (the writers, producers, and directors of this film) should’ve been more careful with their casting decisions. Uri (played by Lucas Campbell) doesn’t strike me as someone that’s tough enough to lead a gang. Even after I saw him kick some butt, I still wasn’t very convinced that he was capable of beating up anyone over the age of twelve. Luke Campbell is seriously miscast here and I was almost thankful that Lester (played by Chuck Cieslik) was head of the gang for the majority of the film. In fact, if I may be so bold, the Red Skulls were so lame (Who the hell let Weasel join?!), that the Orphans from The Warriors probably could’ve taken them down!

Despite what I would call a few bad casting decisions, this movie is still very enjoyable and worth a look. It’s got gallons of gore, some gorgeous gals (Ruby! ::drool::), and moves at a pretty good clip so you shouldn’t get bored while watching it! The Red Skulls will be released on Tempe DVD on January 16, 2007! As I said, the cover art is great and will definitely catch your eye (now if only the DVD menu art was up to par as well. It looks like a five-year old with crayons drew the backgrounds!), and the extras on the disc are plentiful. The disc contains an audio commentary by the cast & crew, a behind the scenes featurette, a makeup f/x featurette, outtakes, a music video by the "Lords of the Highway" for their song "Freaky Tiki," a preview of the Campbell brothers next flick, Cordoba Nights, and finally a handful of trailers for several Splatter Rampage titles! For further information about this movie (and/or to pre-order it) visit Tempe’s Official Website today!