5.5 out of 10
Release Date: 5th May 2014
Director: Andrew Goth (Deus Ex Machina / Cold and Dark)
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kevin Howarth, Riley Smith, Tanit Phoenix, Simona Roman, Jenny Gago, David DeBeer, Hector Hank, Diamond Dallas Page with Derek Griffiths and Patrick Bergin
Writer: Andrew Goth
To be proofread: This Wesley Snipes (JUNGLE FEVER) vehicle has been in deep-freeze since before he got ‘done’ for tax evasion about 5 years ago. Remember when he made the headlines for absconding? Well, it turned out he was actually working on this small British horror-action fest in Namibia. Now Gallowwalkers has gotten an unfair whipping by the majority of reviewers but this is actually a cut above your average low-budget Z-movie. Exhibit A is Snipes himself – who is about the only trained actor to fall into the action genre after making a bold impression in dramas and he demonstrates (at least on this occasion) that he’s still interested in putting in a decent performance. Exhibit B is that the makers of Gallowwalkers clearly have ideas to burn. So many ideas are presented in it’s story mythology that it struggles to pay more than lip-service to more of them. The curious production value choices, the whole ‘look’ of the movie from the mystical African desert locations (doubling as the wild west of the USA) to the wonderful outfits and creature effects / make up. It seems like some bold ideas where shelved because of production difficulties so the plot does suffer from a giant dollop of ‘what just happened?’
Wesley Snipes‘ gunslinger, Aman lives near the gates of hell and is cursed so that anybody he kills comes back to life as an undead miscreant. Avenging the death of his sister / lover he goes Colonel Kurtz by breaking into the jail where the killers are being held. Unfortunately, with hell being in his locality the dead “just won’t stay put.” Lead ghoul, Kansa (KEVIN HOWARTH – THE SEASONING HOUSE) is baffled because his son (also in the gang) wasn’t granted with a second life (because unbeknownst to Kansa he’d committed suicide in jail). So Kansa thinks that he can renew his sons life by consuming human flesh, and adorning the skin of his victims. Somehow this connects to a pilgrimage to the gates of hell – which someone got chopped out of / or never got filmed in this version.
Various ascending, descending and strangely casted actors and 1970s children’s TV presenters seem to enjoy themselves immensely whilst the makers look for missing pages of script in the dust. It seems that Gallowwalkers may well have been assembled out of completed scenes. Maybe Wesley Snipes was arrested half way through production leaving it to the rest of the cast to carry on regardless. The climatic battle seems like more of scuffle and not the throw down Kansa has promised us at the gates of hell. The seven sisters of mercy, constantly referred to never show up and we’re left wondering why supporting villain Derek Griffiths character really sewed a gigantic tentacle onto his head.
So what’s left? Well, strangely enough Gallowwalkers can be enjoyed despite making zero sense scene to scene and can be taken as a horror art house flick in the tradition of Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil (also set in Namibia). Pick out individual scenes which work by themselves but as part of the whole are little more than a formality. The training up of Aman’s oppo ‘The Kid’ (RILEY SMITH – 8 LEGGED FREAKS) by throwing him down a mine-shaft filled with your more traditional form of zombies is quite thrilling (why don’t these zombies exist elsewhere in the plot – and if they are Aman’s victims who where they seeing as he only kills for revenge and the forces of good?) In another scene Patrick Bergin (PATRIOT GAMES) turns up as a small town sheriff just long enough to deliver a pissed up monologue and disappear back to Ireland for a refill – he’s perfectly good but you wish he’d stuck around for longer. Namibia’s a long way to go for a very short cameo.
Certain visuals will stay with you, like the troubled gang member who turns to religion in his ‘afterlife’ and sews his lips up as penance (actually there could be a theme in here somewhere about men being men but still begin able to sew in the wild west) and Kevin Howarth‘s make up which renders him like a plastinated ghoul. If you like stories go elsewhere because at best Gallowwalkers is all pre-amble that never arrives at it’s destination. The true stories behind it’s journey to our supermarket DVD shelves is probably very interesting but rest assured this film will never receive much interest or a cult DVD reissue. It was probably a nightmare to make. If it’s any consolation though it’s been salvaged in part by being pretty to look at, being a weird curiosity for Wesley followers and having ideas way beyond it’s budget. Those expecting a stop gap before Blade 4 turns up will hate it.
5.5 out of 10 – Action hounds will wonder where all the action is. Ideas to burn but this is clearly an unfinished movie cobbled together by money men. Still it’s an interesting folly all the same.
Another review by Marsh Mallowwalker Matt Usher Below
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE:
- Wesley Snipes: Expendables 3, Brooklyn’s Finest, Unstoppable (2004), Blade 3, Undisputed, Blade 2, The Art of War, Play It To The Bone, Blade, US Marshals, One Night Stand, Murder At 1600, The Fan, Waiting To Exhale, Money Train, To Wong Foo – Thanks For Everything – Julie Newmar, Drop Zone, Demolition Man, Sugar Hill, Rising Sun, Boiling Point (1993), Passenger 57, White Men Can’t Jump, The Waterdance, Jungle Fever, New Jack City, Mo’ Better Blues, King of New York, Major League, Streets of Gold, Wildcats
- Kevin Howarth: The Seasoning House, The Magnificent Eleven, Summer Scars, Cold and Dark, The Last Horror Movie, Razor Blade Smile
- Riley Smith: True Blood (TV), 90210 (TV), 24 (TV), 8 Legged Freaks, Not Another Teen Movie, Freaks & Geeks (TV)
- Tanit Phoenix: Spud 2, Death Race 3, Spud, The Lost Boys 2
- Simona Roman: Vendetta
- Jenny Gago: My Family (1995), Alien Nation (TV), Old Gringo, Knots Landing (TV)
- Derek Griffiths: Run For Your Wife, Porkpie (TV), Fierce Creatures, Super Ted (voice) (TV), Rising Damp Movie, Watership Down (voice), Head and Tails (TV), Pitkins (TV), Playschool (TV)
- Patrick Bergin: The Age of Kill, The Wee Man, Highway To Hell (2012), Strength and Honour, Ella Enchanted, Eye Of The Beholder, The Invisible Circus, Lawnmower Man 2, The Map Of The Human Heart, Patriot Games, Love Crimes, Robin Hood (1991), Highway To Hell, Mountains of the Moon