Plot: Dylan (Lukas Hassel) has more money than sense, so he spends half a million dollars to purchase a set of paintings from an obscure artist, to give his wife Gina (Jessica Morris) some new home decor. Before the couple can even the auction however, they’re approached by an eccentric man with an eye patch, who shouts warnings about how the artwork is cursed and poses a real threat to whoever showcases it. Of course, he is brushed off and tossed out of the event, but as Dylan and Gina soon learn, he might have been eccentric, but he wasn’t crazy. As the paintings arrive and are displayed around the couple’s mansion, strange things begin to happen and right off the bat, a man dies under mysterious circumstances as they’re delivered. As the paintings take hold of the house, moods shift, tensions rise, and even the family begins to act in odd ways, all while blood is spilled on a regular basis. Is it too late to save the family from the supernatural art or can the hellish paintings be put to rest?
Entertainment Value: Art of the Dead might be set in the pretentious world of art collectors, but make no mistake about it, this is a fun filled b movie that has ample cheese and over the top elements. I hoped that would be the case and director Rolfe Kanefsky’s involvement is always a welcome sign, while a colorful cast that includes Tara Reid and Richard Grieco was another signal of potential b movie thrills. The story here is passable, as we’ve seen the seven deadly sins explored numerous times before, but the real draw is the b movie cheese and some of the deaths involved. The art element does spice up the worn concept as well, so while the sins are well tread as a subject, Art of the Dead makes an effort to slap on some fresh paint. The tone is not slapstick, it tries to weave in some creepiness at times, but the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is where it truly shines. By embracing the campier touches and knowing when to go over the top, Art of the Dead is able to provide consistent entertainment, no matter what the narrative has going on. I also appreciate that the movie rolls at a nice pace, with little downtime or drawn out scenes, which allows us to flow from one fun scene to the next with little wasted time. I had fun with Art of the Dead and for fans of horror or b movies, it deserves a solid recommendation. I have to say though, as always, I wish there was more Richard Grieco.
The movie has some sexual elements, including a memorable, tender scene between a beautiful woman and a goat man. The nakedness is limited to one topless scenes, but can we really complain when there’s goat man erotica on showcase? There’s some fun bloodshed on tap in Art of the Dead, with a blend of straight gore and some cheese soaked deaths. A wild scene with excessive water consumption is quite memorable, while other highlights include decapitation, horn-palement, self inflicted eye trauma, some mid-sex slaughter, a splashy shotgun blast, wicked neck damage, and some other assorted crimson thrown around. The blood isn’t massive in doses, but the movie never shies away from the red stuff and for me, I appreciated the cheesier, over the top kills the most in this one. The dialogue never really stands out here, despite some colorful characters. The performances and general b movie vibes tend to overshadow the few humorous lines in Art of the Dead. But the craziness scale tips a little, with the goat man sex, Richard Grieco melting down and shouting at frog paintings, a terribly timed proposal attempt, some hungry snails, and the over the top performances. So there is some solid wackiness to be found here.
Overall Insanity: 5/10
The Disc: Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD release has a solid looking widescreen treatment. The image is consistently clean and quite sharp, with good detail that is likely as refined as the movie can look on this format. I found colors to be bright and bold, which is good given the film’s creative visual design elements, while contrast is on the mark throughout.