• Dreaming Purple Neon

    Released by: Extreme Entertainment
    Released on: N/A
    Director: Todd Sheets
    Cast: Jeremy Edwards, Eli DeGeer, Millie Milan
    Year: 2016

    The Movie:

    Todd Sheets’ latest picture opens with a scene where two drug dealers torture a man who they accuse of losing a stash of Purple Neon – it doesn’t end well for the men when ‘justice’ is doled out courtesy of one of the men’s twin .45’s. From there, we’re off – the camera flies over top of a serene Midwest landscape. We take in the sights of some farms while calm new age style synth music plays in the background and the opening credits roll.

    It turns out that this opening scene took place in the small home town where a man named Dallas (Jeremy Edwards) grew up. He’d been gone for some time, hoping to find a better life for himself and to maybe have a shot at making a go of it with his pretty girlfriend, Denise (Eli DeGeer). Things have changed since Dallas left, however. The quiet, sleepy town he left behind is now a troubled place. He reconnects with a few old friends, has a beer with an old buddy at a local dive bar but soon enough finds out about the Purple Neon that’s been making its way around town.

    The man behind the drug plague is Cyrus Archer (Jack McCord). On the surface, Cyrus is nothing more than a successful businessman, but what most don’t realize about him is that he’s out to do more than just make a buck. See, Cyrus actually leads a cult that uses Purple Neon in their occult ceremonies, the same ceremonies they hope will bring about a new reign of terror for the Queen Of Hell!

    Things get even more complicated when a young woman named Cat (Millie Milan) swipes a stash of the drug from her boss, Ray Ray (Antwoine Steele), one of the killers from the opening scene. Nervous about what she’s done, she calls her best friend – Denise – and asks to meet up with her. Denise obliges and Cat explains why she did what she did. Of course, Ray Ray and the other guy from the opening scene, Tyrone (Ricky Farr), want their stuff back and so they head out to take back what’s theirs. As Dallas tries to reconcile with Denise, she and Cat wind up mixed up in some serious danger and of course, Dallas is going to be there to try and save the girl he loves with some help from his buddy Chris (Grant Conrad).

    Dreaming Purple Neon takes about twenty-minutes to hit its stride but once it does, it moves surprisingly quickly for a picture that clocks in at almost two hours in length. Sheets’ films are known for their strong gore and extreme set pieces and this picture doesn’t disappoint in that department (and there’s a lot of bonus nudity in here too!). The ritual scenes with the cultists are pretty depraved and some of the effects used in these sequences are pretty disgusting. It’s hard not to be impressed with how far Sheets and company take things in a few scenes – baby mutilation, gut ripping and munching, power tools to the head and severed body parts aplenty. Like pretty much all of the director’s output this was shot for peanuts but Sheets has a knack for squeezing every penny and that trait serves him well in this picture. This is still clearly a low budget picture but it doesn’t lack in polish or style. The score is also very effective, amping up tension and really sticking in your craw as all of this plays out.

    It’s also interesting to see a low budget filmmaker try something other than just making another zombie movie or cheap slasher picture. This is a very ambitious movie, working in conspiracy theory elements as well as the cult angle and building some decent character development along the way. Nods to other horror movies show up – at one point a guy heads into a store and buys some Lucio Fulci movies, conversing with the clerk, a friend of Dallas’, about them for a few seconds, but this is a fairly original work even if Sheets does wear his influences proudly on his sleeve.

    The performances are generally pretty solid as well. Antwoine Steele steals the show more than once, going pretty over the top but not to the harm of the picture. Jack McCord does a fine job as the movie’s heavy, portraying Cyrus as a pretty sinister, sleazy guy while Jeremy Edwards and Eli DeGeer are quite good as the two leads. They share a well-acted scene together in the last half of the film where she calls him on his leaving and he explains to her his side of the story and how everything went wrong.

    Comparing this picture to some of Sheets’ earlier films, it’s like night and day. The penchant for over the top gore and insane situations is still there. This time around, while still very much in your face in terms of presentation, it’s handled with a lot more style and substance than it has been in the past. And you definitely won’t see the ending coming!

    Dreaming Purple Neon is slated to be released by Unearthed Films later this year.