Six Obscure Horror Gems from the 2000’s
LITTLE ERIN MERRYWEATHER
This is actually the movie that inspired this entire article. While it initially started production back in 2003 and took a few years to complete, it wasn’t officially released on DVD until August of 2007 via Indican Pictures, which is probably the main reason it’s remained an unknown gem this entire time. (More on that in a minute.)
The story revolves around Peter Bloom, a college student for the local school paper who starts investigating the mysterious murder of one of his fellow classmates. When more people start falling victim to the murderer, including one of Peter’s close friends, he begins to put the clues together to uncover the identity of the budding new serial killer. We’re pretty much told who the killer is up front (hell, the title kinda gives it away), but it’s more about uncovering the pieces of Erin Merryweather’s past and figuring out how and why she adopted her Red Riding Hood persona that sets this apart from the traditional slasher pic. And that’s the other neat thing about this movie – it’s a female serial killer, and an iconic-looking one, who wears creepy doll-like make-up on her face and a bright red riding hood outfit. The visual alone of her in her complete regalia for the third act make her presence indelible, even long after the credits roll.
Tonally, the film borrows more from John Carpenter’s original Halloween than it does from the crop of early 80’s slasher flicks which it emulates. And the credit for capturing that look and making it feel as if it were a long lost gem from that time period goes to writer, director, and star David Morwick. It’s slow-paced ala Halloween, it’s got a small body count, and the kills are mostly goreless, but the story and style more than make up for what you don’t see on screen. And the thing that truly makes Little Erin Merryweather stand out is the beautiful illustrated artwork (tying it into the original Red Hiding Hood tale via periodic narration) by Kelly Murphy and the lush orchestral score by Paul Cristo.
At the time of its release, Lionsgate or even Anchor Bay Entertainment would’ve seemed like an ideal home for the film, but instead it went to Indican Pictures who did not get the film as much distribtuon as it deserved. I skimmed through the trailers on the DVD release for their other library titles and most of ‘em don’t look half bad! The problem is I’ve never heard of any of them. Hopefully this will shed some light and you genre fans looking for something old-school will seek this one out. Check out my ICONS interviews with writer/director/actor David Morwick HERE and Erin Merryweather herself, Vigdis Anholt, HERE.
Of all the titles I’m suggesting in this article, this is the most recognizable of the bunch, but I still feel it doesn’t have as wide an audience as it deserves. Writer/director Stevan Mena crafted Malevolence back in 2004 as the middle part of an epic trilogy telling the story of serial killer Martin Bristol. Yet again, here’s another film that absolutely captures the feel and tone of Carpenter’s Halloween, as well other classics like Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even a touch of A Nightmare On Elm Street (primarily with Mena’s score).
When a bank robbery goes terribly wrong, the 3 fugitives of the crime take a woman and her daughter hostage and hide out in a secluded house in the woods. Little do they know that the property next door belongs to Graham Sutter and is inhabited by his protégé Martin Bristol; an emotionless and seemingly unstoppable killing machine. It’s pretty much the “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario that awakens this purely evil character. And at the time of its release, fans were split down the middle in terms of whether the film was a proper homage to the great slasher classics or simply a rip-off of them. Now with Bereavement, the prequel to Malevolence, finally out there, I think it clearly shows that Mena has had this all planned from the get-go, and that in itself is impressive. Hell, even the Friday The 13th sequels were making things up as they went along, but this could very well be the first intentionally plotted trilogy in “slasher” movie history.
While you can watch them chronologically, with Bereavement first and then Malevolence, I still recommend viewing them in the order of their release. It maintains a lot of the surprise elements of Malevolence if you don’t know anything about it, then you can backtrack and see how it all came to be with Bereavement. After watching both films, I think you’ll agree that Martin Bristol is one of the most vicious and horrific serial killers we’ve ever encountered in our beloved genre.
Anchor Bay Entertainment recently put out a 2-pack double feature that has both Malevolence and Bereavement so this one is pretty accessible.
by Robert Galluzzo