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Stake Land [Import]

 R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filmmakers, give us more like this one Aug. 4 2011
By Andre Farant TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Horror films are seldom attributed with fine characterization. For the most part, a viewer of horror films is more likely to remember the villain than the protagonist. This is especially true of horror franchises in which the monster or villain has taken on legendary status and viewers, more often than not, root for the monster rather than the "hero".

That being said, there has been of late a spate of horror films that feature strong characters, films that relegate that source of thrills and chills to the backseat and allow the protagonist a turn at the wheel. Movies like Monsters, Carriers and Let Me In place an emphasis on the relationships between characters and the ways by which the horror aspects--be they invading aliens or prepubescent vampires--affect those relationships.

Stake Land falls solidly, cleanly and impressively in this new category of sophisticated, cerebral horror movie. It is not a film about vampires, nor is it a film about a post-apocalyptic America. It is a movie about a teenage boy and his struggling to come of age in a post-apocalyptic America infested with vampires.

Martin's parents are dead and he is taken in by the nomadic vampire hunter known only as Mister. America has fallen to a series of economic disasters and a vampire plague has spread through the blighted country. Worse, large swaths of the country have been taken over by militants and religious fanatics. Martin and Mister make their way north, hoping to reach Canada, deemed the New Eden.

Stake Land is technically impressive; the cinematography is excellent, establishing a bleak tone without resorting to the washed-out, under-saturated look of previous post-apocalyptic films. The acting is solid, the make-up effects are effective if unremarkable.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem of low budget awesomeness! June 23 2011
Format:DVD
Director Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street) has once again blown me away, creating a post-apocalyptic vampire movie with compelling characters that is rich with atmosphere, and all with a very limited budget. Stakeland manages to be a touching coming-of-age story in a bleak future where the horrors of survival are almost as terrifying as violent death. The action scenes come secondary to the actual narrative, which I loved. The vampires are scary, with some unique attributes but they don't sway from what you would hope to expect in your classic vampire. I really enjoyed Nick Damici (who is also the writer). He has an appealing tough guy vibe to him that makes you want to cheer him on as he takes care of business. I really hope to see more from both Jim Mickle and Nick Damici, they know what they are doing. Strong directing, acting and an interesting and well-paces story all combine to make this a superior horror experience.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  221 reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lawlessness In A Ravaged Land--The Vampire Apocalypse Is Upon Us June 4 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Having had a successful run at midnight movie showings, I wasn't expecting much seriousness from a movie entitled "Stake Land." But I was pleasantly surprised by this bleak and well-made creature feature in which man might be the most dangerous enemy left. In truth, there are very few elements within the film that haven't been utilized abundantly in other movies--but despite their familiar nature, "Stake Land" is still quite effective on its own terms. Well acted, suspenseful, and with good effects--I'd say this has the potential to be a sleeper hit on the DVD market as more people become familiar with it. Cobbling plot points from sources as diverse as Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" to "Zombieland" to almost everything in between, the film has a surprising heft and gravitas that distinguishes it from other noticeably lighter genre fare.

Cinema's fascination with a post-apocalyptic world continues here as the movie is set in a time where an epidemic of vampirism has extinguished most of the human race. In reality, this plays much more like a zombie epic and that's truthfully what it is. The creatures have pointy teeth, but the script follows the conventions you'd expect from an outbreak of the reanimated. A rogue warrior travels the land with a teenage companion as the two try to make it to a rumored land of safety called New Eden. Along the way, they meet threats of all sorts and even pick up a few stragglers. Whole towns of survivors are barricaded and fortified against the monster menace. But perhaps the most alarming enemy are the new religious zealots who see the vampires as vengeance against the wicked. In a land overtaken by lawlessness, monsters may be the easiest foe to fight.

The script is tidy and provides a narration that is haunting and well done. Nick Damici (who also has a screenwriter credit) plays the enigmatic hero and Connor Paolo is his protege. Both are believable and sympathetic, and they develop an effective chemistry that grounds the picture. A supporting cast that includes Kelly McGillis, Sean Nelson, and Danielle Harris further make this a movie in which you actually care about the characters! In many ways, the vampires are secondary to the human story of survival and hope in the midst of mayhem. The creatures are well done and the effects are solid--but again, I was more sold on the human drama than anything else. Surprisingly good overall--made all the more remarkable because of my admittedly low expectations. Why this wasn't released on a larger scale, I'm not sure. But if you like zombies, vampires, and/or post-apocalyptic drama--this checks all the requisite boxes. KGHarris, 6/11.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Movie That Should Not Be Overlooked Aug. 8 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Stake Land is the perfect example of a low budget movie that is amazingly superior to similar apocolyptic vampire films with high budgets ("Priest," "Day Breakers," etc). Best compared as "The Road" meets "30 Days of Night," it's a very intense film that grabs you early and does not let you go.

A teenage boy (maybe 15-16 years old) is rescued by a "lone warrior" from a vampire attack that leaves his entire family dead. The lone warrior (sort of a cross between Wesley Snipe's "Blade" with a badass Mickey Rourke attitude) teaches the boy how to fight and kill vampires as they travel up north to find the salvation city of "New Eden." They pick up a handful of fellow travellers along the way and they slowly become a "family" of sorts. These characters (particularly the "lone warrior") are stereotypical yet developed enough to not come across as cheesy or cliche. Not only do the travellers have to worry about vampires, as mankind may be even more dangerous: rapists, killers, psychos, and murderous religious fanatics- who are a combination of all these things.

As you can see, the plot is not overly original. However, what it lacks in originality it makes up for with other strong qualities: the acting is solid and the movie itself is bleak as hell. As the film goes on, the elements of helplessness and doom escalates with a terrifically sad violin music score. And it only gets bleaker as it goes on. No sexy teen vamps that sparkle in sunlight, here, folks. The vampires are refreshingly gross and creepy with rotting skin and animalistic behaviour. The scenes with the religious cult leader are frightening, making you wonder which is worse: vampires or mankind.

Even with its low budget, Stake Land runs circles around similar movies that have much higher budgets. The story is a very solid road movie (think of a very serious "Zombieland") that is bleak, dismal, and very well made. There is plenty of action in the movie, but its not overly gorey. There is more story than action, which is why this movie is elevated above your standard action fare: while there are horror elements in the movie, I'd classify it as a "dark drama" and not a "horror" movie.

PQ is actually very good (which I truley wasn't expecting). Colors don't pop off the screen and the blacks aren't entirely inky- there's some crush / noise in there- but overall a very pleasant looking film.

If you enjoy end of the world movies and/ or vampire movies, you should definitely check this movie out. There are admittedly a few scenes here and there where the low budgetness of the movie shows, but overall this is well worth watching. It also wouldn't hurt to have a lighter-hearted movie to pop in when this one ends: this is pretty bleak stuff, but a road worth travelling down.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best vampire flick I've seen in a long time Aug. 12 2011
By N. Durham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Now this is a vampire movie. Stake Land is an effort from director Jim Mickle, who previously helmed a bleak and understated horror flick called Mulberry Street a few years back, which still ranks as probably the best film to ever come out carrying the After Dark Horrorfest banner. With Stake Land, Mickle presents to us an apocalyptic wasteland that the vamps are terrorizing and feeding off of. For teenager Martin (Connor Paolo), his means of survival are being accompanied by the mysterious Mister (Mulberry Street star Nick Damici) as they come across various other survivors (including Kelly McGillis and genre stalwart Danielle Harris) and an insane religious cult while attempting to make their way to the supposedly untouched land of New Eden. Violent, scary, and unapologetically bleak; Stake Land is the kind of horror film that we don't see much of anymore, which in itself is a crying shame. It pulls no punches and even when it offers a glimmer of hope, it seems so far away that you will be on the edge of your seat to see if our heroes make it or not. While the film isn't without its flaws, most notably being that various characters appear and are introduced with little in the way of character development to boot, this is undoubtedly the best vampire film I've seen in quite some time. All in all, give Stake Land a chance, there's a reason why there's been so much hype built around it for a while now, and you won't be disappointed with what you get here either.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lawlessness In A Ravaged Land--The Vampire Apocalypse Is Upon Us Aug. 2 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Having had a successful run at midnight movie showings, I wasn't expecting much seriousness from a movie entitled "Stake Land." But I was pleasantly surprised by this bleak and well-made creature feature in which man might be the most dangerous enemy left. In truth, there are very few elements within the film that haven't been utilized abundantly in other movies--but despite their familiar nature, "Stake Land" is still quite effective on its own terms. Well acted, suspenseful, and with good effects--I'd say this has the potential to be a sleeper hit on the DVD market as more people become familiar with it. Cobbling plot points from sources as diverse as Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" to "Zombieland" to almost everything in between, the film has a surprising heft and gravitas that distinguishes it from other noticeably lighter genre fare.

Cinema's fascination with a post-apocalyptic world continues here as the movie is set in a time where an epidemic of vampirism has extinguished most of the human race. In reality, this plays much more like a zombie epic and that's truthfully what it is. The creatures have pointy teeth, but the script follows the conventions you'd expect from an outbreak of the reanimated. A rogue warrior travels the land with a teenage companion as the two try to make it to a rumored land of safety called New Eden. Along the way, they meet threats of all sorts and even pick up a few stragglers. Whole towns of survivors are barricaded and fortified against the monster menace. But perhaps the most alarming enemy are the new religious zealots who see the vampires as vengeance against the wicked. In a land overtaken by lawlessness, monsters may be the easiest foe to fight.

The script is tidy and provides a narration that is haunting and well done. Nick Damici (who also has a screenwriter credit) plays the enigmatic hero and Connor Paolo is his protege. Both are believable and sympathetic, and they develop an effective chemistry that grounds the picture. A supporting cast that includes Kelly McGillis, Sean Nelson, and Danielle Harris further make this a movie in which you actually care about the characters! In many ways, the vampires are secondary to the human story of survival and hope in the midst of mayhem. The creatures are well done and the effects are solid--but again, I was more sold on the human drama than anything else. Surprisingly good overall--made all the more remarkable because of my admittedly low expectations. Why this wasn't released on a larger scale, I'm not sure. But if you like zombies, vampires, and/or post-apocalyptic drama--this checks all the requisite boxes. KGHarris, 6/11.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Downbeat Vampire Movie That Is Thought Provoking July 11 2012
By Chad Radford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Sure, the vampires are horrifying and deadly and there are plenty of great and scary fight scenes between humans and vampires but this film offers something far fresher. The story revolves around a teenage boy and a gruff man who has taken him under his wing after his parents are killed by vampires. The man teaches the young boy to toughen up and adapt to a brutal new world. He acts as a sort of father figure. The two are traveling north to a town called New Eden which is supposedly free from vampires. The road leading north is full of vampires running around but the bigger threat are bands of fascistic Christians who want to impose their will on all who come nearby. They control large areas of what is left of the United States. In many ways, they are scarier than the vampires. The boy and older man help other people along the way and soon have their own "family" that is traveling to New Eden. The "family" is short-lived as the vampires and Christians pick them off one by one. Who will survive to reach New Eden? The film has a very sad, and bleak tone. The musical score does a great job of conveying the depression and sadness that the survivors feel. This is no Hollywood film full of one vampire fight after another. There is more heart behind this movie and it hurts.
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