Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Burrowers

What I heard in advance about writer/director J.T. Petty's horror-western The Burrowers made me expect that it was likely going to be my cup of tea. Upon watching it, I was happy to find that my expectations were actually surpassed. I think it's criminal that Lionsgate - the purveyors of the absymal Saw series - let a movie this exceptional go direct-to-DVD with no fanfare. I understand that The Burrowers won't be to everyone's taste and Lionsgate probably thought they'd just be setting themselves up to lose a bunch of money in trying to get audiences to turn out for a slow-paced downer of a Western, even one bolstered by the occasional monster attack. In an ideal world, though, horror fans would've had an opportunity to see this in their local theater. It's rare that I feel surprised by movies anymore but The Burrowers pulled the ground right out from under my feet.

My full review is up now at Shock Till You Drop.

9 comments:

FilmFather said...

Sold! I love a good horror film, and I love a good Western. I plan to check this out.

Jeff Allard said...

Cool - I hope you like it!

knobgobbler said...

I got to see this a couple months ago and really enjoyed it.
It's really something verging on criminal that a movie as cinematic as this... that's really composed for the big screen... should be sloughed off as sloppy seconds to DIV... while barely-fit-for-the-Sci-Channel crap keeps floating to the top.
What do you think sank it? The relative lack of 'action' or the generally downbeat outlook? The lack of sex?
Maybe if that native girl had shown more skin, struck up a romance with the leading man?... or better yet, if she'd had a makeout scene with some other native girl.
Maybe if the monsters had left inane riddles that lead to elaborately silly deathtraps?
Maybe if, at the end, Eli Roth had rode in on the back of a buffalo... waving a huge black rubber dildo and a chainsaw?
Yeah... that's the ticket!

Jeff Allard said...

I can only speculate on Lionsgate's reasoning but I think it's likely that all the things you mention - the lack of action or T&A and the downbeat outlook of the movie - kept it from being a candidate for theatrical distribution. On the upside, at least it got made and it's able to be seen. Still, I think it definitely deserved a run in theaters. But this is an old story by now.

I remember being bummed in the mid-to-late '80s at the number of quality films that either went direct-to-video or had very limited theatrical runs - films like Near Dark, The Stepfather, Parents or Lair of the White Worm. And it's only gotten worse since then as the theatrical market has continued to shrink and so many venues have disappeared.

knobgobbler said...

Funny, I'm pretty sure I saw all those films you mention in actual theaters...
Guess I didn't know how lucky I was.

Cheap Beer said...

I'm going to check this one out this weekend. Recently, there's been alot of highly praised movies ending up DTV. "Trick R Treat" is going DTV in October and that was on some top 10 lists last year after test screenings. Madness!!! Maybe there's too many big chain theaters now, that want only big budget movies and big name stars on their screens. This time of year there's usually 5 movies playing at a 14 screen theater. Not so much variety....

Jeff Allard said...

Knob, I saw most of those movies in the theaters myself but they definitely didn't get wide releases as far as I know. Lair of the White Worm was one that only played a small art-house theater in my area for about a week.

CB, hope you end up liking The Burrowers. As for this and Trick R' Treat not getting theatrical runs, it's just discouraging that a film can be so enthusiastically received by its target audience (as these two were at every film festival they played) and still get no confidence from their studio. It just goes to show how little studios regard the opinions of genre fans.

Bob Ignizio said...

Finally got around to seeing this, and I liked it a lot. Thanks for the heads up!

Jeff Allard said...

Awesome, Bob - glad you enjoyed it!