Silly saga is better equipped to fuel drinking games than to provide actual scares.

Better known as a comicbook creator, Brian Pulido has said he’s glad to have his first feature as writer-director included in this year’s After Dark Horrorfest because the current edition reps an overall uptick in quality over uneven past years. That debatable judgement comes from an unreliable source, however, as Pulido’s “The Graves” is easily the 2010 fest’s nadir. Silly saga of two hottie siblings fighting for survival in a lethal Arizona ghost town is better equipped to fuel drinking games and snarky comments than to provide actual scares.

Phoenix sisters Abby (Jillian Murphy) and Megan (Clare Grant) are taking one last road trip before Megan moves to New York. Lost on desert backroads, they wind up at an abandoned mining town turned tourist attraction — though the real business here lies in murdering visitors for some kind of evil-religious-cult sacrifice. Lots of halter-top running and blood-fountain gushing ensue, along with unconvincing dialogue and acting. While the tone is semi-tongue-in-cheek, wit is scarce, the pic not much brightened by “world’s greatest horror-rock band” Calabrese’s brief perf or clock-punching ham turns from horror vets Tony Todd and Bill Moseley. Assembly is adequate.

The Graves


An After Dark Films release. A Mischief Maker Studios and Ronald Brothers presentation. Produced by Brian Pulido, Francisca Pulido, Chris Lamont, Brian Ronalds, Dean Ronalds. Executive producers, Kevin Berman, Joe Calderon, Kevin Hicks, Tanya Hicks, Brett Kalina, Chris Rothert, Cindy Acridge, Christine Acridge, Jess Acridge, Roe Caporael. Co-producers, Gregory Seki, F. Miguel Valenti. Directed, written by Brian Pulido.


Camera (color, HD), Adam Goldfine; editor, Dean Ronalds; music, Jim Casella; production designer, Francisca Pulido. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Feb. 3, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 85 MIN.


Clare Grant, Jillian Murray, Bill Moseley, Amanda Wyss, Shane Stevens, D. Randall Blythe, Patti Tindall, Tony Todd.
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