Art of the Dead – USA, 2018 – reviews

‘What’s your sin?’

Art of the Dead is a 2018 American supernatural horror feature film written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky (Bus Party to HellThe Black Room; There’s Nothing Out There; et al), based on a storyline by Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal (producers of Bus Party to Hell). The movie stars Richard Grieco, Jessica Morris, Lukas Hassel, Alex Rhinehart and Tara Reid.

Plot:

When Dylan Wilson (Lukas Hassel) purchases a collection of seven paintings to hang in his wealthy estate, he has no idea what horrors he has unleashed for himself, his wife; Gina, his college son; Louis, his teenage daughter; Donna, and his two little kids.

Only Father Mendale knows what evils lurk inside this deadly art and the history of Dorian Wilde; the artist who made a pact with dark forces when he created these paintings that represent the seven deadly sins. Now, anyone who comes in contact with these pictures is corrupted by Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Envy, and Wrath…

Review:

As was the case with Rolfe Kanesky’s delightfully daft The Black Room, this is tongue-in-cheek filmmaking that’s full of visual and verbal jokes. Unsubtle perhaps, yet weirdly wonderful. Based on the supposed Seven Deadly Sins, Art of the Dead rips the piss out of rich Americana. Splendidly.

Much better than Kanesky’s previous messy and unfocused collaboration with Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal, Bus Party to Hell, Art of the Dead is well-filmed and witty in comparison, The only downside is Sharknado survivor Tara Reid who proves once again she isn’t right for certain roles.

Netflix’s similar art-possession pic Velvet Buzzsaw, which was filmed after this, received a massive amount of hype. Obviously, cos it’s on Netflix and features big-name actors such as John Malkovich, Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette and Rene Russo, it engendered loads of media coverage (including us and yes we liked it, with reservations). Thankfully, Art of the Dead is more down to earth and without Dan Gilroy’s pretensions.

The paintings that form part of the narrative may be tacky and the overall approach is bombastic but it works. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and male/female objection is criticised whilst political correctness is also mocked. The surrealistic touches include half-kids/half-snails. “Holier than now” this film is not. Give Art of the Dead a viewing, wherever you find it.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

Art of the Dead is an acid trip. It really is. I never knew what was coming next from moment to moment […] It deviated from traditional horror paths and stereotypes to deliver a movie that was truly original and used the seven deadly sins in a cool way.” Horror Society

“One of the film’s most peculiar qualities is that it is, itself, lit like a painting. It is as saturated thematically as it is visually. The plot also centers on painters, their world, and their work. The characters are colorful and that, too, ads value. There aren’t useless subplots. Every scene pushes the plot forward.” Tales of Terror

“Some of the creatures do look a little rubbery, but when was the last time you saw a two-legged demon goat get it on with a suburban MILF? Not a film to be taken overly seriously, Art of the Dead is the kind of supernatural fun that’s the perfect palette cleanser after some of the genre’s grimmer entries.” Voices from the Balcony

Filming:

Principal production began on May 1st, 2018 in Las Vegas. The movie premiered on January 22, 2019.

Cast and characters:

  • Tara Reid … Tess Barryman – Bus Party to Hell; Ouija House; Trailer Park Shark; Sharknado franchise; Charlie’s Farm; et al
  • Richard Grieco … Douglas Warner – Halloween Pussy Trap Kill! Kill!Minutes to Midnight; Viral Video short and sequel; Raiders of the Damned; Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain 
  • Jessica Morris … Gina Wilson – Another Plan From Outer SpaceDiscarnate; Crabs!; Evil Bong 777; Reel Evil
  • Aaron Groben … Bobby Stanford
  • Lainee Rhodes … Elizabeth Warner
  • Ria Rose … Becky
  • Brenna Daly … Vicki
  • Sarah French … Heidi – Fatal Premonitions; Insectula!; et al
  • Lukas Hassel … Dylan Wilson
  • Alex Rinehart … Kim Katlin
  • Tania Fox … Tiffany Roberts
  • Labrandon Shead … Murray
  • Nicholas George … Mr. Reynolds
  • Ally Holmes … Claire Warner
  • Hans Hernke … Hank

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