Watching horror films is a humbling hobby. No matter how many films you cross off of your watch list, there are always countless others that you will most likely never even hear of. One film that has managed to go completely under my radar for over 15 years is Stevan Mena’s Malevolence.
A group of down-on-their-luck delinquents are in need of some major cash. After a bank robbery and subsequent getaway goes awry, the gang meet up at an abandoned slaughterhouse, now with hostages in tow. As if running from the law wasn’t bad enough, the remaining fugitives must now also run from a faceless killer who has been stalking this property for the last decade.
Slasher flicks have always been my favorite of all of the horror sub-genres. They are the most fun, with their generally high body counts, gratuitous violence and nudity, and, when done right, inventive kills.
While I’ve made it a mission of mine to see as many of these films as possible over the years, Stevan Mena’s 2004 film, Malevolence, still managed to fly right by me.
It is hard for a low budget horror film to hold up 15 years after its initial release. If it’s not an entry from the golden age of horror that holds some sort of nostalgic value, very little can be done to preserve the effectiveness needed to present a good horror experience. Luckily, when a filmmaker is skilled enough, it doesn’t matter if its two weeks or 30 years after its debut. That movie will still accomplish what it was set out to do. Quite surprisingly, Malevolence does just that.
Too often, I’ll hit play on a modern era slasher flick only to find another wasted attempt at creating a “throwback” to the heyday of the 80s. Directors and their teams will drown out their films in synth-heavy scores, add some extra film grain and VHS tracking filters to their visuals and call it a day. Not Malevolence, though.
Sure, writer/producer/director Stevan Mena borrows ideas from some of the more successful films the sub-genre has to offer, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a filmmaker who doesn’t do that to some extent anymore.
Malevolence is equipped with an effectively eerie piano-heavy score fitting of even the most iconic slashers, a menacing masked antagonist, and even though viewers are never treated to any explicitly detailed close-up kills, there are still plenty of bloody good practical effects on display.
There are plenty of fantastic boutique labels out there that are constantly cranking out these amazing new restorations of horror and genre films, some very popular and iconic and others that are obscure and long forgotten.
What’s even better than the myriad of these labels doing what they do best is when the original filmmaker is able to bring their films back to life with amazing new restorations themselves. That is exactly what has been done here with 2004’s Malevolence.
For its 15th anniversary, Malevolence has been restored from the original 35mm negative with supervision and approval by Stevan Mena himself and the film’s cinematographer, Tsuyoshi Kimoto.
The new Mena Films home release is presented in widescreen format with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and English SDH and Spanish subtitles for the hearing impaired.
This Blu-ray and DVD combo pack is packed to the brim with special features including behind-the-scenes featurettes, “Back to the Slaughterhouse” and “The Dark Side of Horror,” audio commentary with Stevan Mena and star Brandon Johnson, trailers, TV and radio spots, rehearsal footage and more.
If you’re in the mood for a suspenseful and tense horror film experience and love slasher flicks, do yourself a favor and watch Stevan Mena’s Malevolence.
Its 85 minutes features a talented cast and, with ample character and plot development, is light years ahead of most low-budget slasher fare.
Pick up your copy of Malevolence on Tuesday, October 15 from Mena Films and see why Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen, gave it such rave reviews.
I give the film 4 bloody bank heists out of 5.