There are few authors who are synonymous with the horror genre. In modern times, we have the likes of Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Older names consist of Mary Shelley with her story of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster and, similarly, Bram Stoker with Dracula. Abraham Stoker wrote many more stories, however. In 1998, over 100 years after its original publication, one short in particular was turned into a feature film, Jamie Dixon’s Bram Stoker’s Shadow Builder.
An underground cult consisting of the Archbishop and his followers unleashes a demon onto the world. Now free to roam as he pleases, the supernatural being is trying to reach Chris Hatcher (Kevin Zegers, Wrong Turn, “Fear the Walking Dead”), a boy believed to be pure of soul and free from Original Sin. Along the way, the dark figure possesses various townspeople, causing them to commit various acts of violence or simply just turning them to charred, light-sensitive corpses. Rogue priest, Father Jacob Vassey (Michael Rooker, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, “The Walking Dead”), and the town’s sheriff (Shawn Thompson) must stop the shadow demon from collecting enough souls before he reaches Chris, bringing on the end of the world.
Marking the directorial debut of Jamie Dixon, Shadow Builder is the ultimate story of good versus evil, light versus darkness. Working primarily as a visual effects supervisor prior [and for many years afterwards, as well], Dixon does a pretty impressive job behind the wheel of his first feature length film. This supernatural story features a great cast, consisting of some pretty iconic names among horror fans. The likes of Michael Rooker and Candyman, himself, Tony Todd, lend their acting chops to a cast that is already a pleasure to watch for the film’s 101 minute runtime. Shawn Thompson, Leslie Hope (TV’s “Slasher”), and Kevin Zegers all do a remarkable job portraying their characters, while Andrew Jackson is quite menacing as our titular antagonist, the demon of the dark, the Shadow Builder. Coupled with impressive special effects, no doubt supervised and masterminded by the film’s director, Jackson’s shadowy demon can rival any horror villain that seem to be spoken of constantly in every day horror discussion — Freddy, Jason, Myers, and so on.
Up until now, I have never heard of Bram Stoker’s Shadow Builder. As the saying goes, however, better late than never. As part of their ongoing Rewind Collection, MVD Visual is set to release a Special Edition version of the film, for the first time on Blu-ray. The new home release features multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes, as well as reversible artwork and a poster.
The 1990’s seem to get a bad rap when compared to other eras of horror film history. While I agree it wasn’t as prosperous as the 80’s, which tend to be toted as the “golden era,” there were some pretty fun movies that came out throughout the decade. Shadow Builder reminds me of some of the more enjoyable ones like Candyman, Wishmaster, or even the later entries in the Warlock franchise. If you are a fan of those films or any other 90’s fare, I highly recommend checking out Shadow Builder. I mean, it has Michael Rooker as a gun-toting priest and Tony Todd as the eccentric “town crazy.” Need I say more?
Be sure to pick up your copy of Shadow Builder, available from MVD Visual on August, 28.
I give this one 4.5 9 millimeter guns with laser sights out of 5.