For months now, I've been hearing about a little movie called Evil Cult, written and directed by two brothers from Oregon City, Rob and Neil Taylor (their father, Allen, is the producer). Everyone I knew swore up and down how much I was going to love this over-the-top mix of horror, action and comedy. And while "love" might be a bit strong of an emotion, I really, really liked Evil Cult.
Drawing inspiration from Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead, the early films of Peter Jackson and a whole host of other bargain-basement B-movie gems, the Taylor brothers have put together a film that seems destined for underground cult status. The jumbled, often ridiculous story deals with lone-wolf drifter Neil Stryker (Rob pulling double duty as action hero), who crosses paths with a deadly cult. Stryker's not drawn in by the religious dogma or mind-controlling agenda of the cult leaders, and he takes it upon himself to destroy the evil legion of fanatics, brain-damaged freaks and deadly zombies. Aided with guns, machetes, kung-fu and whatever gardening tools he can get his hands on, Stryker slices, dices and dismembers everything in his path.
Evil Cult is straight-up low-budget schlock meant solely for lovers of lowbrow and bad taste. But for those who appreciate films like The Toxic Avenger, the Taylors deliver the goods. Sadly, the only thing missing is gratuitous sex and nudity, but Rob and Neil make up for that in the unabashed bloodletting that occurs.
But what really makes Evil Cult work is the lead performance by Rob Taylor. Delivering his profanity-fueled lines with a deep, gravelly tone that sounds like his jaw his been wired shut, Rob makes the perfect action hero. How he manages to deliver most of his lines with a straight face is beyond me, but like Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell, Rob knows that the best way to play a comedic hero is to never deviate from stony seriousness.
Released this week on DVD, Evil Cult also includes some great bonus features, including an audio commentary, outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. This bonus material proves to be as entertaining as the film itself, especially as Rob runs around on set multitasking as lead actor, co-director, and nearly a dozen other jobs. I suspect you could make a movie solely about Rob and have it be interesting.
After a pair of disappointing movies from another team of sibling filmmakers--the Matrix series' Andy and Larry Wachowski--it is refreshing to see directors like the Taylor brothers really working to please their audience (no matter how limited that audience may be). And while Evil Cult is no Matrix, it is far more entertaining and earnest than the sequels. Given the limitations of their meager budget, Evil Cult is a film the Taylor brothers should be proud of, and, with a bit more money, there's no telling what these guys will be able to do.