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With: Lash La Rue, Anna Lane Tatum, Cynthia Bailey, Mary Dalton
Written by: Phil Smoot
Directed by: Phil Smoot
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 80
Date: 03/18/2013

The Dark Power (1987)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Indian Givers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like Ed Wood before him and Quentin Tarntino after him,filmmaker Phil Smoot made it his mission to rescue a faded star and resurrecthis movie career. Lash LaRue was a "B" movie cowboy actor from the1940s, famous for his skill with a bullwhip. By the 1980s, he was washed-up andnearly forgotten when Smoot met him and cast him in two horror films, TheDark Power (1987) and AlienOutlaw (1988).

In the first film, Lash plays a small town sheriff. Four local girls move into a cursed house built on Indian burial grounds. When the Indians come back to life, Lash rushes in to save the day. The film's no-frills, no-budget ways give it a certain charm and low-key energy. Smoot waits for almost an hour before starting his zombie attack, so we get to know the characters fairly well. The film has far more funny moments and likeable character developments than one might expect. Smoot even sets up a subplot about a black student and the racist rednecks that try to intimidate her. A beautiful, athletic actress named Susie Martin (who could be Denise Richards' big sister) walks around half-naked all the time, and the students have a fairly cool collection of posters hanging all over their walls.

VCI Entertainment has released The Dark Power on a new DVD, transferred from high-grade source materials. Extras include a commentary track by Smoot, a Smoot biography, and a tribute to LaRue.

VCI has also released Alien Outlaw, which teams up LaRue with newcomer Kari Anderson asthe gun-slinging star of a target-shooting sideshow. With her Crystal Gaylehair, her winning smile and her skimpy outfit, she has an easy appeal thathelps carry the film. Yet this film runs a good deal longer than The DarkPower, and it's painfully obvious whichparts are dragging it down. In this story our heroes fight off cheesy alienforces who have landed on earth brandishing firearms to hunt humans. The boxclaims that Predator got itsinspiration from Alien Outlaw,but that's a stretch.

Alien Outlaw comes with even better extras: a commentary track by Smoot, interviews with LaRue and newcomer Kari Anderson, a news conference previous to shooting, a video diary from the shoot and the The Dark Power trailer.

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