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Review: ART OF THE DEAD (2019)

Rolfe Kanefsky has built quite a collection of credits as a writer and director since his debut film, 1991’s There’s Nothing Out There. Those credits range from Sex Files: Alien Erotica to Nightmare Man and even the kid’s film Timber the Treasure Dog. Now he’s re-teamed with Michael and Sonny Mahal, his producers, on Bus Party To Hell for Art Of The Dead. And while the results might not be art, it’s certainly entertaining.

After a prologue in which art collector Douglas Winter (Richard Grieco, Clinton Road, Minutes to Midnight) loses it when his family is indifferent to his latest acquisition, we jump to an art sale. Tess Barryman (Tara Reid, Charlie’s Farm, Attack of the Unknown) is auctioning off a familiar-looking set of paintings. A set of seven pieces depicting the Seven Deadly Sins by Dorian Wilde (Danny Tesla) who disappeared shortly after finishing them.

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They’re scooped up by Dylan Wilson (Lukas Hassel, Slapface) and his wife Gina (Jessica Morris, Chase, The 6th Friend). Almost immediately after they’re warned that the paintings are evil by the former priest Father Gregory Mendale (Robert Donavan, Killer Kate, Sunset Society). And he should know, having had his own run-in with one of the paintings.

Of course, they don’t heed his warning. They should have because the paintings can corrupt people with the sin they represent. They put the paintings up in their house just as son Louis (Zachary Chyz) arrives home with his girlfriend Kim (Alex Rinehart, They’re Inside, The Black Room). Meeting the parents is never easy, but it shouldn’t be deadly.

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Art Of The Dead does a nice job of setting the story up without bogging down in exposition. By the time the paintings are delivered, we’ve seen bloody proof of what they’re capable of. So when they start taking their toll on the house’s inhabitants, we know what we’re in for. And we’re in for a lot, including strange transformations, evil spirits, heroic priests and evil snails. Yes, snails can be evil, think of Slugs or Fulci’s Aenigma.

The paintings themselves are quite eye-catching. They were done by Clint Carney, who seems to be a cinematic jack of all trades. His other credits include writing Dry Blood and being in the art department on Itsy Bitsy. Equally, eye-catching are the practical effects by Vincent J. Guastini (Devil’s Revenge, RequiemFor A Dream). 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?

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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.

Art Of The Dead will be available on streaming and VOD and DVD on October 1st. You can get details on the film’s Facebook page.

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