The new western/horror hybrid Night of the Tommyknockers begins with some miners blasting a new expansion to their mine. One of them mentions once they get this deep you have to watch out for Tommyknockers. Of course, that’s as good as performing a summoning ritual and it’s not long before they meet a bloody end.
Speaking of bloody ends, The Dirt Gang, Lucky (Robert LaSardo, Section 8, Blood Harvest), Maoma (Bill Victor Arucan, Demons at Dawn, Amityville Karen), Clay (Wesley Cannon, Puppet Master: Axis Termination, Bridge of the Doomed), their leader Dirk (Richard Grieco, Lord of the Streets, Minutes to Midnight) and his woman Betty (Angela Cole, Nix, Time Pirates) are about to rob a bank. They get the money, but not without gutting the manager and blowing a customer’s ear off.
The gang heads off to their next target, the town of Deer Creek unaware that they’re being trailed by bounty hunter Tobin Horn (Michael Beran, Texas Chainsaw, The Legacy). Or of what awaits them at the end of their trip.
Apart from the opening scenes director Michael Su (Death Count, Doomed) and writers Adrian Milnes (Bloodthirst, Bridge of the Doomed) and Rolfe Kanefsky (Automation, Nightmare Man) treat the first half of Night of the Tommyknockers as a straightforward western. Outlaws, lawmen, holdups and shootouts, it’s all there. It isn’t until they get to the seemingly deserted town that the film begins to revert back to the dark side.
Eventually, it turns into The Alamo with monsters as the gang joins Marshal Steed (Tom Sizemore, The Relic, Hustle Down) and the few remaining townsfolk in the saloon, sadly not called The Winchester, and try to hold the creatures off until daybreak. And there are still two wild cards to be played, the bounty hunter and Jim (Robert Donavan, Killer Kate!, C.O.R.N.) the brother of the dead bank manager.
At its core, Night of the Tommyknockers isn’t that much different from a zombie film, or C.H.U.D. with a mine replacing the sewers. It still comes down to the creatures attacking and devouring anyone they can get at. Now, these creatures are a bit faster than the traditional walking dead and they do have some primitive intelligence but not enough for it to matter.
Once the Tommyknockers launch their attack the film makes up for the first half’s slower pace with plenty of action as the survivors try to keep the creatures out of the saloon or venture out of it for various reasons. It’s never really frightening beyond jump scares, but it is fast-paced and fun.
Night of the Tommyknockers also lays on the gore, including a visual tribute to Fulci’s Zombie, in the final acts as well. The creatures are obviously men in suits, some with creepy-looking head appliances. Standard low budget and better than CGI. The gore is practical as well with plenty of the cast meeting nasty, on-screen, fates. The only noticeable CGI was an explosion, and it was as bad as I expected.
The acting is a bit of a mixed bag. The main cast all do a solid job in their roles. On the other hand, the supporting and background characters are a mix of familiar faces such as Sheri Davis (The Devil’s Heist, Angry Asain Murder Hornets) and Jessica Morris (Crabs!, One Life To Live) and folk who went for the “Appear in the Movie” crowdfunding perk. And in some cases, it’s painfully obvious that they did.
As long as that doesn’t bother you, Night of the Tommyknockers will give you your money’s worth of low-budget beasts and blood. Gravitas Ventures will release Night of the Tommyknockers to VOD and Digital platforms on November 25th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information, and check out FilmTagger for similar films.