Late Phases (2014)

Drama, Horror
Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Tina Louise
A wounded war vet moves to a place where people are dying from mysterious circumstances.
  • Dark Sky Films Company:
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  • 01 Nov 2014 Released:
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A Powerful Release From Dark Sky7/10
Wounded war vet Ambrose (Nick Damici) moves to a place where people are dying from mysterious circumstances.

This is the most pleasant surprise in the horror genre in quite a while. Although a few films have caused a bit of a stir (including "The Babadook" and "Starry Eyes"), this may turn out to be the sleeper hit of 2014 when word of mouth begins on the DVD release.

Werewolf films are few and far between, and good ones are even more rare. Although Universal tried to reboot "The Wolfman" a few years back, it was hardly appreciated. The last great wolf film was probably "Dog Soldiers" (2002), now more than a decade ago. "Late Phases" now takes that spot as the last great wolf film.

Leading the way is Nick Damici, who makes a very believable blind veteran. If these sort of films won awards, Damici might even be a strong contender. Horror fans ought to know his background, too: mentored by Michael Moriarty (a Larry Cohen regular), Damici came into the realm of Jim Mickle and Larry Fessenden (who produced this picture). He tends to be the less-often-mentioned part of this team, but should be mentioned in the same breath.

Then we have an excellent supporting cast: beyond Damici and Fessenden, we have Ethan Embry ("Can't Hardly Wait"), Tom Noonan ("Manhunter"), Tina Louise ("Gilligan's Island") and even Dana Ashbrook ("Twin Peaks"). The strongest supporting role is filled by Lance Guest ("Jaws: The Revenge"), as the connection between Ambrose and the local church.

The effects are solid, with both Bob Kurtzman and David Greathouse constructing the creature. Greathouse even wears the costume, apparently. Mix this with a plot that is entirely original (with a nod or two to classics like "Silver Bullet") and you have a winner.

Oddly, reviews are mixed. Shock Til Your Drop says the film is "obviously going for the Bubba Ho-Tep vibe", a contention that is flat-out wrong. Other than this being a community of elderly folks, there is no similarity. They might have said "goes for the Cocoon vibe" and been just as wrong. Bloody Disgusting properly called it "a masterpiece of the werewolf genre".

Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano may not be well known, but after "B is for Bigfoot", "Here Comes the Devil" and now this, horror fans better take notice.
Original spin on the lycanthropic horror flick with Damici aces8/10
LATE PHASES (2014) *** Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Tina Louise, Rutanya Alda, Caitlin O'Heaney, Erin Cummings, Tom Noonan, Larry Fessenden, Karen Lynn Gorney, Dana Ashbrook. Original spin on the lycanthropic horror flick with Damici aces as an aged, blind Vietnam vet who discovers a werewolf in amidst his new housing community and attempts to prepare for the next attack within the month of a new full moon. Great ensemble of veteran character actors (some get the short shrift while others shine) make a fine guessing game of who's the creature. Filmmaker Adrian Garcia Bogliano keeps things lively by smartly employing Robert Kurtzman's largely practical special effects and make-up for the monster echoing the contemporaries THE HOWLING and AN American WEREWOLF IN London. The unique screenplay by Eric Stolze echoes Stephen King's SILVER BULLET yet creates its own brand of drama with Damici's solid performance (a mix of Ben Gazarra's no bull demeanor and Charles Bronson's calm macho stoicism) anchoring the film in reality. One of the better efforts of the werewolf genre.
Of Vets and Wolves8/10
I always loved grumpy old guys in films, and after Eastwood's Kowalski there was little left to desire...till Damici's Ambroze Mckinley stepped into the picture in Bogliano's latest feature.

Bogliano's something of a curious case, he never limits himself to one or two subgenres the man does it all. Secretly though, he loves comedy! So Late Phases are laced with subtle and quirky comedy aspects, it never takes itself too seriously. Normally, the abundance of humor in a horror flick is major offense by me, but here, it simply works.

Elderly, blind vet moves to retirement community on the edge of a forest to spend the rest of his days in peace, but as he quickly learns, there's trouble lurking in front of residents' lawns killing them quickly and efficiently.

Ambrose McKinley doesn't waste too much time investigating, instead he instantly figures out the root of this evil and does his own prepping in order to face the threat. And so it goes....small close knit community shows its true colors and Ambrose gets the chance to face the enemy in no time...

Cheesy creature feature, far and between but loud and clear gore don't sound inviting? How about Tom Noonan in supporting role - the trade he's mastered during his long career? Great cinematography, perhaps a bit off pace now and then, but patched up and ready to proceed with good action sequences and surprising dynamics withing community. I'd call this a throwback although the cinematography is authentically modern, effects, creature feature and humor resemble 80's flicks.

Weird, offbeat but never dull, this is quite original werewolf film, first remarkable wereflick after Ginger Snaps, in my opinion.
One stubborn old fart versus the Werewolf.8/10
With only 2 reviews at this point I felt I should lure more people towards this film. It's about an old Vietnam veteran's fight against the werewolf.

The protagonist of the story is one I really felt for. Dumped by his son is this 'community for they soon-dying', and as such with no one to depend on I felt more tension to the battle as with most Lycanthrope themed films. Oh yeah, and he's blind too!

The music might get a bit'too' epic once in a while, but it adds to the tragic situation I think. It's used in the right places and doesn't turn the battles into cheesiness. The protagonist's nihilistic attitude, his age and his allover bitterness... I felt a bit of Rambo in this film. I think it's a great film; not reliance on gore, just a simple & effective continuous buildup towards the end. Recommended.
He's still got it5/10
If you need your dose of creature feature, Late Phases may not be a great one, but it is a pleasant one nonetheless. What's rather unusual is that the best bits don't come from the creatures but from the main character, his personality, and the way he deals with things. Played by Mr Damici, I found him quite fascinating.

More points for originality come from the setting itself, a sort of village full of elderly people. Something that you don't see everyday, and that ends up playing miles above all the teenage & monsters rubbish that pollutes our silver screens these days.

Late Phases has all you might expect from a decent B-movie: not the best FX and monster suits, but personality, intriguing developments, and fun. Many things are done right, like going into action right from the start and showing the creature in the first minutes. Even the music score has a couple of great moments. So why not a better note ? Well, none of the flaws is big enough to ruin the story, but I can't just ignore all the little goofs, and the costumes do look daffy after all.