Voodoo Academy

Voodoo Academy (1999)
Full Moon Pictures
Cast: Riley Smith, Debra Meyer
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Trailers, Bloopers, Director Spotlight

Full Moon vet David DeCoteau has decided to do something a little different with ’Voodoo Academy’. DeCoteau has turned the tables on the classic horror stereotypes and brings us what he calls, ’the first horror film for girls.’ ’Voodoo Academy’ features a group of young men who run around a spooky bible college in their (name brand) underwear. The film is very short on plot, and incredibly hokey at times (with special effects that would make Ed Wood wince), but credit must be given to the movie for attempting something different. Riley Smith stars as a newcomer to the Carmichael Bible College, which is run by the mysterious Reverend Carmichael (Chad Burns) and Mrs. Bouvier (Debra Meyer). We soon learn that the school is simply a front for voodoo activity and that the students are to be used as sacrifices so that Mrs. Bouvier can have more power. The all-male student body (!) roam the school at night wearing nothing but their skivvies trying to find out what’s going on. Try to image an episode of ’Scooby Doo’ crossed with a Calvin Klein ad and you’ll get the idea of what ’Voodoo Academy’ is like. The DVD features the director’s cut of the film that runs 23 minutes longer but feels a bit padded at times, and is way too talky.

The DVD of ’Voodoo Academy’ is part of Full Moon’s new ’Lunar Edition’ line. The film is presented full-frame, as it was shot on 16mm film. The video image is very grainy – director David DeCoteau discusses this on the audio commentary – but not so much so that it detracts from viewing the film. If anything, the grain has most likely been magnified by the digital transfer. Other than the grain, there are no obvious defects on the source print, and the image is very clear and crisp. The film offers many nighttime scenes, and in these scenes we are given an image that shows true blacks and no color bleeding. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby 2-channel surround, which makes good used of the rear speakers during the suspenseful scenes. The dialogue on this audio mix is always clear and audible, with only a slight hissing in the background.

The ’Voodoo Academy’ DVD offers an audio commentary with director David DeCoteau, who is very frank in discussing the history of the film and why he decided to make it. DeCoteau openly discusses the difficulty that he had getting the film made and distributed. It’s very refreshing to hear a filmmaker stand behind his work the way DeCoteau does. He also narrates behind-the-scenes footage from the set of ’Voodoo Academy’, giving us insight into the making of the film. His work is spotlighted in a special section, which treats us to a biography and filmography of the director, as well as showing us many trailers from his catalog of film. DeCoteau also provides a video introduction to the movie. On a lighter note, Full Moon has included a blooper reel, showing the many gaffs from the set, as well as a selection of trailers.