Cremains (2000)
Subversive Cinema
Cast: Chester Delacruz
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Bonus Trailers

Like many, I decry the loss of the independent horror film movement of the early 80s, where low-budget shockers were distributed by the major studios and played in theatres right next to their big-budget brethren. While we don’t see as many of these films reaching as mass audiences, there is still an underground movement in low-budget horror, which has been fueled by the advent of home video. Aspiring filmmakers can now simply pick up a camcorder and make their own epics. ’Cremains’ is a good example of this independent spirit and shows how creativity can overcome budget constraints.

’Cremains’ is an anthology film (you don’t see many of those anymore either) which centers around a mortician (Chester Delacruz), who is being investigated for cremating two bodies at once. (Which is apparently a no-no!) He is being questioned by an unseen panel of inquisitors. During their questioning, they ask the mortician if he’s ever dealt with the supernatural in his profession. He then relates three stories that he’s heard on the job. In the first tale, a young woman (Wanda Plimmer) makes the mistake of driving through a small town famous for its ritual sacrifices. In the next story, a serial killer (Chris Williams) captures a hitchhiker and then the mind-games begin. The third story features a woman (Kimberly Lynn Cole) who seeks out the help of a horror author (R.W. Smith), as she’s convinced that a female vampire is after her. The final segment comes back to the story of the mortician and deals with the macabre results of his double-cremation.

’Cremains’ is a great example of how one must take the good with the bad when dealing with low-budgets films. The good here are the stories themselves. While they aren’t incredibly original, they all have that ’urban legend’ feel to them which makes them easily accessible. The final segment is especially imaginative, and as it’s the longest segment, I can’t help but assume that ’Cremains’ was built around this story. The last story features some nice special effects to complement the very creepy story that it contains. Despite the fact that ’Cremains’ was shot on video, writer/director Steve Sessions has attempted to shoot the film creatively and there is some nice editing. The bad lies in the fact that at 107 minutes, it is way too long, and all of the segments feel padded. Also, there are multiple problems with the audio, and the dialogue is often out of sync with the actor’s mouths. ’Cremains’ isn’t perfect, but it’s actually better than some studio horror films released lately.

’Cremains’ comes to DVD from Video Outlaw. The movie is presented in a letterboxed format, with an aspect ratio of approximately 1.75:1. (Although the box reads: ’This DVD is presented in its original TV frame.’) The video image is sharp, but there is some noise present. This is especially noticeable when video effects are used. As is typical with low-budget video shoots, there are some scenes where the lighting creates an abundance of lens flare. The colors are adequate, and the image never gets too dark. As stated above, the audio on ’Cremains’ is problematic. There is a constant hiss to this digital stereo soundtrack, and at times, the dialogue is barely audible. There are also scenes where the audio is distorted.

This DVD contains a few extras. First, we have five-minutes of outtakes, most of the blooper variety. Next, we have a sixteen-minute segment entitled ’Vampire Elaboratum’ (although the box identifies it as ’Vampire Elabatorium’), which contains deleted scenes, outtakes, and unused footage from the third segment of the movie. Finally, there are 22 (!) trailers for various other titles from the Alternative Cinema collection.