Pullbox Reviews – Crusaders #357: Experiment in Evil – Not the Watchmen… a movie by fans, for fans

A battered wife leaves her husband to become a super hero in this comic book come to life complete with panels , page turns and old fashioned novelty ads. Taking the identity of Furie, Connie Ferrantti joins a team of working class masked avengers called The Crusaders. It isn’t long before she finds herself in conflict with their mysterious leader, The Ace of Spades. A one time hero of the golden age, The Ace of Spades is now walking a tightrope between good and evil. Can Furie save him from falling over the edge?

Every now & then, you run across something on the internet that defies expectation, spits in the face of good judgement, and gives you hope for a better tomorrow. No, The Crusaders isn’t one of those things… You know what it is, though? This is a labor of love, the kind of thing that could have been dreamed up among a group of friends, breathed into existence through willpower and sheer unadulterated chutzpah. This is the movie that you and your friends have been swearing up and down that you could make without the help of a major motion picture deal.

Without a doubt, The Crusaders #357: Experiment in Evil is a niche movie. It isn’t going to be universally loved by all or praised by critics. It’s a rough cut labor of love that could have been shot by anyone with time & energy, and enough gumption to make something to put out into the world… which is exactly why I think I love this flick.

Winner of the “Best Comics Related Film” at the San Diego ComiCon Film Festival in 2008, The Crusaders has done the improbable, bringing a serious comic book story to life on screens everywhere. Complete with page turns, panel transitions, & narrative boxes, it’s exactly what it was meant to be… proof that readers of comics aren’t just cellar dwelling ne’er-do-wells, but also include folks who can and will get things done.

The cast, lead by Vicki Schaffer as Furie, Robb Wolford as the Ace of Spades, and Blake Arnold (who co-wrote the screenplay) as Sergeant Liberty, have my respect for their efforts. It may not be Hollywood, but the performances of all involved gave me chuckles (both intended & not) aplenty… no small thing these days. If nothing else, I really had to admire the commitment here. Everyone shows up, no one dials it in, and there are some respectable performances (Andre Harvey as the villainous Death Rattle is a scene stealer).

If you’re looking to take a step away from the every day, if you’ve ever wondered what kind of movie motivated comic fans could actually put together, give The Crusaders a shot. Just think about how many people watched The Room (“Oh hi, Mark”), and understand that this can’t be any worse than that. Worst case scenario? Maybe this is the push you needed to stop talking about it, to get up and create something of your own.

Final Score: 10/13

Every comic needs an alternate cover…
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