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So this is how Kevin Smith's bluster ends - with his once-trumpeted thriller "Red State" essentially going directly to DVD.

It seemed such a big deal in January, when Smith returned to the Sundance Film Festival (home of his early career triumphs "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy") with his first horror-thriller, "Red State." (Here's my review, written during Sundance.)

The movie - about a fundamentalist Christian sect killing off horny teen-agers, then getting into an armed standoff with the Feds - had so much marketable material going for it:

It had a good cast, led by John Goodman, Oscar winner Melissa Leo, and a standout performance by Michael Parks as the cult's charismatic leader.

It had Smith's snappy dialogue, better than much of his recent output.

It had built-in controversy, with the gay-hatin' Westboro Baptist Church folks visiting Park City to publicize, er, protest the film.

And there was the added lure at Sundance when Smith hinted that he would auction off distribution rights to the film at the first screening at the Eccles Theatre.

Then Smith pulled a bait-and-switch on the industry types, with a fake "auction" that instead was an announcement that he would self-distribute the film - using his massive Twitter following to drum up publicity without spending a dime.

At the time, Smith promised nationwide theatrical distribution this month - after a "roadshow" tour in which Smith would charge $20 in selected cities to see the movie and then listen to him spout off afterward.

Instead, the movie comes out today on DVD, after a lengthy stint on video-on-demand.

If Smith made back the $4 million he told Sundance audiences the movie cost to make (which, according to /Film, he says he did in April), more power to him.

But, in spite of all of Smith's bluster about the power of the Internet and bucking the system, what he's got in the end is one of the most common byproducts of the Hollywood system: A direct-to-DVD horror movie that never got a chance to play theaters.