Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Catch of the Day

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Catch of the Day
Written, produced, edited and directed by James Balsamo
Acid Bath Productions
137 minutes / 2014

James Balsamo is a smart cookie for someone from out on the Island (Lowng’Giland, of course). You see, he knows his budget is smaller than a Republican’s heart (or penis), so what he does is he goes to horror conventions to hawk his previous, fun films (reviewed HERE) and gets to meet varied and numerous genre performers, and gets them to do a bit here and there, and then figures out how to work it into the story.

A good example is the opening of this film, which is a close-up of Jason Mewes (Kevin Smith’s “hetero life partner”) ranting about the lead character, which essentially is a fun albeit pointless moment. Still, getting him to do this was – er – cool as hell. It also explains why the cast list goes on for miles, and there are some amazing cameos throughout. Brilliant move, as far as I’m concerned, and more about that later.

Rod (as in rod and reel?) Davis, played by our intrepid director, is a cop who is a rebel, ready to shoot and then ask question, and, well, a bit of a dumb douche. Mocking the older cops, not caring about anyone but himself, and way too fond of donuts and dames, he is – for the lack of a better term – not having a good steam of luck. After screwing up an extensive police sting with the help of his partner Harry Chu (Jeff Kim), among other things, he is suspended from the police force. On top of that, he’s just been kick to the curb by his girlfriend, Buffy Flenderhawk (Jennifer Banko).

Yet despite all his woes in the first act, this film is actually quite funny, and not just because of Balsamo’s self-referential I Spill Your Guts tee, which is doubly funny because it’s a cop wearing a slasher film shirt.

To me, one of the funniest person in here and in most of Balsamo’s flicks is Frank Mullen, who plays the villainous golden-handed mobster, who makes puns that would make Egghead and Catwoman from the 1966 Batman groan. Essentially every character he plays in a Balsamo release is the same person: the hot-headed guy who fuckin’ curses like a fuckin’ horse, ya fuckin’ mook! He makes me smile.

Which is a nice segway that brings me to the next point, namely that this film is stuffed full of racial slurs (especially towards Asians and directed at Chu, mostly by Davis, e.g., referring to themselves as “the gook and the mook”), boobs, dicks (full frontal), rubbery guts and gore, just as rubbery fish masks and hands, and those previously mentioned cameos up the culo. Y’got your Johnny Legend, Nick Principe (whose performance was so strong in Collar), an absolutely hysterical turn by the amazing Ms. Debbie Rochon, Carmine Capobianco (who was also great in The Sins of Dracula), facially tattooed fighter Tim Dax (who’s moment is very funny), John Link, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, pornstar/wrestler/journalist Jasmine St. Claire, many metal musicians, and even the Candyman himself, Tony Todd. Most of these short stints are close-ups of the person telling about how bad a cop Davis is, and what he did to them.

Kara Hankard (Donna) and James Balsamo (Rod)
The story is a bit of a hodgepodge: you have your mad scientist named Ben Jackal (Edward X. Young, overacting to the nth degree in a Dr. Strangelove kind of homage, and who was also fun in Mold!) making cocaine and also turning people into murderous fish mutants, a group of mobsters (led by Mullens’ “Man with the Golden Hand” – as opposed to arm, of course) who seeks revenge against anyone associated with Davis’ murdered cop dad (a hilarious turn by Irwin Keyes), a possible upcoming marriage between Chu and Davis’ sister, Roxanne (the fun to watch Shannon Mann), and the budding relationship between Davis and Roxanne’s bestie (also the assistant for Jackal), Donna (the lovely and wide-eyed Kara Hankard).

You may think with all these goings-on, it may get a bit muddled. Well, yeah, but honestly that’s part of the fun. This film had me laughing more than some mainstream comedies, and definitely beyond anything Seth Rogan or Adam Sandler have put out in the last…well…ever. It’s crude, it’s rude, it’s juvenile and it doesn’t really start or go anywhere; but considering the relatively low budget we’re talking about here, it’s a joyride all the way through its 2-hour-plus running time. Normally, I would whine about the length, but this piece of purposeful stupidity (there is even a nod to the kings of physical clowns, the Three Stooges) just keeps going like that battery rabbit, and kept my attention all the way through.

Just when you think it can’t get any weirder, suddenly there’s a Bollywood musical scene (in my mind I heard Anna Kendricks saying “What?!”, if you get the reference). Then there is an inserted part of the New York PRIDE parade, for no other reason than Balsamo was there with his camera; oh, and I suppose so he could also say that he had then-Mayor Bloomberg in his film. And a Stanley Weiner shot while the soundtrack played a gay song about wieners? Priceless.

Speaking of the small budget, I’m a bit baffled by one thing. I’m pretty sure a lot of this is guerilla filmmaking around New York and Long Island locales, but there is also a large presence of real cops interacting with Balsamo, including a SWAT team and harbor patrol. That was super impressive!

So, with some rough edits, some questionable acting, additional dialogue that feels ad-libbed at the moment, and an interesting mostly-metal soundtrack, this silly-silly-silly film is a laugh riot of childishness that had me looking forward to Balsamo’s next release, the vampire/mafia mash-up Bite School.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Nun of That

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Nun of That
Directed and edited by Richard Griffin
Scorpio Films Releasing
91 minutes / 2009
The film can be seen HERE.

Religious comedies take a fine hand to craft, to be funny and irreverent with a feel and knowledge for the reverent. I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but it sure describes this film pretty well.

Based on the Strong Women and Blaxploitation genres (think Coffy [1973], Ms. 45 [1981] and Savage Sisters [1974; aka Ebony, Ivory & Jade], a group of super-Nuns – you heard me – take on the mob (of course, it’s the cartoonish versions of Italianos that would have made Joe Gallo crazy). And I’m sure that somewhere, some Mameluke is saying this is part of the “War on Christians.”

Sarah Nicklin as Sister Wrath
After a wonderful prologue where a nun on a stripper pole (no nun nudity here) guns down a bunch of mobsters, we get to meet the heroine of the piece, Sister Kelley (the amazing Sarah Nicklin), definitely a nun with an attitude problem that a few years of anger management may not have the power to cure. After beating up a pedophilic priest, she’s sent away to the bad nun parish in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. On the verge of being raped by a pimp in full Superfly regalia and his two goons, she does away with them with a can of whoop-ass, only to be shot by – yep – more nuns.

In heaven, she argues with her guardian angel asking where he was when she was shot; he defensively answers, “Getting smokes, Bitch! Do you know how hard it is to get menthol here?!” That line had me laughing hard enough to stop the film to gather myself. It’s a wild ride, indeed. And the film’s only just starting.

After meeting the J-Man (Michael Reed, and in a very cool idea, he also plays the Devil later in the film) and some training by the hosts of heaven (e.g., martial arts from Ghandi!), she comes back as a holy crusader known as Sister Wrath, as a member of the Order of the Black Habit, which is sort of like the nun version of the Black Ops. Don’t worry, I won’t be giving away too much more of the story, it’s just too delish. But I will be discussing observations of moments of course, as that’s mah thang.

Some of the humor is very subtle. For example, during a nun slumber party with a bottle of champagne to celebrate a victory, one of the priests named Father Thomas is looking through a crack in the door and enjoying the activity. One might think Doubting Thomas, but it’s more likely Peeping Tom is the reference. Less subtle joke that had me laughing refers to being so unlucky that someone could “fall into a vat of tits and come out sucking your thumb.” Such language from a woman of the cloth!

All the nuns in the order are named for the Seven Deadly Sins, including Sister Lust (attractive Shanatee Wilson, who easily is a take-off of Pam Grier sans the amount of curves) and Sister Gluttony (Ruth Sullivan, who was so memorable in The Disco Exorcist); a funny bit is that while all the sisters have a special cross around their neck, Sister Gluttony has three. Brilliant.

Not only is there a lot of incredibly funny material, but it is actually quite smart. The name of a tough-as-a-biker-bar hangout for nuns (most played by men)? Why Bar Nun, of course. And Italians/Catholics aren’t the only ones who get the treatment, there’s a mercenary killer named Viper Goldstein (David Lavallee, Jr.) so some Jewish jokes can also be made (more than one had me howling, such as “We invented ‘Old School’” and “Jew-Jitsu”); even Mohammed is taken down a notch, but don’t tell you-know-who.

I just have one question, and this may sound like a snipe but I say it in total respect: could you find faker looking moustaches and wigs? Wow! I take it as part of the humor, rather than a lack of trying.

The |Devil  (Michael Reed) and Mama Rizzo (Rich Tretheway)
And even with all the yucks, there is a gender politics and body politic that underscores the events. For example, a priest would rather side with mobsters because they’re men and are “supposed” to be in charge rather than with the nuns because they are women. Also there is much gender switching, with a man playing the woman who is running the mob (Rich Tretheway channeling Divine-meets-Little Orphan Annie), and as I said, many of the other nuns are definitely male.

There are two notable cameos. One is by the a bit unrecognizable Debbie Rochon thanks to a habit, who would be so powerful a few years later in Griffin’s Exhumed (2011), and the other a very hysterically funny Lloyd Kaufmann as the Toxic Av…I mean, the Pope, doing the worst Italian accent I have ever heard. You can just tell he ad-libbed his lines.

I mean, this is the kind of film I would imagine someone like Quentin Tarantino would twist his nut to have made, or at least watch.


Bonus video mock trailer (not from this film, but same characters)
Winner of the 2008 48-hour film award, where films are created in 2 days:





Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: Awaken the Devil

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Awaken the Devil (aka An Anti American)
Edited and directed by Daniel E. Falicki
Sector 5 Films / Rotomation Pictures
Chemical Burn Entertainment / WWMM
85 minutes, 2014

Brothers Vernon (Jason Roth) and Tom Dopple (Matt Simpson Siegel) are down on their luck. Vernon is mute, stuck in a wheelchair, and apparently of low IQ. Tom talks practically non-stop, has an abuse problem – be it liquid or pills – and is the only guardian for Vernon. Both brothers are homeless and scam artists when need be in order to sustain themselves.

In the world in which they survive rather than live, in a nice directorial touch, they are presented in flesh and blood, and nearly everyone around them is but a shadow, animated in 2D. In fact, their world is animated, with some film backgrounds of New York (though it was filmed in Michigan) that they move over, but are not a part of, creating a two-level environment: one for themselves to exist in, and one for everyone else that they cannot be part of, only be on the outside.

They break into a building for the night, but what awaits them inside is sinister, mysterious, and deceptive. Vernon and Tom have lost their way in life, disconnected from reality on some level, and now supernatural and evil forces are using them for their own nefarious means.

The original title of the film was An Anti American, which is as cryptic as parts of the film, which focuses mostly on the two brothers, their relationship and the events that will change their lives. With the exception of brief scene with a drug dealer (Ryan Lieske in a bad wig, who also wrote the screenplay), nearly all the talking in the story is done by Tom, with Vernon writing on a chalkboard.

Other than the wheelchair, some strewn newspapers, and a sparse number of cast members, nearly everything is green-screened, giving a two-dimension effect to the world, especially when Tom breaks into a supposedly deserted building, rolling Vernon in after him. Of course, they become trapped, and that’s when the evil abounds.

Even before that, as they roam the streets asking for handouts, there are signals that something bad is afoot, as graffiti-like messages designed just for them start to appear. They have been chosen, it seems.

The film moves at a very slow pace, building character dynamics and tension in the story. The audience gets a chance to know T & V better, though not what brought them into the sorry condition they are in currently. Both of the two actors carry their roles extremely well, rather than the usually D-level film overacting (or underacting). That was certainly refreshing. Siegel (who looks a lot like Michael Stipe here) gives him just the right desperate tone without overplaying, making it easy to pity the guy. Roth (resembling Toshiro Mifune somewhat) conveys curiousity and fear through his eyes, while mute.

I would imagine it would be hard to react to some of the events that were added after by these actors, considering they are in front of a screen, but they do admirable work, from Tom’s fear to Vernon’s attempts of understand just what is happening.

This could be seen as an experimental film (hence its original cryptic title), but it works in no small part to its lead actors, who have to convey the story while acting to most likely a blank wall that will be filled in with effect in the post part of the filmmaking;

This is a thoughtful piece of cinema, and while it is admittedly a bit slow moving at times, it also builds beautifully. If you have the patience and enjoy a decent character study as well as a devil of a time, this may surprise you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: Ace Jackson is a Dead Man

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Ace Jackson is a Dead Man
Directed by Sean Weathers and Aswad Issa
Full Circle Filmworks
67 minutes, 2015

While I sometimes kid director Sean Weathers about his lack of making horror films any more, he really has nailed down the exploitation / sexploitation / Blaxploitation genres into a single category in a way that I imagine would make Melvin van Peebles smile.

As usual, a very toned and six-packed Weathers plays the lead, and also par is that the main character is not a likeable lot, up to his dick in violence, drugs, hookers and trouble. A lowest echelon wannabe gangsta (am I allowed to say that?), Jackson has picked up some pure coke from an evil tempered and dangerous dealer named Mr. Bigelow (aka Mr. Biggs), fully embodied by Adonis Williams, who does a magnificent job. Shit, I was at home watching this and he made me a bit frightened!

Even his hooker girlfriends are scary. One won’t give him the time of day (though shows us a whole bunch of cleavage) at first, and another, named Chelsea, is in for a penny-in for a pound of coke. She dances and twerks for Ace (aka, the audience), and then lots of flesh on flesh (the sex talk is right out of a porn playbook in a “Pin me down with your hot pussy!” kind of thing). As the writer, Weathers also gives himself lots of opportunity to co-mingle with all the female cast members onscreen. This gives him a chance to show off his physique, as well as act with some fine looking actresses in softcore sex scenes.

The Cramps once sang that “All Women Are Bad,” and while I don’t agree with that, here the Eve backstabs the Adam – or Ace – and the drugs are gone. Of course, this puts our little pal in a pickle to pay back the bad dude, hence the title of the film. That being said, while there are some devious dishy dames, it is also a couple of women who are the most pitifully entrapped in the lifestyle by our reckless protagonist (I don’t believe “hero” or even “anti-hero” would be appropriate).

Over a soundtrack of some classic way-back beautiful Blues songs, Ace roams the Brooklyn ‘hoods trying to find his way out of the possibility of ending up in a hole “with nothing showing but the toes.” But one thing to learn about this film is that comeuppance, the negative side of karma, comes hard to those who play by their own rules and greed.

This is filmed purposefully in a very grainy high-contrast black and white by Issa, and while some of the shadows are occasionally too dark and block out the faces, it is always the right level of moody, so it all works out fine in that aspect. Perhaps the darkness is meant to reflect the characters’ dark souls. Also the sound is clear, which is a plus. There’s still the occasional rough edit here and there, but the scenes flow well and enable the story, which is a pleasure.

One of the character’s names is Trayvon Martin, a nod to the teenager shot in Florida by psycho pseudo-cop George Zimmerman. No matter how racially charged and negative the characters can be in a Weathers film, the social justice level is definitely there as well, sometimes blatant like less-than-subliminal police crime photos of real murdered criminals and prostitutes (some are quite gruesome, including decapitated heads). Weathers effectively used this trick before, showing historic lynching photos to emphasize a point. There are also a number of times when the action between scenes is interrupted by text discussing social ills that may have helped lead to the crime story in the film, such as wealth of the 1%, poverty, and the need for social programs. Rather than a hindrance, this works on a level in lieu of character background.

As for Ace, well, he’s not a nice guy, and it’s nearly impossible to feel any kind of pity for him as he drags innocents into his twisted lifestyle. I would have liked a bit more of a background than someone saying, “I’ve always hated you” or some rolling text (though that was smart), I want to know why he’s developed into such the substance and person abuser that he has become.

Will all the violence and the mistreatment of just about everyone by just about everyone (with the rare exception of some dragged into the mess), there is also a delicate sense of humor that arises occasionally, such as a burglar wearing a Richard Nixon mask, stating they both were crooks.

I’ve always enjoyed a Weathers (and Issa) release that has a narrative thread rather than made up of various set pieces, and this one is definitely one of his better; and I’m not saying that because of the shout out at the end of the film. You’re welcome, Sean (and Issa).

Along with the main feature, there are three classic (public domain) criminal features included on the DVD, including Mr. Scarface (1976, aka I padroni della citta, with Jack Palance), Family Enforcer (1976, aka The Death Collector, starring Joe Pesci), and most notably for this DVD, High School Caesar (1960, with the ever wonderful John Ashley).

There are also two original shorts. The first is the 3:17 "Forgiveness," directed by Aswad Issa, is a beautifully esoteric and experimental piece consisting of objects always spinning, pixilation, and if I understand correctly, a baby who is doomed from the start.

The second, also directed by Issa,is a 4:27 piece titled "The Pimp Chronicles." In sepia, we meet two hookers who discuss their lives to someone off-screen (Weathers, I believe). This doesn't sound scripted, which makes it quite scary, in spite of the ease and banality of tone.

There is a lot to chose from here, so give yourself some time and work your way through. It's worth it.

Q&A with Director Sean Weathers about "Ace Jackson is a Dead Man"

Text (c) Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from Sean Weathers / the Internet

The review of the Sean Weathers' starring/co-directed/edited film can be found HERE.

Indie Horror Films: You shot the majority of this film 5 years ago, why so long of a delay in releasing it?Sean Weathers: My partner [Aswad Issa]and I shot principal photography of Scumbag Hustler [reviewed HERE], Mandingo Sex Addict and Ace Jackson is a Dead Man in 2010, but then I took an unintended hiatus from filmmaking for four years. Life in general got in the way; the years went by quickly before I realized they were gone. Now here I am, trying to make up for lost time.

IHF: What went into your decision-making process to make this film a high-contrast black and white with added graininess?
Sean:  The world and the characters in this are very gritty, dark and dirty, and I wanted the look of the film to match that.

IHF: Why the old time blues and folk music?Sean:  There were a lot of parallels between the songs, the people who sung them, the time they were living in, and the Ace character and the world I built around him.

IHF: Why the stills of the dead bodies throughout the film?
Sean:  When writing this I imagined someone opening up a newspaper and seeing a B&W image of a thug that was shot in the head in the hood for a drug deal that went wrong. With that seed planted in my head, once I started editing I wanted to further emphasize the inevitability of death and how it’s always there waiting on us; no matter what we do or how hard we try it’s the final chapter for all of us. In this case it’s murder, so I wanted to show people who died savagely and prematurely.

IHF: There is scrolling text throughout the film telling us certain disturbing facts about government and corporate power. Why the decision to put that in the film and how does it relate to the story?Sean:  I think it’s easy to go through life and just focus only on what you see affecting you and not think on a wider scale. I wanted to show how macroeconomics – the government, the country, the banks, large corporations, etc. – can effect microeconomics, you.

IHF: How were you able to achieve a natural feel to the dialogue in the film?
Sean:  Most of the dialogue and about half of the scenes were improvised. I had written a script called “Man Hunt” that we never shot. We took the plot and cherry-picked some of the scenes from that script and made up the rest on set as we went. We were looking to shoot something very quickly; I’d say about a third of the scenes in the film were shot with one take. [Outtakes reel can be seen HERE]

IHF: The DVD also includes three classic crime thrillers: Mr. Scarface (1976), Family Enforcer (1976) and High School Caesar (1960), plus two original short films: The Pimp Chronicles and Forgiveness
. Can you tell us a little bit about the other five films?Sean:  The three crime thrillers all have the same common theme with Ace, of a low level criminal trying to earn respect and work their way up the ladder. The Pimp Chronicles features a pimp off-screen interviewing three hoes about life in the business. Forgiveness is an award-winning short film directed by my partner that I helped co-produce.

IHF: Anything else about the film you want to mention, while we have the chance?
A - Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to talk about my film. Ace Jackson is a Dead Man, which is available for pre-order now on, will be officially released on June 23, 2015.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead
Produced, directed and edited by Richard Griffin
Scorpio Films Releasing/ Wild Eye Releasing
85 minutes / 2013 / 2015

When I was watching Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead (that’s actually the DVD release name, with the original being the more colorful and painfully accurate Frankenstein’s Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead), I had a nagging thought bouncing around in my mind throughout the whole thing. It’s kind of Hammer Films-like, but it’s broader than that. Just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then as I watched the credits at the end, it’s almost like the director, Richard Griffin, was prescient and he answered my query. He thanks Jess Franco, and that was the lightbulb moment. Then I watched the film again.

In some ways, Jesse Franco (d. 2013) was the Ed Wood Jr. (d. 1978) of modern Euro-sleaze cinema (and long titles), like The Women of Cell Block 9 (1978) and Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula (1998). Many of Jess’s films had Nazi elements (as villains), lots of gore, cheesy dialog, and beautiful women who screamed a lot. On many levels this film, in trying to capture his zeitgeist, the pupil exceeds the teacher.

In The Breakfast Club (1985) fashion, a group of miscreants in a Salem, Massachusetts high school – all of them attractive – are brought by their teacher to a horror-themed wax museum, the real Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery (HERE); the correct sign is seen out front, but in the back a computer printed sign says [Peter] “Cushing Wax Museum” (no big whoop, especially since I was a card-carrying member of the British-based Peter Cushing fan club in early 1970s).

Okay, since I’ve already started, I’m going to do my ridiculous nit picking first, though I usually do this at the end, because (a) I think it’s funny, and (b) I like to show off. The big anachronism here is when the film takes place. For example, a student goes missing and the date listed on the “missing” flyer is 1979. However, the posters on another student’s wall (probably from the Griffin’s youth) is of Thompson Twins and Duran Duran. While both this bands were formed before 1979, at least the latter band didn’t have any hits until 1981. And lastly, in the wax museum, some of the figures include the clown Pennywise and Darkman, both from films released in 1990. Man, I love indie cinema (not sarcasm).

Shannon Hartman and Johnny Sederquist
nyway, our group sneaks back into said museum so at least some of them can have sex: the straight couple in a casket, no less, and the gay couple in a threesome with a wax figure. And, of course, all the rest of the group are there for – er – moral support? This turns out to be a bad thing because the person running the museum is Charles Frank (a wonderfully crazed Michael Thurber), who has shortened his last name of course, and copying his great-great-grandfather’s experiments. Thurber kind of looks like the progeny of Chris Lee and Peter Cushing (as if that was possible, and again, a compliment), and being the incredible stage and screen actor that he is, he knows how to play maniacal well.

Like every version of the Frankenstein bloodline, there are previous failed experiments running amok, here in kind-of zombie mode in that they stumble around and eat people, but they don’t have the virus that turns their victims into flesh-eaters themselves. When they eat, they kill, and at least two deaths here are similar to a particular slaughter in Romero’s Day of the Dead (1985).

The body count is high, and the characters, both female and male, are attractive albeit leaning towards snarky and/or not overly smart, but that’s okay, because everyone is really funny. Of course, it helps with the screenplay co-written by Griffin and Seth Chitwood. According to the commentary track, some of the gags they came up with were at the last minute, including the hysterical coda (which indirectly indicated that there might be a sequel?).

One of the interesting aspects about seeing a director’s film out of context, i.e., not in the order they were released, is that you often get to see early parts after seeing that same actor(s) in leading roles. And since Griffin has been blessed with a wonderful and ever growing troupe, the viewer can see the same ones at their various stages (so far).

There are two female de facto leads in this: first, there’s Ashley, played by the diminutive yet nevertheless powerful Shannon Hartman as the beautiful bitch girl, and yet to me seems to use that tone to manage to stay alive (or not, not giving it away). Highly emotional, it’s very different than the still and seething character she would play in Normal (2013). Like the Rachel McAdams character in Mean Girls (2004), she manages to be really offensive, and remain hot. And here, she sorta wears a Freddy Kruger sweater (not exact, but close).

Jamie Lyn Bagley
The other female lead is Katherine (Jamie Lyn Bagley), the frumpy-yet-cute outsider girl who is smarter than most of the others, and has really bad hair and choice of clothing that accentuates what you don’t want highlighted. I’m looking forward to more leading roles with her in the future (Richard, hint-hint). Being that diamond-in-the-rough role in this type of film, it’s the fear that turns into anger that will help her (or not). Or, by the end, is she as insane as everyone else?

The titular role, as I said, is a be-wigged and eye-patched Michael Thurber, Griffin’s genie in a bottle (or soundstage, anyway). As I’ve said in previous reviews, Thurber really does know how to play the straight (i.e., non-comedic) role, as he did in the superb Exhumed (2011), the completely over the top insanity of Future Justice (2014), and the Euro-trash nutsoid-naziod that was common in the 1970s, and especially in the video boom of the ‘80s. Like most of the actors here, he is stage trained, and knows how to play to a role, and sometimes, as in here, lets the role play him to some extent.

The second male lead in his first full length feature is Johnny Sederquist, who plays the very openly gay Sam. It’s humorous that he has a nice love scene with Aaron Peaslee (as Troy), who he would also share a tongue with in The Sins of Dracula (2014). It is interesting to compare Sederquist’s role here with his later lead actor in Accidental Incest (2014). Here he’s emotional, but by AI, he will make a leap from being a character to becoming that character. Good actor here, he definitely has grown. It’s all good, and he is extremely funny here; you can see his good sense of timing and emotional manipulation of the character and the strength to sacrifice… okay, others… to survive (or not).

The heart of the film, Michael Thurber
As with most of Griffin’s films, there is a large cast, some part of the main group, and some more in the periphery. For example, the “lead” zombie is played by Nathaniel Sylva, who would go on to play the main character in Future Justice, as he does stoic so well (compliment). Jesse Dufault plays a punk rocker musician (in some ways similar to NuWave he’d personify in The Sins of Dracula. He wisely plays convincingly with his eyes, one of his strong features, as he’s also a bit of a loveable comedic teddy bear, which also works for him. His real-life brother, Jamie Dufault, who often plays leads in Griffin films such as Murder University (2012), has a cameo role here as a zombie, and I found it amusing that he almost bites Jesse (I’m sure that was intentional, and good on you). One of the better and funniest bits has do to with a David Byrn…I mean a talking head named Fritz (hilariously dis-embodied by Sean Carufel), a definite – er  – nod to the B-film classic The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962).

If you’ve never seen a Jess (nee Jesus) Franco film, this could be a good way to start before delving in, because as purposefully goofy as this is, it’s nowhere near as insane and sometimes unwatchable as some Franco films. Griffin has taken the best elements and motifs that make Franco’s films so interesting, and put his own twist on it to make it a fun joyride through someone else’s backyard mess.

The extra is a commentary track that has way too many people in it, including most of the primary cast and the director, but Griffin actually manages to keep it in check most of the time so it doesn’t become a “I’m talking over everyone else to express my ego” fest. Despite the occasional overmodulation due to everyone laughing at once, it is surprisingly coherent.

I’m not one who usually finds “Easter Eggs” on DVDs, but if you click on Thurber’s eyepatch in the Special Features window, you can hear a web-interview with the director on Nerdgasm where he talks about a lot of his career and gives some perspective of how he learned what he knows. For example, I found out we both share a love of Bug Bunny cartoon, and how his comedies are filmed versions of those ‘toons in some elements. ‘Nuff said.