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.

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