Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: The Violence Movie; The Violence Movie 2

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2018
Images from the Internet

The Violence Movie
14:22 minutes, 1988 / 2003 / 2018
The Violence Movie 2
19:24 minutes, 1989 / 2003 / 2018
Written and directed by Eric D. Wilkinson
Wilkinson Home Video / Drawing Board Enterprises /
No Budget Production / MVD Entertainment Group

Even before watching this horror parody collection that’s a love letter to the Jason V., Michael M. and Freddy K. films, I would like to comment that this is a really smart marketing of a couple of shorts, never mind ones that were basically made in 1988 and 1989 by a bunch of teenagers, with some revisions in 2003. Putting it together as a package with all the modern bells and whistles (i.e., extras) also says a lot to its substance and dedication.

Fan fiction in film form can be a mixed bag, even now with the relative ease of creation, editing, etc., that can be done on any decent camera and home computer. Back when this was in its conception, it was solid VHS, which was much harder to keep consistent in color and tone, and needed to be edited either shoddily from one tape deck to another with huge loss of resolution or on professional equipment. Plus, the filmmakers are dealing with equipment that is substantially heavier than a modern camera.

The two teens who originally made this are the writer and director Eric D. Wilkinson, and his brother David, who acted as the killer. Both would go on to careers in The Biz: Eric went to producing the likes of the cult fave Man From Earth (2007), its sequel (2018), and Mischief Night (2013), among many others. He also came up with the original storyline for the last two. This collection, however, are the only films in his directorial credit. For David, this is his only acting credits, and his skill set went into the marketing game (his website is The Drawing Board: Motion Picture Marketing).

So, let’s break down this puppy and its many extras…

Joseph Shaughnessy
First of all, I know this is a parody / love letter to the slasher genre, but there are a lot of errors in the film, and I’m looking forward to hearing the commentary about them. For example, when The Killer (David Wilkinson) enters a room at the start of Part I, it’s easy to see there is a member of the crew in the background through the bathroom door, via a mirror. Also, when the protagonist, Joey (Joseph Shaughnessy) arrives home after hearing the “escaped madman” notice on the car radio, as he turns the device off, you can see someone else’s arm in the passenger seat (i.e., the cameraman). This is just the beginning, and so it’s already off to a good start, in my opinion, since these are a bunch of kids, after all. To be fair, it didn’t get much more mature as they aged, and the newer-created end credits show; as an example, I will simply offer just one listing in the credits for someone named Dick Hertz. Actually, there is a lot of – err – Tom Foolery in the credits, which is worth reading for its groan factor.

Most of the film is the fight between the unstoppable Killer and apparently equally unstoppable Joey, between mutual stabbings, hackings, choppings, and an even more extreme action or two which I’ll amusedly leave for you to discover and enjoy. Of course, it is all very amateurish: in the acting, the story, the direction, the occasionally decent looking gore effects, and just about everything else. You can tell the $50-100 budget went into a Halloween store for the body parts, masks, and implements of destruction. I know they’re adults now, but I say to their teen selves, “Well done, guys.” Even if they are from Jersey (I kid…).

It’s easy to tell the parts that were redone for the 2003 edition, including the opening credits (with added music by Harry Manfredinii, who has done a ton of horror film soundtracks, including the Friday the 13th franchise), and the end credits (with added music by Michael Kahn, who we get to see perform a bit in the extras, as well).

David Wilkinson
Part 2, was filmed very shortly after the first one, though on “slightly” better equipment (according to the Star Wars­-ish introductory text crawl), although also shot on VHS. While the story is still pretty basic, with The Killer once again escaping and Joey on the run in and around his house, but the technique has actually improve significantly, relatively speaking. The shots are somewhat more coherent, and it seems they are intent on taking more physical chances, as sometimes they literally as they scamper around the angular roof, get dragged behind cars, and chase with running chainsaws (what did the parents say about that?!).

As for the plethora of extras, let’s take ‘em one at a time. First up is the The Violence Movie commentary with the Brothers Wilkinson and Mike Kahn. I’m glad to have heard this because not only do these guys have a sense of humor about it, but they point out all the continuity errors (and errors in general), but also show all the added footage that was put in later. Sometimes I just said out loud, “How did I miss that?” It was fun, and little talking overlap, so what they were saying was clear. For the full commentary for Part 2, the same three guys (I’m guessing the same day) add more fun comments and anecdotes, and also explain away a few plot points I had questions about, which is nice.

For both films, there is a Deleted Scenes with 3:45 for the first and 9:40 for the second. Actually, deleted is not always accurate, despite the opening for Part 1 with Kahn singing a made up “Deleted Scenes“ song on the spot. The inaccuracy is that they are part deleted bits, and part outtakes. But no matter what you call them, it’s (a) obvious why they took them out, and (b) I’m grateful to have seen them because you can see just how much fun they were all having doing this, despite the sheer physical activity level.

One of many showdowns
For the 5:36 “Violence in ’03,” it’s basically a “Making of” for the updated shots that were added to the earlier shorts. Likewise the 9:26 “Scrapped Violence Movie” is a “Making of”/”Outtakes” from a third film that was never completed. Understandable, having seen this footage. And, of course, there’s a commentary track for this as well with the three brahs.

The last three extras are the 1:24 original opening handwritten credits for Part 1, and 1:43 equally handwritten credits for Part 2 (with both including the misspelled “Joeseph”). Finally, there is a 0:45 “Photo Gallery,” including pictures from the film of course, but also the original VHS box cover they created, the script, some drawn ideas for characters, and the 15th Anniversary DVD box cover.

Home-grown DIY horror films by newbies are quite common, but it’s rare that anyone other than kith and kin get to see them. Sure every once in a while they make it out of the box and into a clamshell, such as Johnny Dickie’s Slaughter Tales (filmed when he was 12 on VHS, and released in 2012), and Justin Channell’s Die and Let Live (2006) [both of these films have been reviewed on this blog], but I think there is a public interest for releasing these, even if it’s a collection of shorts.

The Wilkinsons certainly aren’t Spielbergs or Scorseses, but so what. It’s the joy of filmmaking that comes across, and makes it worth the view. Needless to say, I smiled through nearly all of it. And where do I get a copy of that great Michael Kahn song, “Hey Dentist”?!

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