Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: Malignant

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

Written and directed by Brian Avenet-Bradley
Moderncine / Avenet Images Productions / Black Butterflies / MVD Visual
89 minutes, 2013 / 2015

Here’s the thing: as much as I like horror and gore, medical stories make me antsy going in because I have three Achilles’ heels, with one being scalpels, the second is needles, and the third is anything having to do with the eyes (have you seen Luis Bunuel’s 1929 Un Chien Andalou [An Andalusian Dog])? Stories about insane doctors, especially genre films, tend to dwell into these, and all three cases are true here. But I soldier on…

Allex (Gary Cairns) is in his 30s, and his life has turned to shit. Seven months earlier his beloved wife died of cancer, he is in a dead-end cubical job with a mean boss, and he’s become a depressed and desperate alcoholic. The Man (Brad Dourif), who is never identified by name, offers a solution to which Allex may (or may not) have agreed to, but it will definitely change his life forever.

A self-described “scientist,” The Man (rather than “The Doctor” or “The Technologist”) is a sociopath who believes he’s doing good for the world, much in the way Jigsaw rationalized what he was doing to people was to help point out their flaws to society in Saw (2004). But The Man’s methods lay closer to Stephen King’s short story “Quitter’s Inc.” (from his 1978 collection Night Shift), whereas any measure is worthwhile for the final outcome.

As Allex and The Man figuratively dance around getting Allex off of his dependence on the sauce, it becomes like a whirlpool, spiraling down in more complex rings of violence, mind control, and punishment. And there’s that huge hypodermic with a thick and even longer needle (shudder).

Cairns is very suited as an everyman, in a Ryan Gosling kind of way, and he brings his character to the table. He plays the tension well, and the calm determination of retribution feels natural. Dourif, as always, is superb. After years of seeing him playing crazy and weird psycho- and sociopaths in films like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002, as Wormtongue) and Dune (1984, as Piter De Vries) – and let us not forget and bow down that he is the only one to date who has ever voiced the world’s favorite murderous and foul mouthed doll, Chucky – it’s interesting to see how well he plays normal crazy, with dialog that isn’t squeezed between cackling and cracking wise. He certainly lives up to the legend, and shows that he can genuinely act, rather than ham.

And here is an interesting career note for Dourif: his first credited role was as Billy Babbit in the classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), where he was abused as a mental patient, and now he’s the one abusing mentally challenged “patients.” Should we call him Brad Ratchett? Even back in ’75, if you watch One Flew, Dourif is a standout.

From the very first shots of the film, I thought perhaps the story would follow along the lines of the Richard Matheson short story “Button, Button” from 1970, but I was happier with the way this played out instead.

Well written and deftly paced, the tension does nothing but build until its harsh ending. The conclusion did leave some open questions to me, but that did not deter from a story that will definitely keep the viewer riveted, or if you’re like me, even when I had to occasionally turn away because of the three things discussed in the first paragraph (you wanna call me a mama’s boy, you go right ahead; just like everyone has a price, everybody also has a weakness).

The only two extras are the trailer (which arguably gives away too much) and 38-minute making of documentary called “Surgery for the Soul,” which kept my interest throughout.

If you enjoy medical mayhem, or a compelling story that goes beyond the needles and occasional gore, this is still worth it. It’s definitely a dark film, but an adrenaline one that will keep you glued.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Review: Ouija Death Trap

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2019
Images from the Internet

Ouija Death Trap (aka Spirits)
Directed by Todd Sheets
Extreme Entertainment / Jackalope Media / Wild Eye Releasing / MVD Entertainment
74 minutes, 2014 / 2018

Back in the 2010s, director Todd Sheets had a health scare that put him out of commission for a few years. He’s been back for a while now, and I personally think his newer films are better than ever. This found footager was one of his early “return” releases. While I’m not a found footage fan, I am one of Sheets, and decided to give it a try.

Dakota Lassen, Raven Reed, Jessica Hopkins
tarting life under the title Spirits, the new name is reflective of supernatural goings on, of course. For our story, high schooler Raven (Raven Reed) has an internship at ShadowView Manor (great name), which has a reputation for being haunted. So, natch, she and her school pal friends – Jessica (Jessica Hopkins), Kota (Dakota Lassen) and William (William Christopher Epperson) – sneak into the office complex building, each with a camera to explore.

Like many films where there are a group heading out to a mysterious place, there is the older guy to fill in the back story, in this case the janitor (John O’Hara, looking and playing very different and almost unrecognizable from Sheets’ later film, Clownado). He’s kind of creepy in his telling of how the building used to be a brothel and how a priest came in and killed everyone; in fact, this is a de facto sequel to Sheets’ House of Forbidden Secrets (2014), and if I am right, it even takes place in the same structure (which I recognized from the earlier film).

John O'Hara
One of the positives about this is the high school kids actually look like high school kids. No thirty year olds pretending to be seniors. I’m grateful for that, because when it’s actors who are older playing younger, I find it distracting – and annoying.
So our intrepid quartet meets the janitor, and then starts to roam around the joint, and sure enough strange things begin to happen. People pop in and out, dolls and furniture move by themselves, and before long, our intrepid ghost hunters are terrified, jumping from floor to floor on the elevator (there’s three storeys, according to the buttons). Then they start getting dragged off somewhere by some mysterious beings, the spookiest of which is a girl who looks to be around their own age.

As I said, I’m not a big fan of the found footage genre, and this definitely has a bit of the best and worst of that. For the worst part, it’s the running around with the cameras in the dark, which is really annoying to view. Also, we get glimpses of things that scare them, and they react before we get the chance to see what terrified them in the first place; the oft response, “Are you fucking kidding me?!” does not answer what they are screaming about. They spend most of their time screaming at the top of their lungs. They’re afraid, I get it, but the screech level gets to ya after a while, y’know?

Jessica Hopkins, William Christopher Epperson 
As for the best of, thankfully Sheets works that well, with doors opening by themselves, or releasing hiding spirits; and things moving on their own are creepy. Sure, you know every time the elevator door opens, there’s a chance that there may be something supernatural to meet them, and sometimes there is but not always (another smart move), so it keeps the audience on their toes, as well. For me, the scariest thing in horror films is a closed door that’s about to be opened.
Another nice touch is that this appears to be happening in real time, so the events are in the less than 90 minutes time frame. This gives it a bit of a framework, though I’m not sure who was supposed to have edited the four simultaneous cameos (Sheets edited the film). What I also liked is that while this may be a sequel, it also works as a standalone, so you don’t need to know the previous film at all, House of Forbidden Secrets, even though I strongly recommend it as it is quite enjoyable.

The actors definitely come across as honestly scared, which is nice. According to the ending credits, they didn’t know what they were facing when they agreed to film it so they were genuinely frightened. This may be true or not, but it was effective in the screaming and whining. This was also all of their first films.

I realize I’m all over the map about this, whether I liked it or not, but that’s okay. For a genre that tends to bore me, Sheets managed to keep my attention until about 50 minutes in, when I started to weary a bit of the running and screeching. However, it became more interesting close to the end, so I was able to snap back into the story. I’m grateful for that.

The only extras are some Wild Eye Releasing trailers, which are always fun. Meanwhile, Sheets keeps getting better, and I certainly look forward to seeing a lot more of his upcoming films. And while you're at it, especially check out his werewolf release, Bonehill Road.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Review: American Nightmares

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2019
Images from the Internet

American Nightmares (aka Mr. Malevolent)
Written and directed by Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott
Patriot Pictures / Moonstone Entertainment / MVD Visual
90 minutes, 2018 / 2019

For those of us who were fans of EC Comics, television shows like “Tales From the Crypt” and films such as Creepshow (1982), this is a compilation that can fit right alongside those cheesy doodles of fun.

Rather than a few films cobbled together by varied directors, here we have only two, who are also responsible for the cult hit Tales From the Hood (1995) and the more recent Tales From the Hood 2 (2018). For this new film, along with the horror, it also focuses on racial relations in Trump’s America, among other modern social-political aspects. There are eight stories in total, not counting the wraparound, and all have a twist of the knife at the end, be it literal or figurative.

In the wrap story, we meet two computer geeks in their (I’m assuming basement) man cave, who are obsessed with the darker side of the Web, focusing on nekkid women. Their screens are interrupted by a top hatted dandy called Mr. Malevolent, and his mostly silent psychic pal (a scenery-chewing Danny Trejo and Nichelle Nichols, respectively, in extended cameo roles that were probably filmed in a single day). They force these two Millennials (as they are called here) to watch a series of stories, each being vicious, and all leading up to the inevitable that is no surprise, but remains enjoyable.

Guest stars aplenty roll through the shorts, filmed especially for this collection. Many of these have roots in other tales. For example, we start off with “Mates,” where a woman who has a stalker ex-boyfriend meets her ideal companion. One cannot watch and not make a connection to “Westworld.” It’s kind of silly, but still kind of satisfying.

“The Prosecutor” takes a more political turn as Jay Mohr (remember him? He used to be onSaturday Night Live,” and was married to a then stunning, pre-plastic surgery enhanced Nikki Cox) plays a lawyer with political ambitions who will not let the innocence of those he’s persecuted/prosecuted stand in his way. It’s a bit The Tell-Tale Heart meets Rudy Giuliani, as the ex-New York Mayor did pretty much the same thing by charging anyone of color of a multiple of crimes, to get the arrest numbers up to make his own District Attorney cred go up as a “crime fighter.”

There’s very little subtly in “White Flight”; well, there is no subtly and certainly no question of where the story is going as we view a reflection of a post-Charlottesville racist America. For “The Samaritan,” we get to meet our second ex-“SNL” actor in Chris Kittan. Nothing screams now like a killer clown these days as we are inundated with IT references (well, especially if you’re a horror genre fan). But this is also a tale about human trafficking, and I believe that is how it fits into this collection.

There is nothing elusive in “Hate Radio,” where we meet an Alex Jones type of screaming right wing nut; there is even a direct Trump photo reference as he spews gender hatred to his audience. But you know it’s not going to end well for him in a very imaginative way.

For “The Healer,” we are introduced to one of my own personal pet peeves, the Televangelist Faith Healer who is hustling snake oil in the name of Jeebus. But that’s before he meets a crazed fanatic in Clarence Williams III (Link from the original “Mod Squad” lookin’ a bit like Sam Jackson in 2000’s Unbreakable). Borrowing liberally, this is kind of a more extreme Resurrection (1980) and a fun story that is one of my faves of the batch.

“Thy Will Be Done” presents a pro-life trio who kidnap a woman who wants an abortion after a rape; they are intent in forcing her to have the child, and show that it’s the human monster that is most evil, often done in the name of religious beliefs.

These are mostly stories of comeuppance, in the most twisted ways, reflecting an America that is wallowing in hatred and anger over religion, power, and Other (e.g., People of Color). In that way, it is certainly more leaning towards EC Comics with adult themes. It is, however, not quite as stylized as, say, Creepshow (remember the weird angles and primary colored lights?).

The gore level is kept at kind of a cartoon level by using digital SFX rather than appliances, and sometimes it looks really good, but mostly it looks like what it is. But this really is a comic book as much as a film, so it works out okay in the long run.

The stories are divided between the two directors, and there are some decent shots and editing done, though it feels rushed at times, with some of the tales taking a day or two to shoot (my assumption). Filled with cameos, that’s how shorts tend to run these days.

Some of the acting is over the top as if being maniacal is called for to express horror. Well, this is also a dark comedy, so in some ways that’s accurate, I guess. As for the stories, many of the twists can be figured out in the first few minutes, especially the wraparound last one, but it’s still a fun ride. And the fact that the film uses a large share of African-American/Latino actors puts it in better stead from this Libtard.

The main extras are a batch of trailers, and chapters that wisely go by story.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Review: The Blood Hunter

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2019
Images from the Internet

The Blood Hunter
Written and directed by Trevor Styles and Chas Llewellyn
RPG Entertainment / Shempstone Studios / RazorsEdge Films
103 minutes, 2019

Vampire films are a dime a dozen, and yet even with a low budget, sometimes you get to find one that is not only a decent story, but stretches the boundaries in new ways that add to the legend rather than taking away from it.

Tom Baxinos
For our tale here, we meet our pitiful (to start) hero Deckard (Tom Paxinos), a survivor of being in the armed services in the Middle East (Afghanistan?). Since returning home, his wife left him, his teaching job is gone, his daughter died, and his son is in a wheelchair. It’s no surprise that he is deep into his own cups, i.e., he’s an alcoholic, and dealing with depression with a feeling of no where left to go. He’s even lost his faith (more on that later). But then something happens, which is where the story takes off into a blood and gore soaked extravaganza.
He manages to join a small group of vampire slayers called, yep, the Blood Hunters, who seem to shoot up a bunch of vampires but have trouble killing them, or at least this particularly robust, young-looking trio of blood suckers who are dicks, reminiscent of The Lost Boys (1987). The Blood Hunters pull the teeth of the vamps, and sell them to the highest bidder for their powers which are achieved if the teeth are ground up and ingested. You see, the older the vampire, the more power they have. Okay, that’s as much as story as I’m giving, but there is a lot to unpack, which is great.

Amy Traux
There are some parts of the story that are predictable, such as the arrival of the bad crew who come as no surprise, mixing Knock Knock (2015) and the opening of Blade (1998), but even within those tropes, the story takes some incredibly interesting turns that you just don’t see coming.
On the good side you have Deckard, the elder Vinnie (Timothy Patrick Quill) and his two sons Mack (Aaron Malek) and the oddly cowboy dressed and named Poker (Robert Bradley), the bodacious and flexible Moxie (Amy Truaux), and in the supportive/supplier Q role is Dick (Dan Hicks). For the bad lot there’s leader Caleb (Chas Llewellyn, who is also co-writer and co-director of this film), Eli (Gary Busby), and Amber (Cortney Llewellyn, giving off a strong Gwyneth Paltrow vibe), who run amok searching for a bottle of powerful elders’ blood.

What I especially liked about the film – well, there was a lot to enjoy; one case was the take-no-prisoners approach in that you really never know who is going to die in many cases, both good and bad guys, old and young. Also while there is no nudity (but nice cleavage), the gore is way plentiful and most of it looked great, even with the blood being a bit too brownish (much of the film seems to be shot with a yellow or brownish filter).

Timothy Patrick Quinn
There is an undercurrent of Christianity and faith that runs through the film both in literal and symbolic ways. I am not a Christian and by God never will be, but even though it permeates the entire film in both subtle and explicit ways, it also never deflects from the story, so I didn’t feel like I was being hit over the head with it (unlike the Left Behind franchise).
The acting is pretty solid. While I don’t buy all of the relationships, and that Deckard never shakes his alcohol addiction (which I believe should have been better addressed within the storyline), it still holds together cohesively, with all the double crosses, playing with the viewers’ emotions, and a new take on vampires that, as I said, adds to rather than takes away from the story.

Cortney Llewellyn
The only real complaint I have is the film’s length, at over 100 minutes. I’m a firm believer that to keep the keenest attention, unless you’re someone like Kubrick or Scorsese, a film should top out at most 90 minutes. It’s not this film I’m whining about per se, as it kept my interest, though there were a few of lag moments (again, this is true of nearly all releases), horror is best when it’s in and out like a quick stab of a stake.
What I also want to point out is that the film is shot beautifully. The area around Billings, MT, is used with nice brushstrokes, especially those around farms. The pacing of the editing is well done, with the action scenes a bit quicker, but not to the music video speed where you can’t make out what the hell just happened. It’s actually used the way many Westerns are, with long, lingering scenes that let the viewer absorb not only the action, but the surroundings, which I always enjoy. Sunlight and shadows, dusk and dawn, all are played out in tones that are warm and lush, without being overly romantic. Just enjoyable handiwork.

Robert Bradley and Dan Hicks
I really hope that (a) this film makes a big splash on the Festival circuit because it is better than a lot of the films I’ve seen of late, especially on the big screen, and (b) Styles and Llewellyn will collaborate again, as they have shown that they work well together to produce a top-notice release. They certainly left the story in a way that it can continue, which leaves me encouraged.
Trailer is HERE

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review: SheBorg

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2019
Images from the Internet

SheBorg (aka SheBorg Massacre)
Written and directed by Daniel Armstrong
Strongman Pictures / Wild Eye Releasing / MVD Visual
90 minutes, 2016 / 2019

As I write this, it is March 8, so what better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than to watch an Aussie film called SheBorg, or as it began life in 2016 before a 2019 release, SheBorg Massacre.

Emma-Louise Wilson
What cult films like Repo Man, Dead Aline, Evil Dead and Dr. Calighari have in common is that they are all silly, but they have a charm, engaging characters, and quotable dialogue. Oh, and they also have two-word titles, but that’s irrelevant. No, what make them special is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, and are extremely fun to watch. I was surprised to find that this film has all those same qualities.
In the prologue we are introduced to the titular cyborg (Emma-Louise Wilson) as she escapes from an alien prison ship where people look like the Eloi of The Time Machine and dress like Neo in The Matrix.

Whitney Duff and Daisy Masterman
Back on earth in a small city in Australia, the mayor’s daughter, Dylan (Whitney Duff) and bestie Eddie (Daisy Masterman) are also in a pickle with authority. See, they’re punkers (Dylan dresses more McLaren and Westwood’s SEX than Manic Panic or even Trash & Vaudeville). Joining up with a wanna be rocker, Rik (real life rocker Mark Entwistle, who wrote and performed much of the punkish soundtrack with his real band who perform with him in this film) and scientist/genius/nerd Velma (Louise Monnington), our intrepid heroes head out to the local puppy farm for various reasons, and come in contact with the SheBorg and those she has “turned” into her cyborgish followers. Needless to say, mayhem is the order of the day.
This film has it all: extreme blood, extreme fisticuffs, and some dialog that will make you howl, such as the quotable, “Crap my life,” “What the Smeg,” “Chaos will provide,” and the one for which this film has been getting noticed, “This isn't a map! It's a blueprint for a Romulan space vagina!”

Louise Mornington,
Mark Entwistle
Which brings me to a curiosity: there are a lot of references here, mostly to “Star Trek.” For example, the mention of Romulans above and the Prime Directive, Velma wears a Spock tee-shirt, and of course the Borgs. But there’s more than that, such as Velma apparently being based on the character by the same name from “Scooby Doo.” What I wonder about is copyright issues.

If you have any trouble understanding the accent, the film comes with captions which I found very helpful at times, though there was at least one glaring reference error, where Rik mentions “Stalag 13,” from “Hogan’s Heroes” and the caption reads “Scarlet 13.” Rick is a bit older than the other characters, so I’m sure the reference is lost on them (probably part of the point), but obviously that’s true of the captions writer as well. It made me smile.

Another thing that made me go “Hmmm” is that even though they are bitter enemies, there is a personality similarity between the SheBorg and Dylan in that they are both into interrupting culture, though on different levels. The ‘Borg is all about Chaos and its destructiveness, while Dylan is into rich girl pseudo-punk Anarchy, such as graffiti on police cars. It’s just a matter of extremes, but both are destructive in various means, one in an inconvenience way, the other in total destruction and annihilation.

Mainly, though, it’s just goofy sci-fi and horror fun. As I said, I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this film. It was funny, bloody and so over the top that it wa0s entertaining from one end to another. There’s a lot of fighting, and gore. People are covered with blood though nearly the whole thing. Also, there are some expected kills to rock the viewer out of their complacency. I’m not sure I would say it’s a “solid” film, but it certainly is entertaining.

A good example of this is just by looking at some of the names of the characters, such as Brad Plunderpants, Jo Public, Squeaky Muffins, Jen X, and Constable Nobody Cares.

Gerry Mahoney
The cast is well suited for the parts and certainly give it their all. Despite some of the rough treatment, they do look like they were having fun making it, and luckily that translates to the viewer. This is especially true of the Vet (Gerry Mahoney), who looks like Daryl Hannah’s character in Kill Bill, and steals many of her scenes with her insanity and line reading. (“This is just a momentary inconvenience,” she shouts after being thrown down three storeys)..
Also the music is fun in a juvenile punk rock way. The lyrics are silly (as are many in the punk rock field, especially hardcore, e.g., the Circle Jerks, the Dickies), but it moves the story along, and with the captions, makes it easy to make out what’s being sung (if it’s accurate).

There are only two extras, being the 18-minute “Chaos Provides: The Making of SheBorg Massacre” and a music video of "Puppy Farm” by the fake/real band in the film. “The Making of includes behind the scenes shooting and interviews with much of the key cast and crew. Oh, and Wilson is hysterical in it (and you get to see what she looks like sans Borg make-up.

The main point is that this is a silly and enormously enjoyable exercise in lunacy and extremity. Aussies are known for that with the likes of Road Warrior and the early films of Peter Jackson. This has been one of my favorite films so far this year, as nonsensical as it was. I can’t really explain it other than to note that after some serious exercises in horror, it’s nice to see some humorous fun that works, even when it doesn’t always make sense.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Two Reviews of Creep Creepersin: Ding Dong Dead; The Corporate Cutthroat Massacre

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2019
Images from the Internet

I was pretty blown away from writer / producer / director Creep Creepersin’s Frankenstein, which was reviewed earlier on this blog. So, I was grateful to get the chance to review a couple more of his indie, shot-on-digicam releases. The reason I put these two together is that they were filmed bam-bam-bam, and have some overlapping features, such as being comedy mass murders, and they both contain Elina Madison.

Ding Dong Dead
Directed by Creep Creepersin
Creepersin Films / MVD Visual
70 minutes, 2009, 2010

In the commentary, Creep posits that this has been his most “funnist” film to make. It’s also kind of silly, actually. The premise is the story about Doug, a guy who is hanging on by just a thread on many levels. He is targeted for pranks by a gang of beautiful “Mean Girls” after he calls the cops on them for hanging around his neighborhood and being a nuisance. Their revenge on him? Well, they, keep ringing his doorbell and running away (hey, even Groucho mentions this practice in an early Marx Bros. film). Apparently, it’s called ding dong ditching. But they ring this doorbell one too many times, and after a misunderstanding, this escalates until the story lives up to its title.

While other films are referenced by Creep during the commentary as influences, possibly the one it comes closest to it – and is not mentioned – is Peckinpaw’s amazing Straw Dogs (mousetraps included… hmmm wonder if it’s available on DVD…).

Luke Y. Thompson stars as Doug, the main character of the film, playing him with just the right amount of pathos, hopelessness, and anger. Creep lights him mostly in a blue hue, reflecting his life. Doug’s running diatribe during a long driving scene, complaining about other drivers and pedestrians, is telling (though I admit to doing that myself). He may occasionally walk kinda funny, but it’s easy enough to put that in as part of the character. With loud shirts and a short temper, the film starts off with him losing his job (overslept) with few future prospects, or the will to do anything about it. Doug lives a life of both inertia and hostility, living alone, with his mother being the only one who phones. A long clip of Doug brushing his teeth (seemingly a Creep signage) perhaps shows his loneliness, as it did in another of his films, Creepersin’s Frankenstein.

Doug has a crush on his neighbor across the street, played as an extended cameo by Elina Madison, who also stars in Creepersin’s Corporate Cutthroat Massacre (reviewed directly below). He imagines himself being suave and turning her head, but in reality he’s a shy, fearful man. Besides, she’s too distracted by the loss of her husband who was killed in action. Just one more frustration for Doug to help build up his anger.

And the pranks by the mean girls (all of whose names reflect the doorbell practice, such as D.D. Diane, D.D. Debbie, D.D. Dana, and my favorite, D.D. DeeDee) are just what push him over the edge into insanity, which leads to an obvious conclusion, well at least to someone who watches a lot of crime dramas.

It’s hard to feel any sympathy for any of the characters, as they are just plain nasty. The gang gets knocked off one by one by various methods; however, I thought the fate of the leader of the D.D.s was a bit much, even for the now clearly insane Doug (you know he’s nuts because he keep referring to himself in third person, such as “Doug is going to war” or “Doug likes to play games.”). While all the other assassinations are of the moment, her fate is more deliberate, which seems out of character to me.

There are some really nice shots in the film, two of my favorites being Doug sitting in his living room chair watching television while the girl gang view him through a big picture window behind him. It reminded me the Tall Man standing over Mike’s bed in Phantasm (in my mind I hear: “We’ve been waiting to ring your doorbell…boy!”). Another great shot is as Doug is walking past the kitchen door, and one of the gang is standing in the shadows of that room, unnoticed by the dull-witted Doug.

The locale for this film is the same house as in he (i.e., Creep’s childhood home in Cypress, California; review to follow. No, I’m not that observant about the house, but Creep mentions it in the commentary (in-between near-constant throat-clearings; perhaps time to put down the ciggy-butts the listener can hear you lighting up a few times?). There are actually two commentaries, one by Creep and one with Creep and star Luke. Both keep up the interest on the filmmaking process with anecdotes, and the story of how Luke met his real-life girlfriend, one of the D.D.s, is pretty cool, since the first time they met was her death scene; supposedly she was genuinely scared of him. Now they live together. Nice. If you visit, though, be sure to knock.

Corporate Cutthroat Massacre
Directed by Creep Creepersin
Creepersin Films / Lilylove Productions / MVD Visual
70 minutes, 2009

This near-bloodless black comedy slasher film is based on a 17 minute short co-written by Tyger Torrez and Elina Madison, the later of whom plays the same lead character in both (the original short is included here, in the extras).

The original, The Late Shift, is strong and never lets up, hardly a comedy. And while there are elements in the earlier version I find superior to the full lengther (e.g., revolving around the Rusty/Crusty character), Creep did a fine job filling out the story into a feature. He adds more characters, more plot lines, and elongates some scenes, usually with success.

In his commentary…hell, even on the box, Creep mentions how much his additional material was inspired by the US version of The Office, of which he and his partner/wife, Nikki Wall (listed as Mrs. Creepersin on some of his films) are fans. He even declares which characters in this film are based on which ones in the show (some are pretty obvious).

Elina Madison plays Brandy Babcock (spelled Brandi in the short), a hard-nosed boss who states firmly that she “expects perfection” from her employees (“Is that so much to ask?” she further queries, rhetorically). The company she works for is going down the tubes, and she has to fire two people, so she makes her handful of fuck-up employees stay after hours and do sales reports until she decides who stays and who gets axed. Elina, who played the unrequited love neighbor in Ding Dong Dead, handles her character here chillingly well. Creepersin gives her a more human side than is presented in the short, which is a nice touch, though I thought that scene should have been earlier in the film; without giving anything away, before the scene where she shouts, “Will someone answer that phone!” When you see the entire film, you’ll understand. The only nit-pick I have about Elina is, in this film, she tends to add an extra “ah” vowel at the end of some words to show disgust, which is distracting (“What are you doing-gah?” “Get back to work-kah”). Perhaps it’s a California thing? I notice Penny does that on Big Bang Theory, as well.

As for the employees, there’s the married couple who want to go home and fool around, the alcoholic looking for her next drink, the two screwing in the copy room, and Bernie, the smartass (though not expressed, I’m guessing based somewhat on the Dwight character). One by one (or two-by-two in some cases), they start to mysteriously disappear. The name of the film should somewhat answer any curiosity.

Creepersin definitely has some auteur moments. While no one eat breakfast or brushes their teeth at length here, as in other films of his, there is a long unbroken one-shot of Elina putting on a fresh layer of make-up in a bathroom mirror.

The ending is a nice twist and handled well in both short and long versions. The whole The Office homage is a bit overdone, including the shaky camera, but just taking this film for what it is, it’s a good effort by the extremely prolific Creepster. Each of his films usually take two-three days to shoot, so adding pre- and post-productions, he could conceivably do a film a month. I know since seeing these two films and having reviewed another, I’ve already received another. And I’m happy about that.

There are two making of shorts in the Extra section, the first of which is a pretty extraneous one with short interviews with various cast members. Much of what is said by Creep and actor Charlie Vaughn had already been said in the commentary, so it feels redundant. The second short, obviously shot the same time as the first, is a bit more interesting that has them all talking about their own jobs from hell.

The first film-length commentary is Creep by himself, and he does an excellent job getting the viewer into what was happening on the set at the time of the scene, or what technical issues were behind others. In the second commentary, Creep is joined by Vaughn, who plays the Dwight-ish ne’er-do-well Bernie. He is good in the film, but I’m not sure why he is on the comment track, other than being a friend of Creep. Personally, I would have liked to have Creep joined by either Elina (first choice) or Tyger Torrez (second), as she was the executive producer of both films, and Torrez was the original director; it would have been interesting to compare notes on the shoot, especially as there are a couple of scenes where Creep actually used the footage from the short (which he verbally acknowledges).

For the kinds of films Creepersin makes, he has a keen eye and a way of telling a story. He also consistently gets some good work out of his actors. Sure there are continuity issues, which he is willing to address in commentaries, unintentional cameos in reflections, and the like, but one thing I learned from working as an usher in a cinema, no matter what the budget, there is no such thing as a perfect movie in that way. Every film contains some errors. Now, I’m going to watch Creepersin’s Peeping Blog, which will be reviewed here anon with another of his films, he.

These reviews were originally published on FFanzeen.blogspot.com