Halloween Horrors 2011 : “The Abomination”

Posted: October 23, 2011 in movies
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And in the “not to waste any time” department, we’ll move right into the other 1986 Super-8 straight-to-video release from the Arkansas (again, I think)-based producer-director team of Matt Devlen and Max Raven (for the record, “Raven”‘s real name is Bret McCormick (he also wrote the screenplay for this one under the name of Bando Glutz), and Devlen’s is — well, I’m not sure, it might actually be Matt Devlen for all I know), this time with Raven/McCormick assuming directorial duties for The Abomination.

I’d love to know which of these was made first, or if in fact they even have been made concurrently, as several cast members appear in both films, and they both bear all the hallmarks of genuinely part-time efforts, but it has to be said that The Abomination is probably the more polished (relatively speaking, of course) of the two. Again, if Muther Video had bothered/been able to include some commentaries on their “25th Anniversary Special Edition” 2-DVD set, but alas — ( I will give credit, once again, to Muther for doing a nice job with the full-frame transfer on this as well as the stereo sound, however, and who am I to really complain since the fact that these have even been released at all is something of a minor miracle).

Anyway, the plot here is a bit more complicated/convoluted, being the story of a young southern loser named Cody Lee who still lives at home with his mom, a religious fanatic who spends all her time in front of the tube watching some charlatan televangelist named Brother Fogg (played with absolute relish by Rex Morton in the only acting performance worth singling out for praise in either this film or Ozone!). I remember that the idea that these TV preachers were a bunch of money-grubbing phonies was just entering into the public consciousness on anything like a large scale in the mid-80s, so I guess Brother Fogg’s readily-apparent phoniness is this film’s nod to then-topical issues and what have you. fair enough.

So Cody’s mom loves her some Brother Fogg and can’t get enough of the guy and furthermore becomes convinced of his amazing healing powers when the good preacher actually faith-heals her right through the TV set by forcing her to cough up a nasty tumor that’s been growing inside her. There’s just one problem — this is no ordinary tumor, it’s some kind of crawling, sentient, toothy thing that immediately hides under her son’s bed, waits for him to come home, and plants itself inside him violently in order to grow and, get this, issue telepathic commands to him to kill folks (including his own girlfriend) in order to feed it as well as to produce other spores that begin to grow to unseemly proportions the more blood they’re fed.

If it all sounds more than a little bit like Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage, that’s because it is, but keep in mind that this came out first and that Henenlotter’s film is more of an overt comedy while this flick, admittedly played for laughs more or less throughout itself, doesn’t feature things like witty banter back-and-forth with the tumor/creature, etc. In short, while I hesitate to say that The Abomination is the more subdued effort —- well, it is. Then again, anything’s more subdued than Brain Damage, don’cha think?

As with Ozone!, pacing is a bit of a problem here, with most of the bloodbath not really ensuing until the second half of the film and the first crawling along at something of a snail’s pace, but whatever, once the carnage really gets going it’s pretty fun, and the large-size creatures, which have a habit of popping up under sinks, in cabinets, etc. are pretty effectively realized in a Deadly Spawn-sort of way, if not quite that good (and let’s remember that The Abomination probably had a pathetic fraction of The Deadly Spawn‘s budget, which was insanely tiny in and of itself).

A couple of annoying little strikes against this flick, though —Raven/McCormick re-uses several of the same shots over and over (and over) again, and while I understand that money was short and he needed to pad his run-time, it really does begin to grate after awhile. And secondly (if admittedly along the same lines), the montage of scenes that accompany the opening credits give away a lot of the great homemade gore effects to come (often more than once), and so a little of the “hey, that’s fucking cool!” factor is lost once they actually take place in the story.

But enough with the gripes. On the whole, the above-mentioned minor quibbles aside,  The Abomination is, like its sister production, a movie that knows its limitations and incorporates them into the overall proceedings rather than trying to shy away from them. Unlike Ozone!, though, this flick sometimes adds the added element of actually exceeding your limited expectations for it on occasion, particularly in the creature effects department, and little things like better-synchronized sound, a smidgen more fun chewing the scenery on the part of Morton as Brother Fogg than any of the actors in Ozone!  manage to project, etc. make this the slightly better of the two efforts in this reviewer’s opinion. Both are definitely worth your time and money, though, and you can’t go watching them back-to-back as a double-feature at home. Set your expectations realistically low, grab a beer and something to snack on, kick back, shut your brain off, and have a good time.

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