Posts Tagged ‘Pendulum Pictures’

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I fucking hate the suburbs. Seriously. Could never live there.

Country living I get — it’s nice to see the stars at night, you’ve generally got plenty of land, no one else’s house comes right up next to your property line, and the neighbors are salt of the Earth folks who generally treat you nice (as long as you’re white, and straight, and Christian).

City living is more my speed, though — it’s what I grew up with, it’s where I live now, it’s what I know. Bitch all you want about the crime, smog, traffic, and high property taxes, at least an urban environment offers a wide variety of people and shit to do. It ain’t perfect, but I’ll take take it.

The ‘burbs, though — fuck ’em and the horse they rode in on. Cookie-cutter houses next to dull Republican families with too many kids who all have too much privilege. Hour-long commutes to work every day punctuated by mid-week PTA meetings and Sunday mornings at the evangelical “free” church. Hushed-up alcoholism and domestic violence. Everybody playing out the dreary charade that is the “American dream” on cul-de-sacs that are as dead an end metaphorically as they are literally. Soul- death on the long, slow installment plan.

But you know who hates the suburbs even more than I do? Bigfoot.

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Somewhere in formerly-rural Pennsylvania (West Chester, to be precise, if the IMDB’s filling location info is anything to go by), us greedy, land-hogging humans have encroached a bit too closely into huge n’ hairy’s home turf, and he’s decided to do something about it. The result, dear reader, is visionary Z-grade auteur Dave Wascavage’s 2004 shot-on-video piece of monster madness, Suburban Sasquatch, released under the auspices of the director/producer’s own backyard (or maybe it’s basement) distro outfit, Troubled Moon Films. And, as you’d expect, it’s all kinds of awesome.

Wascavage got this baby in the can for a grand total of, by his own accounting, $550, and it shows : an amazingly low-rent gorilla suit with prominent man-boobs. Even more amazingly low-rent CGI that makes the shit in Birdemic look Oscar-worthy. And lowest-rent-of-all acting that would be enough to make everybody in the cast blush at least, cringe at worst, if they were actually taking any of what they were doing seriously — which, fortunately for us all, they aren’t.

Yup, the whole thing’s just about perfect.

Anyway, here’s the rundown : Bigfoot’s killing people and the cops aren’t talking. Which is kinda funny given that the head officer investigating the case, one John Rush (Dave Bonavita — one of three actors, along with Juan Fernandez and Wes Miller, to don the endowed ape costume, as well — hey, ya go with whoever’s handy that day, I guess) has a rather personal stake in the matter seeing as how his wife was killed by this same (or it might be another, it’s never really made clear and doesn’t much matter, anyway) Sasquatch some years back. Fortunately for us, intrepid community-newspaper beat reporter Rick Harlan (Bill Ushler) is hot on the case, and no amount of stonewalling from the bullies in blue is gonna stop him.

Oh, and there’s a reasonably attractive young(-ish) Native American gal named Talla (Sue Lynn Sanchez — what tribe, exactly, does that last name hail from?) who’s taken on the powers of some ancient warrior goddess or something and has magical weapons (specifically arrows and a Tomahawk-style hand axe) with which to track down and defeat the run-amok creature. Which makes no freaking sense given that the white man’s insinuation of himself onto Native lands resulted in nothin’ but well-documented problems for her and, more specifically, her ancestors, so you’d think it might be more logical for her to be on Bigfoot’s side in this while conflict, but there you have it. There’s some “plot” “point” about her having to lay waste to the creature before the life force it”s absorbing from its victims makes it too mystically super-powered to ever kill, but whatever — it makes about as much sense on film — err, video , sorry — as it does on paper, so don’t sweat it too much.

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As a matter of fact, don’t sweat any  of the proceedings here too much — that’s kinda the whole point of flicks like Suburban Sasquatch, isn’t it? It’s all about cheesy stories, cheesier costumes, still cheesier gore effects, and even cheesier than that performances. Sure, the movie grinds to an absolute standstill on numerous occasions (reporter guy’s arguments with the police and his editor get pretty tedious pretty quickly, for instance, and the love story between him and mystical Native girl is about as flat as they come), but shit pacing and lifeless “romance”  are all just part of the charm here, as well.

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Obviously, this is a film you need to hunt down immediately if you haven’t seen it already, and fortune has seen fit to offer Suburban Sasquatch in a few different options for your viewing pleasure : it’s available as part of two  multi-disc DVD  packages from Mill Creek’s Pendulum Pictures sub-label (you can find it on the two-disc, six-movie Depraved Degenerates set or, better yet, as part of the 50-movie, 12-disc Decrepit Crypt Of Nightmares bargain pack), or it’s available as a stand-alone release from Troubled Moon directly. The Pendulum sets features a suitably crummy-looking full-frame transfer and competent, two-channel stereo sound (technical specs which, I’m assuming, apply to the stand-alone release as well) and offer no extras to speak of (which I’m assuming doesn’t apply to the Troubled Moon disc, although not having seen it I couldn’t say for certain), and for a cheap bumper-package release that’s pretty much what you’d expect, so no complaints here on that score.

Nor, really, do I have any about the film. Much as I love Bigfoot flicks like The Legend Of Boggy Creek  and Night Of The Demon, on some level they’re asking you to take the premise of a guy in a big hairy suit somewhat seriously for at least for a minute or two. Suburban Sasquatch doesn’t even waste your valuable time with that, and just gets right down to its campy-as-shit arm-and-leg-tearin’ business. There’s no pretense here — Wascavage and his buddies just wanted to make a cheap, fun, stupid movie because they had the cash, the equipment, and the ability.

You can’t ask for a more honest approach to movie-making than that. And yeah, it’s fun to see all these entitled suburban assholes get their come-uppance, as well. I don’t know about you, but I think every suburban community could use a Sasquatch of its own.

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Please note : I cannot be held responsible for any typos that may occur during the course of this review. Frankly, some of the terms most often used in 2001 shot-on-video shitfest Hip Hop Locos are ones I don’t even know how to spell, so you’ll just have to bear with me. Also, I should make it clear from the outset that I intend no disrespect toward Hispanic Americans, or anyone else for that matter, here — I’m merely trying to ape the absurdly over-the-top speech patterns of the two principle characters in this flick for the sake of — I dunno, authenticity, I guess. If you find the whole thing hard to understand, well — so is the movie. And trust me, I use the words “homes” and “ese”  far less than they do in the “script” for this thing, where each is employed in, at last count, every single fucking sentence from start to finish. And now that we’ve got all that out of the way —

Hey, homes, whas’is I be hearin’? Vatos be tellin’ me da’choo don’ like Hip Hop Locos, ese. Dey say you be dissin’ dis movie, homes. Dat true, ese? ‘Choo got somethin’ to say, homes, you say it to mah face.

Yo, ese, wha’s you’ problem, homes? Dis movie don’ be hard to understand or nothin’, homes. Da whole plot is right dere on de cover, ese, an’ it gets scrolled across da muthafuckin’ screen at the start, too. You slow or somethin’ ese? Ain’t nothin’ confusin’ goin’ on here, homes.

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Okay, ese, maybe it looks confusin’, homes, dass true. Lorenzo Munoz Jr, de director o’ dis biyatch, he don’ point his videocamera in logical places. Even though de whole movie pretty much be nothin’ but closeups o’ “rapper”/”star”s Unodoz an’ J10, he don;t show ’em so clear an’ shit. He uses fucked-up camera angles an’ shit, homes. ‘Choo don’ like it? Muthafuka, watch somethin’ else, homes. ‘Choo can see da sides of da faces an’ necks an’ shit o’ dese guys plenny, ese. Iss all good, homes.

An’ yo, dis be da real shit, ese. Dis be da hip hop lifestyle, homes. Dese muthafuckas got dreams, ese, an’ dey gon’ make ’em happen. Dey gon’ be hip hop stars. Dey don’ need no talent, homes. Dey don’ need no eqipment, homes. Dey jus’ need’a take what dey ain’t got, dig? ‘Choo don’t like it, ‘choo don’ know da streets, ese.

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Maaaaan, fuck you, homes. Dis art. Dis ain’ no bullshit, ese. ‘Choo don’ need’a see what be happening ta know what da fuck be happenin’, homes. An’ even if ‘choo don’t get it den — well, like I fuckin’ said, ese, dey ‘splain it to ya in words an’ shit. An’ ain’t no need to spend no muthafuckin’ money on nothin’ here, ese — dis jus’ take a camera out onto da streets an’ see what the fuck happens,  homes. Shit gets fuuuuuucked up, ese, ‘choo know dat’s right!

‘Sides, homes, iss only, what, ese? Maybe 70 minutes long an’ shit? ‘Choo ain’ ‘dat busy, homes — ‘choo can make it t’rough dis. An mebbe you even learn some fuckin’ shit, ese — like, I mean, ezzackly how not to make a muthafuckin’ movie an’ shit, homes. ‘Cuz Hip Hop Locos at least be a — wha’choo call it, ese? — a tex’book ‘zample a dat.

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‘Choo wanna find dis muthafuckin’ thing, homes, it ain’t hard — dem vatos at Brain Damage Films done put it out on DVD an’ shit, ese. Prob’ly it gots extra features an’ shit on dat, too. But I ain’t seen it like dat, homes — I caught dis bitch on the Decrepit Crypt Of Nightmares 12-disc, 50 fuckin’ movie box set from dat Mill Creek label, muthafuckin’ Pendulum Pictures, ese. Iss full screen wit mono sound an’ it look an’ soun’ like shit, homes, but fuck it, ese — iss all good an’ shit.

‘Choo wise to whassup yet, homes? ‘Choo gon’ see dis t’ing? Or ‘choo gon’ keep talkin’ shit, bitch, like you some expert ’bout somethin’? Man, choo don’t know notheeng, homes. ‘Choo fucked up. ‘Choo talk too much. ‘Choo donno da muthafuckin’ streets, ese.

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Anyway, fuck you, homes. Dis da gen-u-wyne- muthafuckin’ t’ing. ‘Choo can’t see dat, homes, you ain’ got fuckin’ eyes in yo’ muthafuckin’ head, ese.

 

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As is fairly obvious to regular and/or unusually observant readers of this site, your host has been on quite a tear as far as these Mill Creek/Pendulum Pictures DVD bargain boxes go lately. And it occurs to me, perusing through my more recent postings, that I’ve only bothered to write reviews of “product” I found on these sets that I was, shall we say, less than fond of. In the spirit of absolute fairness, then, I think it’s only right that I scribble down some musings about at least one of these microbudget backyard horror “epics” that I actually like, wouldn’t you agree?

And so it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce you, my dear readers, to the $12,000 slice of sublime joy that is writer/producer/director Dave Wascavage’s Fungicide. One of two SOV flicks that he made in 2005 hot on the heels of the “success” of the previous year’s Suburban Sasquatch (the other being a rather blase affair entitled Tartarus), this straight-outta-redneck-country-Pennsylvania 80-or-so-minuter tells a pretty simple tale about a mad scientist who’s holed up in what’s supposedly a “bed and breakfast” (it actually looks — okay, fuck it, is — a conventional home that hasn’t been B & B’ed-up in the least) and ends up testing out his latest super-serum concoction on the local wild mushroom supply. Soon the other guests at the “inn” — a  motley collection of hilariously predictable stereotypes on legs — are under attack from fungi that have transformed into intelligent, ruthless killing machines!

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Wascavage is lot more ambitious in terms of his CGI usage here than he was in Suburban Sasquatch, and the reults are, if anything, even worse. I mean, seriously — the effects “wizardry” on display here makes Birdemic look like a master’s thesis at the ILM training school (if such a place actually existed an’ all). It’s a damn good thing that the weirdly-boxed full-frame image on this film is so washed-out and hideous-looking, because if we could actually see these killer digital ‘shrooms in crystal clear, high quality resolution they’d certainly look even more hysterically shitty than they already do. in other words, don’t expect a Blu-Ray release for this flick anytime soon.

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Still, ya know what? As lousy-in-a-fun-way as the computerized fungi are, the film really kicks into a whole ‘nother gear when they become so giant, so deadly, and so bloodthirsty that Atari 2600-style graphics just won’t do the job and Wascavage has to resort to people wearing beige(-ish) bedsheets and cardboard (I think) muffin-top hats in order to “convincingly” portray the full fury of his homicidal mushrooms gone wild. You need more proof than my mere say-so on this? Here ya go —

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And that, right there, is pretty much what Fungicide is all about. Its raison d’etre, if you will. Get a bunch of friends together, go out to the woods,  throw some grade-school-play costumes on , cut loose, and have a good time.  If anybody out there in the entire universe is stupid enough to want to watch the thing apart from friends and immediate family members, so much the better. This is the pioneering DIY spirit of a Nathan Schiff (minus his sociopolitical commentary) back from the dead, and it’s good to see that some people with no actual talent, certainly no actual budget (IMDB lists Fungicide‘s total  expenditures as being $12,000, but that seems pretty generous) and, at the end of the day. nothing much to really even say are still more than willing to just go outside with a video camera and shoot something for no other reasons than that they’re bored, and they can.

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As for which Pendulum box I found this  hiding it, it’s the 12-disc, 50-film Catacomb Of Creepshows collection. As already mentioned, the picture quality is positively atrocious and the stereo(-ish) sound is just as lousy — at least! — to boot. It’s also available as a stand-alone release from Wascavage’s own production “company,” Troubled Moon Films, and their release is supposedly a two-disc set loaded with extras — although, according a friend and fellow bad movie buff on facebook, his two-disc “special edition” arrived with only one disc in the case and it was strictly a bare-bones affair. He doesn’t mind in the least, and I can’t say as I blame him since that’s pretty much Fungicide  in a nutshell : a cheap, bad,  sub-sub-substandard, waste of time rip-off — that you love to pieces anyway.

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I know, I know — that’s one dull image to start a review off with, isn’t it? Normally, I try to find the original theatrical poster for a film — or at the very least a DVD cover — to begin any piece with, but in the case of 2002 SOV obscurity When Heaven Come Down, you gotta take what you can get, and while this Woodstock, Illinois-lensed 75-minute homemade horror claims to have been released by something called Mind’s I Productions (no doubt the “corporate” brainchild of writer/producer/director Gary M. Lumpp), I can’t find evidence of its existence as a stand-alone DVD anywhere.

Which brings to mind the question, then, of how I actually managed to see the film. Get ready for a “no surprise there” answer — it’s available from Mill Creek’s Pendulum Pictures sub-label as part of a six-movie, two-DVD set entitled Savage Sickos. If you absolutely must be made aware of the technical specs in regards to this thing, it is, of course, presented full-frame, with horrendously uneven stereo sound that will have you adjusting and re-adjusting your remote constantly in an effort to either be able to actually hear what the characters are saying, or not hear the rancid, fourth-rate, pseudo-“death rock” soundtrack music. But enough about all that, let’s talk about the movie itself.

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Or, hell, maybe we really shouldn’t, because this one is pretty lousy even as far as these sorts of things go. Still, since I’m the one who brought the subject up in the first place —

Samantha “Sam” Eckhart (Emily Albright) was attacked and nearly killed three years ago by a religiously-tinged serial killer (who, by the way, wears the most laughably absurd, all-black, wanna-be- “signature” psycho costume I’ve ever seen) calling himself “The Savior.” She managed to escape his clutches simply because he took a likin’ to her, and the cops arrested him and hauled him off to prison — after the detective who ‘cuffed ‘im handed Sam his gun and offered to let her shoot him dead if she wanted and she, good girl that she is, politely declined the invitation. I know police in several jurisdictions are trying to do some “community outreach,” but come on.

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These days, Sam’s a bartender by day and runs a support group for abused and traumatized women by night. She’s got a swell new boyfriend, too, a sincere-as-shit fella named Josh who sticks by her side through thick and thin even though she’s not “putting out” for him. So anyway, yeah — life’s looking good. Until the women in her support group, and even some of their abusive boyfriends, start turning up dead, in ways that eerily fit “The Savior”‘s M.O.

If that sounds at all interesting to you, trust me — Lumpp’s confused collection of going-nowhere subplots, going-nowhere-even-faster supporting characters (look for a cameo from the only semi-recognizable “name” in the film, Robert Z’Dar (who’s also credited as an associate producer) that serves no discernible purpose whatsoever), and gaping plot holes (the (now former) cop who brought “The Savior” in apparently somehow “lost his eye” doing so even though we clearly see him arrest and handcuff him in the film’s opening scene and he’s still got both eyes) will leave you more baffled then intrigued pretty quickly.

And not “good” baffled like, say, Mulholland Drive or something — I mean baffled like “why the fuck did he make this?” baffled.

Still, make it he did, and while that shows a certain amount of gumption in and of itself, it’s really no reason to waste a little over an hour of your life on this thing. Lumpp never made another movie and Mind’s I Productions appears to no longer be a going concern, so that pretty much tells you all you need to know. There are some quirky, idiosyncratic (if admittedly rough and unpolished) gems hiding on some of these Pendulum sets that are certainly worth a look, if for no other reason than curiosity value alone. When Heaven Comes Down isn’t one of them.

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Okay, here’s a weird one : the “plot” (and I use that term very loosely) of 2008 shot-on-video n0-budgeter Dee Flowered  (alternately listed on IMDB and other sites that bothered to take notice of it at all as a single word,  Deeflowered ) apparently revolves around the spirit of Jack The Ripper which has, through methods unknown, settled upon a small town, and proceeded to drive the local residents apeshit.

Or so we’re told in the quasi-official-sounding descriptions of writer (I think)/director (I’m sure) Johnny Walker’s little opus of amateurism  floating around out there that had to have been written by somebody at some point, right? There’s just one problem : the movie itself makes no reference to this at all and instead proceeds to show us a series of thoroughly disjointed scenes that make no sense whatsoever. Not that this or any other flick actually needs to make sense in order to be, ya know, good, but the fact is that Dee Flowered just straight-up isn’t.

I’m all for weirdness for its’ own sake as much as the next guy, but shit — somebody needs to tell Walker (whoever he really is — hell,  even this guy’s pseudonym isn’t especially creative) that there’s such a thing as trying to hard to be strange, and Dee Flowered passees that point about ten minutes in.

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Consider : Dr. Sunny Day runs an abortion clinic called, fittingly enough, Sunny Day Abortion Clinic. He does things the old-fashioned way, with straightened-out coat hangers, turkey basters, you name it. He’s also apparently got a lucrative side trade going supplying aborted fetuses and , so it seems, even full-term babies to the local Satanic cult, as well as the dog food processing plant in town (when they run out of horse meat). Sunny’s got a fake beard, but within a few minutes you’ll scarcely notice because almost everyone in this flick has a fake hair attached either to their chins or scalps for reasons that — well, fuck it, they just do.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but it seems that in the proper hands, this sort of premise could actually be, God (if he actually existed) help me, kinda funny. Unfortunately, in Walker’s hands, it gets buried under an avalanche of either only tangentially related, or completely unrelated, crap. Like what, you ask?

Like the comings and goings of a mysterious hooded figure who shows up and kills people but can apparently only be seen by the detective investigating the case, the Maniac Cop himself, Robert (“will act for food”) Z’Dar. Or the “story” of some unattractive couple who spend all day  in bed and are visited by a  fairy-like character called The Birthday Queen (who actually is rather fetching), who proceeds to get nekkid with them and spinkle their bodies with glitter. Or the random appearances of a grown man in a giant Easter Bunny suit. Or the cannibalistic (at least it seems, at any rate — hard to say for sure) nocturnal rituals of the aforementioned devil worshipers.

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If each of these things sounds, to you, like it has pretty much nothing to do with any of the others, congratulations. You’re right. Not that it matters much, since none of the questions that naturally arise while watching this film are ever answered. Why is Robert Z’Dar sweating all the time and walking with an affected, exaggerated limp? Why is the boyfriend of one of the Sunny Day clinic’s — uhhhmmm — clients jerking off in the lobby? Why does Dr. Day’s midget, missing-toothed assistant, Griffen, get pissed on by some random drunk? And perhaps most importantly — what superhuman persuasive power does Walker possess that enables him to convince chicks to take their clothes off  in front of his camera for, mostly likely, not money whatsoever?

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Still, like I said, about ten minutes into this thing, the one question you’ll have that dwarfs all others is — why the hell am I still watching this ???? Of all the mysteries offered up by Dee Flowered , trust me — that’s the most unfathomable. It’s not even stupidly, entertainingly bad, as so many of the films we take a look at around here are. Nor is it anything like the shocking, transgressive work that Walker so obviously is striving for. It’s both dumb, and dull. I can usually abide one or the other separately just fine, but combined? Forget it. Some things a re a bridge too far even for this admitted full-time denizen  of the celluloid (and video) trash heap.

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I caught Dee Flowered as part of the “Catacomb Of Creepshows” 50-movie bargain pack from Pendulum Pictures, the Mill Creek sub-label that specializes in these kind of homemade films gone horribly awry. There’s a lot of essentially un-watchable garbage in this set, but with it’s nauseating mix of third-grade bathroom humor, faux-surrealist pretentiousness, half-assed gore effects,  entirely forced an uninvolving confusion-just-to-be-confusing, and rancid, completely unshocking “shocker” moments, this is easily the worst of a  decidedly lousy bunch.

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On the plus side, it’s only — mercifully! — 55 minutes long. Who says I don’t know how to end things on a positive note?

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When I told you that Bill Zebub’s thoroughly rancid Kill The Scream Queen wasn’t his worst movie, I wasn’t in the least bit joking — 2006’s Rape Is A Circle is actually a damn sight worse. How can this be, you ask? Well, as it turns out, when Zebub left things like plot, motivation, characterization, and even basic story progression out of his debut feature, he was actually doing us all a huge favor, because by the time he got around to making this cringe-worthy feature, he figured he had a pretty solid handle on all those things, so they’re all present and accounted for — and it makes everything soooooo much more painful. Plus, he throws in a massive insult to his audience’s collective intelligence for good measure (certainly no small feat given that this flick wasn’t exactly marketed to the cultural elite).

First off, as far as the bare-bones production values go, Billy had $15,000 to play around with this time, not that tripling his budget did him any good. He’s still stuck in New Jersey and he’s still hiring the kind of actresses who frankly would probably appreciate it if I didn’t mention them by name, so I won’t. Needless to say, they’re all better off back at whatever shoe store, strip joynt, fast-found counter, or unemployment line Zebub found them in. He also still displays nothing but the most rudimentary understanding of simple things like how a fucking video camera works, where to place his “actresses” in the frame, how to get competently-delivered lines out of them, etc.Circle08

The “story,” as far as it goes — two women hitch a ride with another woman, automatically assuming she’s “safe,” only to find that she’s as sadistic and brutal as any guy whose car they might have gotten into — isn’t nearly as clever as Big, Bad Bill thinks, and really is nothing but a threadbare disguise to (again, less than cleverly) obfuscate his real motive, which is, plainly and simply, to show three women verbally and physically humiliating each other (and themselves, by even being in this thing) for the better part of 75 minutes. There’s some poorly staged softcore-style sexual violence, nudity aplenty, and a smattering of thoroughly unconvincing movie-of-the-week-style sermonizing about how, ya know, “rape is a circle,” — hence the insult to our intelligence I mentioned, as if any of us are stupid enough to think that Zebub’s point is anything other than getting his rocks off by putting his unfortunate “actresses” through all kinds of lamely-executed degradation — and then we dive head-first into the thoroughly anti-climactic finale in which  the intial two victims plot their revenge and become victimizers themselves (oh, the humanity!).

 

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A lot of the so-called “unspeakable torment” these ladies are out through in this one is only hinted at rather than shown — although the dialogue is dripping with misogynistic ugliness — and that’s definitely more a product of lack of ability rather than lack of intent. Simply put, if Zebub had enough money to even unconvincingly stage some of the shit he implies these women have to go through, not to mention “talent” willing to do it, I have no doubt he would love to give it a go. But I guess he’s learned a few lessons from Kill The Scream Queen, at least when it comes to being made aware of his (rather sizable, it must be said) limitations. Thank God for small favors.

If you absolutely must be a contrary bastard, though, and sit through this wretchedness just to spite me, I again implore you to not do Zebub the favor of buying it as a stand-alone release (either in its original form or its shorter, re-worked version, titled Catherine’s Pain, which I haven’t seen and can’t fairly comment on — but I bet it sucks at least as badly) for ten or fifteen or whatever bucks — instead pick up the Tomb Of Terrors 50-movie, 12-disc set from Mill Creek’s Pendulum Pictures label for maybe $20-$25 and at least get a lost weekend’s worth of shittily-made horror flicks for your money, all with perfectly-serviceable full-frame transfers and stereo sound.

 

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To tell you the truth, though, I’m not so sure it’s fair to refer to the pablum that Bill Zebub churns out as being horror movies, per se, even though sitting through them can be a horrific experience. He actually doesn’t even strike me as a horror fan — he is, however, a rape fan, a torture fan, a humiliation fan, and not at all a fan of women. I dunno. I guess there’s an audience for this kind of shit out there somewhere. I’m just glad I’m not a part of it.

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The renaissance in home-made filmmaking that’s taken place in the late 90s and early aughts, and is picking up even more steam these days thanks to HD and streaming video and  what have you, is something of a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s exposed the work of unique amateur auteurs like Todd Sheets, Dave Wascavage, Ryan Cavalline, Jeff Leroy, and others (not all of whom are in any way , shape, or form talented, but that’s not really the point) to a wider audience than they ever could possibly have dreamed of.

On the other hand, it’s also given rise to the likes of Clifton, New Jersey’s Bill Zebub (ha ha, get it?), who really ought to consider looking into factory work at this point.

Zebub’s gotten a bit of notoriety on the fringes of the horror scene for luridly-titled shot-on-video works like Jesus Christ : Serial RapistRap SucksZombiechrist, and his latest, Antfarm Dickhole, but before he discovered the value of not actually taking himself too seriously, he specialized in thoroughly pointless half-assed torture porn along the lines of his 2004 debut effort, Kill The Scream Queen.

Now, normally any flick shot for $5,000 in a titty bar in the armpit of New Jersey during its off hours is one that I would be predisposed to liking, and things like total lack of plot, laughably bad “gore” effects, and risible acting wouldn’t deter my enjoyment of the proceedings in the least. I  have a pretty strong stomach for misogynistic sleaze, too (sorry, mom) so don’t think my distaste for this flick rises from some prudish sense of moralistic outrage. I assure you, I’m capable of finding enjoyment in some of the most depraved shit ever committed to film (or video, as the case may be), from Cannibal Holocaust  to Salo.

So what reservations could I possibly have about a poorly-staged, poorly-acted, largely (I hope, or there’s really no excuse) unscripted SOV movie about a guy who wears a stupid mask and lures unsuspecting females (I know, I know, you expected that to read “young females,” but given that the first victim on offer here is played by Deborah Dutch, who I remember from Bruce Lee Fights Back From The Grave  back in the day, it’s a safe bet that age wasn’t of nearly as much consideration when it came to Billy-Boy’s casting as was, perhaps, availability and/or a willingness to work on a project that some might shy away from for any number of reasons, be they personal, moral, or financial, all of which is my semi-polite way of saying it’s probably not easy to find actresses willing to take these type of roles, especially considering what little Zebub could probably afford to pay them) to star in his “real-life snuff film” by putting out a casting call for horror movie actresses? Well, let’s take a closer look and examine just where things go wrong here —

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First off, this movie’s complete and utter plotlessness actually does it no favors : literally nothing  happens here apart from women showing up to be raped, tortured, humiliated, and killed. Not a one of these gals can act, and even worse, neither can the killer, played by Zebub himself. A quick look at the credits reveals that none of these characters actually have names — they’re listed as “The Killer,” “First Victim,” “Rape Victim,” “Humiliation Victim,” etc. — and frankly that’s appropriate, because they’re all just there to either do bad shit or have bad shit done to them. What we call them is of no importance, rather like this movie itself.

Problem number two is the flick’s aforementioned complete and utter humorlessness. Mr. Zebub quite obviously takes his work here very seriously — he just doesn’t happen to be very good at it. If you don’t have enough money, talent, or both to stage convincing rape, torture, and murder scenes, then your only possible way to make things at least mildly interesting is to try to be somehow tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing. Zebub eschews that option in favor of a kind of bland and clinical earnestness that places this movie firmly into the category of “There’s No Actual Audience For This Shit,” since it’s too tame and phony-looking for the hard-core S&M crowd, who would be better off trying to score their — uhmmm — “entertainment” from one of the more extreme porn vendors (who shall remain nameless for purposes of this review) littering the internet or reading the latest Peter Sotos book, and it’s too free of tension, characterization, atmosphere, and drama for the horror crowd. Zebub doesn’t even know  how to make his characters so fucking boring that you can’t wait to see them killed. They’re just interchangeable pieces of meat, and he’s just a butcher knife who wears a mask and delivers a few lines.

And that brings us to the cardinal sin committed by Kill The Scream Queen — it’s just plain dull. Yes, folks, when completely stripped of anything even resembling context, the fact of the matter is that rape, torture, humiliation, and murder is some straight-up boring shit. You’ll be looking at your watch before Zebub  finishes off his first victim. Hell, you’ll be looking at it before he even starts in on her, so listless and tepid is the point-and-shoot style of “direction” on display here. I can sit through some pretty excruciatingly monotonous crap, but this flick was a chore even for me. Watching the flagpole rust or your toenails grow would be more involving.

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Anyway, if all this relentless criticism still isn’t enough to put you off this thing, or if you’re really fucked up and it’s somehow managed to actually firm up your resolve to survive its non-stop stream of mean-spirited tedium,  then by all means, don’t buy it as a stand-alone release — get it as part of Pendulum Pictures’ (a Mill Creek sub-label) six movie set Crazed Killers, which can usually be had for about five bucks. All the films are presented full-frame with passable-enough 5.1 sound and while not a one of ’em is what I’d call a good movie, the whole package does, at least, represent decent value for money.

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As wretched as Kill The Scream Queen is, though, there is one genuinely amazing thing about it — this is not, believe it or not,  Bill Zebub’s worst movie! I’ll get to that in our next review.