Friday, November 4, 2011

Smash Cut (2009)

Homage to Herschell

Opening with a quote and a short speech from the godfather of gore Herschell Gordon Lewis himself and you should be able to guess what you're in store for: something most likely sleazy, over-the-top and thoroughly campy. Yep, yep and yep--all except nudity despite having a former porn star actress in a main role. This does have gore with purposely cheap effects to give it that seminal look (no pun intended) before some techniques were readily available. This Canadian feature is a movie-within-a-movie that delivers gags on the behind the scenes of making low budget pictures--how it's a love/hate relationship or how it can attract an artistic/sensational mind set--along with some audience/critic reactions to them. It's a heavily inspired throwback to the lower budget features in the'60s/'70s when some films were getting eccentrically experimental and then others more and more trashy by the year for new rules upstarting filmmakers could break. This isn't going to be a trailblazer by any means but more at having an unchallenged time, though possibly a little too much of an easy time to make it completely work.

I remember having a laugh with and at the director's "Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter" where the bearded, sandaled holy man in the modern day uses kung fu to take out evil, though "Smash Cut" is never so fun, humorous or ironic to be above what it's throwing jabs at. It tries hard--too hard--to be weird, random and a personality of its own, all the while letting you know that they know you know. Maybe in this case it was a little too close to the subject matter. Neither is it other qualities that would make it more entertaining such as mysterious or coming with elements of surprise or suspense. It's a reclusive film that leaves little room open for interpretation. The main mode it concentrates on is a brand of situational comedy with odd events thrown in surrounding its main character. It purposely tries to be a "it's so bad, it's good" movie yet doesn't fully overcome its bad points to cross back over. A lot of respect is given for the effort than the same tired thing but it feels like a failed science experiment in the end that has bits and pieces of merit but without enough charm to salvage and compensate for its total remains.

The story was most likely inspired by Lewis's "Color Me Blood Red." More modern audiences will also notice similarities to "The Last Horror Film" mixed with one of the better "Tales from the Crypt" episodes called "Easel Kill Ya." A hack director named Able Whitman (David Hess) makes terrible movies that even the scummiest of cinema goers despise. "Sooo fake!" they say. An answer literally falls into his lap when he drives a stripper home in a drunken state, only to crash and kill her. Not wanting to pass up the chance, he films her dead body and gets the respect he craves for how realistic the "props" look. As these type of pictures typically turn out, the crazed character in question can't get enough and has to do it over and over again till someone can put a stop to their increasingly diabolical ways. What was once tried and true turns over to writing the current edition of 'How to Go Through the Motions Like the Transitions Don't Matter' by just jumping into it like making toast without actually toasting for added crunch. April (Sasha Grey), the sister of the dead stripper, hires an eccentric private investigator--yep, "The Gore Gore Girls" is right--named Issac Beaumonde (Jesse Buck) and goes about questioning those who've had contact until not surprisingly they end up at Able's office to go undercover to get the evidence they need.

What starts out as somewhat intriguing with this inventive world that builds up some atmosphere and sets up its premise, starts to feel like a mishmash of thrown together scenes that lose focus and charging power as it goes on. This doesn't feel as steady or captivating as they wanted it to. I'd imagine about 50 people in the world would find this thoroughly amusing and they'd all happen to have worked on the film: fun doing it, not fun watching it. The tone of the movie goes from being elusive and strange to lowbrow and point blank with its abstract styles and overly self-aware moments. Some scenes are measured out while others attempt to get lucky by reaching. Some of the characters remain consistent with a few functions and are easier to follow and get behind, though the character development of the main star Able is whatever they wanted him to be at any given time. He's unpredictable but feels like a plot accelerator than an actual underlying personality. Hess (R.I.P. - October 7th, 2011) did the commanding jerk so well in "The Last House on the Left" and "House on the Edge of the Park." He got a chance for some more range here, just his character's motivational stages don't feel cohesive from the scene before it. Michael Berryman gets a momentary chuckle for putting on a noticeably bad wig but seems to be out of his element and playing catch up with his role. The music is the best "character" or personality in the film. It gives this another dimension with its various harmonies and odd noises that have the ability to spice up what would have been an otherwise bland scene with some memorably scored sequences.

Rating: 2/10

From Black to Red recommends instead: "Blood Feast 2": No need to see the first with this purposely campy horror film that keeps events amusing and steady with recurring food jokes and black humor dealing with the macabre.

Director: Lee Demarbre (Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter)
Stars: David Hess, Sasha Grey, Jesse Buck, Michael Berryman
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment