Hey interpals--can we talk for a minute? Cos I've got a problem. A really frustrating one that I think I need to talk about, in an "I'm paying this therapist by the hour so bitch better earn her keep" sort of way.
It's like this...
A while back, I watched two particular independently-produced horror films. It's pretty clear to me that the filmmakers have a great deal of love for the genre and plenty of blood, sweat and tears went into making these films a reality. But they're just plain not all that terribly good. And I feel guilty slamming them because there are redeeming moments in both films (well, one more than the other, but we'll get to that) as well as one character who--quite frankly--deserves a WAY BETTER motion picture vehicle for his awesomeness.
CRINGE at the cavalcade of caucasian graffiti!
OK, sure--it's part of the recovery process that I name the films out loud. I'm talking about
"Evilution" and "Basement Jack," both of which were written and in-part-produced by Brian Patrick O'Toole. Let me begin by saying that I think it's rad that someone can come up with a concept, pull together the money to finance the production of said concept, and then go out and promote his final product in a passionate manner. I... just sometimes... well, I wish the final products were something I could embrace like a fabric-softener mascot and recommend to all my pals.
YAWN at the roving hordes of messy extras!
Alas, such is not the case here.
"Evilution," plainly put, is un-good. Un-good in a way that makes me a little embarrassed. It's a zombie-outbreak story set in a low-income urban high-rise that was scripted by someone who has clearly never lived in a low-income urban setting and whose vision of said is informed by a combination of early-1980s sit-coms and a Beastie Boys video. I'm just going to stop my review here and say that there is a desperate need for some kind of permits if a filmmaker wants to create A) a story set in a low-income urban setting or B) a zombie movie. Permits for A can be earned ONLY if the writer demonstrates some sort of firsthand knowledge of the setting (having watched "Boyz in the Hood" does not count) and there are actually NO PERMITS issued for B. The project is forced to languish in bureaucratic limbo until the filmmaker gives up and substitutes... oh, I dunno, ANYTHING in the place of zombies in his or her story.
"Basement Jack" fares better in my estimation, mainly due to the fact that, while it is still partially set in the same low-income urban high-rise, there are no wacky gang members and one can mostly forget that the movie is supposed to be partially set in a low-income urban high-rise. It also has zero zombies, instead playing to the old chestnut of the indestructible psycho killer, whose Hot Topic buckley wardrobe you can usually almost ignore.
I'm being harsh--let me reel myself in as I've been giving myself too much snark-lead. "Basement Jack" is a fun (if fluffy) stalk-and-slash in the familiar 1980s mold, but in place of A Group Of Teens Out Of Their Respective Elements, there's a good cop and a plucky female trying to convince their community that there is a killer on the loose, and both of these folks do a creditable job in their roles. Lynn Lowry is on hand via flashbacks as the abusive mom who sends our psycho killer (the titular Jack) over the edge into a life of hacking slashery.
I know--you're still not seeing a need for the kind of internal conflict I'm grappling with. That's why I need to talk this out, and baby, my hour ain't up yet.
There's a gleaming, shining beacon of excellence in both these movies--a character so excellent that I'm kind of pissed at myself for not having imagined him. A character I would like to pound many beers with, who possibly in some ways resembles the kinds of guys I used to date, only way, WAY cooler and who would never, EVER cry when he was pulled over for speeding.
That character, Damen und Herren, is THE MANAGER. As portrayed by Nathan Bexton, THE MANAGER is a nattily-attired gent with a creepy wit who functions as the superintendent of the low-income high-rise that figures so prominently in these films. In a touch I will confess is rather nifty, said building is named The Necropolitan (I would pay extra to live in a building named thusly). What makes THE MANAGER so fucktastically awesome, you ask? Let's discuss!
- OUTFITS. OK, f'reals--did the same costume designer who created the Juggalo-esque serial killer ALSO create THE MANAGER's costumes? Cos he's WAY better dressed. I'm going to assume (whether it's true or not) that this is a subtle commentary on goffick fashion, or perhaps the eternal struggle between the Big Pants Brigade and the Vampyyyyres.
- EYEBROW ARCHING. We've discussed the importance of a good eyebrow-arch to a proper screen villain, and THE MANAGER knows how to arch an eyebrow with the best of them, amping up his sinister appeal. Studies have shown that, mathematically speaking, forty percent of Vincent Price's appeal rested in his fierce eyebrow-arching abilities.
- GEEKY COLLECTING TAKEN TO ELEVEN. THE MANAGER has his own private collection of ghoulish relics, including weapons used in crimes, occult ephemera and poisons. Classier still, these items are showcased in old-school glass-fronted cabinets. I'm actually turning a most unbecoming shade of green due to envy right now.
This super-est of supers, with his say-something facial hair, penchant for pocketwatches, and museum of macabre artifacts, deserves his own film. Allegedly, there is a third film in the works from the folks who brought us "Evilution" and "Basement Jack" that will feature THE MANAGER in a prominent role. And yes--I will be in line to see it when it's released, due to the triumph of hope (and perhaps masochism) over reason.