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The Bottom Shelf #131

10.25.2007

When Halloween rolls around, most people round up the kiddies for some confectionary begging or turn off all the lights, pop in a DVD and pretend they're not home in order to avoid the invasion. Chances are, the movie that they'll pop in is an old favorite, one that's creepy in that warmly familiar way. This year, I'd like to suggest checking out a couple of newcomers made by some newcomers. Come on... what are you scared of?

THE MURDER GAME (2006)
Directed by: Robert Harari
Starring: Samuel Klein, Katie Sirk

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

When I was a kid, I didn't notice when a movie was made for a paltry sum. I couldn't tell the difference between something that cost 16 thousand bucks or 16 million. Especially when it came to horror films. My parents were never big fans of them, so while I was rather young when I was first exposed to stuff like RISKY BUSINESS and REVENGE OF THE NERDS, it wouldn't be until I was 18 that I would watch some of the more famous blood and guts pictures. I was over 21 when I watched the original HALLOWEEN for the first time. Yes, I know... poor, deprived Zara. My point is that whatever horror movies I watched when I was younger were the ones that I would sneak viewing of at a friend's sleepover or in the middle of the night on a HBO free preview weekend. Blood has always been blood to me and the acting in horror movies has always seemed to be of the strained soap opera variety. So big budgets or the lack thereof don't impress me one way or the other.

Which is a good thing for THE MURDER GAME. This is a movie with a solidly traditional horror plot line, one which features a group of high school friends plodding around a month-to-month storage center, playing a demented game of - you guessed it! - murder. They get locked in and everything is as hunky dory as it is when they play at mom and pop's place until the story has to produce something substantial and then the bodies begin to pile up. As the friends try to make it through to the morning when they can escape the storage facility, questions about the identity of the killer arise. Fingers are pointed, people are accused and a somewhat obvious suspect is revealed.

The acting here sways between forced (I don't understand why they would have contemporary teenagers say that they should "stop with the Abbott & Costello act" when I doubt any of them would know who Abbott & Costello are) and satisfyingly plausible. The best of which comes from Samuel Klein as the transplanted "misfit" cousin of one of the group members. His character's look is a little too Hot Topic-middle class-suburban-angst-ridden-Dashboard Confessional for me, but look past that and you've got yourself a more than decent actor with a intriguing future. The most interesting thing about this entire affair for me is that if this movie had been given a moderate budget and a fanboy-chic director (say... Eli *gag* Roth), it would have gotten mass distribution and could have pulled in a healthy sum if released during this time of year. If that had been the case, I probably wouldn't have watched it. What I really liked about the film is that it was made with heartfelt intensity, even if the dialog is clunky. Not many movies, especially those with obscene financing, can say that these days.

Favorite Scene:

I'm going with the smoking at the school scene but only because the guy who's the teacher looks a lot like someone who taught at my high school.

Favorite Line:

"I'm not gonna sit here sniffin' this doobie all night..."

Trivia Tidbit:

Frankly, I watched this because my buddy Lauren recommended it in a Myspazz bulletin. That's where I get all of my most pertinent information in life. Bulletins have never steered me wrong. Well, aside from the ones about the dead babies under my bed. I'm still waiting for them to deliver on those.

See if you liked:

CRY WOLF, STAY ALIVE, THE HOLE

DIE YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS! (2005)
Directed by: Caleb Emerson
Starring: Tim Gerstmar, Geoff Mosher

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

Bare bones, wasting no time: this is a strange, weird, bizarre, bottom of the budget barrel barely passable excuse for a full length feature film other than the fact that it's 99 minutes long. It's also vulgar, stupid, disgusting and depraved. Funny thing is, I consider vulgar, stupid, disgusting and depraved stuff to be entertaining if it's done right. And I just can't bring myself to condemn a movie which is chock full of naked women and massive, bulbous rubber phalluses. I mean, come on! It shouldn't be T&A when T&P plays so much better.

Even after sitting through the entire film, I'm not entirely sure if any of the plot was intentional. Starting off with a scene looking straight out of a classic drive-in horror feature, you expect there to be a serial killer who gets wrapped up in some zombie scheme, and I say that only because the title of the film includes the word zombie. But the movie veers off course when you learn that the serial killer is very much in love with his equally sadistic and defiantly sarcastic wife. Then there's some guy who's been living on "Devil Island," looking to perfect a machine called the "Zombietron" with which he plans to turn the entire world into zombies with. He kidnaps the killer's wife and sets off a string of events that are precariously strung together with titties, dildos and mumbling rednecks.

Hasil Adkins is the mumbling redneck and the man who kicks off the movie. I was immediately drawn to the hillbilly, giggling even before any of the action had begun. The start clearly reflects that they needed to cobble together Adkins' monologue, most likely because he couldn't string together intelligible sentences long enough to get more than a 20 second running shot. Then the movie blasts into action with some intense punk (?) music, the aptly named song "Die You Zombie Bastards" as performed by Count Smokula. There are some solidly funny - no, strike that - RIOTOUS moments towards the beginning of the film that unfortunately aren't sustained for the duration. Much like life, once you've seen one rubber penis, you start to feel like you've seen them all. However, this is a watermark of excellence in TRULY independent movie making, where the script is original (albeit off-the-f*cking-wall), the actors (well, really just Gerstmar, Mosher and Pippi Zornoza) are giving one thousand times the effort than what they were paid for and a final product that no logical studio executive would touch with a 50-foot poll. This is the Britney Spears of indie horror - a mess in the most ardent and side-splitting sense.

Favorite Scene:

Women fawning over petrified Aquadude dork is HIGH-larious!

Favorite Line:

"Peanutch!"

Trivia Tidbit:

Editor Daniel Strange and director Caleb Emerson made a bet while in film school together. That bet included that Strange would edit Emerson's movie for free if he got funding first and Emerson would do the F/X for free if Strange got funded first. The two men claim to hate one another and during the filming of this movie they communicated only through notes, emails and messages through the film's assistant editor.

See if you liked:

ORGASMO, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH, THE TOXIC AVENGER

It was a challenge, sitting through all of these flicks. I'd like to projectile vomit in the direction of my buddy Paul Gagne who had a major hand in helping me wade my way through the best, worst and most indecent of the low-budget flicks. Thanks to him, I'll never be the same. Bastard.

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