Father Augustus Bane is a go-by-the-book type priest and through his unlimited optimism and passion, grudgingly turns the other cheek when life’s bitterly cold callousness bends him over a barrel and pulls his hair until bruised and raw on that very same turned cheek. When the God dedicated man of the cloth is pushed too far after the merciless slaughter of God worshipping parishioners and he is left for dead by a gang of demented family members, the surviving Father Bane is reborn and becomes destined to a vindictive life path with a six-shooting revolver he baptizes as The Lord. Hell hath no wrath like a priest scorned to obliterate all sinners from every walk of life in a blaze of the almighty glory (and gory) of The Lord and those explicitly responsible for the death of his congregational followers and much of the city’s crime and corruption will have nowhere to hide from their lethal penance.
What could be considered as the pious Punisher on steroids, Ryan LaPlante’s offensive-laden, satirical grindhouse exploitation feature, “Holy Hell,” is a confirmation of that films like LaPlante’s are sorely needed and pleasingly free in speech inside the dominion of today’s sensitive and politically correct cultural society. Surely not a product of the U.S. and will certainly piss some viewers off (especially zealots), this Canadian made production could only exist outside a conservative dome, looking inward for a weakness to seep and taint the sometimes too wholesome American cinema market that’s tiptoeing around what should expressively blunt and in your face. Let’s face it, folks, it’s a movie! LaPlante writes, directs, and stars in this movie of comedy, action, and exploitation that’s even too controversial for some of the supporting cast who used pseudonyms, such as punned Yennifer Lawrence and Zooey Deschansmell, as their stage names because of the deviant material.
The man with many hats, Ryan LaPlante stars as Father Augustus Bane, a cheerful priest with a firm belief of charity instead of violence, and as LaPlante’s first and only feature as a writer and director, “Holy Hell” snuggly fits the filmmaker’s contemning, vindictive, “autistic rage monger,” as another character described accurately. Satirically stoic, Bane reminisces the days of yore when severely slighted protagonist broke and the endured trauma became a journey of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. LaPlante, whose career pivoted to the video game world and could so seamlessly, understood the mentality of once was with harden, good men turned relentlessly anti-heroic. Father Bane’s opposition had parallel penchants of aggressive stamina, but in a more deplorable and deviant calling. The MacFarlane family is about as coarse and as ruthless as they come ran unflinchingly by Dokes, the head of the family, with his wild eyes and skull earring atop his fishnet undershirt and open Hawaiian button down. Dokes is truly satanic as a ravishing villain from in co-producer’s Michael Rawley’s in his sardonic performance of the father of three. The “Disco Pigs” actor revels as Dokes in not only being the kingpin, but also a special daddy to his three rotten and just as maniacal kids – Trisha (Rachel Ann Little), Buddy (“Red Spring’s” Reece Presley), and, the more flagrant of the trio, Sissy, a labeled sadistic he/she of boundless perversion and a flair for the theatric played vivaciously by Shane Patrick McClurg and McClurg’s Sissy MacFarlane is difficult to dislike and is favorably one of the best and best portrayed characters alongside Father Bane and Dokes MacFarlane. The entire “Holy Hell” cast amazes as deviant delectation and round out with love interest Amy Bonner played by Alysa King (“Slasher” television series), Luke LaPlante, and Austin Schaefer.
While “Holy Hell” trails the established trope about a vindictive good man, a thrilling theme consisting inside half the grindhouse genre films of 70’s to 80’s, Ryan LaPlante doesn’t really offer much new to audiences whom are well versed; however, since “Holy Hell” is one big punch-to-the-face nod toward grindhouse and the filmmaker constructs a complete caricature picture, the shocking, the disgusting, and the hilarity mold almost an entirely new brand of grindhouse or, as I’ve coined, mockhouse. A mock-grindhouse film have natural degrading quality where filmmakers remain on the fray of getting the right look and feel of a grindhouse film, but LaPlante accomplishes the task, echoing the effect while adding his own brand of comedy. Also LaPlante’s bludgeoning of taboo is no holds barred comedy, especially on surface level narratives such as with Father Bane who has a tremendous arch to hurdle as a priest fueled with guilt and rage against an army of inhuman and derange psychopaths, plus all the other miscellaneous miscreants roaming the streets at all hours of the day, but the script is penned like the Divine retribution as the priest endures, almost in a supernaturally reborn or resurrected kind of way, after being shot six times in the form of a cross by Dokes that, ironically, acts as a blessing for Bane to declare war on evil.
Indican Pictures presents a Rogus Gallery production with “Holy Hell” onto a not rated DVD home video. The widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, has a warm toned coloring grading from digital grader Defiant and also embellishes the natural grain and blemishes to assimilate into the grindhouse collective. “Holy Hell” is intent only appealing to a comic book illustration that makes definition fuzzy, but not totally cleared from the playing field. The closes up of the gore is nicely displayed with a drenching and gruesome effect. I couldn’t detect a lot of girth from the Englih language 2.0 stereo track which makes me think LaPlante intended on suppressing much of the ambiance and up the soundtrack quality from composer Adrian Ellis, whose upbeat, synch-rock has killer intentions whenever the MacFarlane’s are rolling heads. DVD extras include a director’s commentary and a blooper reel. Chockfull with affronting one liners, “Holy Hell” is utterly sound being well-rounded with the best intentions paved in hooker blood and indecent exposure, as well as being highly entertaining, in one holy redeemable package of horror exploitation blessed by Ryan LaPlante himself.
In the near future where assistive technology serves as the cultural way of life, a very manual Grey Trace still clings to being self-independent while his loving wife, Asha, laps up and embraces new and innovative tech. When an fatal shooting strikes down Asha and cripples Grey to an automated wheelchair, Grey is forced into a depressive world he no longer recognizes. Desperate to find his wife’s killers, he accepts experimental computer chip implant known as STEM to send the signals from his brain to his extremities; however, that is not all STEM can do. The smart technology can also scan, record, and reactive to all of Grey’s experiences, be a voice of knowledge, and enact super human abilities that will aid in Grey’s vengeance, but without much control over his own body, how much will Grey continue to use the smart device that becomes smarter every minute.
In a cinematic age when remakes, re-imaginings, and sequels really do rule supreme, a breath of innovation and compelling storytelling in Leigh Whannell’s 2018 science fiction, action-noir “Upgrade” is a technological advance that’s feels lightyears ahead in comparison. The “Saw” and “Insidious” writer, who indulges in all of horror’s gracious qualities, tackles the future with a synergetic and brutal vengeance film on indie-budget proportions; however, “Upgrade” feels no where near being low budget in a futuristic world that includes monochromatic self-driving cars, bio-weaponized forearms and hands, and a robotic protein shake slingers for those meal replacement pick-me-ups. With the assistance from Blumhouse Tilt, a Blumhouse production sublabel that seeks to release projects onto multi-platforms, Whannell gained freedom to script, in every sense of the world, his own vision of cyborg horror and crime thriller.
Logan Marshall-Green stars as Grey Trace, an analog man living comfortably in a digital world. Trace is a dying bred as the technology ecosystem slowly creeps into all that earned by hard work, even in his small classic car restoration business. The “Prometheus” star tackles a unique physicality aspect of an action film that involves the robotic responses of hand-to-hand combat while also being the emotional punching bag of pelted heartache and turmoil. Portraying his character as a man’s man, Marshall-Green has to find humility in not only unable to self-serve himself as a cripple, but then also rely on the one thing he withdrew himself from for help….a machine. “Upgrade” primarily focuses on Trace to even having the camera affix to his character during fight sequences, but though most of the narrative is through Trace’s vindictive narrative, a cascading effect of his destruction brings one of his nemesis’s into reactive defense. Fisk, Benedict Hardie from the upcoming remake of “The Invisible Man” that’s also directed by Whannell, is a mysterious soldier of fortune whose backstory, that salivates at the tip of the tongue to be told, is only sampled at best with his cybernetic implants or why he was even chosen to be a deadly, robotic killing machine. Perhaps Fisk’s backstory, and those of his fellow veteran comrades, are another misrepresentation or the maltreatment of veterans by conglomerate, privately owned tech and weapon companies that lean more toward involuntary experimentation rather over anything else that’s an allegory of owning a person, a piece of property, as we also see with STEM attached to Grey Trace’s spinal cord. “Upgrade” rounds out with performances from Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson (“Haunt”), Betty Gabriel (“Get Out”), Kai Bradley, and Simon Maiden as the voice of STEM.
Shot in urban Melbourne that’s quasi-reflective of the gritty streets of Chicago, Leigh Whannell aimed for a fatalistic mystery that breaks down relationship barriers and sustains a punitive jurisdiction of grime. Whannell surely achieves the desired affect that goes from a classy futuristic society to the bottom barrel of human existences that have been tainted by the dark side of tech including addiction and dangers of being fully aware as a sanctioned being. “Upgrade” capitalizes on every inch of its capital to enlarge the quality of a miniature budget and utilizes local talent, who, aside from Logan Marshall-Green, never wane from their unnatural American English accents, to offer heartfelt human performances despite their mechanical transitions. “Upgrade” isn’t “Robocop” or “Nemesis,” but rather more “Terminator” where organic and inorganic don’t exactly coincide to benefit as a single entity. Unlike the autonomous killing machine portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, “STEM” acts like a computer virus working off commands, coding, and complex algorithms to infiltrate and deploy executions to subverse the man over the machine and Whannell’s concept brilliantly contextualizes that dynamic without having too much exposition to divulge and is easily computed without having to be deciphered from binary code.
Coming November 18th is Second Sight Film’s limited edition Blu-ray release of “Upgrade” presented in full HD, 1080p, and clocks in at 100 minutes under a region B UK coding. Unfortunately, a screener disc was provided for review and so I will not be critiquing the video or audio quality at this time so this review is solely about the film only. A static menu including chapters were available on the disc as well as bonus features including a commentary by writer-director Leigh Whannell, a new Second Sights’ interview with the director about his envisioning and how it came to fruition, more new interviews with producer Kylie Du Fresne, cinematographer Stefan Duscio, editor Andy Canny, and fight choreographer Chris Weir. All the interviews showcase depth with the material to their respective roles and opinions about “Upgrade.” Don’t think it necessary to refer filmmaker Leigh Whannell as the “Saw” guy now that “Upgrade” has completely overshadowed the franchise in a single sitting entertained with action, gore, and a heart-rendering story. Surely to be Whannell’s break out film from the horror genre.
Struggling drug addict, Brian Barnes, travels to his and his estranged wife’s cabin in a rural mountain community to force himself into isolated detox. He calls upon his friend Anna to assist with keeping him focused to sobriety. As soon as Brian arrives, temptation to score rears an ugly head and in his battle with withdrawal, Brian is frightened by his experiences with grisly, ominous phantoms in the cabin, a unhinged sheriff perversely following him, and the disassociation of linear time. He unwittingly falls into a mystery he doesn’t want to unravel as the occurrences of death and hallucinations intensify every minute within withdrawal and Anna doesn’t believe his frantic hysteria with ghostly encounters, but scared and unwell, Brian is at the brink of snapping, the edge of reality, and on the cusp of reliving his nightmare over and over again.
A harrowing insight into mental illness and abstaining from illicit drug use exaggerated by the overlapping of paranormal wedges of weird into the fold and Kelton Jones’s “Dry Blood” renders shape as a detoxing detrimental peak into exclusively being afraid and relapsing that also touches upon the idea of being afraid repeating relapse without consciousness. Under the Epic Pictures’ Dread Central Presents distribution banner, the Bloody Knuckles Entertainment production is of a few original horror films from a media leader in the horror community, leading an exposure campaign that might not have otherwise been possible. Not to say “Dry Blood” wouldn’t have metamorphosed from idea to realty by any means, but the DREAD line opens up films to a broader market, a bloodthirsty bandstand section of sometimes divisive and opinionated fans, who have seen, under the DREAD banner, an innovative horror lineup including “The Golem,” “Book of Monsters,” and “Terrifier.” “Dry Blood” fits right into the mix that’s sure to be a favorable side of judgements.
Clint Carney sits front seat as not only screenwriter but also the star of the film with Brian Barnes who tries to reclaim his self-worth and life from long time substance abuse. At the slight entreatment from director Kelton Jones, Carney has a better understanding of downtrodden Barnes character more than anyone and having some experience acting in short films, the writer naturally finds himself ahead of the pack on a short list of talent. However, though Carney has a modestly okay performance, the overall quality in selling Barnes as desperate, duplicitous, and genuine misses the mark, exacting a clunky out of step disposition as the character tries to figure the mystery that enshrouds him. Jones also has a role as the deranged sheriff who stalks Barnes like an overbearing, power monger cop who smells blood in the water. In his feature debut, like Barnes, Jones’ splashes a friendly, yet simultaneously devilish smirk spreading wide under a thick caterpillar mustache that adds another psychological layer in caressing Barnes’ madness. Barnes love interest, Anna, is found in Jayme Valentine and, much in the same regards to Carney, there were issues with her performance as the willing friend to be the support beam to Barnes. Valentine just didn’t have the emotional range and was nearly too automaton to pull Anna off as a person whose romantically unable to resist the addict but can manage to keep a safe distance away in order for both of them to benefit in his sobriety journey. “Dry Blood’s” casts out with some solid supporting performances by Graham Sheldon, Rin Ehlers, Robert Galluzzo (director of “The Psycho Legacy” documentary), and Macy Johnson.
“Dry Blood” is certainly an allegorical move toward the severe effects of withdrawal, even with the title that’s a play on words of a former addict staying dry during their difficult abstaining campaign, and with that symbolism, that ambitious ambiguity, to question whether or not Barnes is actually seeing these horrific images of disfigured bodies becomes open to audience interpretation of their own experience with substance abuse or their empathetic knowledge of it. Combine that individual experience aspect with some out-and-out, gritty moments of bloody violence, especially in the final sequences of Barnes careening reality, and “Dry Blood’s” simmering storyline ignites a volcanic eruption of unhinged blood lava that spews without forbearance. Those responsible for acute effects are Chad Engel and Sioux Sinclair with Clint and Travis Carney rocking out of the visual effects to amplify the scenes already raw and gore-ifying moments.
Epic Pictures and Dread Central Presents a paranoia, paranormal, psychological bloodbath of a production in “Dry Blood” and lands onto a hi-definiton, region free Blu-ray home video in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, distributed by MVDVisual. The 83 minute presentation has a consistent, natural adequacy that delivers strong enough textures to get a tactile sense of the wood paneling of the rural mountain cabin and also the various materials in clothing and skin surface for easy to flag definition. Hues are potent when necessary, especially when the blood runs in a viscous red-black consistency. Darker, black portions have a tendency to be lossy and flickery at times, but nothing to focus on that’ll interrupt viewing service. The English language 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound has little to offer without inlaying a full size candy bar of action; instead, “Dry Blood” has bite-size appeal that would render okay without audio channel overkill. With that being said, dialogue doesn’t falter and there maintains an ample range and depth of sounds. Surprisingly, the build up of notating the soundtrack composed by System Syn left a disappointed aftertaste as the expectations of an industrial electronic, upbeat score was met only with a casual fling of the group’s spirit. Still, the soundtrack is a brooding horror melody which isn’t unpleasant…just not what was to be expected. Bonus material includes an audio commentary with Clint Carney and Kelton Jones, the making of “Dry Blood,” and teaser and theatrical trailer. Don’t be fooled by “Dry Blood’s” initial crawl approach as when the tide turns, addiction roles into hallucinogenic despondency and mayhem, and the blood splatters on a dime bag detox, “Dry Blood” will factor into being one of the better sleeper horror films of the year.
Julie, troubled by her mother’s suicide one year ago, is forced by her deadbeat dad to accompanying him in cleaning up an old house he purchased for renovation and resale. As he takes off to attend to “important business” at the local watering hole, Julie is stuck alone with the mop and bucket inside a mysterious, rundown house she’s suspicious of being haunted after strange occurrences and horrifying visions transpire during her isolation. Lurking beneath the house and seeping through inside the rusted pipes, a figureless water demon’s presence persists with malicious intentions and things become worse when Julie’s friends check in on her. Drowning in the supernatural seepage amplified by Julie’s trauma, they become trapped on the property that won’t allow them to escape, draining them of hope against a bodiless, hell-bent entity until a certifiable exorcist shows up at the door arrogantly confident of ridding the flood of evil from this house for good.
Back in the year 2000, Brett Piper’s written and directed volatile ghost house feature, “Drainiac,” saw the light of day for the first time on DVD home video. Unfortunately, through the dismal proceedings of post-production funding and a less than enthusiastic distribution company, that version of the film is undercooked and unfinished in the artistic eyes of Piper who worked with a slim budget of $10,000, making every detail crucial and required to flavor the dull taste of anemic financial support. Luckily for the “Queen Crab” director, his collaborations with Shock-O-Rama Cinema, a sublabel to the indie film doting POPCinema, gave the 20+ year indie filmmaker access to digitally remaster to ultimately finish “Drainiac,” leaving the issues with the previous version water under the bridge, water related pun intended. “Drainiac,” believe it or not, has extraordinary relate-ability to today Americans who are frightened from the mistrust of confidence in their local water treatment systems and drainage pipes for the fear of lead poison and other harmful contaminants, which, in these affected citizen’s circumstances, is a “Drainiac” monster of sorts, hidden from sight with an uncertainty of product quality that drips from their faucets and into the bathtubs their kids play in and into their water drinking glasses.
Another amazing aspect of “Drainiac” is the fresh-face, young cast in their humble beginnings that flourished into solid careers and feels absolutely energetic and stimulating to know their roots reach far back to a cellular grindhouse organism becoming their vocation life. Georgia Hatzis debuts as the beleaguered Julie, a resilient survivor of her mother’s suicide with an oil and water dynamic with her estranged live-in father. Maintaining Julie’s sanity while still fronting a stable façade couldn’t be easy, but Hatzis builds upon Julie’s strength and owning the character’s self-doubt. Hatzi extended her career into television, but Julie is her most memorably performance, especially braving bathing full front to be attacked by a drain’s quasi tentacle erotica sequence. Perhaps the most recognizable face in the film co-starring in the film in her mid-teens, Alexandra Boylan is conscripted to be Julie’s best friend, Lisa. Boylan, who went on to have roles in “The Hitchhiker” remake and the invasive thriller “Home Sweet Home” as well as branching out into life behind the camera as a producer and writer, plays consistently a rationally steady bestie that grounds Julie when needed and is the firm leader of their group of friends that also includes a shaky and nearly spineless Jake (Ethan Krasnoo) and a shallow beauty Tayna (Samara Doucette). As the black sheep in the group, perhaps not even a friend at all, was Wade, a hog riding, wisecracking jerk who didn’t have sense of personal space, especially when the rapey urge washes over him. Wade is an abhorrent human being that came to life due in part of Robert Gorden’s performance. Soon to be seen in the television comedy entitled “My Wife Divorced Me Because I’m a Zombie” that is taglined “The Walking Dead Meets Modern Family,” Gorden will make you hate his guts and despise his obnoxious 90’s haircut and wardrobe and the overall package is enjoyably cathartic to have him pitted against a conventional set of friends. Other colorful talent includes roles by Philip Barbour as an exorcist who reassembles the fisherman Gordon from the frozen fish stick packaging, Steven Bornstein as the despicable dad of the year, Todd Poudrier as a melting derelict, “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.’s” Andrew Osbourne as the melting derelict’s friend, and Elizabeth Hurley! No, not the Austin Powers’ Elizabeth Hurley, but an Elizabeth Hurley nonetheless!
“Drainiac” is Brett Piper’s finest work. Copiously laced with assorted practical effects now completed with a coloring touch up and enhancement by Penn State grad colorist Dave Northrop, “Drainiac” is now has a definitive package that includes Piper hyper-psychedelic matte effects, creepily good stop motion clay creatures, and an abundance of well-crafted gag effects to give the drain presence a slimy drain-protuberance without exposing a tangible thing in the pipes. “Drainiac,” in every category, has a vibrant late 80’s, early 90’s epoch authority even though clearly set and stated at the turn of the century and this is partially because of how the film was shot in 16mm, giving the feature a grindhouse texture. Along with the turn of the century, CGI becomes a huge factor no matter the budget of the film as long as portioned appropriately, but Piper sticks with a practical craft which, in a sense, is a large piece of his filmmaking passion and so “Drainiac’s” is the essence of Brett Piper.
Courtesy of POPCinema’s Shock-O-Rama Cinema horror banner comes Brett Piper’s “Drainiac” onto a special edition with a 24 progressive segmented frame, high definition DVD from the original camera negative and presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Having never experienced the original, unfinished cut of the previous release, watching this present cut will forever be seared into my soul as the best possible rendition in the past, present, and future. The 16mm film stock quality has a lot of natural grain upon a semi-washed look over a gradient-lenient color range sanctioned around the natural lighting that then explodes into a varying vividness of hues when the FX-enhanced scenes spark an immense saturation of color schemes…in a good way. No sign of damage to the original print nor any other signs regarding frame or edge enhancing and cropping. The English language 2.o stereo track, with a re-edited mix as part of the remastered package, is free of distortions, prominent dialogue, and a classic chilling piano soundtrack that pays homage to notable horror films before it’s time. The only issue to mention is some synchronization with the dialogue track and the picture seem to be off early on in the presentation where actors move their mouths to vocalize the lines, but nothing comes out. Special features are a little anemic considering the painstaking involvement and time gap in remastering “Drainiac,” but they include an audio commentary by writer-director Brett Piper and a read worthy tidbit of an inner-lining booklet written by commentary moderator, Greg Conley. THe DVD cover art is very snazzy (or snotty-like) similar to of another POPCinema release, Greg Lamberson’s “Slime City.” Reminiscent of “Evil Dead” or even some inklings of early Peter Jackson, Brett Piper has a knack for proving low-budget horror’s misconceptions are nothing more than that, misconceptions, by keenly tinkering to perfection a story that’s made is seemingly funded from a pot of unlimited gold from nifty, traditional effects and a narrative that works wonders on the imagination, keeping you glued to guessing from start to finish.
A sadistic carny ringmaster and his troupe of malicious clowns put on a traveling circus act through the America midwest. When an unfaithful lover challenges the powerful lout, he and his painted-face company exact a punitive act against her for all the crowd to see and enjoy and in bitter return, the scorned woman invokes a witch’s spell to summons evil forces to pluck the ringmaster and his clown lackeys up into an unordinary whirlwind. Trapped inside a super storm, the clowns use their newfound and unintentional given powers to funnel a tornado for spreading massive destruction through their cyclonic path of vengeance, terrifying a handful of ensemble midwestern survivors to fight back against the merciless and murderous clowns.
Clowns are so hot right now. From the success of Stephen King’s “It” remake and the subsequent sequel to the re-emergence of Batman’s notorious foe, “Joker”, in a controversial origin film, the carnivalesque buffoons are at the height of their inhuman malevolency since the late 1980’s saw Jack Nicholson donned the makeup as a crazed lunatic with a penchant for nerve gas and extraterrestrial clowns invaded Earth to harvest people and snack on their blood. Adding director Todd Sheets into this era of clown renaissance and outcomes the carny carnage gore fest, “Clownado,” straight from the big top. As an obvious pun on the “Sharknado” franchise, the “Dreaming Purple Neon” and “Sorority Babes in the Dance-A-Thon of Death” director pens and helms another blood drenched, apocalyptic, cine-schlock of callous proportions and unparalleled in content funded by Sheet’s production company, Extreme Entertainment. With a production company tagline of Movies with Guts, Sheets makes good on his delivery with an up close and personal spew of geysering blood sprays, severed gushing limbs, and guts, lots of guts, that’ll run any clown’s makeup red while dousing each feature with action and fun.
How do you hire a cast to garb themselves as maniacal clowns, have them portray being supernaturally charged with meteorological phenomena, and wreak havoc down from the heavens with a tornado vessel just to rip people to shreds all the while laughing their heads off? Easy. You employ the entourage familiar with your brand of Mccobb! John O’Hara, Antwoine Steele, Dilynn Fawn Harvey, Rachel Lagen, Jeremy Todd, Millie Milan, Nate Karny Cole, Douglas Epps, and others have worked previously with Sheets in these flicks, but not limited to: “Sleepless Nights,” “Dreaming Purple Neon”,” “Bonehill Road,” and “House of Forbidden Secrets.” Mix to blend some well churned budget horror talent, such as “Return of the Living Dead’s” Linea Quigley as an angst-y bar/strip club owner and “Brainjacked’s” Joel D. Wynkoop as a fearless flyboy, an already colossal cast becomes an gargantuan cogency of tacit talent and to top it off, how about an former porn star amputee? Jeanne Silver, or better known in the industry as Long Jeanne Silver of “Debbie Does Dallas Part II”, bewitches the screen as the spellbound caster and she didn’t even have to penetrate anyone with your missing fibula of a leg. The one actor that really sought the affable nature in us all is Bobby Westrick with the charming redneck Hunter Fedelis. Westrick, who hasn’t been in a movie since Todd Sheets’ “Goblin” back in 1993, returns in 2019 to be one-time alcoholic lowlife to a world savior from clown devastation; Hunter’s an overall gentlemen despite his straggly, rough appearance and beat up old straw cowboy hat and doesn’t live one person behind while also befriend a black man impersonating Elvis Presley in town has unexpressed racial prejudice. The cast also includes Sierra Stodden, Eileen Dietz, and a Cayt Feinics who seemed to just love caressing her blood soused breasts more than the next woman.
I get what Todd Sheets has erected here being the ringmaster of a dementedly dissension in the circus of blood. The capitalizing idea of clowns twirling and terrorizing through a maelstrom flash of fluorescent, like of SyFy sharks in that popular six installment franchise, is indie kitschiness at it’s finest and couldn’t be more perfectly timed after the release of Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker.” “Clownado” is a fun windstorm of gore and carnival surrealism. Sheets continues to deliver as promised per his production company and is still able to sustain relationships with his usual clowns – such as my stoic favorite, Antwoine Steele, and his role dressed arbitrarily as the King of Rock and Roll – while providing chuckles, sparks, and bimbos galore and, no, I don’t mean clown names. With any Todd Sheets production, the practical effects are innovative and dastardly with highlights including breasts with teeth instead of nipples, heart replacement surgery with a block of ice, and head explosions!
MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing doesn’t clown around with Todd Sheets’ “Clownado” that lands onto DVD home video in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In light of microbudget limits, the digitally shot film has some issues, such as color banding, and then there’s also the visual effects that come straight out of the stock footage file and then matted over with assertion on the first run; however, Todd Sheets been doing this for decades and I’m sure if the director wanted his production and post-production to be first rate, he’d be like Picard and make it so. Yet, disappointments are a part of life and the biggest disappointment by far is the over saturation of purple tint to lay down an ominous killer vibe throughout the night scenes of the 99minute run and the tint completely dilutes the vivid face paint, or in the clowns’ case war paint, and also turns blood into a black and magenta farcical gas. The English language audio 2.0 stereo track, complete with closed captioning available, has great clarity and often doesn’t seem as tumultuous as would be expected. The mic had on point placement to hone in on every wisecrack and pun known to clown-kind. Bonus features include a commentary track with Todd Sheets, behind the scenes, a featurette entitled “The Human Hurricane, and Wild Eye Releasing trailers. From a meteorologist standpoint, weathering through “Clownado” might be a downpour of rubbish, but for those who live vicariously through Todd Sheets’ repertoire of campy, no-budget, gore films, “Clownado” is a beautiful black-comedy day for a stroll.