Become Evil’s Best Bud in “My Friend Dahmer” review!


Senior year 1978, right before the start of his 13 year killing spree, Jeffrey Dahmer struggled to fit into the high school equation. Spending much of the time in his makeshift laboratory, dipping roadkill into jars of acid to retrieve the bones that were still intact, Dahmer didn’t have many friends to socialize his unbalanced behavior. His interest in dissecting animals and an unearthed fascination with the same sex drove him to stay in serene isolation, but when his parents, between the marital spouts and his father’s projections, pressure him to make friends, to live an active lifestyle, Dahmer reduces himself to being the class clown for acceptance, catching the attention of three students who befriend him because of his classless antics. Just as his life begins to form something that similar normalcy, the familiar urges overwhelm when he fantasizes about a young male doctor of sleeping with his fresh corpse. With the inkling to kill creeping to ahead, Dahmer drowns himself in alcohol while still maintaining what’s left of his friendship that suddenly feels more like his exploitation for the benefit of others.

What a hell of an origins story! “My Friend Dahmer” is the 2017 biographical docudrama from writer-director Marc Meyers that becomes the looking glass into the catalytic events, or even last moments of hope to reform, infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The film is a visual adaptation of John “Derf” Backderf’s graphic novel of the title. Backderf was also one of Dahmer’s only friends in high school and relates his experiences through exaggerated illustrations of his graphic novel. With in the film, Meyers notably recounts the pages of the Backderf’s novel with a story that puts Dahmer justifiably at the epicenter that focuses almost entirely from Dahmer’s disturbed and warped point of view of inner body interest, homosexuality, and standards of social acceptance. Rarely, does Meyers stray from that structure in obtaining the external thoughts and opinions of Dahmer’s friends, and perhaps even enemies, who’ve made some sort of interaction, but being that the novel is a work of someone else’s non-fictional perceptions and not of Dahmer’s, Meyers puts weight forthright with Backderf’s opinion with the characterized Backderf interjecting here-and-there on accounts that significantly courses Dahmer’s actions.

Surely an eye brow raising casting choice, Disney Channel actor and Kids’ Choice Award winner Ross Lynch enters into a polarizing role that is the pre-monster of Jeffrey Dahmer and creepily channels in a powerful performance the embattled younger image of the soon-to-be murderer, cannibal, and necrophiliac. Lynch portrays Dahmer as a rare emission of emotion and almost frighteningly stiff or mechanically with hunched shoulders just below his wavy blonde hair that wrap around the large and rounded rectangle glasses. New York City born actor Alex Wolff picks up the graphite pencil to spun out probably Dahmer’s closest friend John “Derf” Backderf. Perhaps in a way, Backderf had manufactured a piece of Dahmer’s destined genetic makeup and Wolff lays in the guilt, and the fear, thick when around Dahmer near the end. Anne Heche (“Psycho” remake) and Dallas Roberts (“The Walking Dead” and “Mayhem”) become Joyce and Lionel Dahmer, Jeffrey’s parents. Heche and Roberts seize every on screen opportunity to lay into one another, a persistent and regular difficulty that stemmed between Joyce’s mental and physical heath and Lionel’s withering patience for his anxiety riddled wife. The cast rounds out with Vincent Kartheiser Liam Koeth, Tommy Nelson, and Harrison Holzer.

Aside from the retelling of Backderf’s recollections, “My Friend Dahmer” shoots scenes right inside what was once Dahmer’s actual home in Ohio. That bit of realism adds monumental flavor to enrich the inherently dark subject matter of how a young Dahmer was subjected to compounding blows to his psyche in the short timespan that was his senior year. From his father tearing down his makeshift laboratory and junking his precious dead animal experiments, to his mother’s divorce inducing schizophrenia, and to being the class clown in order to make friends, Dahmer couldn’t maintain control over his ebb and flow urges and Meyer effectively highlights these chapters in Dahmer’s frayed playbook of life that tipped the scales of unfavorable malice.

FilmRise and MVDVisual present “My Friend Dahmer” on a AVC encoded 1080p High Definition Blu-ray with a 2.40:1, widescreen presentation. Through a vista of small town quaintness, picture quality immensely defines a cold embrace of a softer, fluffier effect. The color palette strongly reflects the whitewashed and faded of the era. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 stretches the ambient with a film that doesn’t necessary pack an audio punch. The dialogue is rendered cleanly and the retro soundtrack is a boost to docudrama with clarity and pace. Bonus features are a bit thin for a non-fictional individual with humungous notoriety and they include a brief interview with star Ross Lynch, Behind-the-Scenes slide show, and a theatrical trailer. “My Friend Dahmer” revitalizes the feelings and the chills that washed over us who are old enough to remember Jeffrey Dahmer’s grim-storied apprehension and, yet, director Marc Meyers is able to strip Dahmer of his monstrosity for 107 minutes and make him simply human as a young man with everyday problems without a ounce of parental, professional, or friendship guidance, funneling to the notion that we all have a little Jeffrey Dahmer in us.

“My Friend Dahmer” is on the Amazon today!

From the Garden of Evil Come the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” review!


The United States comes under a relentless siege from a formidable foe unlike any other. An enemy that’s risen from the ground up to overthrow the very soil Americans’ inhabit. Flashing proudly their red colors, this adversary will fight and destroy anyone in their path. The attack of the killer tomatoes will seek to end mankind and take over the world! As desperation sets in, top U.S. generals, under the aloof guidance of the President of the United States, assemble a motley crew of special ops that become America’s best hope against a vicious barrage from the killer fruit….or are they vegetables? Under the leadership of Mason Dixon, his team will infiltrate, investigate, and, if lucky, exterminate the rotten to the core tomatoes. From the glossy red cherries to the plump big boys, the round ripe killers are hungry from human pulp and only Dixon and his team can stop them!

Courtesy of the MVD’s Rewind Collection, a newly released line of retro cult cinema, comes the impeccably unsystematic comedic spoof “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!” for the first time on high definition Blu-ray! Writer-director John DeBello, along with his co-writers and fellow many hat wearing cohorts Costa Dillon and J. Stephen Peace, takes satire to the composter, lets it fester for a month, and releases a heaping pile of slapstick gold to the masses. The zany indie production, backed by various family members and local mom and pop retail operations, has been a horror comedy staple for past 40 years with not-so-cutting edge timeless humor that pokes a satirical finger at other more serious ventures such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” with the film opening with a message about viewers brushing-off jovially the Hitchcock subtle creature until the event actually happened with aggressive, unflinching fowls terrorizing a small town and in that context, a film about killer tomatoes was born. DeBello’s film aimed to poke fun at many other things as well and successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of critics who remarked how awful his film was to behold, but that was the director’s sought-to, goal line intention.

Out of a cast of untrained talents and actors and actresses who never saw the bright lights and prepped sets ever again, only one actor stands out as a recognizable face and household name and that face and name was of Jack Riley as a Government slug. I might be a sucker for classic re-runs, but I remember Riley from his stint on “The Bob Newhart Show” and his very presence in “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” legitimizes not on the film’s creditability but set the humor tone that was to be expected and despite almost being killed during filming as the rented helicopter accidentally crashes with him in it, the comedian rose from the ashes like a reborn phoenix and suggested to use crash footage to seemingly boost the pint-sized production value. However, it’s David Miller, who has zero interactions with Riley, in the lead role as a Mason Dixon. Though with an uncanny resemblance to the late funny man John Belushi with the wavy dark hair upon his short round figure, Miller goes fairly dark, as in quiet, for his leadership role as perhaps the only sane, and logical, character in the entire sequence of misfits. Dixon’s right hand Lt. Wilbur Finletter is played by co-writer, co-producer J. Stephen Pearce who courageously commits himself to doing all his own stunt work in a film that proudly wishes to just have a good time. Pearce’s approach to the lieutenant is with a sullied gung-ho persona that’s effective, but barely in the eyes of Mason Dixon. Dixon’s love interest Lois Fairchild, the only credited role of actress Sharon Taylor, inarguably is involved in an awkward game of being coy with Finletter as Fairchild, being a rookie reporter, aims to get the story at any cost while Finletter’s dimwit has him skate around her advances and oblivious to her information seeking intentions. Rounding out the cast is George Wilson, Eric Christmas (“Porky’s), Ernie Meyers, and Ron Shapiro.

Before “Scary Movie,” before “Naked Gun”, and even before “Airplane!,” “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” had tailored, if not probably pioneered, this particular gag humor and in today’s day-and-age of political correctness, films like John DeBello’s are much like the Dodo bird – extinct. In the mix of light hearted witticisms, a number of racial, sexist, and overall bad taste cracks lie sporadically about the 87 minute runtime that wouldn’t make past the MPAA standards of today, that would invoke public ridicule and outcry for the filmmakers’s heads, and would unjustly place on a blacklist mark all involved, but just like a many number of these cinematic relics, they’re grandfathered into the fold. Though I doubt many millennials have even heard of the killer tomato franchise which would be baffling since health conscious wackos would enjoy seeing genetically modified tomatoes run a rampage, proving their points.

“Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” arrives on a special collectors edition Blu-ray/DVD combo set from MVD’s Rewind Collection. For the 1978 film, this release, presented in an AVC encoded 1080p 4k digital transfer of a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is by far the best yet with a rich coloring range that pop and bring new life to the cult favorite. Hair line blemishes and some blotchy moments rear ugliness every so often, but the outcome of this release is astonishing when compared to previous DVD versions. The mono uncompressed PCM track reinforces a well rounded release when technically speaking. The dialogue is crystal clear and the musical numbers go off without a hitch. Perhaps, not as resonating as one would hope, but in the end, the mono track really sounds good here. Bonus features aplenty with audio commentaries from director John DeBello, J. Stephen Pearce, and Costa Dillon, three delete scenes, a collection of old interviews from cast and crew entitled Legacy of a Legend, a discussion on the helicopter crash, and “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” original 8mm short film plus much, much more. Roughly about two hours of bonus content on this release makes it certainly a definitive collection. It took only 40 years for “Attack of the Killer Tomaotoes” to receive the treatment the John DeBello directed creature feature rightfully deserves and though might stink like rotten organic matter, there’s certainly nothing like the splat-fest riot of rolling, death-dealing fruit fleshed with trail blazing comedy unlikely to be repeated in today’s uptight community.

Own this version of “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!”