Dave, a failed, down on his luck musician with a penchant for doing the wrong thing, volunteers to chaperone a kindergarten field trip to a popular outdoor petting zoo park attraction intent on gaining the affection of his 5-year-old nephew’s perky teacher, Miss Caroline. Also at the attraction is an American children’s’ television personality, Teddy McGiggle, travelling the world with his latest stop in Australia. All seems well and dandy until the U.S. stationed Army base adjacent to the petting zoo loses control of the highly aggressive rejuvenation test subjects and are overrun by the lemming of slow, flesh-eating zombies that stagger bit by bit toward the park’s touristy patrons. With every last living, breathing thing either turned undead or eaten to the spinal cord, Dave, Miss Caroline, and Teddy McGiggle must fight against the outbreak for not only their survival, but for the troop of young and impressionable kindergarteners thinking what’s happening is nothing more than a prolonged game of tag before the gung-ho U.S. military sanction of eradicating airstrike right on their location.
The lumbering zombie canon enjoys a delightfully endearing and rousingly tucked zom-rom comedy, “Little Monsters,” with children being the heartfelt conquerors to slay the funk the genre has been stagnantly lingering inside. Written and directed by up and coming filmmaker Abe Forsythe, the internationally collaborated production from the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia delivers a brashly funny film under the guise of long-pigged zombie horror shot primarily in Sydney, Australia at Centennial Park. Not to be confused with the Fred Savage children’s film of the same title from 1989 that also starred funny man Howie Mandel, Forsythe’s “Little Monsters’” head lopping, guts coiling, and every four letter word in the profanity bible goes to infinity and beyond the parental guidance rating.
Perfect performances all around from a dynamically intercontinental collaborative cast starting off with Lupita Nyong’o. The “Us” actress, who should have won an Oscar for her performance in the Jordan Peele film, astounds again with a delicately frank and beautifully sage performance as the alluring kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline whose number one priority is to protect her class of 5-year-olds, physically and mentally, at all costs. Counter to Miss Caroline seemingly having her stuff together, the raucously detached Dave immediate sets his whirlwind claws right into Miss Caroline, attempting to attract her with disinformation about his stable state of mind and being; however, Dave to the core is a good guy harnessed by Australian actor Alexander England (“Alien: Covenant”) who adds the rough edges around Dave’s stagnant and serrated lifestyle. Though different on the surface level, Caroline and Dave do have rooted similarities that spark romance after some convincing through zombie tribulations and scenario finesse; Nyong’o and England singe around the edge of attraction that’s goes from a seething disaster to being playfully coy and tender that works confidently on screen. When you through Josh Gad into the mix, you never know what to expect in terms of a wild card character. The “Frozen” star pulls off Olaf on hard drugs as Teddy McGiggle as Gad’s voice is unmistakably the overly friendly snowman who likes warm hugs but with a lot more F bombs and a dee seeded disgust for kids show personality that results him bedding many of his toddler fans’ moms. I wasn’t sure how Gad was going to pull off a zombie epic, but his gas-riot performance is a spiked drink compared to other who dances around the children’s innocence and the fact Teddy McGiggle is a kids show personality elevates his crude conduct to that more pungent. “Little Monsters” round out with Kat Stewart, Marshall Napier (“The Beast”), Diesel La Torraca as Felix.
The word from my inner circle of moviegoers, those who have little interest in horror and more interests in fast cars and vast explosions, say something along the lines that “Little Monsters” was “okay,” “Didn’t really do it for them,” or “I didn’t watch the last 20 minutes.” Disclaimer: These people are really not close friends, but barely colleagues, and since “Little Monsters” is being cut down by popcornist naysayers, their opinions have itty-bitty merit awarded to their poor judgement in taste of good, funny, and superbly acted eye-candy horror cinema with pocket messages of insufferable loneliness, hidden internal commonality, and the caliber in what makes us human that piece together as collectively relatable. If these aspects do not register with you, then you’re not human, but rather a 7-headed martian with tentacles and a pea-size purple brain. “Little Monsters” has some good gritty zombies at work here that juxtapose against the tender nature of children and the only thing between these children being lunch are three damaged adults searching for something meaningful. The apocalypse becomes a fork in the road, an ultimatum, that tests their worth and Aby Forsythe bombards that fateful decision with little notes of comedy, witty banter, and a clear case carnage.
“Little Monsters” takes a field trip to Blu-ray DVD home video, and digital download February 10th from UK distributor, Altitude Film Entertainment. “Little Monsters” is a production of Made Up Stories, Protagonist Pictures (“31” and “Lords of Chaos“), and Snoot Entertainment (“Dude Bro Massacre III” and “You’re Next”). Unfortunately, a DVD-R was provided for review so no audio or video quality critiques will be touched up, but the upcoming region B Blu-ray is listed as a BD-50, 1080p Full HD, and presented in the original 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio with an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There were no special features listed in the press release and there were none available on the DVD-R. Finding a way to harness everything sacred from the zombie genre and then creating something new, interesting, and captive from start to finish to blend is a victory melange of wall-to-wall wit and feral monsters leaves “Little Monsters” as the horror romantic comedy that has it all.
Brock Chirino, a survivor after tragedy strikes twice by a serial killer named Motherface who stalked and killed his campus fraternity brothers of DELTA BI THETA, is found gruesomely hung from a flagpole with his guts strewn tightly around his neck. Brock’s twin brother, Brent, wants answers and begins pledging with the troublemaking and cursed fraternity that is on the verge of having another Motherface encounter, beginning with the death of his popular twin. Sinister powers to be send the remaining DELTA BI THETA brothers to an isolated and notorious lake house where one-by-one, beer-by-beer, each brother is hunted down with their own personal fears invoked by the serial killer and lethally weaponized against them.
More enjoyable than a cheap case of beer pong beer is the trope-after-trope satirical genre upheaval in “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” from first time feature film directors Tomm Jacobson, Michael Rouusselet, and Jon Salmon with a screenplay penned by lead actor Alec Owen along with contributions from the directors and Ben Gigli, Brian Firenzi, Joey Scoma, Michael Peter, Mike James, and Timothy Ciancio. Usually with a conglomerate of writers and directors attached to a single project, the resulting work lacks coherency as a mesh of styles create a havoc bearing exhibition for the viewer whose head is about to explode and ready to give up on trying to make sense of disastrous, multi-motivational storyline, but these particular guys are a part of an internet comedy troupe the under 5-Second Films production company, established in their good ole college days circa 2005 to 2008, and have long list of meaningless, yet funny, credits in sketch comedy that include Uproxx Video and Funsploitation. The filmmakers’ “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is the supposed third film in a trilogy of unspeakable comedic terror without really having a first film or its sequel as the gag, but rather recap, ingeniously and in a squeamishly gory fashion, a fast-paced and well thought out montage of series of events from the “first two” Dude Bro Party Massacres.
The 5-Second Film troupe can be synonymous with the guys of Broken Lizard, but in a slightly tweaked version that’s sure to be piss your pants funny and keep eyeballs glued to their 103 minutes of beer, hazing, and blood. Kicking it off in a dual role is Alec Owen as Brock and Brent Chirino; one super cool bro and the other just a regular cool bro, share a meaningful twin experience that keeps both characters in the mix. Owen dons daft well, but do so the slew of other in his close knit entourage of Paul Prado, Ben Gigli, Joey Scoma, Brian Firenzi, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, and Kelsey Gunn. Their well-oiled machine of timing, exuberance, and expressions, from years of collaboration, make them a juggernaut in their field, leveling with, or even just beating out, the Broken Lizard team for best satire horror film. To top things off, the eclectic special guest stars add that little something, a little spiked cream in the dark, bold, Columbian coffee if you will, of unprofessionalism that just makes “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” a go to rental (or purchase) on a movie and chill night. Did you ever think you’d see Larry King in a horror movie? Yeah, that Larry King who made millions as a late night talk radio host said, “Star in a horror movie? Sure, why the hell not?” Though brief, King’s appearance is welcoming gory garnish and other guest stars whoopee in the same fate, including esteemed porn actress, the queen of sex, Nina Hartley, in an unusual non-sexual role, rock performer and producer Andrew W.K., Tommy Wiseau collaborator Greg Sestero, and my fellow Portsmouth, Virginian native, Mr. Patton Oswalt in another brilliant comedic performance. Yes, I’m dead serious, bro. Plus, Olivia Taylor Dudley as Motherface equals a repeat performance; perhaps for “Dude Bro Party Massacre IV???”
“Dude Bro Massacre III” is a 100% intentional caricature of the 1980s slasher genre, going against the well established and solid bedrock that’s bred horror fans for generations, and rocking the sacred structure to the core that not only will be admired by hardcore horror fans, but also not objectionable in its goofiness those said fans and will sufficiently gaudy for the causal popcorn moviegoer. Those in the former will recognize that tropes vitalize without tiring out the dude bro party, such as with a snarky, masked killer returning from the grave, twice, whose a bit of a mash up of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, the Final Girl notion is reversed to a Final Boy left to tell the ostentatious tale, and extravagant and elaborate deaths ultimately become a living, breathing entity to inspirit. Plus, backstories and character tangents diversify the story perpetuation enough to not over-saturated solely on DELTA BI THETA reckoning. In all honesty, the gore is the star and if gore was the object of wealth, “Dude Bro Massacre III” would be an affluent God with blood splatter on a divinity level.
5-Second Films and Snoot Entertainment release the Not Rated, 2015 satirical horror, “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” onto DVD home video distributed by MVDVisual. Presented as the only surviving VHS copy of a dismissed and banned film by some guy recording a television airing over his childhood memories, a 4:3 aspect ratio continues to sell the artificial, retrograded video nasty of obscurity. Even the mock cut in faux commercials are a nice touch that reminded me a little bit of John Ritter’s “Stay Tuned.” One thing that’s missing was the presence of digital noise as the image was really too vibrant and clean to be a super VHS or any other kind of SOV. The English language 2.0 audio track is clean with prominent dialogue and hefty amount of ambient blood gushing, splashing, exploding, etc. Bonus features aren’t impressive with only audio commentary available through the static menu, but Devon Whitehead, whose cover arts with Scream Factory releases are beyond ridiculous, lends his talents here with another intrinsic, manic storytelling work of art. A little late to the game with this review for a film from 2015, but “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is getting a re-release and is worth the time pledging oneself to again and again with a high level rewind satisfaction rate.