In a small lakeside, mountain town, a violent rape of a young woman paralyzes her into complete shock, shutting down her power to speak, and spiraling her into a withdraw. Newly appointed Sheriff Sylvia Carlsen has a personal stake in the case as the woman is a close and dear childhood friend. The nature of the rape puzzles law enforcement and frightens the small community after evidence of soil and worms are discovered around the scene of the crime and inside the victim. When another of her close friends is violently rape the same way, Carlsen’s painful recollection of a dark secret involving her and her friends reagitates a dormant fear and familiarities between her past and the rapes appear to me more than just coincidences. As the attacks continue, the toll on her mounds and a series of erratic behavior incidents put into question her judgement but that won’t stop her digging into her own case of issues.
Have you ever come across a zombie revenge thriller where the decomposing undead, recently fresh from a risen unmarked grave, stuck his worm (no, that isn’t an euphemism) into a hapless female victim? While not explicitly depicted in what sounds like a niche fetish of the subfloor adult film industry, the image of soil and creepy crawlers inside the vaginal cavity is very real in director Michael P. DiPaolo’s “Daddy” where daddy issues can be extremely violating and gruesomely decaying all in the same rotten breath. The “Requiem for a Whore” and “Transgression” filmmaker writes and directs the 2003 SOV-shot style, back from the grave indie production, at one point in time was called under the working title of “Rigor Mortis,” hailing from the Albany proximate Averill Park, New York and was self-funded and produced by DiPaolo and Christopher K. Philippo (“Motor Home Massacre”) under DiPaolo’s production label, Black Cat Cinema.
The actresses to be symbolically lubricated with the Earth’s muck are played by four friends, who just happen to be all blonde as if blondes run together like a pack of wino Golden Retrievers. In her first feature film, not a television role, is principal blonde number one Selia Hansen as the frequently boozing, causal sex engaging, newly appointed sheriff, Sylvia Carlsen. Hansen plays the hot-headed Sheriff eager to prove herself but is shredded emotionally by the violent sexual assault against her friends – Leslie (Katherine Petty), Jamie (Cynthia Polakovich, “Date with a Vampire”), and Allison (Bevin McGraw, “Arachnid”). Other than BFF Leslie, there isn’t too much discourse between the good friends and if is conversing between them, the topic of conversation is about the rapes, leaving the groups’ tightly knit friendship barely tethered to Carlsen’s burdened shoulders. Ravaging the community’s blond population is the titular rapist and to avoid obvious spoilers, I will refrain from divulging the attacker’s reason for stalking Sheriff Carlsen and her male unaccompanied friends. In what is perhaps the biggest role of his scarcely career, Aaron Renning lurks around like deviant, tongue-wagging Uncle Fester complete with chrome dome and a dirty dinner jacket grimed with earth and wiggly worms. Renning’s performance has it easy with zip for dialogue and a penchant for being a raving manic with a libido in hyperdrive. The performance bares no crass crudeness as it’s very to the point without revealing the point – if you get my point. Actors following up from Michael P. DiPaolo’s “Transgression” is David Shepherd as the town’s Doctor Vance and Marc St. Camille as the pushover Deputy Richie Dagg. Yet, the most interesting casted member is John Karyus. The “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead” to “Big Freaking Rat” B-horror Karyus plays the Sheriff’s ex-husband who’s always peeping and is eager to inform his ex-wife something important but doesn’t ever receive the chance to, marking his scenes utterly pointless.
“Daddy” issues is right. DiPaolo strikes up grave retribution with a zombie degenerate harboring a message, one that I can only hope is accurate, is suppressed emotional trauma can be haunting, if not deadly, when not dealt with its beleaguering demons. However, “Daddy’s” undercurrent is more grossly sweeping and pungent with corrosive, misguided outcomes. Instead of battling trauma, DiPaolo’s depiction of Carlsen’s alcoholic abuse and fleeting affairs coupled with nightmares of the past also speaks illy toward guilt and feeling guilty over an irreversible criminal act done for the right reasons, in self-defense, nonetheless, sets the wrong tone. The finale also doesn’t set well with the fact that DiPaolo inflicts no escape from one’s rapist, no comfort in the knowledge of their death, and that their lives hang in the very balance, targeted by a demented vision. Demented, that’s definitely how I would describe DiPaolo’s serial rapist zombie flick that’s not terribly terrifying as it is one’s twisted filmic folly into incest and inevitable topple of repossession of oneself. “Daddy’s” acting is often stiff and forced, on the cheap effects offer up fake and live worms and a gray palette zombie perv, and the handheld SOV-style camera work from DiPaolo himself is like a fly buzzing around the room at times. “Daddy’s” beyond the dead vindictive nature is only abated by the number of topless blondes being subjected to dry humping in this ill-judged, undead-to-bed fiasco.
Of course, it only makes sense that SRS Cinema would release something to the likes of “Daddy” onto DVD home video. SRS Cinema loves nearly everything shot-on-video, nihilistic, zany, and unconscionable content. Sex and death sells and SRS Cinema has a long history of delivering good on that brand of promise while also luring unsuspected victims, I mean viewers, with exceptional retro-cover art that’s vibrant and detailed in all things macabre. The region free DVD has an aspect ratio of 4:3 and a runtime of 83-minutes. Shot with a videotape camcorder, image quality is about what you expect with an immense amount of interference during night shots and compression artefact issues rampant throughout, especially during black and white flashbacks, but the image is essentially discernible which makes DiPaolo’s use of only natural light more impressive. The English language mono track is hit-or-miss depending on the camcorder’s mic placement with faded hissing to throw another curve back at you. There are moments when the ambience is exquisitely sharp in fidelity and edit, such as the blaring police siren or a car suddenly passing into frame for jump scare effect. Bonus features include a commentary track with Michael P. DiPaolo, a behind-the-scenes featurette with DiPaolo narrating upon how he accomplished more of the difficult and complicated scenes, the feature trailer, and SRS film trailers. Interesting concept piledriven by its creepy subtext, “Daddy” continues to be aversive with a tagline “He comes after bad little girls!” splayed on the front cover that leaves cringed induced wrinkles on my face every time I cerebrate the underground film. In the same breath, I know and love SRS Cinema’s unwavering nihilism, standing admirably behind Michael DiPoalo’s incestuous and rapey, unfatherly film without second guessing commitment.