See Through the Eyes of EVIL. “Dahmer” reviewed! (MVDVisual / Blu-ray)

On February 15th, 2992, Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted on murder, dismemberment, and sexual offenses on 17 young males.  Before then, Dahmer preyed on the desperate and the unsuspecting males living undisclosed in the then tabooed gay culture between 1978 and 1991.  Drugging, raping, killing, and then sometimes raping his victims posthumously became the Wisconsin serial killer’s unhinged obsession for companionship while working auspiciously as a chocolate factory warehouse worker.  Dahmer’s mind blossoms through the graphic dual prose narrative of events that circle around his lonely existence from a novice outcast drawn to kill to a calculating cold-blooded manhunter with deviant tendencies. 

Jeffrey Dahmer is one of those cerebral oddities you wish had a sight tube or a port hole to gape into and absorb the torrent of deranged thoughts in order to get a better understanding of how a serial killer’s mind functions and rationalizes vice and death as a sustainable life style.  Writer-director David Jacobson attempts to explain that very concept that sordid Dahmer’s visceral vision of the world around him in the 2002 interpretational blend of fact and fiction film, “Dahmer.”  Based on real events with some tweaks to protect the identities of real people, Jacobson’s crime biopic forces the uncomfortable measure of a bedeviled seduction, placing viewers in both the objective and subjective hot seat of Dahmer’s beginnings to his submersed praxis of his warped theoretical longings.  “Dahmer” is a production of a Peninsula Films, Inc., the same production company behind another serial killer biopic, Clive Saunders’ “Gacy,” a year later.

Surrounding the film, it’s been rumored that many actors don’t want anything to do with playing the titular sociopath; perhaps, Dahmer’s past scruples the filling of his size 10 shoes smeared with blood or, perhaps, exploring the dark caverns of his mind was too treacherous to traverse and come out unscathed from a crippling, crestfallen place of trauma.  Then, there’s Jeremy Renner.  Before his fame and fandom from “The Avengers” franchise, even before his breakout role in the pro-cop action blockbuster, SWAT, Jeremy Renner filled those monstrous size 10 shoes in the most quietest of ways, but the Hawkeye star’s skin-crawling version of a notorious killer he eerily takes a resemblance of provided that much more of a tactile insight into Dahmer’s inhuman nature.  Renner carries the film through two stages in Dahmer’s life, one being as an adolescent with homoerotic obsessions and deranged peculiarities whose living with his parents and grandmother while the other is paved by his own hands as an emotionless and manipulative rapist and murderer.  The distinct development is brilliantly illuminated by Renner’s understanding of Dahmer at certain stages of life.  Rounding out “Dahmer’s” cast is a fellow cinematic Marvel comics movie actor in Bruce Davison (“X-Men”) as Dahmer’s father, Lionel, Artel Great whose character is derived from real life Dahmer victim escapee, Tracey Edwards, and with Matt Newton, Dionysio Basco, and the late Kate Williamson adding their supportive performances.

Director David Jacobson didn’t want to explore and exploit the gory side of Jeffrey Dahmer’s tucked away carnage; instead, Jacobson dives into the psyche of Dahmer, molding human emotions around the sociopath who felt inadequate, if not also frightened, of his yearnings that propelled him to do the unspeakable acts of meticulous violence.  “Dahmer” obviously isn’t a true-to-fact biopic, regaling with colorful discourse and captivating with uncomfortable actions as filler to a near Hollywoodize stitching, but Jacobson did sprinkle with truth to fill in the mental gaps with interpretations of Dahmer’s connections with others, from family to victims.  Director of photography, Chris Manley, is able to capture the intensity with contrast lighting between young Dahmer and old Dahmer.  In Dahmer’s young life, the lighting is very natural, very bright, and very normal in a showcase of Dahmer’s mental space and, if we were not already enlightened about the serial killer’s, Dahmer would be just an usual misfit or a closeted homosexual with an obscure inkling to do more malevolency.  Only during scenes of mature Dahmer is the lighting saturated with hazy primary colors of blue, green, yellow, etc. that heighten madness and mark an ominous, dangerous presence inside the gay club or Dahmer’s apartment while everywhere else is in natural lighting.  A good companion piece to “Dahmer” is “My Friend Dahmer” directed by Marc Meyers that sought to visualize High Schooler Jeffrey Dahmer as an outlier spaz who desired attention to the point of making ruckuses in public places with other practical jokers and dived more into his obsession with eviscerating the local wildlife for curiosity and disolving them with his father’s chemistry concoctions, a nice little connective tissue between the two films. Watch Meyers’ “My Friend Dahmer” and Jacobson’s “Dahmer” in said order and while the two films are veritably different in style, each depiction captures a loner at heart with a minacious defense to feel, the very least, something by overpowering-to-death the unsuspecting prey.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s tactics were gruesome, perverse, and unsavory without question, but David Jacobson attempts the impossible of detaching the human from the monster in “Dahmer” that’s now being distributed onto Blu-ray by FilmRise and MVDVisual under their Marquee Collection. The High-Def, 1080p picture is presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, from the original 35mm negative film. While the upscaling looks fairly well achieved that seizes to put more life into the coloring, especially with those rich colorful shots in Dahmer’s later years, a good portion of 35mm negative sheens through with hairline scratches and the occasional blip of a cigarette burn. The overall delineation renders nicely with little-to-not soft edges and there doesn’t seem to be any cropping or edge enhancing. The English language DTS 5.1 Surround sound is as equally competent with clarity throughout the vocal track. There was too much depth or range to paint a picture, gaining a win by default with the conversing being held in tightly packed rooms or in extreme closeups of conversating duos. The musical score by Christina Agamanolis, Mariana Bernoski, and Willow Williamson haunts mostly like the caressing sounds of viper’s mellifluous tongue with breathy moans, irregular percussions, and a whisking uneasiness tune that sinks its teeth into you. The soundtrack is mixed with some monotonous club beats, doo-wop, and soft and classical alternative rock that include Patsy Cline, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Freddie Cannon. Bonus materials are a little antiquated with a making of featurette from back when the film was closer being first released, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, story boards, a red band and theatrical trailer, and an audio commentary by director David Jacobson and actors Jeremy Renner and Artel Kayaru. “Dahmer” doesn’t need to sell us on the diabolical nature of Jeffrey Dahmer, but what the film does do is formulate a systemic idea of who Dahmer disposes to be, as a loner, as a sufferer, and as a killer, underneath the skin of an average young white male.

Order “Dahmer” on Blu-ray!

Bikini-Cladded Revenge on a Small Time EVIL Crime Syndicate! “Rondo” review!


Disturbed and dishonorably discharged Paul finds solace at the bottom of a glass bottle. As Paul falls deeper into dire depression with drugs, the drink, and cigarettes, Jill, his sister, lays down some ground rules while he crashes on her couch. At her advice and insistence, Jill schedules a psychological appointment for him and the doctor recommends sex as a release and not just any old sex, but the behind-the-doors, underground, Freak-a-leak kind of kinky encounters. Paul joins two other men in a high rise condominium, receiving instructions on how to treat and mistreat an affluent man’s wife, but Paul becomes the witness to an organized murder party and flees for his life, barely escaping the clutches of his captors, and returning home to his sister Jill to tell her everything. The only problem is, the killers know his address and now their business becomes a family affair loaded with straight razor slashing, crowbar bashing, and automatic weapon firing mayhem.

“Rondo” is an icy revenge thriller with bullets and blood galore from writer-director Drew Barnhardt. The “Murder Loves Killers Too” director reinvigorates a pulp noir approach into the independent film market that invokes woman power through all sorts of masculinity muck. Breanna Otts and Gena Shaw flourish as the anti-leading lady by wielding large assault rifles and being the kingpin of killers amongst a bunch of kneeling and broken men. “Rondo” is also about family, believe it or not. Whether bound in endless love or broken beyond repair,the theme of taking care of your own blood comes to the forefront, but before you go showing your kids, “Rondo” takes family to hell and back and then back to hell again for a rough ride of riveting vileness and hard-on revenge.

“Rondo” doesn’t necessarily have a lead character. In act one, the voice over utters over the pitiful existence that is Paul (“Galaxy of Horror’s Luke Sorge) who, at the persistence of his sister, tries to step outside the path of destruction by stepping into a sex den at the advice of a radical, and very pregnant, psychologist. The voice over is curiously used since pertaining to the fact that the narration, provided by Steve Van Beckum, becomes nearly Paul’s inner monologue by the end of his tenure. Act two transitions into a father and daughter reunion and then revenge plotters. No voice overs accompany the two, but Jill (“Westworld” and “SWAT” actress Breanna Otts) and her father Sam (“Rage of the Mummy’s Michael Vasicek) have an exposition fest involving what ifs and to dos. Sam felt to be a wasted character; an escaped VA patient returning to his children for revenge that doesn’t quite grow from there. On the other hand, Jill extends into act three as the sole protagonist and her thirst for vengeance is clunky and clanky, stirring up a halfcocked plan in the belly of the beast that happens to work in her favor and in our favor too as Otts ends up in lacy underwear in an episode of boobs and bullets. “Rondo” rounds out with Ketrick ‘Jazz’ Copeland, Reggie De Morton, Gena Shaw, Kevin Sean Ryan, Grant Benjamin Leibowitz and introducing Iva Nora in her first role and first nude scene.

Conceptually, Barnhardt’s tale of ravage savagery rouses out from the cobwebbed conventional anecdotal pathways and while “Rondo” might be a tale that’s rarely been told, apprising the plot into maturity bid Barnhardt with a far more difficulty, leaving to squash the answers to far more questions at the roll of the end credits. One of the more puzzling questions is why does the voice over only narrate for Paul? Kicking off with a voice over that explains Paul’s downtrodden life, then transitioning quietly into Paul’s inner thoughts, and then disconnected completely that literally leaves a punctuation question mark hover just over our scalps. There’s also the question of how deep this criminal organization roots in society? How did Cassie, wife of the barbaric boss Lurdell, get to assimilate herself into positions of power to influence poor souls to become meat for the grinder.

Artsploitation Films distributes an American bloodbath with “Rondo” onto DVD home video. The not rated release is presented in a widescreen, 1.77:1 aspect ratio, and despite some banding, the picture quality spruces a fine package with natural lighting and little-to-no filter use. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound pitches perfectly without some much of a hiccup. Range and depth are fine, though the film isn’t necessarily a heavy hitter with action, and the channels are level amongst the LFE gun blasts in the cap your ass finale. Bonus features include a director’s commentary, deleted scenes, selected music commentaries with composer Ryan Franks, and an exhibition of the gritty pulp cover art and lobby cards set to a musical score. “Rondo” is a cult indie classic through the venomous teeth of white-collar Americanisms and a torrent of human immoral inclination that relentlessly shows no mercy scene after scene.

Own “Rondo” on DVD today!

Kevin Bacon and the Evil Cult! The Following (Eps. 6 review)

Got around finally to watching the sixth episode of Kevin Williamson’s The Following last night on On Demand and we’re back to ground zero with how The Following should play out as a suspenseful horror thriller with numerous twists, baffling betrayals, and many hooks to keep the audience intrigued and drooling until next Monday. Ryan Hardy, when back into a corner, transforms into possum as his curls his lip revealing his vicious teeth – a side of Hardy we have yet to experience.

Paul: “Tie him up!”
Ryan: Yes, tie me up, but if you get within two feet of me I will break your neck and crack your spine.”
Paul: “Then I will shoot you!”
Ryan: “And his neck will be broken and his spine will be cracked.”
Paul: “And you’ll be dead!”
Ryan: “And his neck will be broken and his spine will be cracked.”

ryanhardy

This episode drives in the last nail making certain that we, the audience, can’t trust a single soul – who is in this cult and/or who will betray who within a group – and that distrust amongst the factions will keep life in this show. Also, the mysterious Rodrigo who orchestrates behind the scenes has me starting to wonder that we may know already who this person is and that the other cult followers perhaps don’t know as Charlie, Claire’s ‘follower,’ had stated in his own words that each member of Carroll’s crew doesn’t know who each other and that their roles were specific. If I had to take a wild guess, Rodrigo is Agent Debra Parker and this episodes leave a little taste of my hypothesis. However, my theory could be dead wrong which is hard to believe, I know.

Our killer threesome has for now disbanded into a massive betrayal by Emma’s character as she leaves her two male companions to fend for themselves against the closing in FBI. What’s Emma’s plan with Joey? Most likely her specific role is to be the protector of Joey as she displayed in the later half of the episode as a human bullet shield. Rodrigo had likely instructed Emma to escape from Paul and Jacob while friends of Rodrigo infiltrate and kill a couple of the FBI Swat team and extract Paul and Jacob from the clutches of the FBI.

Lots going on and the next episode shapes up to be thrilling as well. Let’s all hope.