Feeding The Masses Horror Collection:
Here's another bargain-priced four-pack of silly sleaze from Shock-O-Rama Cinema, this one targeted at those of you who like your horror utterly nonsensical. If you've got a taste for this stuff, this is a great way to bulk up your collection for those aimless Saturday nights. A word of caution, however, these four Richard Griffin-helmed films come on three disks, with Necroville sharing a platter with Splatter Disco, and only sporting one extra. The other two movies get their own disks, with all the attendant extras. Giddy up!
Feeding The Masses:
Dawn Of The Dead 's slam-bag opening has been a footnote in zombie horror for no good reason. Feeding The Masses won't go far to correct that problem, but at least it tries. Who can deny the appeal of watching the world collapse through the news? As horrific as it was, I spent about 13 straight hours in front of the tube on September 11th, it is, frankly, what we do. So you'd better recognize that when the zombie apocalypse hits, we'd abandon the Internet like a mangy, three-legged dog and park in front of the tube - until our brains are eaten, that is.
Anyway, that's the basic premise of Feeding The Masses, which churns up some glib, pointed fun with the concept, occasionally interspersing satiric talking heads with exploding heads and a wee bit of intestine noshing. All around earnestly broad performances indicate this is a serious romp, meaning it's mostly silly but no one's slacking or rolling their eyes. How nice is that, to be taken seriously as a fan of horror comedy?
In the end, Masses leans too heavily on the yak-yak, with plenty of obligatory scenes of characters discussing what to do in a panic. Zombie-less scenarios involving the news interest us conceptually, but other static scenes unfortunately outweigh the gut-ripping zombie chases we come to expect. Feeding The Masses gets an 'A' for effort (or is it 'I' for idea?) but stints on the thrills.
Creature From Hillbilly Lagoon:
God help you if you approach this movie from anywhere but goofball garage. (Give me a break, OK? I'm trying.) It's pretty obvious from the title what to expect. Or is it? For Creature doesn't take the cynical route to easy Okie-bashing and cheap gore. No, it goes the gee-whiz-Mickey-Rooney path of 'let's put on a show' good-hearted monster mayhem. Or the equivalent.
As seemingly pollution-spawned monsters terrorize a few city kids, some rural types become entangled in the mess, and mild hell breaks loose. Laurel and Hardy-style hijinx organically result - it's amazing how nothing feels forced - and instead of rubbing our faces in it, the actors give it their heartfelt all. How anyone can argue with that? Well, people interested in preserving brain cells might object, but this variation on an old-fashioned monster mash is so intent on straight-forward fun, without any form of hip, knowing attitude, that you'd best just crack open a can of beer, (similar to one used to impale Bubba) sit back and enjoy the ride.
Guys in white hazmat suits complicate matters, a late-game twist adds some interest, nifty looking monsters, cheap but splashy gore, and a goofy coda that finally provides a bit of toplessness combine to render this hearty, harmless fun for horror fans always looking for a new fix.
Props are due for the best title in this bunch of decidedly anti-serious movies, and also for the most misleading title. Splatter Disco splats a bit, but not enough to earn the Splatter title, a moniker obviously adopted for marquee value only. No, however the sheer amount of completely baffling weirdness here delivered should appeal to fans of incomprehensible idiocy. Of course I mean that as a good thing.
What else can you say? The serial killer stalking a cheap dance club with a rotating cycle of fetish nights would be just as confused as you when he discovered those fetish nights often devolved into musical numbers featuring stage-diving furries, while a Shakespearean romance grows behind the scenes. Truly, this is the most nonsensical, irresponsible, and flat-out silliest in this bunch of movies, but if you're into it this far, you consider that a good thing. Or at least a radically different thing.
As with all the movies in this collection, actors really don't take matters all that seriously, except for the fact that they commit 100% to the ludicrousness of it all. It's with consistent amazement that I watch director Griffin coax earnest performances out of his principals without devolving into smirking attitude. On the other hand, these movies, and generally most of the other splatstick movies presented here, lack a certain frenetic pacing that would increase their delightful value. Often, this comes down to mere moments between line readings that linger just slightly too long. It's one of the few weaknesses in this weird slasher film and its brethren.
A pair of lackadaisical slackers works for Zom-B-Gon, a zombie, werewolf and vampire extermination company run by a single, strange Rastafarian. You see, things are tough in Necroville, a town suffering from a bad economy and a population explosion of various undead, hard-to-kill beasties. If that's not bad enough, our heroes must contend with relationship problems, and constantly bicker with each other. Yes, this movie lacks any serious intent, trading shocks and tension for bloody jokes and yet more scenes set in a vampire club that suspiciously resembles the Splatter Disco mentioned above.
Pacing problems again raise their shaggy heads, while the movie often wallows in slimy, silly gore and kung fu fights. Yes, this is a horror movie of lofty ideals. Actually, despite those pacing problems, Necroville might be the best film in the bunch with winning characters, the occasional spot of inspired brilliance, and a rooftop finale that reaches stupidly entertaining heights, as a smug and smarmy vampire king gets his splashy comeuppance. There's absolutely no logic in the surprise ending, a fact that somehow makes its gross improbability all the more satisfying. Regardless of what order in which you choose to watch these movies, Necroville seems like an appropriate capper to the sordid affair, so those of you who have a taste for tongue-in-cheek horror should be well pleased with this loony collection.
While none of these 1.78:1 widescreen presentations, enhanced for 16 X 9 TVs, could be called reference quality, they all manage to sport lively colors, acceptably sharp transfers, and they all keep compression artifacts and such to a minimum, with mostly aliasing to bother your sensitive peepers.
Digital Stereo Audio for these movies is just about up-to-snuff, with decent stereo placement to make things interesting. Dialog generally seems uneven to me on all four features, with screams, music and sound effects usually way louder than quiet bits. I was riding my remote frequently. ADR and room sound sometimes don't gibe very well either, with room sound especially faint on Necroville. Could be worse, could be a lot better.
So, what, you get four movies on three disks, in a standard sized keepcase with a flipper. But what else? How about your usual gaggle of Shock-O-Rama Trailers, always a fun experience! A Full Color Booklet (not included in our screener), and more! Feeding The Masses and Creature From Hillbilly Lagoon tout full-length Commentary Tracks from director Griffin and various actors/producers (often one-in-the-same. These two tracks are lively, funny and entertaining, with lots of self-deprecating humor, BTS tidbits and unfortunate cell phone ring tones interrupting. The former movie also comes with a four-minute promo entitled Shock-O-Rama: A Year of Shocks, a 30-minute Behind The Scenes featurette, and two bizarre Short Films, the 10-minute Voltāgen and the two-minute The Hypostatic Union (both with Commentary Tracks, perfect for you weird-beards with ADD. Hillbilly Lagoon also features three minutes of Deleted Scenes, all of which find Bubba narrating bits of the movie. Lastly, Splatter Disco gets a 30-minute Making Of featurette.
Fans of comical Indie Horror, who have a high tolerance for keeping the tongue in cheek, could do a lot worse than scoring up these four cheese-fests in one convenient package, for a bargain price. Refreshingly, none of these splatstick affairs comes off as snarky or snide, they're just good, dirty fun, and Recommended for the right crowd.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com