Remember when you used to make movies in the backyard with your cousins on the old camcorder that your parents didn't use anymore? They weren't great, but you had a lot of fun making them. The process was the reward. Well, if you had just a smidge more money, and some locations, and a lot of people willing to participate, you'd have something like Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest
The eponymous Horror Fest is actually three features, two original with the Scarlet Fry crowd (Scarlet is a man, in case you were confused) and the third a presentation of the classic Carnival of Souls with an intro and bumpers provided by Scarlet Fry and pals. The most substantial feature is the first, and it consists of a number of short subjects that are sort of horror related, but not connected thematically at all. Scarlet Fry, in this incarnation is a hillbilly with a mangled face who keeps young women tied to trees, introduces each short and attempts to entertain with his bloodthirsty yet homespun wisdom. Neither the intros nor the shorts are very good.
The short features are virtually plotless, they merely wander around the edges of a story, and make sure to include lots of cruelty, cynicism about the human condition, and arterial spray. The standout short involves a few skater guys who need money to buy marijuana. One of them has a connection for quick cash. There is a gay man who spends his days hanging around a parking garage and paying men to spank him with skateboards. Of course, the skater's friends don't cease in their accusations that he is gay, which he takes great exception to. Perhaps he is being oversensitive, but nevertheless lots of homophobic and misogynistic (not to mention bloody and over the top) violence soon proceeds.
Of course, when we use the word "standout", we are paying honor to the fact that this short actually has a beginning, middle and end, and is sort of fumbling toward saying something. That something would appear to be on the order of "It's kind of funny when women and gays are brutally murdered", but perhaps that's too harsh. "Guys get violent when people call them gay, and might lash out as undeserving targets" could also be a reasonable reading. The fact is, the whole thing is too muddled, poorly performed and executed for anything more subtle than "Cool! Spurting blood!!" to be drawn from it.
And that's the problem with Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest as a whole. Everything comes off as an afterthought, just thrown together with whatever was to hand. The shorts are poorly written and weak, with stilted dialogue and desperately unlikable characters. The actors are amateurish and dull. The only thing done with any style are the blood and gore effects, which at times can be quite good. But artfully mutilated flesh and spraying blood are not enough to make an engaging film. And there really is nothing else here.
Many of the same criticisms can be lodged against the second feature, Horror Macabre, in which Scarlet Fry still has the mangled face, but now seems to be a more dapper gent, with a black top hat, cape and walking stick. This is also a collection of shorts, but with only a twenty six minute running time. Lots of unnecessary amputation, genital stabbing, bludgeoning and women running around in graveyards. Almost entirely without merit. No plots. Little humor. Lots of cynicism and cruelty.
And this brings us to the oddest selection of the three presented here, Carnival of Souls. It is included presumably because it is in the public domain in the United States, and thus free to use. The intros and bumpers from Scarlet Fry, here in yet another distinct incarnation, add little or nothing to the film, which itself is fairly good. But there are much better places to get much better presentations of Carnival of Souls, so why bother with this one?
Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horror Fest is low in quality, provides no scares or tension, presents bad performances of poorly written stories, and is not worth your time even for a rental, unless you happen to be some sort of gore fest completist. For all others, skip it.
The video is 1.33:1 standard, and does not look good, with lots of issues. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
Audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and is moderately good. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are included. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
The only extra included is a trailer for Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality or quantity of the extras on the final product.
Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest is not quality film making. Undoubtedly made by a bunch of friends who love horror movies, it lacks most of the qualities that make such films work. Cool gore effects are not enough to even begin a good scary movie, regardless of the big budget films that seem to have little else. Low budget films have to focus even more on compelling characters and intriguing stories in order to grab the attention of the public Scarlet Fry fails to do this, and is not worth your time.