Ding Dong Dead:
I'll say this about Ding Dong Dead, it's certainly an unusual film. Creep Creepersin's movie is a lot of other things, too, none of which are, on the face of them, good things. So the question is this; is Ding Dong Dead a failed experiment (that shouldn't have seen release) or is it, by any measure, a complete waste of time?
Starring movie critic Luke Y. Thompson as Doug - in a role that will help Thompson figure out if his skin is as thick as he'd like other actors' to be - the movie gets off to a slow start. Really slow. Sweaty, pasty Doug wakes up to find he's lost his job. Due to a miraculous use of recycled footage we witness Doug, over the course of seven full minutes, talk to his mother on the phone, brush his teeth, and eat a banana - twice. After Creepersin kills another 40 minutes or so in leisurely manner, something like a plot is delivered, as Doug goes to war with a girl gang that's been teasing him.
From the get go, Doug's a fairly unlikable character. He's unkempt, cowardly, sleazy, and has a habit of turning everything he hears or thinks into an egocentric double entendre; "Yeah baby, Dougy likes it when you water his lawn!" He cruises the streets at night seemingly looking for people to irritate him. But are these pathetic, pointless quirks enough to get him in Dutch with the D.D. gang? Are the quirks so dire, especially when Doug kind of resembles the target audience for this movie? I suppose you can rationalize anything, except how Ding Dong Dead abruptly turns into Tim Killing Spree Ritter territory in the movie's final ten minutes.
As a weird pastiche of naïve, deconstructionist, absurdist humor, the movie almost works. Stilted performances somehow fit the motif, Thompson's actually fairly good at playing a creepy loser who's always talking to himself, too, but taken within the package, there's just too much bad and penury to not have you leaving the movie vaguely befuddled and insulted. Primarily, the movie feels padded to within an inch of its life - not an easy trick to pull, considering the final credits roll after just 65 minutes. Let's take a look at those opening scenes again. While watching Thompson slowly brush his teeth in unappealing fashion, twice, in extreme close up, or slowly, nauseatingly, munch a banana, we have to wonder if there's any point to it, other than to squander our time.
But other than padding the film with nothingness to create a soporific atmosphere, I don't see the benefit of all this treading water. Virtually every shot goes on far longer than necessary, while nothing much happens. The central conceit of this high-concept exploitation picture on a budget could have neatly fit into a 24-minute TV episode, so I'm accusing Creep Creepersin (if that is indeed his real name) of stretching a weird idea to near-feature length solely for the money, while hoping his goofing looks like outsider art or something.
Doug's tormentors consist of aging Goth Chicks behaving like mildly peevish My Little Pony characters. (And yes, we get to watch them march slowly down an alley for about 5 minutes straight.) While they go about their mysterious revenge plot - which even they admit should never have gone as far as throwing eggs at Doug - poorly looped music churns endlessly: there are about four musical themes played constantly, which is probably another Creepersin trick for hypnotizing you into thinking you're having a good time. You might have had fun, too, because for one delirious moment you can catch the idea that this movie could have been a Busby Berkeley meets Bill Lustig affair, but instead it's wasted through badly filmed, badly acted, badly recorded meanderings that truly wear out most of their welcome at the seven-minute mark.
Presented in 16 X 9 widescreen, Ding Dong Dead just looks bad. Digital grain is heavy throughout, the image as fairly soft, with low detail levels, and lighting standards are nonexistent - with scenes changing tone from sickly blue to sunny and over-exposed within the same scene. I guess compression artifacts aren't an issue, but really bad camera work is, with out of focus shots, lots of awful close-ups, and at times incomprehensible footage screwing up the image for you (think of what it looks like as your mom tries to figure out how to use a handy-cam.)
Dolby Digital Stereo Audio represents a slight improvement, simply because there's less to screw up. That said; quality varies. Room sound is sometimes clear (especially when you can easily see the boom in the shot) and sometimes obscured (like when that visible boom bumps into a lamp as it tries to get out of the shot.) Often the music overwhelms the dialog.
Oh lord, here come two Commentary Tracks, one with the director, and one with the director and Thompson. Commentary one is fairly dry - so much so that Creepersin clears his throat numerous times. Doling out the usual BTS information, Creepersin is certainly proud of his work, which is a good quality to have as an artist, even if he doesn't seem willing to acknowledge that his movie is not so hot. Also, he pronounces the word 'movie' as 'myu-vee.' Commentary two is livelier, though just as clouded with delusion. Sorry guys! There is also a fair amount of duplicated information. A nine-minute Featurette features Creepersin in all his lackadaisical glory, as well as Thomson and other actors from the film.
I never enjoy trouncing a movie, and this is no exception. There's something to be said for cranking out an almost-feature-length movie for an estimated 1500 bucks, and Creepersin did pretty much everything himself, too. Unfortunately, auteurism without oversight often creates a movie only its creator could love. This is one of those movies. Heavy on camp for a movie that culminates with a spree killing, Ding Dong Dead stretches a little dry humor, a weird concept, and a virtual one man show into something that's repetitive and fairly interminable. Amateur on all fronts, Ding Dong Dead is what only a curiously masochistic few might intermittently enjoy, while the vast majority have decided to Skip It.
- 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