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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Film Crew & Wet Heat (Double Feature)
Film Crew & Wet Heat (Double Feature)
Tempe Entertainment // Unrated // May 20, 2008
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Bill Gibron | posted May 13, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Product:
2008 promises to be an interesting year for Chris Seaver and his Low Budget Pictures label. After years of relying on a ViewAskew-style universe revolving around the fake suburbia of Bonejack Heights, and the various exploits of community characters like Teenape, Choach, Heather, Puggly, and "Spanish-Indian" Proudfoot, among others, he's finally testing the mainstream moviemaking waters. Later this year, his homage to '80s sci-fi sports sex comedies, Ski Wolf, will mark his first foray into full blown non-LBP product. While we wait for that glorious goofball moment, Tempe is treating us to a few more examples of the madman's amazing output. As part of his growth process, a concerted effort away from the homemade horror humor he's relied on for over a decade, we get this delightful double feature. While one movie remains firmly affixed to his old ideals, its companion is a wondrous work of previously untapped potential.

The Plot:
The Film Crew:
The employees at the local chain theater, each a little odd and obsessive in their own way, are a little suspicious of the new employee. His name is Caspian, and he seems unusually preoccupied with death, dismemberment, and payback. As they go about their daily routine, being rude to the customers and more than inappropriate with each other (sexually, socially, cinematically???), something ominous is in the air. One by one, the Film Crew appears to be disappearing...and the nutty new guy might just be behind the slasher-style vanishings.

Wet Heat:
When Teenape is tapped for being a Dateline-oriented pedophilic perv, our ever faithful government gives him a chance at redemption. It seems that the President of Entertainment has been kidnapped by LaFemme LaDouche a crazy drag Rocky Horror wannabe fame whore, and it's up to our groovy gorilla to rescue him. Of course, he'll have some help, and meet a few "Escape from..." like oddballs along the way. And on a mission like this, one thing's for sure - guns and monkey nuts will be blazin'.

The DVD:
As a director, he continues to mature. His method has stayed basically the same, yet he still finds inventive means of adjusting and improving on his sometimes silly, often surreal ideas. As a writer, his work has become more polished. Gone (for the most part) are the vulgar rants, the sexually explicit harangues hoping to shock as much as satisfy. In their place is a concentration on character, a desire to explore more 'sophisticated' avenues of humor while never quite leaving the confines of filth. Yet perhaps the most amazing thing about Low Budget Productions leader Chris Seaver and his 16 years of independent moviemaking is his consistency. No matter the premise, with almost complete disregard for the genre or audience expectation. With his current line-up further flummoxing his design, fans are likely to cry fowl - or fall in love all over again.

Well, when it comes to The Film Crew, let's just get the backseat mambo out of the way right up front - this movie is fantastic. It is by far one of the best, most inventive, and most consistently clever films Seaver has ever manufactured. Not only does it prove that he can exist outside the creative confines of the LBP universe, but it indicates a level of pop culture intuition that's simply dead on. Attaching the at one time tired Friday the 13th slice and dynamic to what is basically a slaphappy sitcom waiting to be discovered, we are treated to memorable takes on Jeremy Statham, American Idol, and that most indie of arthourse icons, Troma. The scripting literally shimmers at times, reflecting one man's irrefutable aptitude to guide his lifetime of fandom (and the accompanying pop culture relevance) into a witty exchange of crude conversations and ditzy dramatics. No one either in or out of Tinsel Town knows the horror comedy better, and when Seaver is on - as he is here - the results are thrilling. Indeed, one gets depressed at how the film ends, since it seems to indicate a sequel is next to impossible.

And another thing - Seaver has really amped up his effectiveness with his actors. The cast is unbelievable, filtering dead on parodies of slackers, dreamers, angst-ridden rejects, and 'bumble-clot' Rastafarians through their own unique sensibilities. The devilish quality they bring to each line reading really supports Seaver's motivation, and they frequently end up endearing themselves to us with nothing more than a juvenile gesture or a natty non-sequitor. The most telling thing is how professional it all looks. Baring the shot of DV tech specs employed, and some of the newer faces to the Seaver set, this is a well staged and perfectly executed comedy. Like his lost masterpiece The Karaoke Kid, Seaver continues to prove he can work well outside his creative comfort zone. If lame ass lampoons like Meet the Spartans and Employee of the Month can get greenlit, this devious writer/director should be Judd Apatow. All he needs is someone to give him the chance. The Film Crew may just be his ticket to wider mainstream acceptance.

As the second feature on our double bill, Seaver reverts back to his old character set to unleash the bullet ballet of Wet Heat. Oddly enough, for all his love of blood, Chris Seaver has never been a student of violence as spectacle. The only film in his oeuvre to tap into his inner Tarantino while skirting the edges of modern cinema was an actual spoof - a brazen bite at Kill Bill called Mulva 2: Kill Teenape. But Wet Heat belies such past strategies. It's a magnificent hurricane homage to anarchic ammo goodness, a baffling NRA romp with CGI gore for added oomph. Clearly influenced by the growing assortment of over the top takes on the genre - Crank, Shoot 'Em Up, old spy flicks, any number of Hong Kong titles - there is also a tasty throwback feel to the everpresent '80s, a time clearly close to Seaver's slobbering heart. Considering he was born at the end of the Me Decade, these films formed the foundation of his very aesthetic. Indeed, he takes the parts he likes and links them together with his own loony LBP universe and spawns something spastically special.

Again, the acting is exceptional, with standouts like Meredith Host as Scooter, affecting a flawlessly ambiguous asexual mercenary guise. There's a wonderful sequence in which our main villain, the suitably titled LaFemme LaDouche mocks the Show Biz Pres in an almost perfect Frankenfurter fury. Billy Gaeberina is unhinged in the part. There are in-jokes a plenty, lots of scatological slams, and just enough whimsy to make you wonder where Seaver gets his ideas. By the time we reach the finale, where forces of good and evil are ready to face off in one final hail of Smith and Wesson wildness, Wet Heat's promise definitely pays off. This is another notch in Seaver's sizable belt, a literal blast that strives to be more than your standard fart jokes and toilet takes. As part of his amazing maturation, we recognize the casting off of certain cinematic crutches. While continuing to embrace his love of pop culture, Seaver is surveying his career, and making the moves necessary to increase his production profile.

The Video:
The one area that Seaver is still exploring is cinematography. His handheld capture approach doesn't lend itself to 16x9 anamorphic offerings. Therefore, Tempe treats the video friendly films to the 1.33:1 full screen fashion they deserve. There are minimal defects and very few digital and/or analog issues. The colors are bright, the images concrete and clearly defined. About the only drawback here is that Seaver is stuck using found locations for most of his work. Luckily, both the movie theater (where the director actually works) and the various exterior backdrops of Heat expertly accent the action.

The Audio:
Relying on ska as a score, and always dependable when it comes to delivering discernible dialogue, the Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mixes here are handled in a completely professional manner. Of course, we are dealing with an internal microphone recording concept here, so don't expect lots of mood or added ambient atmosphere.

The Extras:
Tempe usually tricks out LBP product, and this particular package is no exception. The Film Crew menu options (this is a single disc presentation) offers some hilarious bloopers and two - count 'em, two - different commentaries. One features Seaver along with several members of the cast. While these conversations can quickly de-evolve into an disordered anecdotal disaster, everyone talking over each other, this discussion is quite controlled. Even better is the chance to hear Seaver's co-workers - the REAL Film Crew - talk about the movie. The director mentions that many of the vignettes come directly from their shared daily grind, and these good natured participants help support his claims. Wet Heat provides more multi-party anarchy, the commentary nothing more than a collection of jokes, complaints, and personal vendettas. It's a lot of fun, if not totally taken with providing critical context. There is also a nine minute short featuring Teenape and his patented sex advice. It's short and oh so sweet. Finally, we are treated to some trailers and a few production stills. All in all, a pretty decent collection of bonus features.

Final Thoughts:
The Film Crew/Wet Heat Double Feature DVD will present its own unique set of problems to both old school Seaver fans and newbies wanting to know what all the LBP hubbub is about. The already converted might see the more mainstream adventures of a bunch of working stiffs and cry "sell out". On the other hand, those who might enjoy a more subtle Seaver experience will view Teenape's take on Snake Plissken and run shrieking in arcane abject terror. For this critic, Seaver remains a satisfying, slightly smutty pleasure, a filmmaker you can embrace for his wit and his weirdness. Easily earning a Highly Recommended rating, this disc makes the wait for Ski Wolf all the more difficult. Clearly, Chris Seaver is growing as an artist. Thanks to the digital format, we have a front row seat to his reinvention - and so far, it's one Helluva ride.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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