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Killers By Nature

Sub Rosa // Unrated // October 25, 2005
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bill Gibron | posted November 14, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Product:
First time director Eric Spudic, star of several no budget homemade horror films, decides to do a revenge dark comedy as his initial foray into motion picture making. Lucky us. A quick look at his IMDb bio states that our cinematic savant started writing scripts when he was 14 and made his first short film when he was 16. Obviously he's digressed since then.

The Plot:
Cory Buckner and Jeffrey Mordrid are a couple of slacker nerds whose nowhere life has only gotten worse since graduating high school. Cory smokes like a chimney and works a dead-end minimum wage job. Jeffrey lives with his parents and spends his free time masturbating to online porn. One day, while in a drunken stupor, the boys hit upon a brilliant plan. They will make a list of everyone who treated them poorly in high school, and then get some much needed "payback" on all of them. Initially, they intend their revenge to be non-violent. But when they accidentally kill their first victim, the guys learn a lesson about themselves. They LOVE murder. Indeed, it isn't long before they start stalking, tormenting and slaughtering each and every bully that ever crossed their dorky path. As the police search for clues and the city shudders in fear, our intrepid assassins go about their decidedly deadly work. After all, it turns out that they're Killers by Nature.

The DVD:
When a rather routine title is the most inventive thing about your independent film, you might as well sell the camcorder and take up certified public accountancy. Eric Spudic has been on the periphery of many low to no budget productions over the last few years, acting in films by Jeremy Wallace (The Undertow), Peter Keir (Psycho Santa) and Chris Watson (Zombieggedon). He's even written scripts for Brad Sykes (Bloody Tease) and Jeff Leroy (Creepies). Don't worry: nobody else has heard of them either. Somewhere beneath Troma, further down the cinematic food chain from Tempe, and several subterranean levels below the gang over at Splatter Rampage, there is an entire sub-underground of horrid homemade motion picture making, and our main man Eric seems smack dab in the derivative middle of it all. His name has been attached to so many other examples of amateurish filmic offal that he probably decided to give it a shot as well. Too bad the metaphysical bullet wasn't aimed at his own inner desire to direct. It would have saved all of us a great deal of trouble.

Killers by Nature is Natural Born Killers realized by half-hearted fans with about $1.50 for production costs and a couple of tumblers of fake blood. It's not satirical, it's stupid. It is a graceless, groaning mess of a movie that never understands what is required to make an actual motion picture. Sometimes, you see inexperienced filmmakers trying, attempting to mimic their heroes and piling on the pilfered homages in an attempt to create something recognizable, yet wholly their own. That doesn't happen here. Spudic must be a huge horror fan (he has lots of macabre movie posters on the wall and a couple of video store stand-ups gracing his home). He also appears to have a sense for the basics of moviemaking - i.e. focus, framing and editing. But that is the limits of this movie's professionalism.

As an auteur, Spudic has no style. His scenes are lifeless space savers, the backdrop to the dopey death metal madness constantly chugging along in the background. His dialogue is rife with clich├ęs and incomplete thoughts. The characters are never fleshed out beyond the obvious fact that Cory is insane and his buddy Jeffrey is a jerk, and no attempt is made to make their fellow foils into any type of real nemesis. The fat-ass pothead is just that, the supposedly menacing maniac named Benecio (he once hit Jeffrey in the back of the head with a baseball bat) is a bald dweeb who now uses eggs as his chief weapon of antagonism. When we get to the sole female on the hit list, she is a chunky little monkey who one envisions as the butt of (the BIG butt of) more pranks than she ever pulled herself. We don't care if these people live or die, nor do we develop any empathy for the killers. We just want the seemingly sedentary running time to hurry up and reach its conclusion.

All of this may have worked (and that's a quantum leap of an assumption) is Spudic had decided to juice this sucker up. Gore is not the universal salve for all bad cinema, but a nice healthy dose of dross can enliven even the most unlikable of films. Well, Spudic is stingy with the sinew. We get a couple of blood spots here, a few bullet wounds there. Nothing outrageous or excessive...or interesting. Even in the corny and confusing climax, where our stunted serial killers decide to turn on each other and duke it out, the potential for a good collection of clots is never realized. There is more running around and cigarette smoking than grue-letting in this lamentable production.

In essence, Killers by Nature offers nothing that we normally go to the movies for. The production values are minimal, the humor is hokey, the murders are uninteresting and rather 'dry' and the acting borders on the catatonic. Neither Spudic nor his costar Jason Contini does evil very well. Instead, they are borderline buffoons, bumbling into situations instead of taking charge. So without heroes or antiheroes, individuals to identify with, or blood too keep our mind off the mediocrity, this movie just dries up and blows...away. It is not worth any film fans valuable screening time.

The Video:
Believe it or not, this is a really good looking exercise in 1.33:1 full screen camcorder imagery. Oh sure, there is some minimal bleeding (not the good kind) a few moments of flaring, and a lot of in-to-outdoor whiting out. But for the most part, the colors are correct, the details are decent and the contrasts are consistent. Spudic does have a habit of using some annoying post-production tricks during Killers by Nature's running time. The screen will occasionally shift over into black and white, or worse, a negative image mode, and we end up with something out of an episode of Gilligan's Island (remember, when they found the moviemaking equipment in that crate that washed up in the lagoon???). It is not artistic, just aggravating.

The Audio:
Oh boy. As good as the picture is, the sound is similarly awful. As an actor, Master Contini obviously has the kind of vocal resonance that can stimulate the external microphone on the hand-held DAT unit. Spudic, and the rest of the cast however, must have defective diaphragms as their line readings barely register. Whenever Jeffrey speaks, we strain to hear his halting, whisper-like tones. Even our so-called bullies come across as decidedly soft-spoken. The Dolby Digital Stereo does deliver on the unoriginal heavy metal horse-apples that pass for a score here. If you like your guitar and your lead vocals shredded and distorted, just sit back and listen to the soothing sonic features of this fetid little film.

The Extras:
Thankfully, the only major bonus feature is a full length audio commentary by Spudic. The rest of the material consists of trailers, a photo gallery and a rather inventive drinking game. Indeed, when you pick this feature, a text message comes across the screen during the movie, informing you that it's time to indulge in some strong liquor (who said all the added features here were crap). As for the director, his alternate narrative track is excellent, since he acknowledges and questions many of his films obvious shortcomings. Better still, he offers guidance, suggestions and other important tips for making your own movies. He even drops NAMES and gives website info for those so inclined. He admits this movie was written over eight years ago and argues that it's a PARODY of amateur, backyard filmmaking (Hmm. Apparently, the new definition of a spoof is to copy something crappy almost perfectly. Fancy that.). Still, he is a very genial guy and seems really dedicated to the world of outsider cinema.

Final Thoughts:
It is films like this one that give independent filmmaking, first time directors and serial killers an incredibly bad name. Though there is nothing stopping Eric Spudic from making it big in movies - "B" or otherwise - this preliminary attempt at motion picture production doesn't bode well for his artistic, or financial, future. Inside the DVD case, Sub Rosa Studios announces that our Killers by Nature creator has left his Illinois home and headed off to California to become part of Fred Olen Ray's squadron of schlock. Apparently Freddie is part of the family (a distant cousin). It will take more than some manner of indirect nepotism to glean the promise out of this putrid example of celluloid sludge. Unless there is any doubt from the rather subtle tone of this review, Killers by Nature rates a concrete Skip It. There are better ways to waste your money and amusement than on this boring flop of a film.

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