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"E.I. Independent Cinema" puts out movies under banners like Seduction Cinema and Shock-O-Rama. I'd seen a decent amount of these flicks before deciding, meh, I'd seen pretty much all they had to offer. One can only sit through so many movies like Erotic Survivor 2 and Mummy Raider before the stuff starts to run together. So when I cracked open the case on Brett Piper's Shock-O-Rama, I was expecting yet another plotless jiggle-fest.
But then I remembered an enjoyably cheesy B-flick called Arachnia, which Piper also directed, so I figured this new one might have some old-school genre-style goofiness. And I wasn't wrong.
The exceedingly low-budget Shock-O-Rama is an anthology-type sci-fi/horror compilation that's equal parts Stephen King, George Romero, and William Castle. Movie fans who are able to appreciate an inexpensive yet affectionate nod towards old-fashioned genre convention should find a whole lot to like here.
Plus, yeah, it's got plenty of blood, gore, and T&A.
The wrap-around story is also the best of the three: Seduction Cinema starlet Misty Mundae plays a b-movie actress (very much like herself) who storms off the set and heads out for an isolated lakeside retreat. Unfortunately there's a zombie hibernating beneath her house. Packed with tons of self-referential barbs and movie-geek in-jokes, this section works surprisingly well, thanks in no small part to Ms. Mundae's performance. We all know that the diminutive little doll makes for an, ahem, hypnotic presence onscreen, but her work here indicates a surprisingly strong comedienne. Seriously, the gal's really funny!
Story 2 deals with an alien invasion inside of a junkyard (goofy but fun), and Story 3 is an enjoyably bizarre mixture of Freddy Krueger, Dreamscape, and Girl Interrupted. (Yes, really.) The invasion tale is elevated by two amusing performances (Rob Monkiewicz & Caitlin Ross), but the "dream invasion" story seems to run on a bit longer than it really needs to. But nobody's expecting perfection from a drive-in-style genre-stew that was produced for the cost of a really nice car or two.
What matters in a movie like Shock-O-Rama is pacing, energy, color, wit, and a palpable sense of affection for the old-school genre trappings, and Piper's flick has more than enough of those to warrant a visit. (Plus I really like the score.) The flick's funny on purpose more often than it's funny by accident, and very few low-budget horror-comedies can make that claim. Despite my initial skepticism, I'm happy to say it: fans of "this sort" of movie will probably find a lot to like here; others needn't even bother.
Video: The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer is as good as can be expected for a movie like this. And I mean that as a compliment. I was surprised by how nice the transfer looked; Team Shock should be happy with the end product.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, which works just fine. I was expecting tinny dialogue followed by bombastic sound FX, but there's actually a rather even balance here. Good stuff.
There's a feature-length audio commentary with director Brett Piper, producer Michael Raso, and moderator David Fine. It's a fairly lively track, with the filmmakers expressing their affection for the flick while Fine keeps the topics moving along.
-A 16-minute interview piece in which director Brett Piper and producer Michael Raso share their perspectives on the flick, the cast, and the genre in general.
-A 9-minute behind-the-scenes piece, which is a bunch of on-set silliness and a few bloopers.
-6 minutes of Shock-O-Rama's world premiere footage in NYC, with more goofy interviews from the cast members.
-A 5-minute Q&A Session from the aforementioned premiere screening.
And then feel free to click through all 12 of the Shock-O-Rama trailers if you like.
I've knocked the IE guys one more than one flick, but I'm pleased to turn the other cheek when something like Shock-O-Rama comes along. It's a spoof, a satire, and an homage all rolled into one, and its affection for the old-style drive-in flicks is tempered with just enough of the new-style "gore & hooters" approach.
I don't care how much the thing cost to make; I had a lot of fun with this flick, period.