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Scarlet Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest

Other // Unrated // October 18, 2011
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bill Gibron | posted November 26, 2011 | E-mail the Author
The Product: Ever since Vampira advertised her "assets" to awake adolescent males across the '50s TV landscape, the horror host has been part of the scary movie dynamic. Originally pimping the Universal Shock! package, these presenters mimicked your favorite monsters while adding a bit of burlesque to the macabre mix. By the '60s, icons such as Zacherley and Ghoulardi were delivering the shivers to eager viewers everywhere. Perhaps the last great example of the 'boob' tube type was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, though a post-millennial move by such retro revivalist as Wolfman Mac and (the new) Svengoolie are eager to bring it all back. And sitting somewhere in the fringes of both horror hosting and film making is Scarlet Fry. Born Walter ("Atta boy!") Ruether, this weird wannabe has been donning different get-ups and producing his own collection of homemade scare shorts since the early '90s. Now, indie DVD distributor Chemical Burn is resurrecting some of Fry's cult classic (?) works for the iPod generation. While defiantly DIY, they are also amateurish, boring, and for the most part, as horrifying as a high schooler's take on cinema. It's all adolescent clumsiness and misogynist mediocrity.

The Plot:
This is not a movie. Repeat, this is not a movie. Instead, it's two collections of cinematic shorts followed by yet another attempt at a cable access level horror host TV show with an umpteen version of the public domain delight Carnival of Souls attached to it. For the most part, everything runs between five to seven minutes. The first anthology runs a bit longer since it also offers Fry in a weird Texas Chainsaw meets Dr. Satan inspired get-up. For those who are interested, here are the various mini-movies offered, as well as a brief plot synopsis on each, beginning with:

Junk Food Horrorfest
The Blood-Thirsty Butcher - a hungry obese man lures his new neighbor into his apartment for a "bite" to eat.
The Solution - a harried nurse finds a unique way of ending her employment.
Griptape Spank - a group of skaters score dope in a decidedly perverted manner.
Wasted Life - a man commits suicide.
The Devil Made Me Do It - a Satanist gets his comeuppance at the hands of his hateful spouse.
Love is Blind - an obsessed young woman teaches her baffled baby daddy a lesson.

In the Sack - a blind date turns deadly.
Manwich - a cannibalistic lumberjack demands more lunch.
Salt with that, Dear? - a henpecked husband gets his revenge.
Kiss Kiss Me New Wave Zombie - a distraught visitor to a cemetery runs into the living dead.
A Day in the Park - a couple squabble, until one pulls a gun.
RIP: Rest in Peace - a mousy man is tormented by his big, brutish wife.

The DVD:
Something is seriously wrong with Walter Ruether. Now, this is not meant to be a personal attack, but the filmmaker's freakshow mentality is definitely on display in every moment of this mindless homemade hackwork. From the blatant disrespect for women to the hints of homophobia, this is a moviemaker with an awkward agenda. As Scarlet Fry, he may be trying to become the next Dr. Paul Bearer, but for the most part, his cinematic output stinks. Sure, sure - he gets brownie points for trying. All self-made auteurs do. But in a world filled with Chris Seavers and The Campbell Brothers, he's barely a Chris LaMartina. His shorts films are bad - defiantly so. The follow a formulaic premise (dilemma in the first few seconds, gory payoff at the end) and offer a wealth of pale performances along the way. Nothing here is fun, frightening...or even fresh. Instead, it's a highlight reel from someone's own obsession with back issues of Fangoria...and all they've managed to absorb is the crap.

Junk Food Horrorfest is a perfect example of what's wrong here. Each short starts out specious and gets worse from there. Blood-Thirsty Butcher couldn't be more obvious, while the non set-up structure of The Solution leaves the title event empty. Griptape Spank comes to closest to something substantial, but then Ruether/Fry throw in a happy-go-lucky hate crime into the mix to give the whole narrative a fried fratboy feel. Self-destruction seems like a peachy idea after the experience of wandering through an unnamed individual's Wasted Life, and The Devil Made Me Do It is like parts of a plot absent their necessary linking material. Finally, Love is Blind tries to step things up a bit, but its faux Fatal Attraction ending (including gratuitous use of sewing) is just odd. Sadly, the stuff in Horrorama comes from a few years before, meaning Ruether/Fry is even less skilled at delivering anything remotely resembling fear. In the Sack is stupid, Manwich is nothing more than a first run through for Butcher, Salt with that, Dear? is RIP: Rest in Peace in reverse and A Day in the Park is painful. Only Kiss Kiss Me New Wave Zombie offers anything unusual, yet it ends up feeling like a music video minus the tune.

Overall, Fry/Ruether is like Tyler Perry in his character development. All the women presented are whores and bitches, belittling their men in ways that demand splatter-filled payback. The men don't get off easy, though. They are all spineless wimps, bloated, beefsteak blimps, or cool breeze bros (complete with backward ball caps and snappy hip hop jargon). The closest we get to depth is that one 'dude' decides that his gal pal's nagging demands a violent crime spree. Everything else gives cliches and stereotypes a bad, bad name. Had he shown a little invention - visually, narratively...heck, in just about any adverbial way - perhaps this DVD wouldn't be such a chore to endure. Unfortunately, the only thing creative about Scarlet Fry is the man's decision to name himself after a woman (ala Alice Cooper, one imagines). As a horror host, there are a few minor flashes of freshness, but for the most part, this collection's title says it all. This is indeed an empty calorie collection of camcorder junk.

The Video:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If Chemical Burn does send a final product version of Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Audio:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If Chemical Burn does send a final product version of Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Extras:
There were no extras on this screener.

Final Thoughts:
Two decades ago, when technology turned the worm in favor of homemade horror filmmakers, something like Scarlet Fry's Junk Food Horrorfest would be seen as special. It would be praised for trying to be both nostalgic and nasty, utilizing a balls to the wall approach in both its storylines and its splatter. What a difference the digital revolution makes. Now Oren Peli can earn millions by making audiences jump over things that literally go "bump" in the night, turning a few grand and a camera into a long term studio career. Sadly, no one will be returning Mr. Fry's calls. Earning an obvious Skip It, this is for fans of amateur moviemaking only. Back in the day, horror hosts knew better than to try their hand behind the lens. Unfortunately, Scarlet Fry thinks he can do both. He can barely manage one.

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

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