AUGUST 2, 2008
My good friends over at Scooter and Jinx forced me to “borrow” Prison of the Psychotic Damned some time ago, saying that it was awful. Hardly an enticing prospect; I see enough awful movies on my own without people forcing others onto me. However, a delayed shipping on Blockbuster’s part forced me to dip into my own collection today, and I stumbled across this one, having actually forgotten about it (they sent it like a year ago).
Well they were right, it’s awful. I got annoyed right from the start, as the director calls his film a David Kann projekt. Hey, fuck you. This is during a 4+ minute opening credit sequence which is basically just a music video for a band that sounds like Flyleaf. After that, we get, I dunno, 10 minutes of some heroin chick gyrating around her room, cutting herself, reading bad goth poetry, etc. Finally, the movie proper begins, as our group (including the heroin chick) drive to the titular Prison (which is a bus station, but whatever).
This traveling scene may be one of the most inept in cinematic history. Since nothing they are saying is interesting (typical catfight bickering, pretentious opening narration (they are making a documentary), self-promoting their previous films, etc), I found myself looking at the background out the car windows. None of them match. During a conversation, we’ll see trees/forest on one side of the car, and typical suburban homes on the other angle. Then Kann will edit in a shot out the windshield, which looks like an urban commercial district. Also, we keep getting video footage (complete with the little REC/battery signs and a title safe marker), which has a timecode that keeps going all over the place. That’s something that actually continues throughout the movie; at one point we see the thing hit the 1:00:00:00 mark 3 times in a row.
The scene ALSO contains my least favorite movie reference ever – someone saying “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” I fucking loathe this reference, and I really don’t see why it’s still used so much. Is there no other movie with a line of dialogue that signifies a change in locale that someone can use for their shitty movie to save them the trouble of writing an original line? But this one is especially annoying, because there’s a fucking character named Kansas sitting next to him! And he’s never been inside of her either. Christ.
But the biggest problem with the movie is the complete lack of flow. There’s almost no plot, so judging where you are in the “narrative” is largely impossible. You get the idea that it could end at any point and it wouldn’t really matter either way. Kann continually tosses in grainy cutaways, adding yet another format to the film (there’s 16mm, what looks like 8mm, DV, Hi 8...) and also making it feel even more disjointed. There are a couple of scene snippets here and there that are impressive on their own (like a creepy room full of dolls), but so much of the movie is just padding that these accidental moments of quality are almost not even worth mentioning. The film’s highlight comes at the hour mark (not one of the three we see on the video camera shots), when someone says “We’ve seen nothing for over an hour!”. Right with ya, buddy.
Another hilariously inept moment comes later in the film, when one of the women runs down a seemingly endless corridor. A well known trick to filming such scenes is to simply have the actor run up the same stretch over and over, using different angles and such to “extend” the length of your corridor (and thus, scene). All well and good, except this particular corridor has exposed brick on one side, so when the actress turns and runs around the other way, the brick is now on the other side of her. As a result, it actually LOOKS like what is really happening (that she is running back and forth over the same 20 feet of space) instead of what it should resemble. Maybe you should have spent a little more time on your projeKt, Kann.
Kann also provides a commentary in which he never once seems to acknowledge that his film is an inept bore. I understand that they didn’t have all the money in the world, but that is no excuse for a lot of the movie’s problems. The poor acting and lack of special effects aren’t an issue (actually, the makeup effects are pretty good, when they’re actually onscreen), but the story is just worthless, and you don’t need a big budget for that. According to the IMDb, this movie cost a little over 300,000 dollars. Gee, is there any other independent horror movie that cost that much, but turned out really great?
What say you?