JULY 26, 2009
Last night I attended a roast for Lloyd Kaufman at Comic Con, and it was probably the most fun I had the entire time I was there. People lovingly mocking their peers for 2 hrs is far more interesting than interviewing bored starlets about their slasher remakes or waiting in line to see a panel. Also, it got me in the mood for some Troma, but unfortunately all I had at my disposal by the time I got home from San Diego was Redneck Zombies, which is probably the most prolific Troma release that they had nothing to do with.
As I have said before, I like the actual Troma productions (i.e. the ones Lloyd directs or at least produces himself), but the indies that they merely distribute tend to grate. They have the gross out gags, the potty humor, and the terrible acting, but they are often missing the charm that a Poultrygeist or Terror Firmer has. And while Redneck is certainly better than Slaughter Party or whatever, it’s still a bit of a chore to get through at times.
And by “at times” I mean most of the first hour. I can forgive the lack of action due to the budgetary restraints and all, but good Christ is it boring whenever the zombies aren’t on screen. The redneck “humor” grows stale after about 15 minutes (never been a big fan of this type of humor anyway), and the attempts at more traditional humor pretty much all fall flat. Even the zombie scenes themselves drag; there’s an endless sequence of rednecks drinking the infected liquid that turns them into zombies, packed with every cheesy video filter director Pericles Lewnes had at his disposal. At one point I got up to pee, came back, and the sequence was still on (and far from over). There’s also some nonsense with a “Tobacco Man”, who looks like Bubba from Dark Night of the Scarecrow and speaks in gibberish. What these scenes have to do with anything, I have no idea.
Once the zombies begin attacking in full force it picks up considerably. The effects are actually pretty decent, and the nuttiness of it all is endearing. I particularly liked the bit where a zombie that looks like Herk Harvey is attacking a girl. She reaches for a weapon, but all she can reach is a mousetrap, which snaps on her hand, at which point she uses it to club him. Heh. I also liked the honesty in the opening credits; it lists a Director of “Videography” instead of Photography.
And, you know, kudos to everyone. Yeah it didn’t turn out so great, but the spirit and enthusiasm to make a film (the first film to be shot on video that got a national distribution) is evident in every frame, and in that respect the film is a resounding success. It’s clear Lewnes just got a bunch of friends together and made a movie, and speaking as someone who has tried and largely failed at doing that (I need more job and girlfriend-less friends), the fact that they even assembled a 90 minute movie at all is enough to mostly forgive its leaden pace and uneven structure. With a better editor, this could be more than something I only appreciate and instead actually enjoy, a la The Dead Next Door.
The DVD comes packed with extras, which isn’t much of a surprise. There are about 45 minutes’ worth of interviews with pretty much everyone involved in the film; some of them are only a minute or two, and they are all annoyingly over-edited (it’s OK to let the actor pause for a moment!), but there are a lot of great anecdotes to enjoy. There’s about 15 minutes of deleted/extended scenes, nothing you’ll miss. An eight minute trailer reel is interesting, mainly because there’s one with Don LaFontaine doing the narration, lending the film a bit of authenticity that I wasn’t aware it had. Some outtakes are mildly amusing, and then there’s the usual batch of Troma promotional material. Finally, there’s a commentary, but as I am so far behind on reviews I had to skip it for now. Maybe someday.
Lewnes never directed another horror movie; instead he’s worked in small roles (DP, 2nd unit, special effects) on a few true Troma productions and made a few documentaries. Considering what he pulled off with nothing, I would be very interested to see what he could do with a real crew and some money (the budget was less than that of Blair Witch Project!). I know the film has its fans, such as HMAD reader Miss Kolleen, but in my case I admire it more for its effort than its execution, and would probably never want to watch it again. The abundance of shot-on-video horror films over the past 10-15 years has sort of diminished Redneck’s novelty value, but it’s still enjoyable enough at times to warrant a look, especially if you’re a budding filmmaker yourself.
What say you?