AUGUST 29, 2011
While I try to avoid seeing an HMAD entry in any sort of “party” setting, every now and then I like to bring my good friend Matt (aka Masked Slasher from Dread Central) along for the ride, utilizing Xbox/Netflix’s fun “party view” to watch the movie together even though we live on opposite sides of the country. And 100 Tears made the perfect movie to watch this way, as it contained enough kills to keep us entertained and a non complicated plot that allowed for occasional chatter without getting lost. Not a good movie by a conventional measure, but a great one in the “this is delicious trash” sense, offering up the sort of batshit, go for broke fun I usually have to watch Italian movies from the early 80s to find (yesterday’s Italian zombie movie being such a dull bore may have been a factor).
The great thing about the movie is that it wastes no time in killing off a whole bunch of people, with our killer clown offing the entire population of a halfway house in the first ten minutes. And this isn’t some off-screen massacre – we see every one of the kills in their splatter-y glory, with numerous beheadings and eviscerations to applaud. It’s a perfect way to start off this sort of movie, but what makes it admirable is that it hasn’t blown its wad – there are still about twice as many on-screen kills to go!
And for a while it feels like they might not have really thought things through, as we get a few out of nowhere kills with no setup whatsoever, plus a brief detour into torture land, but luckily it gets back on track once we get the back-story of Gurdy and meet his (spoiler) daughter, a troubled girl who is all too eager to help her father with his murderous exploits. It’s actually sort of ridiculous how quickly she turns into an ace slasher, but it’s also part of the fun and thus forgivable. The regained focus also means fewer anonymous victims, but the pace keeps up – basically, pretty much everyone dies regardless of whether or not they should be “safe” given their character type.
Plus the FX (by director Marcus Koch) are pretty good and seemingly all practical, something that’s sadly rare in any horror film let alone an independent one. Maybe nothing as impressive as the Hatchets or Laid To Rest in terms of creativity (everyone is dismembered or disemboweled via Gurdy’s comically oversized meat cleaver), but again, there’s not a lot of chicken shit off-screen stuff. Every five minutes or so we’re seeing another arm get chopped off or another pile of guts spilling onto the floor (plus what has to be a record for most blood sprayed onto walls and such), giving the film an almost Troma or HGL feel at times but always keeping firmly with slasher tradition.
Not that the film is without (intentional) humor, as our heroes, Mark and Jen, are a pair of laid-back tabloid journalists with foul mouths. Neither of them are particularly great actors (lot of fumbled lines), and it certainly didn’t surprise me to discover that the guy playing Mark was also the screenwriter since he got all the best lines, but they’re certainly unconventional as heroes which gives the movie some added charm. At one point Jennifer maps out a plan to investigate the circus, and then concludes her scene with “In the meantime, I’m going to go take a dump.” You don’t hear Sidney Prescott offering up that sort of bon mot. I was also delighted by the fact that Mark was seemingly more competent than the police officers who were (sort of) investigating the murders. In a movie like this it’s hard to tell if off kilter acting and even story-telling decisions are intentional or the result of amateur actors and/or under-funded productions, but either way it adds to the movie’s gonzo charms.
It also has some Youtube worthy highlights that kept Matt and I roaring throughout. At one point a security guard finds a body and he just goes “aw, fuck”, as if he just discovered that his favorite team broke their win streak the night before or something. Plus, the opening massacre delivers one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a slasher: the clown approaches a guy who has his own weapon, and as they swing at each other the weapons connect and fall to the floor. But rather than pick them up, they just start whaling on each other, tossing punches like they were in a ring. It’s great because it comes out of nowhere, it’s not something like Hatchet II where they make a big moment out of Crowley taking on Trent in hand to hand combat as part of the finale. Again, at this point I wasn’t expecting more than 1-2 kills anyway, so to have this sort of treat so early on was just pure bliss. And Mark also demonstrates a lot of what I dubbed “Fat Man’s Parkour”, as he sort of clumsily jumped around and bounced off wooden palettes and such during the climax. Also, while I don’t get the fascination with little people being used as the butt of jokes, even I had to chuckle at the scene where Mark unsuccessfully chases a dwarf around for what seems like five full minutes, somehow unable to catch up to him.
The only thing that annoyed me (besides the poor sound mix, not sure if that was Netflix or the movie) was the editing. As I mentioned, some of the kills came out of nowhere, but even the story scenes lacked any sort of connective tissue. For example, at one point the two reporters make a big deal about coming home from the carnival area (which seems to be far off) and going to bed, and then in the next scene they’re back at the carnival again. It was also frequently impossible to get any sense of geography between the characters, particularly in the climax where they were seemingly all being chased separately by Gurdy at the same time. At this point of the film it’s more about the chasing instead of killing, so the fact that the chase was sort of hard to follow in a logical sense was a bit of a bummer. Luckily, the film’s final moments get things back on track, leaving me cheering (a Voltaire track over the credits didn’t hurt).
Speaking of the credits – you guys should call me next time (a sequel is promised at the end in possibly the best manner I’ve seen since Raw Force 2 was threatened at the end of the original), as I caught a lot of typos and weird formatting issues. If the sequel is even half as enjoyably nutty as this one, I’ll gladly do them for free.
What say you?