Our Donald Farmer season continues! Thanks to the wonder that is “Vampire Cop”, we’re big fans of Farmer’s work here at the ISCFC. Lord knows why, though – the chap is, for one, unable to tell the difference between vampires, cannibals, witches and demons; if you’re killed before the halfway point of one of his movies, you’re dead for good, but after then and chances are you’re coming back to life to start attacking other people; and his shot-on-video (SOV) is cheap-looking, even among other SOV horror of the time. But he’s got something weirdly compelling about his movies that gets us watching and reviewing them, and hopefully get you watching them too.
You want an opening scene with nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the movie? We got it! You want a song performed in its entirety right after that, a song which is almost brain-buggering in its badness? We got that too! “Scream Dream”, the song, is performed by a band which is never identified by name at any point (although the credits call them Rikk-O-Shay, which might be their real name or their movie name, not sure) and their lead singer is a magnificent creature called Michelle Shock.
Confusion piles on top of confusion, dear reader. Those of you with large record collections, or former readers of Rolling Stone, will remember Michelle Shocked, the alternative-folkie turned oddball pop star turned born-again Christian; she was enjoying her first flush of success in the mid / late 80s, so it seems pretty unlikely that at the very least, someone working on this movie wouldn’t have heard of her. Why the almost identical name, then? Sadly, we may never know – although I am going to try and get an interview with Donald Farmer when I’ve finished reviewing his old films, as he’s got a couple of new ones in the pipeline I hope he wants to promote.
After a 30 second pause, the song is repeated! Rick, a scumbag, decides to spend his girlfriend Suzy’s car payment money on a trip to a (UNNAMED BAND) gig, and she comes along even though she quite reasonably thinks they suck. Backstage afterwards, and she still doesn’t leave him when he describes her as his sister to Michelle, only walking out finally when Michelle invites him to hang around and have some sex. Rick gets eaten, of course, but only after doing the second least convincing “I’m getting a blow job” face ever (behind only “The Room”, of course).
(UNNAMED BAND) get some really bad publicity, with the local TV news calling them devil worshippers and so on. As the lead singer is a witch (just the sort of witch who transforms into something that looks like a demon, complete with horns), this is pretty much fair enough, but their record label boss fires “the most controversial singer of all time” despite her being the only reason anyone would possibly be interested in this lot.
The thing I love about Farmer’s movies is the layers of weirdness you have to dig through in order to get to the core of what he’s doing. The male lead of the movie is one of (UNNAMED BAND)’s backup singers, called Derrick, and he goes round to Michelle’s house to console her, only to get attacked. As he’s the only person in the movie who even thinks of defending themselves, he kills her and runs off…and the villain of the movie is dead before the halfway point and stays that way. What? But luckily, we get the replacement lead singer going over to her house to take some of her outfits, finding the body, and then deciding to eat her? Honestly, that bit confused the hell out of me. So after having a little nibble on her predecessor’s corpse, she gets possessed by the spirit of the witch, or something, and pretty much takes over where Michelle left off.
That replacement is Melissa Moore, star of many a terrible B-movie (including “Samurai Cop” and “Vampire Cop”), and she’s mostly in this so she can do about half her scenes in the nude. Her character’s name is Jamie Summers, one letter different from the Bionic Woman (Jamie Sommers), so perhaps the Michelle Shock thing was a joke too? Nude is, I suppose, better than being a complete doormat, which is the fate of most of the women in the movie. There’s the other backup singer, described as the drummer’s girlfriend, who leaps into bed with Derrick at the first opportunity, even after he’s horribly insulted her; the TV reporter, who’s offhandedly told by some guy working on her show to “get me a coke”, which she immediately complies with; poor Suzy at the beginning; and a few others with even less screentime and / or self-esteem. Perhaps Farmer was going through a bad relationship at the time?
There’s a worm-monster thing in Michelle’s house, but I’m really not sure what it’s doing there. As the movie is 69 minutes long, I’d have been happy with another minute telling us about the worm, but it’s just there, hanging out, leaning round corners as if it’s the most obvious glove puppet in movie history (which it is).
I’m not 100% sure I can tell you what “Scream Dream” is about, to be honest. The IMDB description says she possesses Jamie to get her revenge on the band, and I’m not sure that’s the case, although she does kill a few people who wronged her while she was alive, though, so I’ll give her that. Oh, and she (as Jamie) has a very un-erotic love scene with Derrick, in the house where her corpse is still lying downstairs. We get to hear the classic song “Angel Fire” from Farmer’s previous movie “Demon Queen” too, so there’s that. Continuity fans will enjoy the scene with the female backing singer accompanying the band, hours after her death, too.
I’ve really barely scratched the surface. Farmer appears to be devolving as a filmmaker – the sound is worse, the lighting is worse, the music is worse, the acting couldn’t get worse but stays at the same level…next up on our chronological Farmer odyssey is “Invasion of the Scream Queens”, a documentary about female horror actresses, and that is, apparently, quite good. What?
If you can find the DVD of this, and it’s really really cheap, pick it up and have a laugh.
Rating: negative thumbs up