Following on from my reviews of the first two “Red Lips” movies, by and large about vampirism, we come to the third one, which really isn’t…but more on that in a minute. It’s unusual for one rather large reason and a bunch of smaller ones; and is a welcome return to the ISCFC for Donald Farmer, one of the more unique shot-on-video talents.
Casting your minds back to part 2, you may recall it used a framing device of two women – Debbie Rochon and co-writer Maria Ortiz – having a bizarre conversation in a bar. Ortiz tells of her vampire “fantasies”, while Rochon appears to be simultaneously humouring her and displaying incredibly uncomfortable body language. Every now and again, it cuts to the film-within-a-film, what you assume is the fantasy that is being related in that bar (and stars a lady known only as “Kashmere”, who is in the conversation for worst actress of all time). That assumption, though, is shown to be false by part 3, which uses the same framing structure.
Did I just say “same framing structure”? What I meant to say was…it uses exactly the same footage! Five years after Maria Ortiz died, she was still being used (and credited as co-writer) in a new movie. If you thought the conversation the two ladies had wasn’t all that relevant to the footage shown in part 2, just wait til you see how confusing it becomes in part 3, when there are four films-within-a-film and none of them have to do with vampirism! It also feels wrong, morally, so let’s put ourselves in the position of a Donald Farmer fan in 2003. You read in “the trades” about a new “Red Lips” movie and get excited…for some reason. Perhaps you watch parts 1 and 2 again in preparation, and then part 3 arrives and you’re presented with a 77 minute movie where 15-20 minutes of it is stuff you’ve seen before, but presented as if you haven’t!
What we actually have here, is an early example of the sort of portmanteau movie (or “horror anthology”) that has come back to prominence in recent years. Low-budget horror cinema has never particularly enjoyed putting all that boring plot stuff in, being more akin to the short story than the novel, so nowadays we get movies like “ABCs of Death” and “V/H/S”, featuring a mass of different directors and styles. “Eat The Living” gives you a handy clue that the two halves of this movie aren’t related at all by giving each individual mini-film its own credit sequence, which is odd to say the least.
The four are: a wronged rancher from the olden days comes back as a zombie; a sort of normal group of survivors vs. zombies, Romero style; one about a haunted videotape which feels like it was improvised on the spot; and a haunted house movie, the longest of the four. They are, it goes without saying, all shockingly bad. The last one, especially, is sub-amateurish, to the extent I’d lay good odds on half of you reading this having produced a better home video at some point in your lives. It’s almost a joke, almost – as the cheap camcorder they use drones on, drenching every sound in a layer of static / humming, you will slowly lose the will to live.
I’ve said this several times about Donald Farmer movies, but this one feels unfinished, like he ran out of money and had to release it exactly as it was, in a desperate attempt to recoup the several hundred dollars spent on it. First up is the very beginning of the movie, where they provide you with highlights of what’s to come – almost like a trailer, in other words. It’s a rare gem that’ll include its trailer as part of the actual movie, though! Then, after a trailer and opening credits, we get five seconds of a black screen. No fade in or out, no music, nothing, just “we didn’t pay an actual editor”. Then, after the movie is done, the theme music, which we’ve already heard four or five times, is played again in its entirety over a black screen – no closing credits, because who has the money to do that?
Even the very worst of Farmer’s movies, up to now, has been entertaining in some way (yes, even “Savage Vengeance”, due to how bonkers it was), but this is miserable. The short films are absolutely awful, and the re-use of the linking segment was somewhere between tacky and ghoulish. I think the worst of it is, I can’t figure out why it was made. The third part of a vampire movie series, with nothing vampire-related in its new segments; of a level so low I can’t believe that anyone looked at this finished product and felt pride, or indeed any positive emotions, at all. As information relating to this movie is very limited, this is just a guess, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the people who made the short films paid to have their stuff included in this, and the actual release of it was a scam of some kind. Not a nasty scam, necessarily, but Farmer gets sole directing credit (according to IMDB) on a movie he had basically nothing to do with, the short film people get exposure via Farmer’s existing distribution network, everyone covers their costs, maybe makes a few dollars, and the only people left disappointed are viewers who’ve spent their money and time expecting some modicum of enjoyment.
As I gradually turn this review site into some insane quest for the absolute bottom of the cinematic barrel, we’re going to come across things like this from time to time. But it makes me sad, that anyone thought this deserved release. What gives, Donald? You’re a better and crazier filmmaker than this.
Rating: thumbs down