Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015)

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The question on everyone’s minds is, of course, can the guys match the sheer brilliance of parts 1 and 2 of this storied franchise? Obviously, you’ve seen them – you’re not a fool – and you’ve been waiting for what the guys can deliver…

 

Yeah, sorry, I hoped that joke would have more legs. 5 Second Films, the hilarious group / website that’s made some brilliant, if somewhat short, movies in recent years, decided to make a full length movie based on a slightly longer “trailer” they’d made for “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3”. One successful Kickstarter campaign later, and a mysterious benefactor who doubled the Kickstarter take, and we’ve got ourselves one of the funniest, best judged, best filmed, best acted slasher film parodies in years (this and “The Slashening” are really showing how good this particular sub-genre can be).

 

The high-concept stuff of this film is that it’s the sole surviving copy of a movie deemed too violent, so all the prints were destroyed, recorded from a late-late-night cable-access TV channel on its last ever showing. This allows them to have the odd bit of VHS “noise” on the screen, which is a lovely touch for those of us who spent many an hour trying to tweak with the tracking of some old tape to get it to play properly. Plus, they play snippets of fake adverts too, in keeping with their 5-second origins – my favourite being one for a compilation album, which I grabbed a screenshot from for you:

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After surviving the murderous rampage of a sorority house “Mother” in part 1, then “Motherface” in part 2 (the killer’s daughter, wearing her mother’s face over her own) it looks like the rest of the Delta Bi fraternity have got to withstand yet another attempt from Motherface – but didn’t they kill her? Ah, who knows? The frat are the regulars at 5-Second Films, plus a couple of special guests – Greg Sestero, co-star of “The Room” and author of the fantastic “Disaster Artist”; and Andrew WK as party animal “Rip Stick”. The first person we see killed is Brock Chirino, who has his throat cut by an unseen therapist; Brock has a twin brother called Brent, and he decides to try and infiltrate the fraternity to find out what happened.

 

Without even trying too hard, this movie does a couple of very clever things. First up is reversing the genders of the traditional roles in the movie – while we’ve had female slashers before (eurgh, “Sleepaway Camp”) they’ve always been fairly equal-opportunity about the people they’ve slashed. Motherface is going after those frat guys and that’s all she’s interested in, and they even throw in a guy who’s super-worried about losing his virginity to his aggressive girlfriend, a lovely touch.

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Clever thing two is making the victims the villains. Frat pranks are normally toilet-papering the Dean’s house (so I’ve been led to believe, Americans and their traditions are a mysterious world to me sometimes), things of that nature. Delta Bi’s pranks have involved causing two planes to crash over an orphanage; destroying a dam and flooding an entire town, killing thousands; and the thing that stopped the Dean from expelling them for the other things, bringing down a South American dictator thanks to a hot-air balloon playing heavy metal music. Absolutely brilliant, and the straight way the unimaginable carnage is played is hilarious.

 

Now’s the time when I’d normally say something a bit negative, to balance things out, but I got nothin’. The largely unknown (to me) cast nails their parts, Sestero has learned to act since “The Room”, and even ancient TV host Larry King is pretty funny in his tiny cameo. You’ve got clever little montages, an amazing running subtitle gag, porn star Nina Hartley showing she could probably go “legit” and have a decent career…it’s just really well done.

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We’re in a bit of a golden age for indie horror comedy, so drop a few £ on “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3” (available wherever movies are streamed or sold) and have a guaranteed good time.

 

Rating: thumbs up

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The Crown and the Dragon (2013)

The Crown and the Dragon (2013)

“The Crown And The Dragon” is the second Kickstartered film we’ve covered on this site – the first being the truly rotten “Zombie Hunter”. The trend is for films which are already mostly / entirely finished to raise money this way, presumably to offset the piracy which has hugely affected the profit of low-budget cinema. So it might seem a bit cheeky, but we all only have ourselves to blame. Or maybe these films didn’t deserve to get made in the first place?

There’s prophecies, and dragons, and beautiful maidens, and all that good stuff. There’s a MacGuffin in the shape of Artifact X, a horn which can kill dragons; the film takes place in the kingdom of Deira, a backwater of the Vitalion Empire – filmed in Ireland, which looks fantastic and does a lot of the heavy lifting for the film itself. But I digress.

Elenn, a beautiful but snooty young noblewoman, is helping her Aunt deliver half the magic horn to a secret coronation of some bloke who’s going to save the Deiran people. The aunt dies but Elenn hires Aedin, a smuggler, to take her the rest of the way. There is absolutely no chemistry between the two of them, but unless you’re very new to fiction, you’ll be able to figure out exactly where their relationship is going.

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You’ll also be able to figure out the entirety of the plot, pretty much. So, a lot of your enjoyment of this will depend on how much you like completely predictable sword-and-sorcery films, and if you do then you’re probably going to be able to ignore a lot of the other stuff I’m going to talk about. But I can’t! If I was all “yeah, it’s alright if you’re into that sort of thing” I wouldn’t get paid the big reviewing bucks (earnings so far: £0).

It feels like the second episode of a TV series. Everyone is really bothered about stuff which we don’t know about, like succession and land and magic. I wasn’t all that surprised that it’s a sequel to a film called “Dawn of the Dragonslayer”, part of the “Paladin” cycle apparently (although they share few / no cast members). Perhaps I ought to have watched that first?

The main problem with this film is a complete lack of attention to detail. I’ll give low-budget films a lot of leeway, but when you have a character get dunked in mud, who walks around filthy for a few minutes, then in the next scene is clean again, then the scene after that dirty, then clean, you have to wonder if anyone watched this between the first edit and its release.

The scenery appears to come at random, too – so they’ll be walking through a forest then they’re on a beach then on a long moor then back to a beach. For all I know, that may have been the effect they were going for, but it’s a bit on the offputting side; plus, the music never really matches the action on screen, either, except for one or two brief comedic scenes. Elenn is to become the dragon-slaying paladin, and they make a bit of fuss of her being halfway through the spell, needing help, etc…unless they left her completing the process on the cutting room floor, I’m stumped as to what happened.

Talking of comedy, this film tries to insert a bit of levity from time to time, giving most of these scenes to Elenn, played by Amy De Bhrun. She’s the strong link of the cast, without a doubt, and has a great look for a fantasy princess, but she’s not enough to make up for everyone else. The camera also seems to really like her, and my best guess was that someone involved in the making of this was desperate to see her naked, but De Bhrun kept refusing. She’s in a few love scenes, has to take off her clothes to dry them, and at one point is part of some ritual where she has to have symbols drawn on her naked body. Apologies if I’m misrepresenting anyone here, but you watch it and tell me what your take on it is.

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Another aspect of no-one really checking on filming too much is the repeated use of open doors to drive the plot along. Elenn is getting a bath and Aedin happens to be walking past and gets a full frontal view; several plans are overheard because people insist on having secret conversations with the door wide open. Perhaps, as the old saying goes, they all were born in a barn. My review notes were a little less kind – “learn to close a door you idiots” was what I wrote.

What you expect to be the big ending of the film – the thing they were on their way to do when the film started – isn’t, as the film ends before that happens. Odd choice, I suppose, even if they try to cover for it.

This film isn’t terrible. It’s mostly shot beautifully, and the crow-monster-thing is genuinely great and quite frightening. The cast try their hardest, even if there’s a few charisma vacuums among them. It’s just let down time and again by its production. The terribly predictable story, the enormous and easily preventable continuity errors, the non-ending…these are all things that have nothing to do with the budget of the film.

Rating: thumbs down

Trailer Trash: Wish I Was Here

Zach Braff starred as JD, the likeable Doctor in popular American sitcom ‘Scrubs’. Although the show went on too long, and perhaps outstayed its welcome, Braff didn’t want to be stuck in TV land and wanted to make movies (this was just before Hollywood actors decided they didn’t want to be in movies anymore and got back into TV shows). He wrote and directed ‘Garden State’ and also starred in the film, essentially playing himself. World weary, looking for love, fogged down by Anti-D’s. ‘Garden State’ is marmite for many. Some loved the cuteness, that oft-quoted line about The Shins; others saw it as a pretentious bag of shite. Me, I kinda like Braff, he brings a sense of neurotic vulnerability to the screen, evidently influenced by Woody Allen and not too dissimilar to the likes of Michael Cera and more recently Jesse Eisenberg.

‘Garden State’ was ten years ago, and since then Braff hasn’t been on many people’s radar. That was until he announced a few years ago that he would be making a plea to his fans for financial support on Kickstarter. The millionaire actor asked for two million dollars. Worldview Entertainment added several more million to the budget. I suppose the question people must have asked themselves before donating money to the Kickstarter campaign is this – do I want to see another Zach Braff film? Evidently the man still had a lot of fans because the project quickly hit its fundraising target.

Critics wondered why Braff didn’t finance the movie himself. Braff argued that he wanted to maintain creative control. This was his vision. But is it the film his fans want to see? The sales pitch was more or less if you liked ‘Garden State’, you will like this.

‘Scrubs’ is now a forgotten footnote in sitcom TV history, we now like ‘Community’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’, Lena Dunham is probably now this generation’s equivalent to Zach Braff. The teens who mimicked their first forays into love from ‘Garden State’ moments may well have moved on. The people who tweeted and complained about the initial Kickstarter campaign have likely turned their ire onto new targets. This week it is probably aimed towards Macklemore dressing up like a Jewish stereotype.

So what does the trailer for ‘Wish I Was Here’ tell us? Braff still likes sweetly optimistic mildly euphoric indie rock. The character, no doubt partly based on himself, is now older with a family and responsibilities. Kate Hudson plays his wife and he has two wise cracking adorable kids. The trailer shows us that Braff gets a lot of bad news, financial woes, his Father seems to be dying, he has a wayward younger brother. We’re bombarded with familiar faces, Jim Parsons is in the film, so his Braff’s buddy Donald Faison. Overall the trailer seems to suggest that this film is mostly clichéd Californian nothingness, a vague story about life’s cruel lessons.

It seems odd after watching the trailer four or five times I can’t help but wondering about what the money has been used for, how many million does it cost to get Hudson and rising stars like Josh Gad to feature in your film? What the hell has all this money been spent on? At one point Zach Braff test drives an Aston Martin along a sunny coastal road. Was this little gauche detail deliberately included to get the critics to re-bite and once again attack this project, just to whip up a little hype and publicity?

I look forward to seeing how ‘Wish I Was Here’ is marketed up to its release date in July. This trailer has left me undecided as to whether or not I want to go see it.

– RJW

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