The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Hip Hop Locos (2001)
Through the magic of Twitter, I have been introduced to a lot of B-movie podcasts, and one of the ones I've been listening to is run by Moe Porne at Drunk on VHS (link is to the iTunes page of his pod-- our friend Ty at Comeuppance Reviews often makes an appearance too). He also writes for a site called Daily Grindhouse, and in a podcast with a fellow Daily Grindhouse writer, Doug Tilley, they described a horribly bad movie called Hip Hop Locos. You know me, I'm a sucker for pain, so I went to Netflix to see on the off-chance that they might have it, and low and behold, it's a part of a two-disc six-movie DVD set that yours truly just so happens to own. It got me thinking though, if this is so bad, maybe it's so bad it's scary... that's right, part 2 of my Halloween outside the box. Part 1, which was the Britney Spears flick Crossroads, wasn't so scary, so let's see how part 2 went. (As an aside, Doug did a write-up on Hip Hop Locos for Movie Feast about 2 years ago.)
Hip Hop Locos is about two Mexican American young men who want to make it rich, and they think the Hip Hop Game is the best avenue through which to do that. Problem: talent? Maybe, but not in their eyes. To them, it's money, and they hatch a scheme to get it: kill drug dealers, take their drugs, and sell the drugs-- or rather, try to sell the drugs to a guy with sound equipment, and kill him too and take his stuff. All of this is told to us with their found hidden camera video footage or something.
Or rather, the "hidden video footage" is a euphemism for "bad shooting and editing techniques lazily explained away by some cheap excuse for a Blair Witch Project style of movie." I don't know where to start. I guess with the plot. There isn't much, but what there is is told and retold to us by the main characters' conversations with one another in the most "Holmes" and "esse" laden dialogue you've ever heard. It's that painful. Then there's the camera techniques. Sometimes we can't see what's going on, between the bad lighting and constant movements. Scenes go on way longer than they have any right to, with characters repeating themselves incessantly. Finally, we have no clue who these guys are, or who any of the people they come into contact with are. It's just "let's go see this guy Holmes and get that shit" "yeah man, we need to come up in this rap game esse."-- only with a "motherfucking" thrown in every two words or so too. Not only was I frightened by this movie, but it will probably give me nightmares tonight. I'll be hearing the words "esse" and "Holmes" in my sleep!
Perhaps scariest of all? The complexions of the film's two main characters. Seriously, have you guys ever heard of stage make-up? It's kind of a big deal, especially when you're doing scenes that are white-lit and close-up. We don't need to see every pore and pockmark magnified twenty times, it's pretty disgusting. The thing is, all of us have that problem, that's why all of us get make-up artists-- or at the very least, a woman who can help you out if you can't afford a pro-- when we're doing any kind of stage work. Here, let me put it in terms you understand: "yo Holmes, why you ain't be gettin' some foundation an' shit, huh Holmes? You need that foundation an' shit if you want ta' come up in this rap game esse, fa real B, dat shit ain't no joke, ain't no one wantin' ta see yo' pores and shit Holmes."
See that shot right there? That's a good 7-10 minute scene in the movie, and it looks like that. It's that lit, and that well centered. Come on, seriously? There's no way you're serious with that, Holmes. Oh wait, I forgot, it's supposed to be their own personal hidden camera, documenting their crime spree. Ah, I get it. That's why when, later in the film, our heroes are beating a guy to death, we see our heroes from the guy who's being beaten's viewpoint. I get it, what they must've done was said "hey Holmes, you mind holdin' the camera while we beat yo' ass?" "Yeah esse, I'll do that shit fo' you, only I got this motha'fuckin' bag on my head, I can't see shit Holmes." "It's okay esse, most o' tha' motha'fuckin' movie look like it was shot by a dude with a bag over his head Holmes!"
I did like this one cool shot here. That was it, one cool shot, where they did some camera effect with the negative or something, probably a setting on the director's video camera, but the shot itself was blocked well too-- I mean, the whole movie was gimmicky crap, and it seldom looked good like it did here. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the most painful scene was the 7-minute long choking to death of a drug dealer. I'm serious, it takes about 7 minutes to choke this guy to death, and it's chock full of commentary from the Hip Hop Loco that's not doing the choking: "Choke him Holmes! Choke him esse! Choke him Holmes!" I can only imagine how freaky a scene like that would be high. I'd probably start tripping, thinking I was stuck in some Groundhog's Day time anomaly.
The natural rebuttal from the people involved with making this film would be: "what do you know, you white dude from a small town in Maine that's a cross between a Boston suburb and a hick backwater. What do you know about what we do in LA?" Fair enough, but you can't tell me this movie has anything to do with anything that anyone is going through anywhere. There's some mention of ethnic solidarity regarding the lack of Mexicans in the rap game, which I understand, but these guys aren't any good. I could do what they do. Second, we never get any idea of what these guys' daily lives are like, no back story where we see them struggling to make ends meet, can't get a job, can't get a solid education, trying to succeed in a system that's stacked against them, and so they see rapping-- even though they aren't any good at it-- as the only means to get by, and the crime spree as the only way to get there. As far as we know these are just a couple two-bit thugs who get what's coming to them. Finally, to that point, who are we rooting for? It's not these punks. They're a bunch of dirty shitheads, killing people and robbing them because they aren't smart enough make their own money. No, the problem here is, I get Hip Hop Locos all too well, and it's horrendous.
I mentioned to Moe Porne (not his real name if you were wondering) on Twitter that I owned this and planned to watch it, and he warned me again, on top of he one the and Doug Tilley gave in their podcast; and they were right. I found this in the DVD collection entitled Serial Psychos, and while I haven't seen any of the others yet, I can tell you this one is an utter painfest and reason enough to stay off that whole set. I'm going to go have myself a good cry and try to get this one out of my system.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816243/
Please note, I know the word "homes" is not spelled "Holmes", I just wanted to have some fun with the post.