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.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I recently received a press kit from Stormfront Entertainment regarding their new film, Zydeco, directed by David Noble. There was also an e-mail address I could contact if I wanted a screener, which you know I did-- can never get enough screeners. My usual rule for screeners is that the review is ten paragraphs long, but I'm doing the regular 8 here because this movie is only 50 minutes, something I'll get into later on. Anyway, without further ado...
Zydeco takes place in Louisiana, where two college girls venture out from Shreveport and find themselves lost in a small town. Bad news for them, because that town doesn't care much for city folk invading their locality, and they show how much they don't care for them by dispatching Zydeco to be their welcoming committee, a big guy in a skull mask who's a little crazy and a little too willing to kill. Now that our girls are in Zydeco's murderous clutches, will they make it out alive?
This was a fun little flick. Low-budget, trying to make do with what they had, and turning out an earnest film that I enjoyed. As with any low-budget indie flick, there are things to pick at, like how the girls walk into a music store and seem to act like it's a convenience store, or how the scary hick town looked pretty nice and quaint and well-developed; but I think when you do that you miss the point. There are many well done tongue-in-cheek moments that dare you to not take yourself too seriously and dare you to have fun with the material. They poke fun at a lot of horror conventions, but do it in a way that isn't crammed down your throat; they also had a lot of self-awareness and weren't afraid to poke fun at themselves too, and that was refreshing. Overall, this was a solid effort.
I don't think I've ever done this before at the DTVC, but I'm actually complaining that a movie should've been longer. I know, me who says the shorter the better, and anything past 88 minutes is borrowed time. While that's usually the case, 50 minutes is a little too short. I read in the production notes that came on the DVD, that they had planned to do a 90-minute film, but ended up with only 40 minutes of footage when they wrapped shooting, and actually had to shoot additional footage to get to the 50 that we ended up with. I don't know how you mitigate that with a small budget. I mean, I think you could've added ten minutes to the beginning by having another victim, maybe another five if you have our two leads at home discussing their trip. Now we're up to 65 minutes. After that, you add to each of the secondary victims we get near the end, when the killer goes on a rampage through the woods. Maybe a few minutes to each one before the girl and the killer cross their paths. Now we're up around 75 minutes, which is right in Charles Band territory. 75 sounds much better than 50. I don't know though if there's the money to make that kind of thing happen though, or if you've already wrapped and it's too late to fix it.
Our lead actress was played by Courtney Shay Young, and you could tell that she probably had the most pedigree in the cast. According to imdb, this is her first lead part, and I think she acquitted herself well and I really liked her-- not that the rest of the cast was bad, I just thought she stood out. Obviously, in watching a low-budget flick, you're going to get a cast and crew that are feeling things out, and, in a lot of ways, still learning on the job. I have no problem with that, as long as the movie's fun, and this was. I'm not expecting Michael Fassbender, just people that are trying.
I really liked these opening establishing shots. It's kind of too bad that we end up on a pretty nice highway strip with a Papa John's and a KFC, or a really nice downtown area that's been well-developed, because these shots give us more of that Hixploitation I thought I was in for. It's rare to see a horror film with establishing shots like this, they usually pull out the dolly, move us through a dark swamp, and kill someone off, so it was cool to see this for a change of pace. I think though when you have an eye for framing shots like this, why not go back to them at other points in the film? Like when our heroine is first captured, throw in some of these establishing shots, extend the tension a little more, then get us to the room where she's chained up-- and maybe draw that out a little more, build even more tension, plus add onto that 50-minute running time. I think they did it some, but not enough.
Finally, this was another film that we've seen that was shot in Louisiana. Louisiana and Michigan are fast becoming the vanguards of a new US based low-budget indie/DTV market that I'm hoping will eventually get us a new, modern exploitation. Zydeco might be the first out of all the ones I've seen made recently from both states that has really given me the belief that this could actually happen. Like I said above, this isn't really a Hixploitation flick, but it is a low-budget slasher flick-- that maybe could've used more slasher to pad it out, but theme and entertainment-wise, it worked--, so hopefully this'll be the start of good things to come, and good things from Stormfront Pictures.
You can order this from the official website (http://www.stormfrontentertainment.com/Zydeco.html). My only misgiving is the length, because they're offering it for $15, and I'm not sure that's worth it for only 50 minutes of movie. I understand that it wasn't their intention for the film to be only 50 minutes, and, as I said above, it was very entertaining, but I have to think about what your value for the money is, and for $15 you're looking for something closer feature length. I know with the Buster Keaton films I've seen that are that short, they usually add a few of his shorts onto the DVD, so maybe if they did that, added some of their short films, and they were as good as this was, I'd give it the full recommendation.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2023835/