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.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Pushin' Up Daisies (2010)
Bob Wagstaff, co-writer of Pushin' Up Daisies, asked me if I would review his film. It looked like a pretty fun deal, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I got to watch it on the copy they uploaded to Vimeo, which was pleasantly free of any obtrusive "For Promotional Use Only" splashed across the screen, so thank you guys for that. Now, let's see how the film went.
Pushin' Up Daisies follows Darren and his buddy as they drive across country from LA to Darren's hometown in rural Georgia to make a documentary on Darren's brother Rusty's work as a flower delivery guy. We see the film through Darren's friend, who's making a documentary of the making of Darren's documentary. Things don't go as planned though as a zombie outbreak disrupts the proceedings, but Darren is undeterred and carries on, hoping to see his film making vision through. Will he survive long enough to make it happen though?
I really liked the idea of this film, and the long takes were really fantastic and captured a great comedic take on the documentary and overly indulgent young film makers; but with all of these found footage/the documentary is all we have to go on type films, the cinematography eventually becomes tedious. It's like with the old horror films when they used to hand out a barf bag to people going to see them in the theater, I could use one from all the nauseating herky jerky camerawork. I get that that's supposed to add a level of verisimilitude, but I'm watching a zombie flick, I can ignore the use of a tripod every once in a while for the sake of my sanity. What I really loved though was the idea that the scariest thing in the zombie apocalypse isn't the zombies, but rather the ignorant rednecks with guns using it as a license to shoot anything that staggers. There were a lot of comedic elements like that that worked really well, and maybe you won't be as put off by the constantly moving camera as I was; in either case, I think this is worth checking out.
We've seen our share of the found footage/the raw documentary footage is all we have type of film here, whether it's a low-budget submission like this, or a DTV horror flick trying to save money and come off avant-garde at the same time. I'm not saying I need Darren and Rusty to be sitting on the floor and talking to zombies as if it were an Ozu flick, it's just that the novelty wears off and I find I'm getting a headache. After the third time the cameraman runs after something and all I see is what looks like the bumper from the old Batman without the Bat-logo to focus on, I needed to take a break. Call me old fashioned, but there's something to be said for the traditional omnipotent eye, with mounted cameras and scenes cut together.
I did appreciate the success the actors had in delivering the long takes. Again, you wouldn't need long takes if the documentary film is all we have construct was taken out, but still, that shouldn't take anything away from the actors who pulled that off, or the crew who seamlessly incorporated things like car crashes into these long takes. The director asked a lot of them for the sake of his documentary feel, and they all came through in a way that you might not even notice if you weren't looking for it. It's nice to see that kind of high level in a film with limited means like this, and it's the kind of inspired work that makes me really enjoy reviewing people's screeners here at the DTVC.
Their take on the zombie apocalypse was great too. The idea that they're pretty innocuous, but it's the Georgia rednecks you need to worry about, was hilarious, and is probably the way the rest of the world would envision the zombie apocalypse going here in 'Murica. I mean, I don't live too far from rural Maine and New Hampshire, and I could see the same thing happening here, it would be an excuse for all the gun nuts to shoot anything that staggers. When I'm watching a lot of zombie flicks, or a lot of found footage, etc. flicks, I'm looking for something new that they bring to the table, and this was definitely it, and it was really funny.
There was one addition to the story that didn't work for me though, and that was the lynch mob who attacks Darren's friend (I can't remember his character name, and of course most of the cast doesn't have a picture on imdb, so I can't look him up), who's African American. I don't know what that was doing in the film, but I don't find lynch mobs all that funny. Then when we see the character next, we find out he killed the lynch mob, but due to that whole the documentary footage is all we have construct, we don't get the satisfaction of seeing it, or even know if he really did what he said he did, because he left the camera behind with Darren and ran when the lynch mob first approached. And even his explanation of how he killed the lynch mob wasn't all that funny. I don't know, it was an odd left turn to take the film on, but maybe as a dude from the Northeast I just don't get that kind of thing.
This is available to stream or download from Amazon. It's definitely a unique film that had some really great and inspired moments. You've seen the cinematic construct of the all we've got is the documentary footage before, but this does make an earnest attempt to add something new to it, and while the documentary style camera work feels like well-worn territory, the story doesn't, and that alone might make it worth a look. I thank Bob Wagstaff again for letting me have a look at his film.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0964544/