SADISTIC INTENTIONS (2018)
Flick has musician Kevin (Michael Patrick Nicholson) inviting his friend Stu (Jeremy Gardner) over to his parent’s house to jam. He also invites pretty stoner Chloe (Taylor Zaudtke) under the pretense of buying drugs. When the two arrive, Kevin is nowhere to be found. While they wait, the blunt and moody Stu and the sweet and free-spirited Chloe start to bond, despite being polar opposites. Unfortunately, as per the film’s title, there is a darker intent to this evening, especially for Chloe.
Interesting and effective little flick is written and directed by Eric Pennycoff. The filmmaker creates an almost deceiving first act as metalhead Stu and hippie chick Chloe start to connect. It’s actually a cute and charming start, even though the opening minutes of the film let us know something bad is coming. Possibly a bit of a miscalculation on Pennycoff’s part, as the title and opening scenes signal that, at some point, this evening is going to go in a disturbing direction. Otherwise, we would have been taken completely off-guard when it goes from sweet, unexpected, potential romance to something darker and ill-intended. It still works, even as it’s no surprise this isn’t a chance meeting between two opposites who attract, but a calculated plan to do something nasty. Again, this is telegraphed by the opening moments and the title, so, it is not a spoiler…and the film still has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. The cast are good. Indie horror fixture Jeremy Gardner is solid as the dark-natured metalhead Stu. We like him despite his sometimes dour, cynical mood. Taylor Zaudtke is absolutely adorable and enchanting as stoner girl Chloe. She’s very crush worthy and we root for her when things turn ugly. Michael Patrick Nicholson is also effective as the disturbed and mysterious Kevin, when he finally appears.
Overall, this is an effective little flick, even if we could have been taken even more by surprise with a little less telegraphing. Eric Pennycoff is a filmmaker to keep an eye on and this flick is worth a look on Amazon Prime. Sadistic Intentions also features some nice cinematography from Malcolm A. Purnell and an effective score by Eric Romary.
Dezzy (Dora Madison) is a down on her luck artist and drug abuser who is having trouble finishing a piece that could turn her life around. She vents her frustration in a night of debauchery, involving alcohol, a new drug from her dealer and a threesome with friend Courtney (Tru Collins) and Courtney’s boyfriend Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield). Not only does this get her working on her painting again, but gives her an insatiable appetite for blood.
Joe Begos writes and directs this sometimes hallucinogenic tale of artistic block, depravity and vampirism. Begos’ first two features Almost Human and The Mind’s Eye were homage heavy flicks, though very entertaining. Here he shows he can do something outside of his influences and do it well, even on a very small budget, which seems to suit Begos. While not a traditional vampire tale, as Dezzy has no fangs and doesn’t turn into any creatures of the night, it has some gory demises once Dezzy’s thirst drives her to kill. Whatever she is, can be killed by a wooden stake, as Courtney demonstrates by finishing off one of Dezzy’s victims, and apparently sunlight can be lethal, too. Vampires or not, this is a tale of excess and Begos sometimes put’s his audience inside Dezzy’s head trips and it gives us a sense of the state of mind the troubled artist is in. It’s a trip and a disturbing one for all the right reasons. The gore is very plentiful and well orchestrated and the film itself has a raw feel to it that works very well, as it revels in the seedier side of Los Angeles nightlife. A contemporary vampire tale substituting ancient curses and cloves of garlic for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.
While there are quite a few supporting players, it’s very much a one woman show and lead Dora Madison (Exists) rises to the occasion. She dives into the role with a passionate yet very real performance. One doesn’t feel like they are watching a movie character, but a real person whose artistic nature has her living a life of excesses and extreme stimulation, and this is before she is transformed into a creature of the night. Her role requires a lot of nudity, drug use and hedonistic behavior, not to mention outbursts of rage, anger and violence when she realizes something is very wrong with her and her bloodlust takes hold. The actress performs it all very well. The supporting cast, such as Collins as Courtney and Jeremy Gardner as Dezzy’s “friend” Clive all create interesting people who seem to dwell more within the underground lifestyle of L.A. A good cast of interesting characters.
Overall, Begos is once again proving he is a filmmaker to watch. His homages to The Thing (Almost Human) and Scanners (The Mind’s Eye) were solid flicks that paid respectful tribute to their inspirations. Here Begos shows he can operate outside his influences and presents a tale of a young woman’s downward spiral into madness, depravity and murder all in the name of artistic expression. It’s trippy, gory and dirty and sleazy in all the right places. Looking forward to Begos’ upcoming VFW about a group of war veterans under siege at a VFW hall.
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) fangs, even if Dezzy doesn’t have any.
THE BATTERY (2012)
I don’t mind that Jeremy Gardner’s zombie flick is character driven but, the fact that it and it’s characters are excruciatingly boring is the problem here. Story finds two ex-baseball players, Ben and Mickey (Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim) ambling across country in the middle of a zombie apocalypse in search of a group of survivors who apparently want nothing to do with the duo. The film wanders aimlessly much like it’s two characters and ultimately doesn’t really go anywhere or accomplish anything. And that might have been fine if these two weren’t so dull to watch and listen too. What little zombie action there is, is well done but, otherwise this is a snoozer! An over-praised waste of time.
I liked Kevin’s Smith’s second attempt at horror for the simple reason that he takes an outright ludicrous story and makes a fairly disturbing flick out of it. Bizarre tale finds renown podcaster Wallace (Justin Long) traveling to Canada in pursuit of a story which doesn’t pan out. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, he stumbles upon an ad from an old man (Michael Parks) looking to share his adventures with someone so, he answers. What follows is a nightmare, as the old man holds him hostage and begins to surgically transform him into a walrus. Obviously this sounds silly but, it is actually really disturbing thanks to good direction and phenomenal performances by Parks and Long. The film only stumbles when Smith brings in an uncredited Johnny Depp as an eccentric former cop from Quebec, who is hunting Parks’ mysterious serial killer. Depp’s character belongs in one of Smith’s comedies or a Pink Panther sequel and not here. Aside from that and the last act getting a little silly, the film is successfully chilling and Smith even creeps you out with it ridiculous climax. Now if only he’d put together a serious horror script, Smith might actually become a horror director to reckon with! Also stars Haley Joel Osment as his podcast partner, Ted and Genesis Rodriguez as his long suffering girlfriend, Ally.