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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut (2008) Horror Slasher

Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut - It's a film about a fictional independent horror crew shooting a movie about a crew of fictional filmmakers shooting a movie at haunted house attraction. What a movie within a movie within a movie sounds sort of confusing but really this is just a clever idea pulled off with precision by Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt through their Happy Clouds pictures. Sprinkle in appearances by Debbie Rochon and Tom Sullivan with a competent cast and you have a slightly off kilter slasher that surprises where it can and fulfills expectations. The somewhat cynical approach the characters take when talking about what is involved in making independent horror brings a savory satire to the affair that promises a cliche but delivers something unexpected.
  In 2008 the film was featured in a Sirens of Cinema article and since Mike Watt was a contributor to the Magazine (maybe more I don't remember) and Happy Cloud Pictures were often covered I can understand the attention. These two have been making quality independent horror for a couple decades. In that article Best expressed her happiness with the set at the Hundred Acre Manor haunted attraction in Pennsylvania. A large facility with completed rooms made for a set that came ready for order. She and writer, partner Mike Watt spent a weekend looking at the location that Best described as "It went on forever and had some of the most wonderful sets." (Sirens of Cinema, vol 2 no.10 Identity Crisis: Dissecting Splatter Movie the Director's Cut by William Wright). They also worked on the script and the set dictated a lot of what they could do. It expanded and changed but remained a very character based story.
The film that came out of this experiment in meta film making is Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut and it is an surprising in its simplicity while still being complex in its structure. The story of  a film crew lead by Amy Lynn Parker (Best) as she directs a crew at the haunted attraction. There is this commentary on the what is needed to make an lower budget horror film. As Parker says in one of the in film interviews with her character. "When we first started making movies all you needed was a shower scene. Now you have to have a minimum of a shower scene and at two lesbian sex scenes, a randomly placed naked tits, we've been trying to figure out how to motivate everything and still mix it up." Since this is a movie in a movie this is the director character talking about the movie they are filming Tesseract, but also about the low budget movie realities. Sure there are lots of horror movies that do not follow this formula but for real horror junkies, myself included as you move down the food chain of more and more limited budgets there is the choice to increase the nudity as the money gets smaller.
   There is an argument to be made that this is a choice that the movie makers are limiting themselves to. Then by including the nudity and sex that the film makers are creating the environment where that is expected by the fans. Or you could say they are playing to a particular audience and could instead choose a different audience that loves horror but is the 'show me some titties' crowd.  It may also be a matter of scale because what I consider a small or micro budget may be giant to a company like Happy Cloud. Consider The Signal (2007) made for 50k and took in more than 500k, this seems like a low budget film but what could they have done if the only had 10k, would the film still be as successful? Or the the example everyone knows about Paranormal Activity (2007) that was make for 15k and has pulled in 193 million. What is the difference between these films that did not smear the screen with sex and nudity and the low budget films that feel the need to have a couple women in nightgowns making out and heavy petting? Is this an issue where the movie makers are boxing themselves in or are the returns on the films they made dictating the content? This film manages to not only have the conversation about nudity in the inner film Tesseract but also includes it in the outer film Splatter movie under the guise of playful actresses and crew. So is the point to complain within the inner movie while doubling the thing you are complaining about in the outer film? I am really not making an argument either way but it seems a conversation I would not mind hearing on a panel horror convention.
  Best for her part attempts turn expectations sideways  even if still participating in the exploitation. The rape scene as it place out in the inner film with Debbie Rochon playing herself  and a character that is a jaded stalking fan seems to be a pretty shocking and  an F-U to the viewers who are waiting for there misogynistic fill of violence against women. The film though is not preachy it really is a look behind the scenes of a micro-budget film making. While doing so it gives the viewer some tense moments where the killer is making a mess of the production. Finishing with a twist the film leaves the viewer in a place they did not expect to be. Now you may notice I watch a lot of Amy Lynn Best films. Something about her that just strikes me the right way. We really should be friends and probably wopuld be if we lived closer to each other. So check out the list of movies or search her name and see what else you can see that she had a hand in. As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment. Now since the last post I have been followed back by Southbound's @HiRadioSilence and @BettinelliOlpin showing that they are not too into self promotion to put up with my tweet's about beer and food and horror movies. Thanks guys!

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