On April Fools night, I attended the gala red carpet American premiere of Stitches, an Irish horror spoof starring Ross Noble, an English comedian who has yet to be well-known in the States, but this film may help to start opening doors in America for him.
Noble wasn’t present at the screening, but the film’s director/co-writer, Conor McMahon, and its young star, Tommy Knight, were. Also walking the carpet were such genre notables as Danielle Harris (Halloween 4), Bai Ling (The Crow) and — for you Angelenos — L.A. broadcasting legend Shadoe Stevens.
There was some circus performers and some malevolent clowns, in keeping with the film’s theme, giving the whole evening an appropriately dark circus atmosphere. Attendees, jacked up on popcorn and cotton candy, were ready to get into the gore, and they were more than rewarded with McMahon’s tribute to the halcyon days of the slasher movie.
Most of the decisions are right in this Irish Film Board-funded tribute to the genre. The characters are two-dimensional and most are obnoxious. The murders are extremely violent, hilariously drawn-out and rendered with the old-school techniques of latex and phony blood rather than CGI.
Noble plays Stitches, a drunken, cynical clown who’s on his last legs. Drunkenly dragging himself to yet another birthday party, he wearily goes through his bag of party tricks but is foiled at every turn by the obnoxious children. Their pranks get out of hand, though, when one of them ties his shoelaces together, causing him to stumble and fall into an open dishwasher and impale himself on a huge butcher knife.
He stands up, revealing to Tommy, the young birthday boy, that the blade has penetrated his eye and poked out of the back of his head. Pulling it out, he releases geyser upon geyser of blood that coats the kid’s terrified face. Traumatized? You be the judge. But the fact that the kid just stands there being splattered over and over again sent the screening audience into paroxysms.
The cops come and haul Stitches’ body away, but Tommy goes to the graveyard where his body has been interred and witnesses a sort of clown cabal in a mausoleum where they seem to be calling upon Satan to help their fallen comrade wreak his revenge.
Ten years later, Tom (Knight), now a nerdy adolescent still traumatized by the memory, is getting ready to celebrate his 16th birthday alone, dismissed by his absentee mother who must go away on business. He tries to invite a couple of his friends for the weekend, but of course they social the event, turning it into an out-of-control party. A party that all the now-grown-up kids had originally attended ten years ago!
An erstwhile invitation card is blown by the wind into the graveyard where Stitches has been buried, and of course he rises from the earth to wreak his revenge.