A good horror comedy is becoming hard to find. The best over the past few years have definitely been Scream, Shaun of the Dead, Piranha 3D, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and The Cabin in the Woods. They are about as good as they get right now. It sure seems as if horror has lost its nerve in the comedy department. Yes, most horror movies are basically comedies anyway — just look at any of the Final Destination films. But there does seem to be a few sparks left; even if they’re mostly coming from overseas. Shrooms and Grabbers are a nice warm up to what director/co-writer Conor McMahon delivers in Stitches with an onslaught of gore of zingers that would make Freddy Krueger proud.
Our titular character (played by comedian Ross Noble) is your average boozing, smoking, expletive-slinging clown no one would ever really invite to their child’s birthday party. Poor little Tom (Ryan Burke) has your typical group of obnoxious schoolmates who like to ruin Stitches tricks and decide to play Stitches fate after they tie his shoelaces together. Stitches winds up on the wrong side of a kitchen knife and buried at the local cemetery where a group of fellow clowns submit his egg to a moratorium. Six years later, Tom’s (Tommy Knight) friends are still as obnoxious as ever, but his mom is going out of town and he hasn’t had a real birthday party in years. Probably due to his reliance on anxiety medication — and that all of his friends are a bunch of assholes. Nevertheless, Tom decides to have a party anyway, and the last person he’d expect to show up from beyond the grave is Stitches himself to help Tom throw a party he’ll never forget.
If you’re looking for a film that brings back the fun of practical effects, look no further. McMahon has crafted some of the most outrageous death scenes filmed in years. While people may have grown accustomed to the demented torture porn ways of the Saw films, here’s a movie that has its cake and eats it too. Noble truly relishes his killer role, gleefully spewing pun after pun no matter how corny they get. McMahon is having the time of his life directing the blood spattered shenanigans, never skimping on the red stuff, coming up with some ingenious dispatch methods, along with the help of co-writer David O’Brien. The duo is never afraid to take a kill to the next level.
Stitches slices its way to Blu-ray framed at 1.78:1 with a 5.1 DTS-Master Audio. I’d read another review that complained about the picture quality looking rather drab, but after watching it myself, it sounds like someone needs to have their picture calibrated. McMahon clearly filmed Stitches with HD cameras with no grain field to speak of but bringing incredible clarity to every scene. Whether it be hair, gore, or clothing, there’s no aliasing to be found — one character’s shirt could have been a breeding ground for shimmer but never did. Even noise never becomes a factor (blacks are nice and inky). While banding is a blink and you’ll miss it affair. The sound makes decent use of LFE here and there with the surrounds adding some life to the birthday party scenes. Only on occasion do they seem to be using natural sound where the dialogue sounds quieter than it should.
The special features offer more than you’d expect, with a 20 minute “Making of” and a commentary featuring Noble and McMahon being the highlights. The only other features are a trailer for the film and a “Bloopers” reel that is nowhere near as funny as the film itself. However, consider yourself warned, do not watch any of the special features before the film itself or you’ll have just about every single kill spoiled before seeing any of them in their finished stage. There’s also a collection of trailers for films already available including Sleep Tight and Hypothermia.
Some may not find this kind of film funny, but if you’re not that person then why are you watching it in the first place? A buddy joined me and we laughed throughout with our mouths agape as each kill set out to one-up the last. Of course not every joke works, but the cast seems to be having a blast getting drenched with fake blood and McMahon certainly seems intent on making sure the film lives up to Stitches signature line, “Everybody happy?” So if the gore’s your thing, then I assure you, everybody is definitely happy.
Cover art and photo courtesy MPI Media Group