In this age of digital filmmaking, practically anyone — from your average teenage YouTube singer to the creepy middle-aged men that tell them they’re talented — can make a movie. Cheaply, I might add. For some reason, these newcomers almost always choose to make horror movies — churning out homemade terrors for entire generations to quiver and quake over due to their low-budget, er, “charms.” They’re everywhere, too: a quick trip to your local video store (where applicable) will present you with several direct-to-video thrillers you’ve never heard of that were made fairly inexpensively. Now, the great thing about ‘em is the fact they were produced so cheaply: something that almost guarantees a profit to the distributors. The downside, of course, is that these movies occasionally live up to the old saying “You get what you pay for.” And, with that said, I give you “Slash-and-Earn: Six Really Cheapo Horror Movies.”
· My Stepdad’s a Freakin’ Vampire (2009) (MVD Visual)
Honest, that’s the actual name of the film. Yes, in the fine, honored tradition of stupid, barely-tolerable movies like My Mom’s a Werewolf comes a film that is nowhere near as enjoyable as My Mom’s a Werewolf — which is really saying something. Indeed, the fact that the DVD’s box art doesn’t even bother giving you a description of this Z-Grade horror comedy — hoping that the title alone will sell you — is proof of how stupendous it is. Did I say “stupendous?” Sorry, I meant “stupid.” The story here has some unlikable, loser of a lad discovering his mum’s hubby is some sort of vampire king or something. Look, it’s just plain awful, kids. Avoid it.
· Planet of the Vampire Women (2011) (MVD Visual)
Produced by fine schlock-loving folks at the Trash Film Orgy — an annual event in Sacramento, CA. wherein several classic (and not-so-classic) features are displayed every summer (and which I habitually attend at least one screening of) — Planet of the Vampire Women is a film that relishes in its budgetary limitations. The plot of this feature — the third produced by TFO Productions, and their most expensive to date, believe it or not — finds a group of sexy space-faring gals encountering a whole world of hazard after they pull off a robbery of (literally) galactic proportions. Expect deliberately cheapo monsters, cheesy CGI effects, intentionally bad writing, and boobs to boot.
· Clown Hunt (2010) (MVD Visual)
Sure, most grown folks are scared of ‘em — as are a lot of undersized ones — and the thought of seeing one often causes a primordial, barbaric rage to stir within. Some folks have even taken those feelings to heart: hunting large droves of clowns (wait, what would the collective noun be on clowns — a herd, a chuckles, a shakes?) every year during clown season in Texas (naturally). And thus, we have Clown Hunt — the no-budget tale of a dark comedy that finds a group of hunters out to bag their limit, only to discover that the legendary Albino Willie clown is loose in the area and determined to bag kills of his own. Alas, this one doesn’t deliver like a film with this kind of premise should.
· Lust for Vengeance (2001) (Full Circle Filmworks)
Oy, vey. It seems that whenever an unknown independent filmmaker tries to make their own version of an Italian giallo, the results are less-than-appealing. In the case of Lust for Vengeance, the results are less-than-tolerable: a no-budget mess that only insults even the very worst of the gialli by comparing itself to the hip murder mystery genre. Strewn together with no apparent rhyme or reason, even the softcore sex and nudity will have you pleading with Fate to miraculously withdraw this movie from existence. Worse still, the already-awful transfer of the film takes a 1.33:1 full frame image and squeezes in into a 1.85:1 widescreen ratio. Talk about quality!
· House of the Damned (1996) (Full Circle Filmworks)
No, it’s not the 1963 film of the same name. Nor is it the 1996 Roger Corman production of the same name. Instead, it’s the other House of the Damned from 1996: the very first cheapo horror film from Sean Weathers — the same feller who brought us the aforementioned atrocity Lust for Vengeance. Aren’t you excited? Unlike his previously referenced magnum dopus, this shot-on-video black-and-white urban nightmare has an actual storyline — not to mention a better video transfer. The film is also marginally better than Lust for Vengeance, though I can’t say that makes it worth viewing — unless you enjoy this sort of thing, of course.
· ThanksKilling (2009) (MVD Visual)
Any movie that proudly boasts “Warning: Boobs in the First Second,” claims to be “The Best Worst Movie Ever,” and carries a quote saying “‘Plucking Fantastic!’ -Me” on a cover that looks like it was designed by a drunk graphics design dropout just has to be overcompensating. And in this case, it is. This intentionally-hokey horror comedy — which was obviously not influenced by a certain joke trailer Eli Roth made for Grindhouse — follows the exploits of a talking killer turkey. Made for a whopping $3,500, this attempt at creating a cult classic fails where movies that never set out to be campy in the first place succeeded. Sadly, a sequel is in the works.
Happy viewing, kids!