The latest horror-geek gorefest spoof from playwright Qui Nguyen, director Robert Ross Parker, and the Vampire Cowboys company is more tightly plotted than their spectacular but somewhat scattershot Soul Samurai was, and has shorter fight scenes. These are both good things. Otherwise, it's the same sort of hilarious romp through the Fangoria/slasher/Buffy wing of pop culture, bursting at the seams with nervy whimsy and nutty abandon.
This time out, a creature who looks and moves like the nightmare from The Ring appears in an archetypical American town, presaging havoc. Aside from the interloper's name, which is Alice, and her arrival from another world, nothing about this tale resembles Alice in Wonderland; in case we're looking for parallels, our high school heroes helpfully inform us not to bother. But does this monstrous yet curiously sympathetic and kinda sexy Alice (Amy Kim Waschke) actually have a heart of gold, or just melted lead? A touch of Buffy-back-from-the-grave confusion moderates her menace; so does her clingy attachment to the nonplussed Lewis.
As hellish minions murder their way through the townsfolk, Alice and a sassy teddy-bear demon (a puppet brilliantly operated and voiced by Sheldon Best) help shy, intellectual Lewis (Carlo Alban) and his unrequited love, cheerleader Margaret (Bonnie Sherman) stay one step ahead of the marauding beasties. But the absurd plot isn't at all the point. The clever videos and the spot-on use of pop music (from Bonnie Tyler to Lordi) are key, but what makes this production a knockout is a one-two-three punch: the skilled and scarily energetic cast; the stylized, silly gore; and Nguyen's hilarious and pointed dialogue.
Edgar: You're mom's hot…I think she wants me.
Margaret: You're a stuffed animal.
Edgar: Yo, that's racist.
Margaret: That's not racist.
Edgar: You're suggesting that your mom wouldn't date me because of something as small as my genetic makeup.
Besides the abovementioned actors, Andrea Marie Smith and Tom Myers each steal the show at various points in various roles. But there's no point detailing the great moments. Just catch this flashy, good-natured send-up of everything geeky and gory and youthful and fun. Visit the HERE Arts Center website for tickets.