What would it take for you to pull your own eyes out? Not just pop out your own eyeballs… peel your eyelids off, too. Pop out those slimy orbs and pull those optics nerves until they snap. Force your fingers into the holes left in the front of your face. Reach in, and pick at the flesh until you can pull out chunks of brain meat like ground, bloody sausage. For one patient in this asylum for the insane – it’s a combo of drugs mixed with PCP causing her and scores of other patients to become homicidal maniacs. In Pink Eye, the mad have been medicated with uberviolent experimental pharmaceutical cocktails, and those who don’t tear out their own eyes are killing the staff and about to break out of the facility onto the streets. For one family living in a town nearby, life is about to become a living hell.
Savage Roses Productions (Addiction, Aunt Rose, Eat Your Heart Out) returns with director James Tucker at the helm once again, guiding another sick ship written by Joshua Nelson. Pink Eye centers around a prison-like hospital for the severe mentally ill, where two doctors are conducting chemical tests, injecting phencyclidine into the rabidly mad. Phencyclidine, known on the streets as PCP, is a psychotropic anesthetic that was infamous for disconnecting its user from their environment or body, allowing them to become capable of extreme actions because of their high threshold for pain – such as breaking bones to pull ones own hands through handcuff rings, or yanking on the steel so inhumanly hard that the links actually break.
Deemed illegal and banned from use, two doctors (under the guidance of a greedy, heartless pharmaceutical company) are leading tests nonetheless, injecting PCP cocktails into the mad. The result is an extreme outbreak of homicidal mania and self abuse, as patients tear themselves and others to shreds, about to break out upon the streets of an innocent town at any moment. One particular patient has taken to the drugs in a most unique way – his body deformed and covered in open sores, his mind twisted into a knot that wants to kill every last living creature in the world with his bare hands, blistering with poetry – Edgar breaks out and the body count soon begins to rise.
Edgar (played commandingly by newcomer Joshua James) is not normal. He wears the creepy mask of a swollen, pink eye victim, and about every word he speaks are quotations from Edgar Allen Poe. He poetically maneuvers his way through the hospital dispatching lives with scalpels and a pairs of human hands driven by the maddest of minds. When he gets out, crosses the woods and meets the little girl of a nearby family within, his focus soon turns to Delilah, an exceptionally beautiful victim. Delilah (played by the alluring Melissa Bacelar) is quickly captured, and soon its up to Brandon (Joshua Nelson) and an investigating officer to enter the asylum, survive the bloody carnival of evil within, and save her from the grips of a hell bent maniac.
The gore, when it struck, was supreme. Broken heads, knuckle deep eye wounds – the makeup and effects are vicious and convincing (save the bad angle on the crowbar/skull piercing at the end). The acting was especially far and beyond. Melissa Bacelar has a great screen presence. She dominates with ultra feminine charisma and is addicting to watch, and can even steal a scene from a cute little girl. Nelson is a little masculine monotone in his role, but its like an artistic grey that allows the other colors to seem more vibrant. From Raine Brown’s freak out sessions to the excessively cute Emma Hinz – Pink Eye is an example of how good low budget horror can be when you have a mega-talented cast and crew behind it. Joshua Nelson’s screenplay is lively and oddly artistic – the actors are as sharp as scalpels – Marc Fratto (director of Last Rites of the Dead) inputs on an excellent atmospheric soundtrack – and James Tucker brings out the most it has to offer with another directorial slam dunk that lingers like a lingering, vivid nightmare.
Final analysis: An imperfect, offensive, low budget horror nightmare. Pink Eye may at times seem like it was rush produced, but the low budget atmosphere quickly absorbs the minor bumps and blemishes and allows a strong ensemble to shine through like the sheen of a bloody pool seeping through the ceiling from an upstairs murder scene. Once again, Savage Roses puts together a ton of underrated talent and delivers a uniquely raw horror experience – its shortcomings being the budget only. The directing, bloody effects, and acting take this film far beyond the mass of low budget efforts. It has that gritty 70’s feel of an early Tom Savini/Wes Craven cross. Id even go so far to say that if Tucker’s films had been introduced to wide audiences in theaters in the late 70’s, I think he could have made as strong an impact as the like of an early Carpenter or Craven. What comes across in the end isn’t the same style (to each their own) – but it manages to tattoo your imagination with a likewise unique strength. In the past five years, when it comes to low budget films, Id be pressed to name a better horror filmmaking team than Joshua Nelson and James Tucker. If you don’t manage to catch Pink Eye at a conspicuous late night theater on the coast, watch for it through pus-crusted eyes to hit DVD shelves in 2008.