|starring||Joel D. Wynkoop, Debbie Rochon|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Writer/Director Jason Liquori is no stranger to anthology films. ALL WRAPPED UP makes his third release in the genre, each one focusing on a particular subset of lore. This time around, Liquori and company set their sights on “mummies with a twist”—so those of you looking for a Boris Karloff/Arnold Vosloo style Imhotep curse best look further. However, if you want to take the time for some fun microbudget interpretations of the undead then this is the package for you.
As our tale begins we are transported to medieval Scotland as a brave highlander (Wing Armstrong-Showtime’s DEXTER) battles a mythic beastie. This time our warrior is not so lucky and is soon visited upon by Swansong (B-Movie vet Joel D. Wynkoop). Swansong is an aptly named Grim Reaper and he’s just dropped by to collect a lost soul. But our hero has no plans of passing on, and escapes, only to reappear some 400 years later in rural Florida where he unwittingly becomes the servant and champion for a vengeful environmentalist (Melissa Collins). Now Swansong and his rookie partner (Juliet Reeves—AUTOMATION TRANSFUSION) have to hunt down and capture the undead monster before he kills again.
The second segment involves a College Professor (Rockford Rathgeber) who uncovers the corpse of a murdered Egyptian queen (Aaliyah Madyun). Possessed by the spirit of her eunuch servant, the pair soon begin to comb the school’s selection of beautiful ladies, searching for a suitable replacement body for her highness’ soul.
Liquori himself steps in front of the lens for the next round, as a hard boiled P.I. who seems utterly unfazed tracking down Succubi and a reawakened Aztec God that is hell-bent on destroying those who disturbed his eternal slumber. But with the arrival of a (ahem) fearless vampire killer (Brunhilda Zekthi) and bloodless corpses piling up all around, this is one case he’ll wish he’d never taken on.
Sebastian Wayfeather (Kevin White) is a very wealth man. After an accident places his daughter (Chanel Bagwell) in a coma, Wayfeather determines that the only way to save her is by preserving the body in cryostasis until all the organs for her transplant can be assembled. With the methods results uncertain, Wayfeather decides that he must test the machine on himself—only to wake up 1000 years later in a post apocalyptic future presided over by a powerful new ruler (Indi-horror queen Debbie Rochon) with a shocking secret of her own.
Clocking in at around two hours, Liquori’s film is one of the more ambitions projects I’ve seen lately. Instead of linking his stories together with the tried and true wrap-a-round subplot, the filmmaker interconnects his separate stories with characters and events. Think of it like Robert Altman’s SHORT CUTS with a lot more murders.
The highlights of the project are in the first and third plots and hinge more on the performances than the visuals. In the initial episode cult film actor Joel D. Wynkoop makes the first of his three appearances in the project. As Swansong, the actor has some snappy lines and delivers the grumpiest grim reaper since DEAD LIKE ME went off the air. It’s a fun performance and one that picks up a lot of spark with the arrival of Juliet Reeves.
In the third tale, Liquori himself provides 1940’s-pulp-voiceover in those sweet subdued Mike Hammer tones. This approach along with the DRAGENT styled soundtrack really sets the segment apart from the rest. The director might not fancy himself an actor, but he knows how to deliver a “beat line” as well as anyone else in the cast—and he’s got the best dialogue too (funny how that works!).
Debbie Rochon’s appearance in the final segment bookends her cameo during the film’s introduction. Returning to her persona of Mistress Misty—which she has played in two of the directors last 3 films—she gets a great, cloaked introduction, as the voice of the almighty Mayoress. Later she delivers the film’s final surprise ending—and one that leaves the viewers with a most satisfying conclusion.
As a filmmaker Liquori makes the absolute most of his $4,000 budget. Employing the use of effective Stop Motion Animation and blue screen work along with some—sometimes—surprisingly good CGI. In addition, Liquori makes occasional use of stock footage, utilizing glimpses of the Egyptian pyramids, surgical procedures and time-lapse cityscapes. Far too often shortsighted micro-budget filmmakers don’t take advantage of things as simple as stock footage. But if you can make it match your film it can work wonders for your production value. Now, I don’t mean to say that every instance where Liquori inserted the footage was appropriate, but in the end, it was nice to see the effort made.
Anthology projects by their very nature are a difficult breed. Hampered by disassociated story lines—when done poorly—they often feel much longer than they actually are. ALL WRAPPED UP drags a bit through the second story, which suffers from too much exposition and too little payoff. But the remaining two tales more than pick up the slack, propelling the plot along like gangbusters toward a nice climax. It’s not hard to see the director’s affinity for twisting the genre around to suit the story and his creative take on what constitutes a mummy should be appreciated by revisionist horror fans as well as those just looking for a good time.