|release date||January 1 2009|
|starring||Paul Clemens, Michael James Kacey, Fay Kato|
|tagline||It will kill you. Even if it takes the rest of your life.|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
A while back a friend turned me on to a short film called Criticized. The 18-minute film tells the story of a film critic who, after writing a horribly scathing feature review, is abducted by the filmmaker in question and tortured. Having written a few terse reviews in my day, I enjoyed the film immensely despite quivering at the notion. I can only assume that Writer/Director Richard Gale made the film in response to the treatment he received on his first two features—The Proposal and Pressure. And yet, despite the intense violence on display in the production, I couldn’t help but feel that Criticized was a brilliant tongue and cheek viewing experience that offered more than a little catharsis for the man behind the lens. The short went on to win several awards including best film at Montreal’s esteemed Fantasia Film Festival and the New York City Horror Film Festival.
What makes Criticized even more notable is that the near-undisputed godfather of “bad movie making”, German filmmaker Uwe Boll (House of the Dead), decided to include the project on the DVD release of his last film Seed, as a way to “get back” at his own critics (he famously went mano y mano in the ring with other naysayers and included the footage on the DVD of his other 2008 film Postal). So, with all this new found success, one might have expected Richard Gale to package and produce a new feature film to cash in on the good graces he’s been afforded by
Criticized. He didn’t do that. Instead, he decided to make…The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon.
Essentially Gale’s latest film is a Red Band Theatrical Trailer for a new feature film. The joke of course is that this 10-minute trailer is the entire short film. I mean…who ever heard of a 10-minute theatrical trailer? What is great about the production is a laundry list of everything a smart filmmaker can do to hammer his point (or blunt instrument) home.
Jack Cucchiaio (Paul Clemens) is begin stalked by death (or rather the “Spoonkiller”—played by Brian Rohan dressed up to look like “death” from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal). Try as he must, he cannot escape the relentless attacks from the man in black wheedling a deadly tablespoon. Thump after glorious thump, the Spoonkiller persists in slowly methodically whacking Jack, over and over and over and over and over and over again, chasing our hero through the Manhattan streets, Egyptian deserts, Japanese forests and Arctic ice fields never giving up until the bruised, battered and bloody body of Jack Cucchiaio lies dead at his feet. In fact, the film’s tag line says it all: It will kill you. Even if it takes the rest of your life!. Death by spoon.
The genius of Gale’s film is its absolute commitment to the story. It’s deadly serious up until the point where it falls victim (much like Jack Cucchiaio) to death by repetition. The bombastic narrator doing his best Don LaFontaine voice repeats the same line again, and again, and again, and…you get the point. Truthfully, it almost feels wrong to pick on that idea (even if the sticking point is irritating) because the repetition is driving home the whole idea of the story to begin with.
Full disclosure here, I’ve never seen either of Gale’s feature films, so I don’t know what worked for them and what didn’t. Both of those films seem to be action/dramas where Criticized and The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon are deeply rooted horror/comedy hybrids—and successful ones at that. This flick has already picked up a special jury prize at Austin’s Fantastic Fest. So, I don’t know if Richard Gale has just finally found his calling directing horror shorts or not, but I for one would love to see what this guy could pull off if he channeled some of the inspiration behind his last two films into a new feature. Could we be looking at the next Sam Rami here? Get this guy a development deal now!