8-years ago, with little more than an idea, a 16mm film camera and $10,000 for budgetary expenses, Brett Piper set out to make another movie. Piper had previously made 4 other features—the only one of note was the 1991 Ray Harryhausen homage A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL. Mostly known for his stop-motion animation work Piper once again lets all the creepy crawlies out of the bag with DRAINIAC.
DRAINIAC has already had one shelf life more than most low-budget horror films. But with it’s re-release from the gang at POP Cinema—where Piper has made his home since 2003, churning out surprisingly entertaining z-movies like BITE ME, SHOCK-O-RAMA and BACTERIUM—DRAINIAC is getting the royal upgrade. Ok…I know that last statement probably warrants an explanation so here it is. Back in 2000, Piper really ran out of cash. So much so that SOV movie mavericks the Palonia Brothers (SPLATTER FARM) had to step in and help Piper complete some semblance of the production for distribution. But, what ultimately arrived on video store shelves in October 2000 did not look like the movie in Brett Piper’s mind. With years and miles between then and now, Piper has revisited the film for a visual upgrade and so…once again, perennial microbudget movie maniacs and corporate video store patrons can witness the second coming of DRAINIAC.
Since the liner notes of the DVD release reveal an obvious truth passed down from the old Roger Corman school of filmmaking, it won’t be of any surprise to you that DRAINIAC started with nothing more than poster art and a title—the story came second. In reality, the story comes third, since DRAINIAC, like most of the Piper oeuvre is really about the practical special effects.
Julie (Georgia Hatzis) is haunted by nightmares. Her mother committed suicide just over a year ago and home life with her father is unbearable. When her dad decides to buy a dilapidated home as an investment property, Julie is forced to spend her day cleaning the crumbling house. But this place has more problems than moldy wallpaper and dirty windows. Inside the pipes lurks a green oozing evil just looking for its next victim.
DRAINIAC is really not much more than a show reel for Piper’s effects work and camera trickery—held together by the most microscopic of plot devices. Julie is stuck at the house (which must be in the middle of nowhere) fully aware that things are very wrong, but still choosing not to run off because her daddy might get mad at her. When her friends arrive and their car is sucked into the earth and it never occurs to anyone that this is so strange they should leave! It’s like old Eddie Murphy, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR joke, about hanging around the house after the ghost actually tells you to “go”. So, since Julie and her friends aren’t going anywhere and dad’s not coming back (he’s dead!) it’s up to a hulking handyman named Pulmmer (get it) to help rid the kids of the poltergeist in the pipes.
For all it’s flaws, and believe me it’s got ‘em in spades, DRAINIAC is exactly what it promises to be—A bad b-movie that’s loaded with some sweet stop-motion animation work. That’s the signature M.O. for a Brett Piper film. Love him or hate him, no one else is really making movies like Brett. His films are a throwback to a time long before every production from digital video film school kids to Michael Bay looked like a computer threw-up all over the screen. It the simplistic nature and nostalgic aura Brett Piper’s films have that almost allow you to forgive the painful acting and pointless plots. And with the collection of productions that Piper has produced over the past 5-years, he’s very nearly becoming a genre all to himself.
If you go into DRAINIAC knowing what to expect, and not expecting too much (Remember the film is 8 years old—a lifetime of microbudget filmmaking ago), then I think you’re in for a real mindless treat—courtesy of one man who never fails to forget the past even as he continues forward to the future.