Movie Review: Digging Up The Marrow (2014)

Comedy, fantasy, Horror, Movie Reviews

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The daydreamer in every horror fanatic has fantasized about the existence of monsters at some point in their life: Harry Potter fans have spent hours in their imaginations strolling the halls of Hogwarts and horror fans have stared into cemeteries hoping for gateways to Midian; or ventured into the woods hoping to bump into a werewolf or man eating yeti.  To us, the existence of monsters is akin to a child’s hope that Santa Claus is out there somewhere, fighting Iraqi soldiers.  Adam Green’s latest feature – his first since 2010’s Hatchet II – is the product of a lifelong horror fan who’s always hoped monsters exist deep down, despite adult logic telling him otherwise.  On top of that, Digging Up The Marrow is a love letter to horror and its die hard fans; conveyed in the style of a mildly self-deprecating mockumentary.

Digging Up The Marrow stars Adam Green and his real life cinematographer, Will Barratt; playing themselves as they make a documentary about monster make-up.  It features an array of cameos from fellow actors, directors and artists discussing monster effects as if it were a real documentary.  However, after a meeting with a crazy fan named Dekker (Ray Wise) – an ex-detective who claims to have proof of the existence of monsters – Adam and Will embark join him on a mission to capture them on film.  To Adam and Will, Dekker is just an old loony who makes for entertaining subject matter, but they soon realize he might not be so crazy after all.

Adam Green – much like his friend and oft-collaborator Joe Lynch – has a loyal fan base because he’s a fans director, who engages with us regularly; so to play himself in a role is a great way to give us more of the man we crave like hotcakes.  I myself am a huge Adam Green fan: as a filmmaker he caters to my tastes and as a person he’s genuine and funny shares my enthusiasm and passion for horror, so to see that portrayed in an on-screen role was fun and fresh.

Casting Ray Wise in a faux-documentary isn’t going to win points for authenticity, but it breaks the scoreboard in terms of pure entertainment: he effortlessly oscillates between chewing scenery, exercising his comedic chops and dramatic intensity, just like any bonkers monster believer should.  It’s a role where Wise gets to showcase the spectrum of his acting abilities and I can’t think of any other actor who could have played this part better; or even on par.

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For all I love Adam Green, I found Digging Up The Marrow to be a pleasant surprise: in an age of horror where pseudo-documentaries and found footage films take up a large, unwanted space; Adam Green has managed to mash them to produce yet another outstanding entry to his body of work.

Digging Up The Marrow is another hit for Adam Green that is unlike his other projects: he continues to prove himself as a champion of modern horror with fresh takes on tired genres and innovative work which puts him ahead of the curve.  This is bound to please horror fans by resonating with them as a love letter to the genre, as well as a piece of fresh storytelling.  I can’t recommend this one enough.  8/10

Written & Directed By:

Adam Green

Starring:

Adam Green, Ray Wise, Will Barratt

Genre:

Horror, Comedy, Fantasy

Running Time:

98 min

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Movie Review: Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans (2014)

Comedy, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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A few weeks ago I was treated to my very first screener courtesy of Jimmy Lee Combs, a very talented independent filmmaker from Colorado, whose full-length directorial debut feature, Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans, is sure to send shock waves through the horror community when it’s released later this year.  Granted, Hans is not going to please everybody: In fact, it’s more than likely going to offend a few people with its transgressive humour and politically incorrect social brand of social commentary manifested through oddball characters.  However, Hans doesn’t care about the boundaries of good taste: as a matter of fact it joyously stampedes through them like a crowd of hillbillies who procreate within their own gene pool should.  To say this is a film with balls is an understatement; but as ridiculous as it may be – and ridiculous it is – Hans is also a film with brains, which the zombies really want to eat.

Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans is a difficult film to describe: I believe the psychological term for it is ”batshit crazy.”  However, let me give you the simplest summary: It’s a mockumentary about a family of inbred backwoods hillbillies who are plagued by an ancient zombie curse.  Their story peaks the interest of Barnaby Hunt (Andy Hankins), presenter of the supernatural show ”Horror Hunts”, a show which seeks out real life cases of the paranormal.  The movie documents the cripple Hans (Kevon Ward) and his outrageous family as they discover the origins of the curse; all the while our protagonist undergoes a ”from rags to riches” rise to stardom, and self-destructive fall from grace.

There’s a scene within the opening 3 minutes of Hans where we witness a mother running around her garden, being chased by zombies, dragging her baby by the umbilical chord, that just so happens to still be attached to her womb.  If that sounds like something that appeals to you, then you’re in for a treat for the following 97 minutes.  This sets the tone for the rest of the film: a gleefully inappropriate romp that pays no attention to morals or good taste, and it does so in a fun, harmless way.

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What I really loved about Hans was its irreverent satire, which poked fun at celebrity culture, reality television and conservative ethos.  Furthermore, they even took shots at their haters on social media.  It’s refreshing to see such a punk rock attitude from filmmakers: in an industry where most make movies to try and reach the largest audience possible, the team behind Hans are only interested in pleasing themselves and their fans.  Kevon Ward (writer and star) is reminiscent of Lloyd Kauffman, Trey Parker and John Waters in a sense; they too defy conformity with discernible wit and hilarity.  It’s going to offend people, but it’s going to offend with style.

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As I said earlier, Jimmy Lee Combs is a filmmaker with a lot of talent and potential.  Having already established himself as a director to watch out for with a number of diverse, critically acclaimed shorts, he took the reigns for Hans more than ready, and it shows.  For a micro-budget feature, Hans has more than adequate production values, it’s incredibly well shot and it bursts at the seams with passion.  The make-up is beautifully hideous, the effects are practical and there’s plenty of blood to please your sickening lust for the gruesome.

Watching Hans, I recalled my first time watching Braindead (1992) and Bad Taste (1987).  Here’s a group of friends with a lot of talent, making a ridiculously fun film, that’s sure to resonate with future generations of fans of offbeat, dirty cinema for generations to come.  8/10

Stay tuned with my interview with director Jimmy Lee Combs!!!

Directed By:

Jimmy Lee Combs

Written By:

Kevon Ward

Starring:

Kevon Ward, Andy Hankins, Irene Leonard, Katie Bevard