Monday, July 25, 2011

HAVOC #1: And Now the Streaming Starts

It’s time to debut a new feature of the blog that I know you’ll dig. How do I know? I know my readers, that’s how. Just how well do I know my audience? Like, stalker good. Tell you what, I’m going to make three statements about you, and I’d be willing to bet that they’re all true. Ready? One, you like horror. See, pretty good huh? Two, you have a computer. Are you amazed yet? How about this then? Three, you like free stuff. HA! I told you! Kinda scary how well I know you, isn’t it? The 99% of you who those three criteria apply to (gotta allow for an oddball here and there) will, in fact, dig this.

I’m calling this new feature HAVOC, and it’s probably the most ridiculous acronym in history. It stands for Horror AVailable for free On your Computer. Whenever I see cool movies, documentaries, shorts, or anything else that you can stream free online, I’ll post it here. This is just streaming stuff, not downloads. I’m trying to keep it as much on the “legal” side of the fence as possible. So, just remember that any time you see the word HAVOC in the title accompanied by a bad pun about streaming, it means I’ve found something cool that I would like to share with you all. I like sharing with my readers. (Warning, Mickey Mouse Club moment ahead.) Why? Because I like you! H-A-V-O-C.

Anyway, one of the trends that have arisen in the past few years that I like a lot is the growing number of documentaries about the horror genre that are being released. Never Sleep Again, Going to Pieces, The Psycho Legacy, His Name Was Jason, American Grindhouse, Not Quite Hollywood, and Best Worst Movie have been amongst my favorites. Along with these genre or franchise centered retrospectives, certain filmmakers have been getting the camera turned on them lately. William Castle, Herschel Gordon Lewis, and John Waters have all gotten the documentary treatment recently. You can add another fear auteur to that list of names, Don Dohler.

What? You don’t know who Don Dohler is? Well, don’t feel bad. Until I watched this documentary the name didn’t ring a bell with me either. Once they started showing his films though, I recognized quite a few of them. He was responsible for low budget 80’s video fare like The Alien Factor, Nightbeast, Blood Massacre, and Fiend. I also remember seeing some of those on late night TV in my younger days. After taking an 11 year break after the tumultuous distribution of Blood Massacre, he returned to the director’s chair in 1999. In addition, he was a pioneer in the field of independent comics and published a very successful magazine called Cinemagic.

This movie is half about his life and filmography and half about the trials and tribulations he faces while filming his 10th movie, Dead Hunt. From lead actors dropping out to the set’s burglar alarm constantly going off, it’s an engaging peek into the world of micro budget filmmaking. Anyone who has ever been involved in filming on a low budget will identify with him and his partner, Joe Ripple. These scenes elicit the “friend getting kicked in the nuts” reaction. You know, the one where you say “Oh man, that sucks, I’m so sorry,” yet you can’t help laughing uproariously at the same time.

Dohler’s is a very interesting tale. I think one of the most amazing parts is the incident that inspired him to start making movies. I won’t give it away, but it’s a great story. He seems very low key for someone who has survived for as long as he did in the dog eat dog world of independent film. He overcame a lot of personal adversity to forge his career. Fate certainly threw Dohler more than his fair share of tragedy, which brings me to the end.

This movie has one of the most depressing endings I have ever seen. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m not big on happy endings, but this one is a serious buzzkill on a highly entertaining first hour. You all know that normally I don’t give spoilers, and this isn’t even really a spoiler since it’s on his imdb and Wikipedia pages, but for those who wish to spare yourselves this supreme downer of a finale, read on. If you don’t want it spoiled, don’t read between the asterixes and skip to the next paragraph. *** After the Dead Hunt premiere, we get a screen saying that he married his girlfriend, who we met earlier in the flick. After building us up, buttercup, it sends us crashing down. The very next screen tells us that he was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. After 10 minutes or so of people talking about how they hope he gets well and returns to filmmaking, we find out that he died a short time later. The freakin’ end. See what I mean? Depressing as hell. ***

Blood, Boobs, and Beast takes its title from the classic formula of what a b horror movie needs to be successful. By the way, I’m not sure why “beast” is singular there. “Beasts” would seem to make a lot more sense. It’s not exactly a fitting title, as Don expresses his distaste for having to add these things to his films to get distribution, but it does the trick. It’s an eye catching title, and it is what got me to watch it.

Overall, this is a great look into both the world of low budget filmmaking and the life of a man who made it in that world. Those who make low budget movies will find it familiar, affirming, heartbreaking, and touching. Those who love low budget movies will find out more about a talented but obscure purveyor of the craft. If you want the happy ending, stop the movie at an hour and six minutes in. If you want the tearjerker, let it play. I would normally never advocate not watching the end of a film, but in this case, I think the end was unnecessary and I’m not exactly sure what the filmmakers were going for. Either way, I give this one two severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out. Besides, it’s free! What have you got to lose? You can watch it in that window down there, or click on over to Hulu and watch it there. Enjoy.


Cash Wampum said...

Fuck you Nate!! I watched this and now I need a tissue. Thanks for turning me into a big pile of wuss. What a sad fucking story. Unbelievably tragic and touching. In all fairness, I enjoyed it but it sheds a lot of light on the pains of independent film making and now I'm rethinking attempting it myself LOL. I must admit I haven't watched a Dohler movie but I think after watching this I'm going to have to celebrate him with checking out some of his older titles.

SonOfCelluloid said...

I tried to warn you man. It is indeed depressing as hell. I was watching, enjoying the whole thing, thinking how great it was that he overcame all he did to make movies, and then BAM, got sucker punched at the end.

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