For a variety of reasons, I did a really bad job of making it to movie screenings at Days of the Dead. I mean really bad. Maybe it was the booze, maybe it was drunken friends, maybe it was doing interviews, maybe it was all of the above, but I missed a lot of movies I wanted to see, including Sloppy the Psychotic. Luckily, Mike O'Mahony, the director, writer, producer, star, god only knows what else, was cool enough to hook me up with copies of Maniac Films’ two releases, Deadly Detour (which I will be reviewing in the near future) and Sloppy, to review. I’m glad he did too, because this flick is awesome. I knew absolutely nothing about it before hand, and it turned out to be everything I look for in a low budget horror flick. Pleasant surprises like this are why, no matter how many times I get burned by a great poster or synopsis for a crappy movie, I will always love indie horror.
This movie is the story of Mike. He lives at home with his parents. He drives a ridiculous looking car. None of that matters to Mike though, because he loves his job. Mike is a children’s birthday clown named Sloppy. One day, after a mix up over a girl’s clown drawing at a party, Mike gets fired. He goes into business for himself, and his string of bad luck continues when he ends up being humiliated at a pool party. With nothing left and his life in a shambles, Mike turns to the bottle. Bad things happen when Mike drinks. Really bad things. Sloppy the Clown becomes Sloppy the Psychotic, and no one in his path is having any more birthdays.
The movie looks damn good. In fact, it might have done a disservice to other movies. Far too often with low budget flicks, the most rudimentary of movie making skills can be too much to ask. Many a time I’ve seen bad lighting, crappy camera work, shoddy sound, or awful effects and thought “Well, it’s an indie horror flick, I’ll give it a break.” These guys know what they’re doing. It features some imaginative camera work in places, it’s edited well, and there are no sound issues. Hell, I feel weird even considering things like the camera being in focus and the action being well lit, but these are the kinds of things less competent indie filmmakers overlook. I’ve seen a lot of it recently. A disturbing amount. That’s why it’s nice to see a flick by a skilled filmmaker like Mike who seems to get how important the basics are. It reminded me that a low budget is not an excuse for bad filmmaking. Well done.
The acting is pretty good. Mike does an excellent job as Mike/Sloppy. There’s just enough psycho Sloppy bubbling below the surface of nice guy Mike and just enough of the broken Mike left in his psycho Sloppy to make it work. The supporting cast ranges from excellent (particularly Fred Ficke as the bum) to actually pretty bad from a couple of party (pool and birthday) attendees, but overall everyone is on point. The soundtrack is good, plus it’s used well in the movie. It’s mostly metal, ranging from some thrashy stuff to some that’s more grindcore-ish, and there’s a sufficiently creepy rendition of “pop goes the weasel” that will give the coulrophobes nightmares.
Now that the technical stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the stuff we watch these movies for…the carnage. Folks, this movie goes there. Yes, there. There are unwritten rules even in horror movies about what’s “off limits.” Well, this flick takes a long look at those lines, flips them off, and steps over them laughing like a maniac. Hell, then it turns around and snorts those lines. Age, gender, mental and physical capabilities, social class, good/bad, it doesn’t matter to Sloppy. He’s an equal opportunity destroyer. About the time you see a bum get drowned in a puddle of piss, you know it’s gonna be a wild ride. Candy cane ass to mouth impalement? Yep, it’s in there. We even get a brilliant climactic birthday massacre (not the shitty electro dance goth band) that will leave you slack jawed. It stays lighthearted and a little cheesy (the good kind of cheesy),but never strays into self-parody territory. The bloody and funny are in perfect balance. It’s a lot of fun watching just how far this movie will go. Then again, a couple of the places that it goes might freak some people out, maybe even offend those with more delicate sensibilities. If you’re one of those people, however, you probably don’t watch indie horror flicks, or read Son of Celluloid for that matter. The twisted ones among us will laugh their asses off at the taboo breaking violence. The gore effects, which O’Mahoney also did, look fantastic too. I was quite impressed, especially with a particularly meaty scene in the kitchen.
My only one issue, and it’s a small one, was with the ending. There is a final twist, which is handled very well. It’s subtly set up near the beginning, alluded to throughout the flick, and then left alone just long enough for us to kinda forget about it before the reveal. The twist works beautifully. M. Night Suckoff, take notes. Then, after the twist, there is a short scene. I would have cut the last shot out of the movie. It would have left things ambiguous, but I personally think it would have worked better. That’s just where I would have gone and, like I said, it’s my only small quibble with a killer flick.
I personally have never understood the whole “terrified of clowns” thing. They don’t freak me out, and I don’t get why they freak you out. Those of you who panic at the sight of red noses, big floppy shoes, and greasepaint, however, have a new painted face to fear. For the rest of us, we have a new psycho to cheer. Sloppy the Psychotic is everything you could ask for in a homegrown splatter flick and more. You will see things in this movie that you won’t see other filmmakers have the balls to do. It’s entertaining as all hell. Mike O’Mahoney, Erich Fricke (co-writer and actor), Rob Nawrocki (editor), and everyone else involved in the making of this flick are a bunch of sick, demented freaks, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. One and a half severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out. Check out the facebook page HERE to find out where you can see it.