Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What A Short, Strange Trip: A Review of Dropping Evil

Gather ‘round, it’s story time boys and girls.  Back in college, I used to ride MARTA, Atlanta’s mass transit system, from the dorm to the campus every day.  On this particular morning the only seat available as next to a bum.  No one else wanted it, so I took the bait.  Immediately he started talking to me.  What followed was a 15-minute tirade that went from the government to aliens to god to whores to the police to telepathic animals and everything in between.  I had no idea what the hell he was talking about, but I was transfixed.  It was confusing, insane, and fascinating.  We got to my stop, and my friends told me it was time to go.  Well, I didn’t make it to class that day. I rode that train all the way to the end of the line because I had to see where this guy’s diatribe was gonna go next.  He stunk horribly, but I was willing to look past that for the sheer bizarro trip he was taking me on.  When he finally shambled away from me, my mind felt like it had been raped by a psychedelic angel.  I knew that if I pondered what he had said it might do irreparable damage to my brain, but the experience of his rant was just so beautifully, profoundly f**ked up that I was glad I ignored the stench and took the ride.  Why am I telling you this?  Because watching Dropping Evil was a lot like that MARTA ride.

Synopsis: After his group of friends slip him some LSD during a camping trip, the ultra-nerdy and God-loving Nancy begins to hunt them down one by one after the drug reveals their “true” natures to him. But a mysterious corporation is very interested in this teenage blood bath, and has their own plans to control and contain the evil that has been unleashed, luring the doomed teens to a mysterious cabin in the woods where they can be studied and developed into something even more sinister.

Technically, this is not a good flick.  Its shortcomings walk the fine line between damning and endearing though.  The camera work is pretty shoddy at times.  The high schoolers look to be in their late 20’s.  There are a lot of sound issues.  The acting ranges widely in quality.  Armin Shimerman, who some of you might remember from Buffy or Deep Space Nine, acts circles around the rest of the cast.  Tiffany Shepis, who I’ve always felt is underrated as an actress, is good in her small role.  My favorite moment in the film belongs to her.  It made me laugh and jump in the space of about three seconds.  Fred Williamson does his usual Hammer thing as Commander Death Blood.  Yes, that’s actually the character’s name.  The main four “teens,” who all look to be in at least their late 20’s, are decent.  Zachary Eli Lint is just plain weird as Nancy.  Why a psychotic Jesus freak’s forearms are covered in cutesy skull and heart tattoos is never addressed.  It’s very obviously micro budget.  That’s not a drawback as far as I’m concerned, but I know it would turn some less adventurous viewers off.

This flick also doesn’t make a damn lick of sense.  Many will see that as a failing on the part of the filmmakers.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s supposed to make sense.  It starts out normally enough, looking like any other generic “kids die in the woods” flick.  Then it starts piling on the weird.  God is missing, zombies are rising, there are ancient beings in the form of Ms. Shepis and a Scandinavian version of Nathan Explosion, nuns in monochrome, biological experiments yield eyeball cameras and Cronenbergian bioguns, a tactical strike team films their activities with VHS camcorders, and a generic mysterious evil corporation is doing, um… stuff.  None of it even comes close to coherence.  This one just throws every concept possible at you and says, “No, we’re not going to explain it.  You got a problem with that?”  I admire this flick’s moxy and ambition.  I’m pretty sure the budget for this flick included an allowance for hallucinogens to fuel the writing sessions.  Enough concepts for 10 movies are stripped to less than bare bones, duct taped together, and presented for the world to scratch their heads over.  I’m cool with that.

As usual, Wild Eye excels as far as the extras go.  They’re like the Scream Factory of schlock.  Here we get three shorts that serve as sequels to the film.  I’m not sure why the filmmakers decided to do it this way.  The movie is only 72 minutes.  Why not incorporate them into the main narrative?  As it stands, you really need to watch the whole package (film, shorts, deleted scenes, etc.) to get the whole story.  Even then, it doesn’t explain shit.  The cover art, by the way, is pretty bad ass.
I really dug Dropping Evil.  It will leave you shaking your head in disbelief, but you’ll be laughing as you do. If you’re the type that considers a 3 million dollar flick a “low budget indie,” this might not be your cup of tea.  It’s not glossy at all. It’s got a lot of cracks in its armor.  What it does have going for it, though, is originality, an interesting voice, and sheer WTF factor.  I often compare the different types of independent horror films to choosing between two types of women.  One is gorgeous but boring and prudish.  The other is just alright looking, but she’s fun and kinda kinky.  I’m sure you can figure out which one this flick is.  I’ll pick the latter every time, and Dropping Evil is well worth spending the night with.  7 hitchhiker presidents out of 10.  Nathan says check it out and SUPPORT INDEPENDENT HORROR!

1 comment:

Photograph said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

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