Friday, 22 November 2013

DARK FEED - Review By Greg Klymkiw - My fetish for movies set in snake pits (asylums) knows no bounds.

Yes, insanity can indeed be contagious - especially
when a pair of talented sick puppies make a movie to
order for other sick puppies - overflowing with
sickness of the highest order!
A horror film is being shot in an ancient, dank and rotting Boston Lunatic Asylum that's been shuttered for years. The joint's full of gooey, black, viscous ectoplasm; built up from years of abusive weird-ass experiments upon the inmates by its psychotic head-doctor. The mere presence of a young (mostly nubile and/or buff) cast and crew, unleashes some mighty unholy fumes into the already-foul air. In no time, thespians and filmmakers alike become possessed with the criminal madness of decades gone by. The impressive body-count is matched only by the sickness that ratchets up to deliver a saturnalia of delectable barbarity. - G.K.

Dark Feed (2013) ***
Dir. Michael and Shawn Rasmussen
Starring: Andy Rudick, Victoria Nugent, Rebecca Whitehurst, Dayna Cousins, Evalena Marie, Bree Elrod, Jessica Lauren Napier, Elise Couture

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Who in their right mind doesn't love asylums? These snake pits of madness and despair are perfect settings for thrillers and horror movies. The Rasmussen Brothers clearly understand this. Not only did they write the script for John Carpenter's supremely entertaining Looney Bin Scream-Fest The Ward (wherein Amber Heard and a whole mess of other babes got terrorized in an asylum), but they have chosen a veritable Nutbar Palace as the setting for Dark Feed, their feature film directorial debut.

When the Bros. discovered this actual Boston location, they must have simultaneously spewed a few bucket-loads of anticipatory man-juice and immediately set themselves to grinding out a new screenplay of madness they could shoot with relative modesty. Better yet, they wouldn't have to resort to the usual nonsense so many low budget fledgling features pathetically resort to; namely, setting a movie in one room or in a wilderness cabin. The visual possibilities inherent in a genuine asylum (or at least, a super-creepy and expansive location that feels like it could have been one horrific mo-fo of a madhouse) are limitless and the Bros. exploit as many nooks and crannies and caverns of filth as humanly possible.

The other important thing they do is write a whole mess of characters into the film. Again, too many of the aforementioned no-to-low budget genre shockers limit their location to one or two dull backdrops, then make the mentally deficient mistake of giving us too few characters. Too few characters means one thing and one thing only: a low body count.

Babes of EVERY shape are important
The Rasmussens then do the most important thing of all - they make sure there are PLENTY OF BABES.

Horror movies in claustrophobic locations can be bad enough, but if they are bereft of babes, what use are they?

The Rasmussens already cut their teeth writing for John Carpenter. He's no slouch. He always makes sure his movies are jam-packed with babes and if they're not, like his brilliant remake of The Thing, he makes sure his men are manly to the hilt and that the monster is unparalleled.

Hitchcock understood this. Psycho had Janet Leigh and Vera Miles (and Tony Perkins in old-lady drag). It also had the Bates Motel. Polanski understood this. We got to look at Catherine Deneuve in her nightie in an ultra-cool Parisian apartment and brandishing a big knife. Richard Stanley understood this. Hardware keeps us in one room, but it's a very cool room and we get to watch a mega-babe fending off one scary-ass monster.

Showers are GOOD!!!
The bottom line is this. If you're going to make a low budget horror film - the location has to be cool and you need babes. Body-count potential is, however, the cherry on the ice-cream sundae. With Dark Feed, the Rasmussens give us everything we need on the babe, body count and cool location front. So really, how could this picture go wrong? Well, this is a first feature and as such, it's not without flaws. The biggest is probably the first third of the film where we learn a bit too much about characters we mostly want to see dead. Cleverly here, though, the Bros. give us ample opportunity to tour the location. I had no problem with that. This is one creepy-ass location and it has a shower. A shower is very important.

As for the casting, the only male character we kind of like is the dweeby screenwriter who pays a set visit and Andy Rudick acquits himself most agreeably in the role. All the other male characters I had no use for other than as fodder for murder. The babes, however, are another story. The Bros. deliver a myriad of feminine eye candy and for this, they are to he truly lauded.

I've suffered through way too many no-budget horror movies in claustrophobic locations that have no babes at all. Can you believe it? I mean, seriously! Forgive my seeming philistinism here, but who in their right mind wants to watch three or four smelly guys in a haunted cottage for 90 minutes? Besides, they're usually pock-marked 20-somethings - at least in way too many Canadian no-budget horror movies of this ilk.

Feminism in Horror
Always a bonus!
The Bros. know the score. They know damn well we don't want to watch smelly guys unless they are decapitated and/or terrorizing the babes. They also make sure the babes are a nice mix of looks and body types, but also, they make sure the babes aren't all victims. A couple of them are damn resourceful and kick-ass. This is a good thing. It proves the Rasmussens are feminists. As, it seems, am I.

The bottom line is that Dark Feed delivers. Ignore the meanderings of the first 30-or-so minutes. Use them to imagine how some of the characters will die, because once they do, hell hath know fury like two brothers named Rasmussen. The movie is initially a slow burn, but the tension mounts steadily, giving us more than enough jolts and finally, the last half hour of the movie is so sick and scary it borders on the surreal.

In fact, the Bros. deliver climactic frissons that are utterly and completely chilling. Best of all the pace mounts and the feeling of the last third is pure electricity. As grateful as I am to the Rasmussens for delivering first-rate horror, I am equally grateful to the fine product known as "Depends". "Depends" come in mighty handy during the last half hour of Dark Feed, so before settling in to watch it, load up on beer, soda pop and Cheetos, but for Christ's sake, DO NOT forget the "Depends". Your wardrobe and comfy couch will, uh, depend upon it.

"Dark Feed" is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Lions Gate. It's also available on a variety of streaming formats, but I personally hate streaming and/or digital downloads. I need to own the real thing. But hey, that's me. The home video version comes with a handful of extras if you're into that sort of thing. I'm less enamoured with them unless they're at Criterion Collection levels, but don't mind me. I can be a snob that way. To read my review of the Rasmussen Brothers' first screenplay "THE WARD", CLICK HERE