Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hubrisween 2015 :: F is for Feeding Frenzy (2010)

At a hardware store in suburban Milwaukee, something sinister is afoot. Seems the owner has a thing for late night fleabag motel rendezvous with prostitutes, whom he then murders and then takes their bodies back to the store’s basement for disposal. Unfortunately for Plinkett (Evans), the wheelchair-bound killer, a couple of stray neurons in one of his slacker employee’s brain finally connects several clues with his suspicious behavior and concludes the boss is up to something no good while cleaning up a “tomato paste” spill in aisle seven.

But Jesse Camp (Lipski) is unable to convince his surly co-worker, Carl (Stoklasa), or his cardiac-challenged roommate, Martin (Baumann), of his suspicions. However, he does manage to convince Christine (Bellinger), the pretty girl he’s been not-so-secretly stalking, when he presents evidence that one of her missing friends might’ve been the latest victim; and then her real boyfriend, Kyle (Johnson), brings up some old neighborhood scuttlebutt about Plinkett; something about illegal genetic experiments, murder, and the witness protection program.

It all sounds ludicrous, but the trio decides to investigate. And after breaking into the locked-off portion of the hardware store’s basement, they find a makeshift lab, a large (and very noisy) crate, and a pile of ‘cease and desist’ documents from several local meat-packing plants. More puzzled than ever, these amateur sleuths move to open the crate but are caught by a gun-wielding Plinkett, who refuses to answer any questions but insists they go ahead and open the box, whose gibbering contents promptly swarm over and eat Kyle and sends the others scrambling for the nearest exit...

I became aware of Red Letter Media and its denizens when someone pointed me to their scathing Star Wars prequel reviews, which led to the Star Trek Next Gen film reviews, which led me to faithfully follow their online review forums, Half in the Bag and Best of the Worst, ever since, which never fail to entertain. I even met them once -- well, sort of, at B-Fest in 2012. I was the large gelatinous mass sitting at the end of a row of seats, the same row they were all sitting in, and they kept asking me politely to move so they could come in or out. Sorry about all the nerd-funk. As the old saying goes at B-Fest, by hour 12 you wonder what that smell is until you realize it’s you.

Anyhoo, fans of schlock cinema and fellow cinemasochists, RLM co-founders, co-directors, and co-writers Mike Stoklasa and Jay Baumann had already made one DTV feature, The Recovered (2008), before they made Feeding Frenzy (2010); a gooey comical homage to the omnivorous rubber-puppet monster movies of the 1980s, namely the likes of The Ghoulies (1984), Critters (1986), and Munchies (1987). As originally conceived, the killer puppets were merely meant as padding to surround an extended “erotic” shower sequence, meaning a whole different kind of exploitative sleaze was intended. But as filming progressed, and things turned out a little better than anticipated, this idea was co-opted and polarity-reversed into an extended padding-out pillow-fight between a trio of lingerie clad co-eds.

Shot in family and friend’s basements and minimally crewed by the same, the film is a crash-course in no-budget filmmaking. The acting was pretty good, anchored by a bizarre method performance by RLM co-conspirator, Rich Evans, as the mumbling and bumbling Plinkett, which helps overcompensate for a possibly non-existent script. (It feels 96% improvised, give or take 2%.) Most, but not all, of it works. Some of the comedy misses, but the majority hits the cardboard around the target enough to keep the film moving forward as the Globkins – basically voracious volleyballs with teeth -- escape and start attacking people who had been in the store that day because of ... reasons.

And as we slobber and slurp toward the climax, subplots collide and several more people get devoured, joining all those missing prostitutes as Globkin-kibble, before everyone is recaptured and Plinkett gets to monologuing, revealing his master plan. But his genetic experiment goes horribly awry and turns on him, as they often do, leaving it up to our nominal hero and his never-in-a-million-years girlfriend to stop the rampage once and for all.

I honestly think the viewer’s familiarity with Red Letter Media will go a long way in gauging the enjoyment factor of Feeding Frenzy. It can feel like one big inside joke at times, and so, the more familiar you are with their modus operandi, and the more familiar you are with the type of film they are sending up, the more fun you will probably have. But even for those of you walking in cold, I think there’s enough there in Feeding Frenzy to keep you – wait for it – satiated. 

What is Hubrisween? This is Hubrisween. And now, Boils and Ghouls, be sure to follow this linkage to keep track of the whole conglomeration of reviews for Hubrisween right here. Or you can always follow we collective head of knuckle on Letterboxd

Feeding Frenzy (2010) Red Letter Media / P: Jay Bauman, Mike Stoklasa / D: Jay Bauman, Mike Stoklasa / W: Jay Bauman, Mike Stoklasa, Rich Evans / C: Jay Bauman, Mike Stoklasa / E: Jay Bauman / M: Nathaniel Levisay / S: Ron Lipski, Gillian Bellinger, Rich Evans, Mike Stoklasa, Jay Bauman, Mike Johnson

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