“Smash Cut” (2009)
Studio: Zed Filmworks
Starring: David Hess, Sasha Grey, Jesse Buck, Michael Berryman, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Ray Sager
Directed by: Lee Demarbre
Running Time: 86 min.
Synopsis: A filmmaker starts killing people and uses their body parts as props in his new horror film.
Smash Cut is a schlock film for the 21st century that includes a low budget, cheap, but cool make-up effects, favorite genre actors, and an outrageous story. Lee Demarbre, who brought us the campy Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, directs the film. Demarbre pays a great homage to the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis by not only borrowing from his style of filmmaking, but putting him in the film as well. For the most part the film is entertaining and opens really strong, but then starts to go downhill towards the middle and up until the end.
The film features a number of horror vets, such as, David Hess (Last House on the Left) who’s the star of the film playing filmmaker Able Whitman. Also in the film is Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), a rare appearance by The Wizard of Gore himself, Ray Sager, and of course H.G. Lewis who appears twice in the film, once in the opening of the film giving a warning to viewers (just like the one William Kerwin did way back when during the opening to the Blood Feast trailer) and then playing a news director at a TV station. The film also stars porn-star, now trying to be a mainstream actress, Sasha Grey.
The movie is about Able Whitman (Hess) who makes these really bad horror films. One night after leaving a strip club and taking his favorite stripper home, he gets into a car accident killing the stripper. Instead of going to the police, he keeps the body in his trunk. The next day while shooting a scene for his new film, he realizes and understands what the critics have been saying about his horror films, the effects look fake! After the crew leaves, he gets the strippers body out of his trunk and uses that in the scene instead of the fake body. The studio loves the scene and says it looks very real. Now, Whitman has to use real blood and gore to make his film a masterpiece. So, he goes on a killing spree and uses body parts from his victims in his film.
Meanwhile, a reporter, April Carson (Grey) is on the trail of the killer. Also, her sister (who was the stripper killed in the car accident) is missing and she believes she was a victim of the killer. Carson teams up with a private dick, Isaac Beaumonde (played by Jesse Buck) who helps her with the case. The Beaumonde character pays homage to Abraham Gentry, the character in Lewis’ The Gore Gore Girls, where both are private eyes and walked around with a cane. The duo of Carson and Beaumonde are also identical to the one in Gore Gore Girls, female reporter/male private eye. They are many references to Lewis’ films throughout the movie, but they pay homage to The Gore Gore Girls the most. Later on Carson and Beaumonde suspect Whitman could be the killer and Carson goes undercover as an actress and gets a part in Whitman’s new film.
Things I liked about the film were that it was a throwback to the classic gore film. No CGI blood and gore here, just cheap blood and guts. The film had a great opening credit scene with stills of the characters and shots from the film. Some of the shots were very gritty looking and had a vibe to a 70’s film. David Hess is great as Able Whitman and gives an excellent performance. I also noticed a lot of retro item in the movie like rotary dial phones and 16mm bolex film cameras. Whitman also shoots his movies on film and even mentions to someone during the movie that everyone now shoots on video, but he only shoots on film. It’s funny because Smash Cut is shot on HD video.
I also liked the fact that they were many Herschell Gordon Lewis references all through the movie. In one scene, there’s a painting up in an office that is the same painting used in Color Me Blood Red. The drumbeats to Blood Feast are used here and there during the film. Then there are the many odes to The Gore Gore Girls. Like I mentioned before the reporter/private eye team is one, then there’s scenes in a strip club, protesters, and even a scene where a woman is getting her eyes popped out by Whitman and he crushes them like an egg. There are even a few lines and characters borrowed, like when the bartender says, “I’ll be right back, I gotta take a shit!” The bartender in Gore Gore Girls (which is played by Ray Sager) says that same line. Then there’s the crazy war vet that hangs out at the strip club that Beaumonde suspects is the killer at first. This is like the character in Gore Gore Girls that is also a crazy war vet that likes to smashes melons with his hands. Instead of melons, the character in Smash Cut burns plastic toy army men.
Things I didn’t like about the film were some of the performances and the middle and ending of the movie. The film had a great start and the story interested me, but then as the film went on it started to become predictable and it had a lackluster ending that could have been so much better. Another thing was some of the actors were terrible. Hess and the other genre faves were great, but once Grey and Buck appeared on screen I wanted them to get off. (That’s something Grey is actually good at in her other job.) Their acting was really bad and I didn’t like the character of the private eye, Beaumonde very much. It got a little silly every time he was doing a scene. Grey is just God-awful as the reporter Carson. She should stick to porn or get some acting lessons. She seems bored in every scene and doesn’t show any emotion. In one scene where she’s auditioning for Whitman, he has her read Hamlet. For one part he grabs the head off the dead stripper he has laying around the set (everyone just thinks it’s a prop) and gives it to Carson for the read. The funny thing is that the stripper is her sister who she’s looking for and even though rigor mortis has set in, I can’t believe she didn’t recognize it was her and she even had to kiss it. Although, I blame the writing or directing in that scene than on her performance, but for the whole film she is pretty bad.
All in all, Smash Cut is a lot better than all these stupid horror remakes that Hollywood is pumping out. It’s a decent little film that despite its flaws, it’s worth watching and enjoyable for the most part. The film is a great tribute to the movies of Herschell Gordon Lewis and the influence of Lewis is shown through the filmmaking style of the director, Lee Demarbre.