Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Killing Death (2008) - Comedy Horror Film Review

The Killing Death (directed and written by Ian Russell) is a low budget comedy horror that was inspired by the films of the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!). Lewis was credited for creating the 'splatter' subgenre of horror films, a genre that focuses on gore and graphic violence. As is always the way I avoided reading anything about this film before watching it but was pleasantly surprised to find that the shoe string budget didn't get in the way of what is for the most part quite the funny movie.

Seasoned detective Frank (Jeremy Dangerfield - R.L. Stine's The Haunting Tour) and his rookie partner Jimmy (Tyhr Trubiak - Tempus Tormentum) are investigating a series of grisly murders that have taken place around the city they work in one long night. At each crime scene a victim has had a different body part removed. Meanwhile crazed pizza delivery guy Phil (Neil Reimer) is on a mission to collect ingredients for a very special pizza he is making...

The joy of not reading anything about this before watching was that it took me a little while to realise this was a comedy. I thought the script was very corny but it soon become very apparent this was of course on purpose. This is a film that starts off almost as a straight horror but becomes more and more farcical as it goes along. Leading this comedic adventure is Dangerfield who gets the most ridiculous lines, speaking mainly in tired cliches. His inept detective work, as well as his look, and the way he speaks really reminded me of Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin from Police Squad, in fact the only thing missing was him also giving narration. Much of the humour comes from the dialogue between the characters, usually between Frank and the straight man that is Jimmy. An early example of an exchange between them: "Sure is a nice night" "For a murder" "...I meant there wasn't a lot of traffic" "A quiet street hides a killer, never forget that Jimmy" "but we're in a suburb" "Hell is a suburb, where all the bad guys hang out together". The Killing Dead is littered with such ridiculous conversations throughout that on at least two different occasions made me laugh out loud. The highlight of this was a scene involving Jimmy interviewing a very jaded janitor.

While I did find a lot of this to be funny there was a slight downside to the style in that several sequences just didn't work for me. There was an obligatory sex scene that was displayed via the use of suggestive objects, such as a banana being peeled, and a hot dog sausage being put in a bun, didn't think much of that but at least it was brief. Towards the end there was a scene that felt like a homage to the old Benny Hill comedy sketches of characters being chased, and chasing each other. I felt that was a farce too far and was such a pointless few minutes that it could easily be removed without detracting at all from the story. I guess the sometimes over the top silliness was my main complaint in general, The Killing Death gets more and more absurd as it goes on and almost gets to be too much with how dumb all the characters progressively get.

Onto the murders themselves then. Being low budget (roughly $623 Canadian apparently) I didn't expect much, but the constraints are worked around in a fashion that was satisfying. There are also a decent amount of deaths, with the charming, yet creepy Phil being a highlight in each scene. It starts off mysterious with victims killed by an unknown assailant, but very early on it is revealed who the killer is. These deaths include among them a woman getting her eyes scooped out via an ice cream scoop, a man having his skull cut open, and someone getting their heart ripped out their body in an Indiana Jones style way. These all fit the budget feel of this film well. I will say that the directing sometimes felt a little too safe, scenes are shot competently, but usually with static camera angles that frame the action well but doesn't do enough to stand out.

This is split into chapters, each roughly between five and ten minutes long. Each gives a fun hint as to how the next victim is going to die. The pacing goes along in a way that towards end felt a little repetitive. It constantly switches back and forth between the detectives and the killer, it would have been nice to get some variation. It was also a shame that the finale didn't really give much screen time to Reimer's mad killer. Instead it concentrates on the detectives, and so there was no cheesy explanation of why Phil was doing what he was doing. This is a shame as that character had some personality to him that I would have enjoyed seeing more of, he was an interesting bad guy. There is apparently a book that came out that acted as a sequel to the film and cleared up some loose ends.

The Killing Death was a funny little indie comedy horror that had a mostly amusing script. For me I felt it became a little too silly by the time it finished, it may have been wise to reign in the stupidity a bit as it became distracting (saying that, the very last exchange of dialogue was pretty great). Regardless this hour long ride for the most part succeeded and I can't deny the fact that I did laugh out loud on a few occasions.


No comments: