HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


For their very first original series, cable horror channel FEARnet has enlisted writer-director-star Adam Green (HATCHET) to come up with--a sitcom.  But it isn't just any old sitcom, because "Holliston" (named after a small town in Massachusetts) is a surrealistic, irreverent romantic comedy with graphic horror elements and non-stop references to just about everything.  In other words, it plays pretty much like a live-action Adult Swim cartoon. 

Image Entertainment's 2-disc DVD set HOLLISTON: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON brings us the first six episodes of the series.  The droll, deadpan Green and his partner in slime, Joe Lynch (WRONG TURN 2), play Adam and Joe, roommates who work at the local cable access company making commercials and hosting a horror movie show called "The Movie Crypt."  In their spare time, they're also trying to launch an independent horror feature called "Shin Guards" (about a zombie soccer team from Mexico) by piecing together a mock trailer. 

While the show strives to "break the mold" and "twist the rules" of the traditional sitcom (lots of fourth-wall breaking, self-references, etc.), it's pretty similar to all the other sitcoms over the years that have done exactly the same thing.  Still, despite the fact that there are very few genuine laughs to be had in all of Adam and Joe's raucous hijinks, the fast-moving show has a certain freshness and, yes, "quirky" quality that I found enjoyable in its own cartoonish way and appealing on a basic fanboy level. 

I could do without the heavy metal aspects, complete with ear-splitting transition music--not all horror fans like that stuff, and, in fact, some of us can't stand it--although this does give us Twisted Sister's Dee Snider in a funny turn as station owner Lance Rockett, who is also the long-in-the-tooth lead singer for a Van Halen cover band called "Diver Down."  Snider (who, admittedly, looks like "my grandmother in her coffin") is a hoot in the role, as his swaggering macho mannerisms sometimes set off Adam and Joe's "gaydar" in unexpected ways.  (Rob Zombie stock player Bill Moseley also turns up a couple of times as local business owner Crazy Max.)

The boys themselves are super geeks--their apartment overflows with monster figures and toys while they agonize over which of their old VHS horror movies to burn onto DVD--making them instantly identifiable to a lot of us viewers.  Much ado is made of their romantic problems, especially those of lovesick loser Adam and his unrequited obsession with high school sweetheart Corri (Corri English, who reminds me of Britney Spears), which yields its share of mildly funny comic complications.  Joe's perky but not-so-bright Colombian girlfriend Laura is portrayed by the incredibly cute and funny Laura Ortiz (CHILLERAMA), who plays "ditzy" like a virtuoso and rocks a pair of knee-high Chuck Taylors. 

You never know what kind of graphic violence is going to befall Adam and Joe via dreams and fantasy sequences (after all, this is FEARnet), including a sudden SCANNERS-style head explosion, a POLTERGEIST-inspired face shredding, and, most impressive of all considering the show's modest SPFX budget, a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK triple head melt.  Green gets hacked in bed by his own creation, the hideous killer from HATCHET, and skewered by Ghostface from SCREAM.  One episode ends with the entire cast being machine-gunned to death in a hail of CGI bullet hits. 

The stories are a mix of the bizarre with generous helpings of standard sitcom-style situations.  The pilot episode, "The Hooker", is practically a romp through rom-com territory with Adam trying to make Corri jealous by hiring a skanky hooker to pose as his girlfriend.  Some fantasy is supplied by Adam's imaginary friend, GWAR's Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie), who lives in his closet and dispenses not-so-sage advice while only managing to be occasionally funny. 

"Camera Rental" features a bland plotline about the boys renting out one of the cable company's expensive cameras for the weekend and then sweating over its return, while the girls liven things up by renting an extremely haunted apartment from guest star Ray Wise (CHILLERAMA, "Twin Peaks").  "Skunked" finds Adam and Joe sharing a bathtub after getting sprayed by the title critter, while Corri and Laura attempt to purchase large amounts of vinegar to counteract the odor but eventually must settle for fifteen boxes of douche and end up getting arrested for their trouble.

The great Tony Todd lends his considerable presence to "Candyman" as he moves in with Adam and Joe and then moves in on Corri, overstaying his welcome to the extreme while the boys try to think of a way to tell the overbearing actor to get lost.  In "Laura's Little Twitter", a cutely amusing subplot about accidental "cameltoe" in Laura's Twitter pic gives way to a welcome guest appearance by Seth Green as a schizophrenic SPFX expert who agrees to do the effects for the "Shin Pads" trailer for free.  Which is great until his alternate personality unexpectedly surfaces and goes nuts. 

Season finale "Weekend of Horrors" begins with that triple face melt after which the gang attend a horror convention and encounter Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, and John Landis.  The latter is presented with a disc of Adam and Joe's "Shin Pads" trailer after they break into his autograph line pretending to be disabled.  

The high point for me is when Hodder decks Joe with one punch for a joke that Joe told about him earlier back at the apartment.  I also welcome any opportunity to see Danielle Harris, especially when she mentions the words "Last Boy Scout."  Meanwhile, scriptwriter Green makes the most of this opportunity to vividly illustrate the kind of unsavory convention fans he has encountered in real life.

The 2-disc DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.  No subtitles or closed-captioning.  Bonus features include cast commentaries, deleted and alternate scenes, bloopers, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.  (Also available in a 1-disc Blu-Ray edition.)

While seldom as funny as it thinks it is, HOLLISTON: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON gets by on its sheer enthusiasm and likability (and Laura Ortiz).  I can take it or leave it, but it isn't hard to take at all. 

Buy it at


No comments: