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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

SCAVENGER KILLERS -- DVD review by porfle

Director Dylan Bank and co-writers Ken Del Vecchio and Rachael Robbins want to thrill you. They also want to shock you. They might even want to--horrify you. So if you feel that you care to subject your nerves to such a strain, you might want to check out their 2013 movie SCAVENGER KILLERS even though, despite a few effective moments, what it will probably do is alternately bore you and really gross you out.

It's the seriocomic story of a couple of thrill killers--one, the monstrously corrupt Judge Taylor Limone (Robert Bogue, "The Guiding Light"), and the other, his sexual and homicidal partner Clara Lovering (Robbins, BRUTAL MASSACRE: A COMEDY), an equally corrupt defense attorney--and the oddball assortment of FBI agents who are using their peculiar skills to solve the dastardly duo's string of brutally bizarre murders.

The latter include Dustin Diamond (better known as "Screech" from "Saved By the Bell") as the clairvoyant Agent Dewayne, who has psychic visions but only when he's fondling the massive breasts of helpful (and corpulent) civilian Velma "V-Rod" Rodriguez (Thea Vidale, "Thea") or sticking his fingers in her mouth. Agent Dewayne also suffers from extreme Tourette's Syndrome, a subject of constant bemusement for his boss Agent Guthro (Eric Roberts).

Also on the side of the law is mute, wheelchair-bound Agent Truman (Ken Del Vecchio again), who has wooden legs and a 180 I.Q., and his faithful interpreter and chair-pusher Agent Templeton (Kim Allen). Truman's broadly graphic sign language is played for laughs as are his ego, arrogance, and disdain for his lowly inferiors. This pays off sporadically, but a lengthy waterfront scene between him and another agent is dulled by weak writing and limp performances plus some annoyingly cutesy music.

Meanwhile, it's the bloody, brazen savagery and sheer horniness of Judge Limone and the sexy Clara that are meant to carry the day, along with what the filmmakers hope is their perverse charm. They're so unapologetically and gleefully evil that, at times, we do sorta buy into their being a fun couple of comic villains, always jumping each other's bones in public and private while salivating over their next kill.

What the latter entails, however, is so graphic and brutal that it may test your endurance for such antics. If EATING RAOUL was "black humor", then this is practically an oil slick in comparison.

While humor can help lessen the severity of the extreme violence in films of this nature, here it just seems to add an extra layer of perversion over everything. The sequence in which three naked members of an all-girl rock band are tortured and then slaughtered in various horrible ways is particularly disturbing, despite the filmmakers' attempts to inject it with gallows humor (literally).

And we're never quite sure if it's actually supposed to be funny, or if the "humor" elements are simply there to add another element of shock value. The death of their "cowboy" victim is pretty straightforward, with Clara riding him like a bronc while he must crawl over broken glass until they finally slash his throat. The judge's crowing about how he's "Superman" the whole time makes it more creepy than funny.

Strangely, there is a history of homicidal couples whose libidos were stoked by torture and murder, making some scenes of this nature uncomfortably close to reality. The violence itself is of the kind H.G. Lewis certainly would have generously stuffed into his films if he'd had the resources, although the realism of the advanced gore effects puts this in a different ballpark. Much of it, especially the pop-top brain removal gag, is positively Savini-esque.

Technically, the film looks fairly good while still displaying that distinct "direct-to-DVD" air. Acting is mostly pretty earnest, with the bigger names seeming to coast their way through most of their scenes (albeit capably, as one might expect). Charles Durning doesn't have much to do, while Eric Roberts treats the role of FBI boss Guthro as a mildly pleasant diversion. Robert Loggia, on the other hand, is the subject of one of the film's most outlandish (and SPFX-heavy) murder scenes.

The DVD from Midnight Releasing is in 16 x 9 widescreen with Dolby English audio and English subtitles (always a plus for those of us who don't hear so good). Extras consist of a behind-the-scenes featurette, a SPFX short, and a look at the film's premiere at the Hoboken Film Festival.

SCAVENGER KILLERS doesn't really take hold and get interesting until a couple of late plot twists that are pretty effective. It's an intermittently interesting low-budget movie that I found only semi-satisfying, but gorehounds--and fans of the good, bad, and ugly of bizarre cinema in general--may respond much more favorably.

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