Picture it. You’ve not been in formal education for 20 years. Your job does not require you to write down anything more than “This person didnae steal anyhing or mibbe they did” and yet you have set aside a day that will take you into the wee hours to of the morning where you’re going to write a plot synopsis of two of the most awful films ever unleashed upon the video shop going public. All to complete the Iron Mutant Challenge.
Why? Yes, you may ask “Why?”. And I shall explain why and in the explaining I shall realise what I suspected after finished the first and realised there was still hours to go and miles to write….I do not regret this.
Are you aware of “The Last Drive-In” which plays on the streaming site Shudder? Oh…you’re not. I was hoping we could have skipped this bit. Ah, but I know you are…and you…you too…all of the people sitting there with hand cramps and feeling the onset of arthritis in their typing fingers know what it is. It is a show in which the host, Joe Bob Briggs, accompanied by Darcy the Mail Girl present to us a double feature of Drive-In films of varying quality. Taking occasional breaks to discuss the film with its stars and makers, hurl out factoids, and on this occasion lay down the gauntlet of the “Iron Mutant Challenge”. A challenge of epic proportions where we the viewers were tasked with writing a detailed synopsis of both the films and the host segments in order to prove that we endured these terrible terrible awful horrible straight-to-video flicks. The type that drew you in with the box art which promised film making on a scale it could not deliver and left you full of regret yet never diminished your optimism that the next piece of legendary box art would be all you hoped it would be. It wasn’t.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the two films we all sat down and watched and while I could go into detail about the plot and story of Sledgehammer I feel it would lead to too many spoilers and I could also go into detail about the plot and story of Things but it doesn’t have any. I really don’t want to give people an excuse to say “Oh I know what that’s about so I don’t have to watch it”. No, no, you will watch it. You will sit down right now and you will not get up will you can tell me exactly what in the name of the big man was Things about? I want to know. I need to know. I will risk unleashing a ghostly sledgehammer wielding man-boy through a seance just to contact people on the other side who can explain Things. Things has Things in it. It has dialogue but you don’t know who is saying it as it doesn’t match up with their lips. The scenes are so protracted that you know they were just trying to pad out the film to get it to a decent length and hey! Sledgehammer, sitting over there in the corner fading in and out of this plane of existence. Don’t think we didn’t notice the long lingers shots of the outside of the house to make sure you got past the 80 minute mark. Neither of you can say we used our time wisely and filled every moment with something. Oh perhaps it was something but the something was nothing. Checking to see if there’s beasties in the bathroom with the same detail as an Australian Public Information Film that shows how to ensure there’s no Funnel Web Spiders hiding behind the toilet does not make for exciting film watching.
To say these are bad films is easy. To say they are the worse films ever means you haven’t seen enough films. They’re amateur. Made by amateurs. Using relatively cheap equipment with little or no training means that they could be described as “Working-Class film-makers”. They found a way to make films with the tiniest of budgets and got them into the video shops. And people rented them. They may have been disappointed or they may have found something so bad that they love it even more. They love that they managed to take two rooms and dress them so different to make it look like a whole house. They love that the actors are not just actors but the writer, director, composer, wardrobe, location manager, tea boy. They love that can look at these films and think “If they can do it then maybe I can too. Where’s my PV-610 Camcorder, I have magic to make.”
Should you feel compelled to take a read I’ll leave a link to my Iron Mutant Challenge entry here: