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STUDIO: Chemical Burn Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Scenes
• Ed Stites and Company
A carnival sideshow with delusions of storytelling…on PCP
Matthew Broomfield (director) Eric Broomfield, Barry Silver, Frank Walsh, The Enigma
The Order of Mystery, a secret society of necromancers dating back to ancient Sumeria, control the fate of the world. It is their duty to push back the armies of the abyss every 200 years through a series of ritual sacrifices. The Unholy Sideshow, a family of serial killer, black magician sideshow freaks, are next for the job that has prevented the coming of the dead for thousands of years. A bitter feud between Malerkus and Lazari, two mad scientist black magicians, causes the ritual to be delayed, setting off the balance of the living and the dead. It is up to The Amazing Barry Silver, a young magician and fakir, to stop them. With the help of The Enigma, a gum-shoe detective and guardian of The Order, Barry must stop Malerkus and Lazari before time runs out. Witness the beginning of this action-filled saga, where evil battles evil while the fate of mankind lies in the hands of the twisted and deranged. In a world of fire breathing vampires, modified killers and an onslaught of zombies, no one is safe. When it’s evil vs. evil who can you trust?
Okay, I know that The Nutshell may make this flick sound like it’s got some great mythological tale to tell, but I’m calling “bullshit” on that right away. Freakshow Apocalypse: The Unholy Sideshow is just an excuse to get as many disturbingly wacky folks together as possible, film some shit and see what happens. And while that would be okay for a documentary on sideshow performers, the threadbare attempt at story and Swingline stapler editing make this an almost unwatchable affair. Except that it’s just so batshit I-don’t-give-a-fuck deranged that while I understood less than half of what was going on, I still managed to make it to the end and not be filled with contempt. More of a befuddled “Okey-dokey then.”
The only real “mythology” is dictated to the viewer via cheesy silent film type title cards that look like they were put together in Windows Movie Maker. While we’re told there’s some secret order of magicians that are planning for the apocalypse or some such nonsense, the real thing this movie wants to throw at you is lots and lots of freaks doing freak things. Piercing every conceivable part of the body that’s pierce-able (excluding genitals, thankfully), swallowing swords, swallowing fire and doing every classic sideshow bit in the book. While I have a slight bias towards these performers of a long lost era, the tricks wear thin pretty quickly.
The best I can put together is that the beginning half of the movie shows a group called The Unholy Sideshow showing off their routine to a crowd full of extras that are most certainly NOT friends the filmmakers pulled onto the set for a day. They do their thing and then manage to rope a few spectators back to their Sawyer family wannabe house to torture them in every way a no budget production will allow them to. There’s actually one effect of some tendon slashing that’s not great but not terrible. Maybe I’ve just been tendonphobic every since Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. But there’s other weird shit too. Some guy smashes a buzzsaw into a nameless victims face, there’s a guy that has a little Kuato grow out of his nipple (the effect is quite clearly an old baby doll melted together. Awful but just cheesy enough), and some giant potato/worm man in a cage. Never really was able to suss that one out. It’s all shot and cut together so frantically that you don’t have any time to get exactly what’s going on, or even nail down a single character’s name.
There is something of a connect with the story after the first half, as we sorta kinda piece together that there’s a group of freaks that are getting ready for some big bad apocalypse shindig and that The Unholy Sideshow refuses to join them in their end of the world party. This is pretty much inferred from shots of a clown spraying dust on Masonic graves, quick cuts of clay-faced zombies shambling about and other such balderdash. Even though you’re able to basically figure out the outline of the film, it’s presented in such a hack and slash manner that if it weren’t for the silly silent film title cards, it’d be very easy to get lost in the madness on screen.
And while no one does any “acting” to warrant more than a few words, it is clear that most of the main players are having fun being totally bugfuck nutty, even if some of them come off as if they’ve never had to speak lines in front of a camera. Even stalwart sideshow actor The Enigma (the puzzle pieces tattooed guy from that one pretty good X-Files episode) gets to spout a few bits of mystic sounding mumbo jumbo. That’s when you realize why they kept him silent in that X-Files episode.
The person who gets the most screentime is probably Eric Bloomfield (definitely no relation to writer/director Matthew Bloomfield) as the leader of The Unholy Sideshow, Malerkus (my new top pick for the name of my future child). He definitely has the most energy of anyone in the cast and really seems to be giving it his all, shapeshifting between a demented clown and a deranged mad scientist. It’s too bad he’s the only one worth mentioning. The other “leads” (I use that term loosely because they speak maybe eight lines combined) are made of more wood than your local beaver dam. No one else does anything even deserving of the “so bad it’s good” treatment. I can actually recommend a Z-grade shot on video flick like this simply if there’s one truly outstanding, crackbrained actor in the bunch. For these kind of movies, you have to turn it up to 11 or go the fuck home.
At the beginning of Freakshow Apocalypse: The Unholy Sideshow, we’re told that this is two parts of an eventual four part “mini-series” and the ending’s ominous “To Be Continued…” seems to want to make good on that promise. If there’s one thing the world doesn’t need, it’s another Freakshow Apocalypse. Recommended for only hardcore freak enthusiasts and those who don’t give a rat’s swollen nutsack about shameless spectacle getting in the way of storytelling.
My DVD came in a paper slip, so I can’t say too many great things about the actual packaging. The video is decent for a shot-on-DV passion project. The only special features are a few videos showing a hodgepodge of deleted segments that make as much sense as the finished film, an equally jumbled together bit of behind the scenes shenanigans and a short aside with the metalhead effects guy putting together a few key effects. All the videos have that “we’re all friends making a movie” vibe, so while they aren’t terribly informative, it’s like taking a peek at someone’s incredibly bizarre home movies.–
Out of a Possible 5 Stars