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RUNNING TIME 77 minutes
Los Angeles has a Ripper? I had no idea.
Randy Tobin, Celeste Martinez, Chase Monroe, Devanny Pinn, Craig McIntyre
In an attempt to pursue her dreams of becoming a singer, Kristy White travels to Los Angeles. She moves in with her aunt Peggy and cousin Angel. Angel’s serial killer friend, Graham, takes a liking to Kristy, which means her days are numbered…
Intrigued by the title alone, I requested to review The Los Angeles Ripper. It had been on the list of available discs since before I got the CHUD gig, overlooked since it arrived at CHUD HQ a couple of years back. After a bit of searching, I found the film’s IMDb page. I was surprised to see that the film literally had no star rating, which got me wondering: how many (or how few) people had actually seen the film?
Things got even more interesting when the disc finally arrived in my possession. The cover art read “Promotional Copy” and “Collector’s Edition”. Opening the case revealed a DVD-R, labeled with permanent marker. No big deal, I thought. I’d received hastily labeled screeners before. What caught my eye was this:
Yes, that’s a hand-written index card from director Craig McIntyre. I’ve blurred his contact info. Also, the case held some sweet stickers featuring the titular killer’s murder-van. An earnest filmmaker with hope in his heart sent his little indie flick to us. He cast it out, not knowing if some asshole like me would even give it a chance. I couldn’t help but find it oddly endearing.
Allow me to cut to the chase: This review is in the Home Video column, but The Los Angeles Ripper isn’t available on home video. Not yet. In fact, there may not be any way for you to see the film right now. It had some screenings back in 2011 and 2012, most notably a midnight screening at Tarantino’s New Beverly. But there may be some hope: a comment on the film’s official Facebook page says the film is on track for a 2013 DVD release (from Troma, no less). If you want to see this one, my best advice to you all is to keep a watchful eye on that Facebook page. So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what I thought about The Los Angeles Ripper.
Every filmmaker has their first movies. For some, it’s when they got their first Super 8 camera or VHS camcorder. These are the days when young directors start ordering their friends around, using ketchup for blood and painting water pistols black so they look more real. Nearly every filmmaker starts their journey like this, and some of them soon progress to film school where a hobby becomes a craft, and technique gets refined.
There is something special about an amateur film. Amateur movies vaguely resemble the work of a professional, but I’m not sure they can be held to the same standard, or judged by the same criteria. Even though it may not be Craig McIntyre’s first film, The Los Angeles Ripper is undoubtedly the work of an amateur. But I don’t mean that as an insult. Filmmakers who weren’t making any money for their work have made some truly amazing art, so being an amateur isn’t a bad thing.
Here’s the not-so-fuzzy truth about this flick, though: it’s just not good. None of the characters have a narrative arc. It’s shot so poorly that you can’t even call it cinematography. Scenes of no narrative relevance stretch beyond Kubrickian lengths. A club scene features about five extras dancing to a horribly distorted music loop that pounds for seven straight minutes at ear-shredding volume, all while characters share inane dialogue at normal levels.
Later, our killer and a potential victim share a nine-minute dialogue scene on the beach, featuring the most awkward dialogue I’ve heard since Birdemic. Listen up for verbal gems like, “your legs have some hair on ‘em” and “I just drink a lot of tea. A lot of chamomile… tea.” If those don’t tickle your fancy, perhaps this thrilling exchange might:
“I think I just saw a dulfin.”
“It was out there.”
Some of these lines could be insanely funny when taken out of context, but having to sit through nine other minutes of mind-rending nonsense tends to skew one’s opinion. It’s not just the dialogue that makes this scene so bad; the two actors share no sense of rhythm or cadence. They talk over one another, interrupting each other’s lines. It’s so awkward and stilted that I suppose the scene might actually have been improvised. Maybe I just can’t believe you can plan this kind of shit.
Speaking of performances, the only one worth mentioning is our killer, played by Randy Tobin in all his hirsute glory. He comes off as a rapey, coked-up creep, which is pretty spot-on.
If I wanted to sound nice, I could say that the script is a bold, albeit unsuccessful attempt at telling a non-traditional narrative. But speaking honestly, there isn’t anything resembling a narrative structure to be found, other than a bloody climax. The seventy-four minutes prior are just a kernel of an idea, thinly spread and supplemented with blood, tits, asses in tight shorts, poor acting, and painful dialogue.
It also bears mentioning that the climactic scene is ten minutes of two men menacing, beating, and killing two crying women. Literally ten straight minutes of the most disgustingly misogynistic stuff I’ve seen in a long time. Just to give you some context, Hostel Part II‘s infamous (and impressive) bloodbath scene is about half that length.
Just to be clear, film nerds like me LOVE bad movies like The Room or Birdemic. But those flicks are true rarities, where horribly inept filmmakers managed to catch lightning in a bottle. They can’t be imitated or fabricated by choice. I’m not saying The Los Angeles Ripper was attempting to do that, but one thing is for sure: it’s bad, which means it falls short of enjoyably bad.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Despite my harsh critique, I must remember that The Los Angeles Ripper isn’t the work of a professional. Again, that’s not an insult. It’s a fact. I’m glad Craig McIntyre is making more films, because every amateur filmmaker deserves another bite at the apple. It’s the only way to become a professional filmmaker. His next film, Future Punks, is currently in production.