STUDIO: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
MSRP: $24.98
RUNNING TIME: 325 minutes
• Shock-O-Rama Trailers
• Short Films
• Deleted Scenes (Suburban Nightmare only)
• Cast and Crew Featurettes
• Audio Commentaries for All Four Films

The Pitch

“If we put the word cinema in the title of our company, maybe people won’t realize that the sketchy zero-budget exploitation movies we’re selling are shot on SuperBetamax!”

The Humans

Directors Jon Keeyes, Pete Jacelone, Justin Wingenfeld, Brett Piper; Actors Trent Haaga, Brandy Little, J.J. North, Theresa Lynn, Debbie Rochon, Julian Wells, Georgia Hatzis

The Nutshells

There are four separate flicks here, and I assure you that I don’t resort to the term flick underogatorily. For those readers with short attention spans who are also considering checking these movies out – and I imagine that those subsets of the population overlap liberally – there is a numeric score at the bottom of the page.  For those who find run-on sentences and questionably deployed, impenetrable sarcasm endearing, read on! 

“So I said to the surgeon, ‘Make me look like Steve Buscemi, only good looking,’
and after a long pause, he said, ‘…really..?‘”

In Suburban Nightmare, Director Jon Keeyes welcomes us into a day in the life of Charles and Deborah Rosenblad: husband-and-wife serial killers played by Trent Haaga and Brandy Little.  After a night with some dinner/guests doesn’t go as planned, their precarious love-hate relationship begins to unravel. Think of it as The War of the Roses with a torture room (which, we can all agree, that movie could have used).

Psycho Sisters is about four enormous breast implants attached to two sociopathic women, and the violence they commit (they being the women, not the implants, though it is difficult to tell who is really in charge here). After being erroneously set free from a mental institution, sisters Jackie and Jane (played by J.J. North and Theresa Lynn – don’t worry which is which – I’m not sure they even know) engage in meandering adventures wherein they kill their former assailants, bikers, random strangers and/or anybody who owed money to director Pete Jacelone.  Also, technically a zombie picture considering Theresa Lynn’s mall-bangs had been put to rest by the civilized world ten years prior to filming.

The titular sisters

Skin Crawl has absolutely nothing to do with crawling skin.  Say what you will of Psycho Sisters; at least the title set me up for no broken promises.  The story centers on a man who plots with his mistress to murder his wife (played by Debbie Rochon), partly because they are drifting apart emotionally, but mostly because she won’t do anal. Really. That’s a plot-point.  What he and his sexy accomplice don’t know is that they are releasing a demonic curse that was initiated in the 1800’s, when all overlit video footage was required by law to be run through Cinelook’s Sepia filter.  Director Justin Wingenfeld and an editor who saw Memento take a tale of revenge from beyond the grave and, through ingenius movie-magic, scramble it into a tale of revenge from beyond the grave.

“Yes, I’d like to register a complaint regarding my recent purchase of a Schick Catorce!”

Drainiac (not a He-Man villain… that I know of) is your good old-fashioned Spam-in-a-house flick, although based on its pedigree, I suppose this would be considered Treet-in-a-house. Julie (cutie Georgia Hatzis) and her oppressively assholionic father (we’re talking 8-mile levels of parental oppression here) move to a delapidated house in the country.  After approximately 38 seconds of fixing a door-hinge, Julie’s father hits the bar to celebrate, and to rant about his daughter to random drunkards.  Meanwhile, Julie’s high school friends, given the choice between eating delicious submarine sandwiches and helping a possibly psychotic girl scrub down a diseased hovel in the middle of nowhere make the obvious choice, given that they are in a 16mm film called Drainiac. 

As it happens, the water in the house is bad.  Not water-softener-needed-bad so much as fly-out-of-the-toilet-in-tentacle-form-and-rip-your-balls-off-bad. Optimistic viewers will hope that an expert in demonology and poltergeists happens along the residence to perform an exorcism.  Does one?  I’m not telling.  I already ruined the ball-ripping-offing tentacle thing.

Publicity still from Christopher Nolan’s gritty, humorless, real-world reimagining of
Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The Lowdowns

Suburban Psycho: Horror Collection is a priced-to-barely-convince collection of four films of varying quality (which use varying levels of actual film) designed to elicit disgust, shock, laughter, horror and boners, not necessarily in that order and possibly primarily from people who can’t use pencils for safety reasons. Results vary among the four… um… films?

Suburban Nightmare is a thoughtfully conceived and directed movie.  Director Jon Keeyes uses some nice long takes and surprisingly effective use of the gimmicky split-diopter.  The acting is surprisingly good (not great… but good), especially from Trent Haaga, whose immediately preceding IMDB credit is Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots. The only things holding it back from the “real-movie” frontier are a hammy script and stagey lighting that really highlights the fact that this isn’t on film.

“Mrs. Scholanda Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” 

Psycho Sisters is the most Grindhousey (don’t look that word up – just trust me) of the four.  I used the word meandering in the lowdown, and boy does it ever!  Scenes seem to occur with little relation to each other, and randomly either pay off or don’t.  The kills are not entertaining (one death-by-multiple-chairs-to-the-face came close, though), the jokes aren’t funny and there’s little to enjoy here aside from fleeting glimpses of J.J. North’s naked body, if that’s your thing. Theresa Lynn gets some points for throwing a lot of bizarre rage into her role, but loses a few for a prudish topless scene (the Hell!?) and loses a dozen for me finding out that she got angry if you pronounced her name as “Theresa” on set.  Apparently it should be pronounced “Theresa.”  Oh.

It was quite tempting to make this one a running gag.

Skin Crawl left me with one overwhelming impression: Julian Wells is very, very comfortable being naked (and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be). As the adulteress mastermind, hardly a scene goes by in which she isn’t topless by the end.  The video itself (I cringe every time I try to call it a film) is a real JV-level mess.  Of the leads, only Julian is at all interesting to watch (clothed or not).  The bad attempts to sell the drama of a man having his wife killed go on for over an hour before we get precious few minutes of Debbie Rochon attempting to convincingly zombie-shamble (when you’re an actress who can’t play a good zombie, it’s time to rethink your goals). According to the director, the story (husband and mistress have wife killed / wife comes back for zombie revenge) is an homage to Creepy magazine.  To this, I say, “Hasn’t the publishing world suffered enough!?”

Billy Drago… Mimi Rogers.  Never meant to be.

Drainiac starts of on the right foot, and then shuffles clumsily but sportingly on both feet as it proceeds.  It was shot on film, contains some strong practical effects, and has a bitchin’ title.  It certainly feels like a movie in a way that eludes the other movies in the collection, but it suffers from a lack of kills and a weak third act (I felt the same way about The Hannah Montana Movie).  As you are reading this on the internet, you are mere seconds away from whatever pornography you wish to see (in case you didn’t know), but I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t mention an extended bathtub scene featuring Miss Hatzis as a mark in the plus column.  I’m sure she appreciates me bringing it up as well, now that she’s a respected television actress.

Richard Donner’s Sloth Rising: a touching portrait or misguided cash grab. You decide.

The Package

Your presentation here is a mixed bag, with Suburban Nightmare on cheap looking Hi Def, Psycho Sisters shot in muddy 16mm, Drainiac shot in pretty good-looking 16mm, and Skin Crawl resembling something Uncle Charlie brought back from vacation on his Hi-8 camcorder. Sound is an afterthought in all cases.

All of these projects come with audio commentaries, which feature well-intentioned creators explaining how they (snicker) came up with the inspiration for Psycho Sisters, or how they (snicker) spent several months cracking the script for Skin Crawl.  While there is a layer of delusion to anyone who thinks that any of these appear completely professional, the commentaries were surprisingly informative and easy to listen to.  In the case of Psycho Sisters and Skin Crawl, they are more entertaining than the movies themselves.

Matthew McConaughey was certain that he was a lock for the lead
in the live action adaptation of Mary and Max.  And then… Fred walked in.

Aside from commentaries, Suburban Nightmare is the most packed disc in the bunch, with features covering the entire production process, the actors, the sets, and even the photos of dead people in the torture room (SPOILER: they’re friends and family members wearing cheap wound-gags – didn’t see that coming, did you?). There are also some short films of varying quality/surreality that are worth watching when stoned… theoretically. Of these, an adaptation of Jack London’s short story Lost Face is one lead actor away from being the best material on any of these discs.  So close… yet so far…

The other discs contain mostly trailers.  And oh, the trailers. The many, many, many (I get paid by the word – can you tell?  Well, can you?) excruciatingly low-rent trailers, or as I like to think of them, The Misty Mundae Exploitation Gauntlet. She’s in about 134% of them (math not fact-checked).  With names like Bacterium, Chainsaw Sally and The Creature From Hillbilly Lagoon, the target audience for this set will get more enjoyment out of these absurd promos than either Skin Crawl or Psycho Sisters.

Suburban Nightmare: 4.5  / Psycho Sisters 1.5

Skin Crawl: .5 / Drainiac 4.5