STUDIO: Cinema Epoch
MSRP: $14.98
RUNNING TIME: Somewhere around 60 minutes
• Commentary by director, producer, and makeup coordinator
• Commentary by cast
• Behind-the-scenes footage
• Deleted scenes
• Outtakes
• Stills galleries
• Technical notes
• Production sketches
• Cast and crew biographies
• Interactive map of the world
• Shooting script (DVD-ROM)
• Wallpapers (DVD-ROM)
• Soundtrack in MP3 (DVD-ROM)

The Pitch

meets A Canticle for Leibowitz!"

The Humans

Kowal III, Brad Rockhold, Wendie Newcomb, Rob Cunningham, Steven A. Kowal,
Darlene Dolan, Bones, Tom Johnson.

The Nutshell

Slangman drifts through a post-nuclear wasteland, trading snippets of knowledge
he has gained in his travels for batteries and other commodities of a forgotten
world. In one of his travels, he encounters a tongueless Scotsman with an
artifact of untold importance: a CD-ROM, evidence of a whispered myth about a
repository of all the old world’s knowledge called The Source. But the journey
to The Source will be fraught with peril. And mutants.

"Squeal like whatever the fuck you are!"

The Lowdown

guilty of often championing those qualities of children that adults can borrow
when watching a movie. I do that because I tend to think children give
themselves over to imagination with a bit less reservation, and, occasionally,
being in thrall to a filmmaker in that way can be incredibly rewarding. At the
same time, I’m not too fond of similar childish qualities when possessed by the
filmmakers. Bleak Future is a film that trades entirely on the hoped-for
success of its youthfully enthusiastic methods on both sides of the camera.

In other
words it’s a bad movie, a B-movie. It’s the sort of movie that gets made when
there exists a passion to make movies, but none of that pesky talent. In Bleak
, rather than trying — and failing — to be good actors, the
cast wisely decides to excel in being bad actors. Likewise, instead of telling
a good story, the script tells a bad story with a minimum of distraction. The
problem with these particular strategies is that intentionally being wretched
at something is, in essence, a joke. And repetitive jokes get old very quickly.

"I will sell you a Pentium if you give me half a chance."

structuring the script is handy, both in the way it avoids becoming stale and,
I imagine, in the freedom it offered the filmmakers. There are a dozen or so
little sub-sections, each with their own little headings, that function like
issues of a comic book. They have their own little dramatic arcs and build
along toward a shared conclusion.

that structure, though, there is entirely too much time wasted on attempted
irreverence. You’ll get more than a hint of the feel of the old Monty Python
faux-narratives, the difference being that the Pythons’ humor was generally
spot on, and the humor in Bleak Future involves arguable
retards in clean suits becoming mesmerized by a soda can. When bald efforts at
that brand of humor surface, the film becomes embarrassingly humorless.

I’m intentionally
trying to bring up criticisms that could just as easily be leveled on a larger
budget movie. The issues that drop Bleak Future into the dunes are
those which could be obviated by a greater attention to the script by just
about anyone who has gotten a C or better in a creative writing course. The
direction is excellent, keeping the limitations in mind, and the makeup effects
are likewise top of their tier. It’s just a distaste for the weak characters,
the heavy-handed jokes, and pointless diversions from the plot that make it
hard to approach Bleak Future with anything other than a wince. With so many examples
of dedicated, passionate, amateur filmcraft on display in the rest of the
movie, why does the script have to sound as if it were written by children?

Superman, yeah?

The Package

One thing
that I find absolutely wonderful about these labor of love pictures is the
completist view the filmmakers take on including bonus features on their discs.
Prepare yourself for:

commentary with director Brian S. O’Malley, co-producer Marc Campos, and makeup
coordinator Travis Rindahl. This really is a good commentary, and, to my mind,
has more value to it than the film does with its original dialogue track. O’Malley
and company put a lot of time, effort, and consideration into their project,
and they don’t hesitate to share the lessons that they have learned in the

The cast
commentary, on the other hand, feels kinda forced, as if the four leads are
somewhat hesitant to say anything out of character. They talk about things
completely unrelated to the film; they lapse into long periods of silence; and
they don’t seem to get each others’ senses of humor. Frank Kowal III, who
played the Slangman, is the sole interesting voice, with more to say than the
others and a helpful focus on the material at hand.

One day, The Postman and the TV Repairman will cross paths, and Kevin Costner will never be the same.

than that, you get a boat load of stills (over 500 of them), a bunch of
behind-the-scenes footage taken in an off-the-cuff style, a few topical
featurettes, way more snippets of deleted material than is necessary, production
sketches, an invaluably-detailed set of technical notes, a map of the world of Bleak
, and biographies. And that’s before we get to the DVD-ROM
content, which includes:

original shooting script, wallpapers, the whole soundtrack (which is good fun)
in MP3 format.

There are
also super-secret Easter Eggs. As of this writing, I suck and have found none of them.

I don’t
think the movie itself is that great, but this DVD is a treasure-trove of cool
shit for the amateur filmmaker in need of some advice, examples, or
encouragement. For that reason, I’m going to score it higher than I expected.

6.5 out of 10