Shock Value (2014)

SV2Some time ago, I reviewed the movie SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (here), which while a vampire movie (duh!) had a novel premise: that the director of the original silent classic NOSFERATU got hold of a real live (unalive?) vampire to star in the movie, for authenticity’s sake, but that this bloodsucker grew too powerful and dangerous for him to control.

I was reminded of this while watching Douglas Rath’s latest movie, SHOCK VALUE. In it, we are introduced to veteran B-movie (or maybe Z-movie, judging from the output we do see later) filmmaker Miles Fowler (Zak Hudson, ID), who is receiving an award from some generic festival for Best Horror Film of the Year.

His new dildo design wasn't well received...

His new dildo design wasn’t well received…

Not that he’s particularly pleased about it; as he tells his actress-collaborator Ashley (Janelle Odair), with whom he has long held a major crush, “It’s bullshit; I basically bought this.” Miles is in despair; after 15 or so movies, he hasn’t made it big yet (but again, based on the clips we see through the movie, and the making of his next movie, THE WHOREHOUSE THAT SCREAMED, I think Scott and I would be ripping this guy a new one in our reviews). He needs something to inspire him.

He gets it while sitting in his car up in the Hollywood Hills, whacking off to some couple who had come up there to screw. Suddenly the couple is attacked and slaughtered by an unknown figure, demonstrating a lethal version of coitus interruptus. Miles follows the figure back to his home, and then collects his friend and production assistant Justine (Michelle Campbell). Together they wait until the killer leaves, and then Miles breaks in and steals his weapons and other evidence, inviting the killer, Nick (Anthony Bravo) for lunch.

"You want me to kill for you... and you still want to split the check?"

“You’re blackmailing me… and you still want to split the check?”

Miles blackmails Nick into becoming the murderous star of WHOREHOUSE OF THE DEAD, realising it would be a noteworthy novelty (“Imagine if there was a bootleg movie from 1968 of Charlie Manson playing as killer! Wouldn’t you watch it?”) that would put his latest movie on the map. The incredulous, predatory Nick doesn’t trust him – and with good reason, as Miles assures Justine that, after the shoot, he’ll turn Nick into the police. However, Nick reluctantly agrees, promising to kill them both the first chance he gets…

This movie goes to weird places....

This movie goes to weird places….

SHOCK VALUE is the second feature film for both director Douglas Rath and writer Anthony Bravo, who also stars as Nick, but it’s a polished affair for them both. And they make the most of both the concept and the inherent problems and craptitude of Z-Movie filmmaking and the giallo subgenre: the illegal shoots in public places without a permit, the tired serial killer tropes like cross-dressing murderers versus the more mundane realities, the actresses who take their roles far too seriously for people who are paid to get nude, the storylines involving cross-dressing slashers and clairvoyant twins.

"I can't be mad! I'm British!"

“I can’t be mad! I’m British!”

And the characters evolve in interesting if not entirely unpredictable ways: Miles grows more ruthless and (dare I say it?) bloodthirsty to get his movie made, and Nick learns to socialise and connect more with people while learning his thespian craft. There’s also a cameo by Malcolm McDowell (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) as a mad actor who tries to convince Miles that a found-footage movie about Dracula done on cell phones could work (hint: no, it f**king couldn’t). Typically such cameos are there only to boost the recognition factor of a movie, but in this case it does serve a purpose to the plot.

There *is* nudity, but it's all in the best possible taste...

There *is* nudity, but it’s all in the best possible taste…

Although I was guessing how the story would play (and was, for the most part, correct), the movie kept me from switching off or fast forwarding, which is always a plus. The cast were all fine, in particular Hudson as the sleazy and unkempt Miles, and Michelle Campbell as Justine, an initially passive character who gradually grows stronger and more assertive as her loyalties shift from Miles to Nick.



As for Bravo, I was initially put off by his portrayal of Nick, thinking that he was too plain and, well, not sleazy enough to portray a serial killer, but his deadpan demeanour grew on me, and it worked well playing off some of the dry humour on display in his script. Speaking of the script, it’s chock full of satire on modern horror tropes and the moviemaking business.

SHOCK VALUE is available on VOD (though it’s worthy of a DVD release), and the trailer is below.

Deggsy’s Summary:

Director: Douglas Rath

Plot: 5 out of 5 stars

Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Deggsy. Who’ll never eat lunch in this town again.


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