Monday, April 21, 2014

Indie Flix: A Dark Place Inside (2014)



Andy (Chris Dalbey) is that guy you see on the bus everyday; maybe he's the new guy you work with. He's quiet and a bit twitchy but he shows up to work on time each day so he must not be so bad. You think he might be a tad neurotic and sometimes comes across as a hypochondriac. Well, that's because he is a hypochondriac and he is extreme. He has some rather extreme views. He'd kill himself before he gets divorced and a drunk chick deserves whatever's coming to her. He has zero sympathy or compassion for anyone or anything.  He's a serial rapist and killer.

He's a loner who tries to fend off gregarious and friendly co-worker Paul's (James Costa) attempts at socializing but when they interfere with his "hobby" he buckles and puts in a little time hanging out. He should have taken Andy's first brushoff because he ain't gonna live to regret it, that's for sure. When Andy meets Paul's sister, Allison (Lauren Ojeda), he begins to make an effort to hang out with her and Paul. All the while his free time is spent selecting, stalking, raping, murdering and disposing of the bodies of young women. Most of their bodies anyway. He keeps some choice bits around in case he has an urge he needs to satisfy right away. 

Andy's shithole dump of an apartment looks like it should. Small, cluttered, a mattress on the floor and shit in boxes. It's the home of someone always on the move. There is no indication as to how long Andy has been killing and raping but it seems like this has gone on for quite awhile before we meet him on film. The only real permanent connection he's made is with his doctor who seems to be quite familiar with Andy's neuroses. Andy's victims are never missed as far as the viewer can tell so either he picks them carefully so they won't be missed or he just never watches the news. He does have odd clippings all over the wall but they tend to refer to a variety of things. He isn't motivated by notoriety as much as he is by a sense of revenge towards his parents. Andy's attacks grow more violent as he performs more acts of necrophilia after he has raped and murdered his victims. He eventually has to get Paul out of the way to get to Allison and he breaks his M.O. and ties her to a chair and torments her for awhile instead of the usual hump and kill. Will she be the one to help end Andy's killing spree or will she be just another victim? You'll have to check it out because the ending is something that has to be seen to be believed.

This Pennsylvania shot nasty was written and directed by Mike O'Mahony and is the fourth offering by his Maniac Films. It is well shot and put together and sounds good. While some of the acting is rough Chris Dalbey is a hulking, sulking and menacing presence throughout the film as the rapist, killer and necrophile Andy. The film has enough locations to keep the film interesting too. It's nice to see indie serial killer flicks that have more than one room and a vacant field. It's sick and disturbing and I mean that as praise not a critique. Find Mike and Maniac Films on Facebook here and check it out.

Indie Flix: The Lashman (2014)




Once in a while a movie shows up that really plays like an 80's slasher flick. I'm not talking about an homage like HATCHET, which is fun in its own right for its own reasons, but a movie that would not be at all out of place with a VHS copy sitting on a shelf next to MADMAN or THE FOREST. Eamon Hardimon's PORKCHOP succeeded as such in 2010 and I am happy to say Cameron McCasland's THE LASHMAN succeeds this year.

The story follows the tried and true arc of the slasher genre. The film grabs the viewers attention with a busty blonde (Alea Jordan) displaying her goods before the titular legend shows up and makes mincemeat of her and her beau (Joe Downing). Billy (David Vaughn) is finishing up his last day at work before the weekend trip he is taking with his girlfriend and friends. Stacy (Stacey Dixon), her brother Bobby (Shawn C. Phillips), and Dan (Jeremy Jones) with his girlfriend Jan (Kaylee Williams) round out the group. Dan is not thrilled that Bobby is tagging along and to tell the truth, when I saw who was playing Bobby, neither was I. They stop off at the last gas station before there destination where they encounter crazy Ralph Eustice (Larry Underwood) ranting, raving and gleefully cackling about how the Lashman will get them.

The young folks arrive at the cabin and start to set things up as Billy gets an eyeful from Jan. Dan's later pass at Stacy helps crank up the tension between the group's young lovers while Bobby is mostly unsure of the relationships going on around him and is just happy to have been invited along. The gang has their last big bash-including drinking, campfire tales and sex-at the cabin in the woods before The Lashman of legend shows up like hell on wheels. 

Billy explains the legend of The Lashman that Eustice had previously mentioned. A renowned leathersmith moved to an insular town where he was not welcome. Eventually the townspeople get together and torture him to death and a witch of sorts ensures he will be able to get vengeance. For some reason he exacts his vengeance on young men, nubile girls, and bumbling sheriff's deputies. Murky plot point aside, The Lashman is an original idea for a supernatural killer. He sports a duster, hat and bandanna and is played to menacing perfection by Lee Vervoort. The secondary plot lines bide the time between Lashman's violent attacks and the final slaughter and pursuit is fast paced and well staged when the killing starts in earnest.

The young cast perform yeoman's work as each does a good job bringing the slasher archetypes to life. The most surprising performance comes from none other than Shawn C. Phillips of whom I have been critical in the past. I will admit I was a tad put off when I noticed his name in the credits but he did a dandy of a job as Bobby. I found myself enjoying him in this role and hope to see him continue taking roles beyond comedy relief. In THE LASHMAN he has shown himself more capable than that.

Besides a couple of awkward shots the film is well done visually. It is vexed by sound issues as many independent productions can be. The sound is uneven and sometimes washed out and though distracting it shouldn't prevent anyone who likes slashers from enjoying this film. THE LASHMAN premiered at the 2014 Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival and if a screening makes its way to your neck of the woods check it out.
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