Monday, May 11, 2009

Movie Review: Retardead (2008)

Retardead - Cheesy horror - Poster Image

Due to the terrifying nature of this film, we strongly urge those of you with faint hearts or weak stomachs NOT to see this picture.
Offensiveness is a viable form of expression. Remember the Garbage Pail Kids? What about Mad Balls? And look at the success of South Park and Family Guy. Even recently, Official Offensive Jackass Andrew "Dice" Clay was seen kicking up dust on NBC in an attempt to become Donald Trump's billion-dollar bottom bitch. Shock and awe, baby...shock and awe.

Dr. Stein, a card-carrying member of the Mad Scientist Club, emerges from certain death in the sewer following the events of Monsturd in this sequel from 4321 Films. Minus one eye, and plus one eye-patch, he assumes a new identity and takes a teaching position at the Butte County Institute for Special Education, where he continues his research using his pupils as test subjects. He has devised a serum (Algernon-9, named, of course for the famous book Flowers for Algernon) that he injects into the hypothalamus of the brain, vastly increasing the subject's mental capacity. Meaning, that no longer will the students be limited by their handicap.

Sounds like a real humanitarian doesn't he? It's just too bad about those side effects...

Meanwhile, the Butte County Sheriff Department has it's hands full with a peeping Tom known only as the Weenie Wagger, and an LSD ring operating out of the local elementary school. Little do they know that their investigation into the mysterious pervert will inadvertently lead them to the missing Doctor. But not necessarily quick enough.

Sure, Dr. Stern's patients initially showed amazing progress, their mental capacity growing by leaps and bounds. But remember those side effects I mentioned? It seems that after this first stage of progression, the patients suffer from a swelling of the brain and tumors, leading into insanity that culminates finally in violence and acts of cannibalism. Their hearts stop, and their bodies clinically die...but their brains refuse to admit it.

Are we talking zombies here?

You're damned right we are. And within two shakes of a lamb's ass, there's a full-scale undead epidemic in you didn't see that coming.

Okay, so it's not a greatly original film. And yes, the acting is distractingly sub-par at times. But, somewhere along the way, the acting either improved or I just grew less discerning. Either way, by the film's end, I didn't even notice. With a film of this budget, you have to expect the usual downfalls. Which is why I was quite pleasantly surprised with this effort. Forgetting the acting woes, and the occasional issues with the sound, the gore effects were well-done in that classic, DIY sort of way; The scoring was good and pretty effective; And the editing was, believe it or not, pretty damn great, with some slow-motion effects, fades, cuts, and interesting camera angles that defies the shortcomings we have come to expect. The spot-on parody of a drive-in theater snack bar ad before the film started was particularly inspired, as was the pointless (but awesome) LSD trip that played out like a throwback to the drugsploitation films of the late 'sixties and early 'seventies.

Those of you who are a little more PC-minded than this film's target audience shouldn't fret too much. After a few cheap pot-shots at the Special Education pupils, they receive the serum and there's no more "Laugh-at-the-Short-Bussers" routine. But there's still plenty to offend, plenty to gross you out, plenty to make you laugh out loud in that "I-Can't-Believe-They're-Saying-That" sort of way.

If the Farrelly Brothers had discovered that their funding had been lost, then took a few magic mushrooms and stayed up all night watching Robin Williams in Awakenings before deciding to make a quick horror movie, that film would probably turn out something like Retardead.

The film doesn't take itself too seriously, which can be both helpful or a hindrance, depending on your point of view. But by the time the movie ends, it's evident that the filmmaker's weren't trying to rewrite the rules of horror. They weren't trying to make a modern classic. Quite the opposite, in fact. They were trying, quite successfully I might add, to take it back to the Old School set forth by the low-budget splatter films of decades long past.

Retardead - Cheesy horror - Living Dead Girlz

It also helps that Retardead has a certain...punk rock pedigree, if you will. From the opening narration of Herschell Gordon Lewis--the Godfather of Gore himself--to the cameo appearance of punk legend and political skewerer Jello Biafra, and the reanimated erotic stylings of the Living Dead Girlz (above), writers/directors Rick Popko and Dan West, if nothing else, know all the right people.


Bad? Yes.

But in all the good ways.

100 Minutes

The Brain Damage DVD release of Retardead drops on June 2, 2009. Visit the official website, read more about it at the IMDB, or pre-order it today!

I don't know about you, but I'm dying to get my hands on one of those human finger necklaces!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jonny,

    Just wanted to drop you a note to say thanks for taking the time to watch and review RetarDEAD. Gald you got a chuckle or two out of it. Looking forward to sharing our next flick with you!
    Rick Popko
    (co-writer, director, producer of Monsturd and RetarDEAD)


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