Like Lovecraft with a stench of foul humor
Stash and Hub are two redneck ghouls. Each night they prowl the cemetary and raid the graves to feast upon the freshly buried. But tonight, they are about to awaken something evil, as the dead are fep up with being taken advantage of…
While I had already seen the trailer of Gris Grimly‘s Cannibal Flesh Riot!, the first complete work I saw of him as a director, was his music video for Ghoultown’s “Mistress of the Dark” (which you can watch here). This guy showed promise. Originally an author/illustrator, Grimly now brought his visions to life with Cannibal Flesh Riot!. Arguably a quite puzzling movie title, but I assure you things make sense in the end. His first film is a peculiar work of art, for short. Grimly incorporates so many ideas and mixes so many different styles in his film, that it’s amazing the film still holds together perfectly as a whole. Styled like black & white silent era films, the film does have sound and dialogues, modeled sets after German Expressionism, includes miniature sets, stop-motion & CGI to enhance the main live action footage, applies cartoonish Micky Mousing techniques on the sound design, drips with a redneck flavor and holds high the spirit of 50′s B-horror movies. Indeed, how on earth did Grimly manage to pull that one off, all with his first short film? Because he really did.
The film starts with a prologue of police officers investigating a crime scene at a cemetary, then flashes back to the night before, introducing us to Stash & Hub, telling the tale of what happened that gruesome night. The tone is immediately set. It might be a horror film in theme & nature; it’s ways are that of a comedy. Peter Sandorff (in collaboration with Hola Ghost) provided a great musical score. Sandorff used to be guitarist of the psychobilly band The Nekromantix. While this particular rock subgenre does echo through in Sandorff‘s score, he really put his musical baggage in function of the film. He manages to crank out some eerie & creepy songs, perfectly in sync with the tone of Grimly‘s visuals. It all works.
My main (and only) gripe with this 34 minutes long short film, is that all the scenes leading up to the exhumation of their desired corpse, are too talkative. What Stash and Hub ramble on about, is quite funny, as intended, but you do have to dig the dialogues and especially their thick accents in order to appreciate it. The fact that you, as a viewer, have the preconceived knowledge that what they’re discussing isn’t what this film actually is about, but what will happen to them eventually is, isn’t really helping things either. You start to get a little too eager to see where all this is leading upto. While on the one hand, you do get to know them a bit and perhaps even start to like those two quibbling bastards, the lengthy dialogues do postpone the climax and conclusion too much. These parts could have used trimming down a bit. I think this explains the pacing issues during the first 20 minutes. And it’s about the only little problem I had with Cannibal Flesh Riot!
David Backus and Dustin Loreque play Stash & Hub, and they do look the part, wearing make-up in tune with the whole silent era gothic-look of the film. As the film’s two protagonists, they manage to carry it perfectly. The set design is quite marvelous, and some particular shots were inspired by the German Expression films of the early 20′s. The use of miniatures blends nicely with the rest of the sets and enjoyable stop-motion effects inject life into the outrageous climax (as well as other brief shots). Some action sequences near the end had me reminiscing Sam Raimi‘s first two Evil Dead films and A Chinese Ghost Story. I doubt very much Grimly intended these similarities, let alone other people than me might spot them.
Overall, we have a true little gem here, unique in this day and age, made with its tasty heart at the right place. And above all, Grimly shows vision, artistry and professionalism. An admirable genre short film, easy to fall in love with.