It’s no secret, I’m a fan of what I affectionatly call shit cinema. We’ve covered all the A-listers (or perhaps that would be B-listers) here at B-is for Best; Tim Ritter, Brad Sykes, Lloyd Kaufman, the list goes on and On. Somhow,,though we managed to completely overlook one of my favorites ,Walter Ruether, or as most would know him, Scarlet Fry. For those who don’t know, Scarlet’s bag is making shot on shit-e-o anthology flicks like Horror-o-rama, Junkfood Horrorfest, Nightmare Alley and Death By VHS. Now I won’t mix word I fucking hated Death By VHS, so I was really looking forward to the film we’ll be discussing today, Scream Machine. I saw it as a way for Fry to win me over again and remind me why I liked his brand of off brand dollar stoe horror to begin with.
SCREAM MACHINE Introduces Dr.fry and Dr.Graves, two survivors of a mass ebola breakout that wiped out most of the Earth’s population. They are recording a final broadcast for any other survivors. Do they have some great revelation to share? FUCK NO! They’re here to showcase shitty horror shorts that Lloyd Kaufman let for them!
Holy fuck is this thing funny. First o Scarlet wears this oversized plague mask that looks cardboard that in conjunction with a carnival prize top hat makes him look like one of the spies from Spy Vs Spy and he talks like Bela Lugosi with a mouthful of pickle relish mixed with Borat! I almost shit my pants I laughed so hard! His co-host, Dr Graves is a talking head with an eyepatch that looks like he’s covered in spaghetti-o sauce and constantly talks shit to him in a voice that sounds like Archie Bunker if Archie had stayed up all night smoking Meth and eating pop rocks! This shit is spot on, just like the stupid late night horror hosts I loved so much a kid and it really worked well as a wraparound segment.
Along with this we get five short films. Unfortunately I don’t have the time or space to talk about all off the so We’ll focus on the two I loved the most. SLEDGEHAMMER and CANNIBAL PEN PALS:THE DAHMER OBSESSION
SLEDGEHAMMER focuses on a young Baseball player who wants to be in the big leagues. While practicing he accidentally kills the catcher with a fast ball quick enough to embed in the fella’s face and into his brain. Despite this he still makes it until one day someone from his past shows up to settle the score.
The things about SLEDGEHAMMER I dug the most were the same things that most reviewers I’ve seen talk about this thing bitch about. The miscasting and the bad special effects. Our “young” player has to be at least mid-forties and the fact that they keep calling him kid just adds to the overall absurd and hilarious nature of this short. The effects are also hysterical, I mean when the guy gets his eye knocked out it’s as big as a superball, the ball is clearly too big to have fit through the still intact grill of the catchers maskl and there’s a head crushing scene that rivals Troma in it’s thriftiness by skipping the Mellon and wig and going straight to the hamburger! THIS SHIT IS GOLD!
CANNIBAL PEN PALS:THE DAHMER OBSESSION focuses on a closted homosexual who’s pen pal Jeffery Dahmer is his only confidant.
This one had me busting a gut because of how obvious the closted homosexual character was. I mean this motherfucker might as well have sung all his lines through a purple sequenced microphone while waving a rainbow flag..(Scarlet if you’re reading this GET THAT ACTOR TO DO THIS AND RECORD IT, YOU’D BE A GOD!) This kind of over the top camera hamming is signature to the video boom era I grew up loving so much and is a little touch this reviewer really appreciated.
The cinematography here appears to be honest to Betsy genuine video, none of that fancy digital stuff here. I know many reviewers are shaking their head at how “cheap” this looks but Format junkies like myself who understand the headache of converting this format will know this must have been a conscious decision, not a way to cut corners and I think they’ll appreciate it for what it is.
The music was also 80’s/90’s-esque, performed on what I’m guessing was an old school keyboard, it has a tinny synth quality that reminded me alot of the music from Cannibal Campout.
Overall I really dug this flick. Those who are looking for the next V/H/S should look elsewhere but cjeeseheads who love Scarlet’s earlier work will love this one. Overall I give it no middle fingers up.