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HAUNTED WITH HILARITY: A Review Of CAESAR AND OTTO’S PARANORMAL HALLOWEEN

 

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I grew up loving parody films. Movies like Airplane, Naked Gun, Hotshots, Blazing Saddles and Monty Python’s Life Of Brian were enormous staples in my collection and this trend continued into the late 90’s and 2000s with Scary Movie..but then things took a massive turn for the worse with the Scary Movie films and all of the seemingly endless imitators. What began as a wonderful genre soon degraded into an artless parade of shit and dick jokes with randomly placed rip off scenes. Movies like Date Movie,A Haunted House, and Paranormal Whacktivity have all but killed this wonderfully whacky little art form…or has it? Like every other genre and sub-genre Parody didn’t really die, it just went where all good things do; underground. Indie Directors seem to understand that it takes reverence for the source material and an understanding of what made the films they’re saluting and poking fun at work in the first place..Our good friend Dave Campfield joins the ranks with his two meandering morons Caesar and Otto with CAESAR AND OTTO’S PARANORMAL HALLOWEEN.

CAESAR AND OTTO’S PARANORMAL HALLOWEEN opens with our favorite two half brothers once again down on their luck. The duo is living out of their car with their oddball father along for the ride and poor Caesar is reduced to dressing in drag in order to get babysitting gigs to earn money. When escaped mad man Michael Miles breaks into the residence where Caesar is sitting and tries to murder him, things lead to a chase that culminates in Caesar’s Dad running Miles over. The Mayor of the city honors our three “heroes” by awarding them the key to the city. When the Mayor learns that the three are homeless he offers to give them a job watching over his strange house. Caesar and Otto soon realize all is not well in this place as they encounter obviously psychotic house workers, a seedy past and possibly even a haunting and possession going on.  Things get even more complicated when it is revealed that Otto’s Mother is from the area and is buried nearby…or is she? Add unconventional priest Father Jason Steiger   and bumbling cop Officer Drew to the mix and things get really off the wall.

 

The biggest mistake a parody can make is getting so obsessed with the winks and references that it forgets to tell a coherent story of it’s own. Films like The Hungover Games, Epic Movie, and Meet The Spartans are a few examples of this issue completely ruining a film out of the gate, they may have some laugh worthy moments but in the end they’re just a run of gags that we’ve already seen.. Paranormal Halloween doesn’t fall to that fate in the least and considering it spoofs everything from Halloween to Paranormal Activity, to The Exorcist and The Haunting, that’s pretty damn impressive. There’s nothing short of a dozen movies being referenced here (and honestly that’s guessing low) and yet Dave Campfield never lost sight of what he was doing. While this may have been a parody it was a Caesar and Otto movie first and last, and honestly this is the best one thus far.

The acting here was an enormous improvement from the previous installment. Every recurring character has developed significantly over the span of the previous installments. Caesar in particular, while still being the ass end of more jokes than he knows, and certainly still carrying a distinctive Daffy Duck feel, comes across as much more..human. He’s not nearly as over the top or..stupid ad he was before. While I’ve always loved Caesar and Otto, I have to be honest and say I usually vastly prefer Otto out of the two. Caesar tends to get on my nerves after a bit..He was just too silly. That changed with this one, there’s a bit more humanity and Caesar is even a bit..likeable here. Otto is still my favorite with his scuzzy lovable otherness, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him and like him. Another awesome aspect of this story is we got to know Drew a lot more. Drew is the typical guy, friendly, well meaning, not particularly good at his job but with more than enough enthusiasm to make up for his lack of skill. He reminded me a lot of a less prickish version of Kevin James. The expansion of his character in  this installment was a great move as he gave the audience someone a little more identifiable among all the weirdos. I hope we see a lot more Drew in future Caesar and Otto films.

The cinematography here was another area where we see quite a bit more skill than in the previous installments. Outdoor shoots utilized natural lighting beautifully and we even got some great use of lens techniques that stretched hallways, distorted rooms and gave things a feel reminiscent at times to the old 50’s haunted house films like Vincent Price’s House on Haunted Hill and other times Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Add some use of filters and colored lighting Ala’ Argento and we see just how much of a skilled movie maniac Campfield really is.

 

Wild Eye Releasing sometimes skips on the Special Features, but not with this release. Here we have not one but two hilarious commentary tracks (one from Dave and another from the cast and crew) All three Piggyzilla short films, A blooper reel and a bunch of other cool little surprises that I won’t talk about here because I don’t want to ruin the surprise..Let’s just say that this is one you’re going to want to purchase the actual DVD and not go with the lamer, less packed version of a digital download or streaming

If you haven’t heard of Caesar and Otto yet this is the film I would recommend most to get to know them. It should also be said that Dave needs our help to keep making these wonderfully hilarious little films. It takes quite a bit of skill and integrity to make comedies that don’t resort to nothing but lowbrow sophomoric cock jokes and poop sight gags. David Campfield is the modern day Charles Barton, the updated Jules White. He’s keeping real comedy alive with all of these Caesar and Otto movies. To some his humor might seem old fashioned or outdated..but for those of us who grew up on Abbot and Costello, The Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and the like Dave is a Godsend. He makes the movies we can still watch with out kids (even if there is some..questionable stuff in them sometimes) In a world of mean spirited cinema  it’s refreshing that stuff like this is still being made.

Overall i give this one two middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. i can’t wait to see what The dimwitted duo gets mixed up in next1

 

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