(*homocinematically inclined)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reverend's Reviews: Pot Shots

The last piece of candy may be gone, but the Halloween-appropriate Gravestoned (from Painted Pictures) is hoping to cash in on DVDbeginning today.

Shot in and around a real, spooky cemetery in Texas, this independently produced horror-comedy has a little something for everyone: college cheerleaders with exotic-dancer moves and the cute guys who love them (or at least want to do them); a one-armed zombie on the prowl for his missing, rotting appendage; a hit-hungry movie producer and two young "entrepreneurs" hoping to make it in the industry via his latest film; a cute but randy Scottish terrier with a $5 million life insurance policy; and a pair of pot-smoking, perpetually-high gravediggers.

The problem with Gravestoned is that it doesn't feature enough of these various elements, any one of which has comic potential. Whether the result of poor writing, a limited budget or both, first-time director Michael McWillie takes a restrained, scatter-shot approach to what could be funnier in more experienced hands (Kevin Smith would have had a field day directing this). A wannabe mash-up of Up in Smoke and Night of the Living Dead, it doesn't feature enough cannabis or T&A, frankly, to succeed as a sexy satire nor adequate scares and ghoulish violence to please horror fans.

The film's cast, which includes Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood alumna Lar Park Lincoln in a brief turn as a bitchy washed-up movie star, is negligible. Worth noting and watching, however, is cinematographer Alan Lefebvre. His work throughout Gravestoned makes the movie appear to have had a bigger budget than it likely did, and his mist-shrouded night photography in the cemetery is excellent.

Though Gravestoned falls short in the horror and hilarity departments, it isn't awful and wasn't painful to watch, thankfully. It has no shame billing itself "the comedy horror flick for stoners." They are likely to find the movie a lot funnier than I did.

Click here to watch the Gravestoned trailer.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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