(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reverend's Reviews: Dark, Blond & Red

Another Halloween may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the holiday’s scary and comedic aspects have to end. I’m a year-round follower of Ghost Hunters as well as other paranormal-themed reality series and the spate of “found footage” horror movies. They are genres ripe for satire and one actor-turned-director, Derek Lee Nixon, has taken advantage of that. His Supernatural Activity will be available on DVDand digital download from Well Go USA Entertainment beginning November 6th.

In the spoof, hot-and-he-knows-it Damon Dealer (the funny and, yes, hot Andrew Pozza, obviously channeling hunky but obnoxious host Zak Bagans of TV’s Ghost Adventures) headlines a myth-debunking reality show. At his girlfriend’s insistence, Dealer leads his crew to a remote Texas town to investigate reported sightings of the Samsquatch, a smaller-than-usual variety of Bigfoot. They soon encounter odd characters and phenomena as Nixon satirizes such movies as The Blair Witch Project, The Last Exorcism, Cloverfield and, of course, the ongoing Paranormal Activity series.

Not unlike many of the shows and films it is sending up, Supernatural Activity is crudely-made and goes on for too long. A number of unintentional misspellings in title cards used throughout the movie also irritated me greatly. However, there are quite a few funny to very funny visual and character gags to be enjoyed. Nixon as well as Pozza and most of the cast possess talent and an obvious affection for their source material that overcomes the film’s low budget and lack of subtlety. Most viewers familiar with the found footage genre will get a kick out of it.

Alas, there are no pleasures to be found in the new DVDrelease Becoming Blond (from Ariztical Entertainment). This simply awful wannabe comedy by writer-director Kevin Duffy involves dead romance languages, nudist octogenarians, scheming gangsters, pampered poodles and sexual confusion. These coalesce about as effectively as oil and water. Casting John Waters favorite Mink Stole would, one could reasonably assume, guarantee some degree of camp credibility but no such luck. Every element of Becoming Blond — the direction, the acting, the photography, editing and sound mix — is just plain bad. Perhaps Duffy inhaled too much hair coloring dye during production? I hate to rail against a movie so thoroughly, but I would feel guilty to learn someone bought or rented this one based on any perceived recommendation from me. Avoid it at all costs.

I can much more enthusiastically recommend a new DVD box setof uncut comedy specials by that flame-haired vixen of stand up, Kathy Griffin. Available now from Shout! Factory, The Kathy Griffin Collection: Red, White & Raw boasts seven of her no-holds-barred shows, with five of them on DVD for the first time. Riffing on everything from reality shows to politics and everyone from Tiger Woods to Sarah Palin, Barbara Walters, Bruce Jenner, Nancy Grace and so many more, the set is a must-have for K Grif fans whether you have previously seen them all individually or not.

While it isn’t a comedy, I would be remiss before concluding my latest review column if I didn’t mention the above-average gay romance, Morgan. Now on DVDfrom Water Bearer Films, not only is Morgan assured, moving and sexy, but it is important for its focus on a seldom-seen population within our community: paraplegic gay men. Leo Minaya gives an excellent performance in the title role, a former athlete confined to a wheelchair in the wake of a tragic accident. He is angry, sexless and hopeless until the day he meets handsome, well-meaning Dean (Jack Kesy). Morgan is scared by his renewed feelings of attraction and love, so the relationship that develops between him and Dean is frustratingly but realistically halting. Director Michael Akers (Gone, But Not Forgotten) deserves kudos for his sensitive handling of their story. Well worth seeing.

Reverend’s Ratings:
Supernatural Activity: C+
Becoming Blond: F
The Kathy Griffin Collection: Red, White & Raw: A-
Morgan: B+

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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