I'malways keen to give indie films a bit of a leg-up, and for those who have read any of the film reviews on BORDERLINE, you'll find that most reviews on here are either cult, little known, or independent flicks that are floating around out there.
With limited budgets, lo-fi production, and a DIY ethic, indie films have always been more of a labour of love than a money making venture, and the chances of an indie production making it or breaking it usually falls into the latter basket. Which I guess is why when something interesting comes along, I don't mind giving it a bit of a plug.
So sit back, and streeeeetch your sacks, while we go for a bit of a wander thru the darkened back streets of Walter Ruether's 2010 indie film "Nightmare Alley".
HIT IT UP
Essentially, what you've got is 7 short stories, joined by a brief monologue between each story, based on a number of ideas and concepts from the mind of one Walter Ruether, Director and Writer of Nightmare Alley. There's plenty of gore in Nightmare Alley: you get zombies eating brains, bodies being hacked to bits, axes to the head, cannibalism, decapitations, entrails being spilled, and lots of stabbings/slashing, all in the vein of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Ted V. Mikels films. And to top it off, all of it has been filmed with a grainy overlay to give it a "washed out" vibe.
1. A Fistful of Innards
For me, the Nightmare Alley story with the best possible scenario which could have in itself made for a great movie. Cowboys stumble across a meteorite that turns the dead into zombies. What's not to like? It started out great, but the ending kinda trailed off without any defining moment. Still, a great theme if only it would have been played out more.
A rat statue that turns evil when a pentagram necklace gets put around its throat. It's funny, and I really did like the story to it. And must admit that this vignette had a well defined start, story, and ending. And a kick-ass car!!!
3. Death Chat
Guy who cheats on his missus using the internet and gets more than he bargained for in the end. My least favourite story, and altho some of the make-up was kinda cool, it just didn't do it for me as a short story.
Up-sized dude in Daisy Dukes cut-off denims tries it on the next door neighbour down by the pool. Gets a leg in, only to have her old man walk in before it gets started. He bails, she kills the husband, and gets the Up-sized dude back for dinner the next night. Dinner just so happens to be the husband....
5. Closet Case
The token GLBT story of the bunch with the annoying gender dysphoric kid driving the dude at the bus stop over the edge to the point of getting a knife to the stomach. Did somebody order entrails? Over the top, but gore+++
6. The Great Damone
Piece about an artist entering his work into an art show who tries to do something new and is driven insane by his never ending nag of a wife who, eventually, ends up becoming a "part" of The Great Damone's new art project!!!
7. Slash of the Blade
Basically a kind of "Ghost of Jack the Ripper" story with lots & lots of slashings and blood, but without any real storyline or direction to the piece.
As an indie film punter, for the most part, indie movie's are either fully hit, or totally missed. Nightmare Alley really had some awesome potential in there, and I really would have like to see a few of the stories "played out" a bit more. Often, I felt like I had been left 'hanging', and the story just seemed to end without any really defined point. Which was a shame, because some of the storylines within themselves actually rocked. A number of the visuals and effects were pretty sweet, but the Grind-O-Scope effect was a bit of a hit & miss with me. Sometimes it became more of a distraction rather than enhancing the scene, but I do appreciate the idea. The music was a definite high point, and kudos to Ruether for incorporating some really great musical scores into the film. If you dig the whole Creepshow presentation style approach, then Nightmare Alley is right up your... ummmm.... alley! Overall, the concept for Nightmare Alley was a definite winner, I just would have liked to have seen a few of the stories fleshed out a bit more. Nightmare Alley is available right now at Blockbuster online.
SKULL SCORE OUT OF 5:
Directors: Laurence Holloway, Scarlet Fry
Writers: Scarlet Fry, Laurence Holloway
Stars: Vincent Bocchini, Scott Boyd and Tara Carlton