A RATHER BUMPY RIDE

Posted on Aug 18, 2012 in All Reviews, Giant Turds, Hardcore Gore, Indie Horror | 0 comments

BLEADING LADY a.k.a. STAR VEHICLE (2010)

I had been waiting to see Star Vehicle for quite some time.

I really enjoyed cult director Ryan Nicholson’s sleazy slasher-comedy Gutterballs, and even appreciated the twisted sickness of his splatter flick Hanger. So, naturally, I was excited to hear about a new project he was working on called Star Vehicle, which would later be horribly renamed Bleading Lady in an asinine pun.

Problem was, I just couldn’t find it anywhere.

See, I didn’t know it had been renamed, so I just kept looking for Star Vehicle. All I could find was a copy of the score by Gianni Rossi, the movie composer pseudonym for Zombi’s uber-talented Steve Moore. I snagged a copy of the soundtrack without thinking twice, having played his previous score for Gutterballs enough to drive anyone bananas. For nine months before seeing the movie I’ve been jamming to this incredible Rossi synth score that is part Gallio-style Goblin romp and part Carpenter Casio beat down. If you love 80’s horror scores you cannot go wrong with a Rossi score, or any of Moore’s atmospheric Zombi work.

But anyway, let’s get down to me finally seeing the movie.

I sort of forgot the movie existed because nobody in the online horror-sphere was talking about it. Nobody I knew, even fellow horror freaks, had seen it. And if they had, they didn’t bring it up. But every time I would pop on the score it would remind me that I needed to hunt this fucker down. I needed to see the film that went along with this sick soundtrack. And as any videovore can tell you: the rarer a movie is, the more you want it.

Eventually I discovered the name change and tracked the movie down. It was scarce, but Amazon had a few copies kicking around for a reasonable price so I snagged one after a while.

So on my day off, I popped open a Sam Adam’s Octoberfest from my first twelve pack of the season — a yearly ritual of ecstasy — and decided to put on the movie.

After a few cheap trailers full of big tits and fake blood from the low-rent Vicious Circle Films, the movie finally comes on with a little help from my fast forward button.

It starts off with a chauffer escorting a group of obnoxious movie-making assholes in his van. Said chauffer turns out to be a hot-headed maniac who pulls over, drags them out at gun point, and then hacks them all to death with a machete. Why four people would just stand there to be hacked to bits is questionable, but I have learned to embrace ridiculousness in Nicholson’s other films, so I let it slide in the name of fun. If the hilarity and bizarity I’ve come to expect from him lies within, I can forgive some improbable scenes.

However, one victim’s redundant plees of “Don’t, man. This is fucked. What the fuck, man?” was a bit effortless and too improvised for my liking. And it wasn’t the only time the movie rubbed me wrong, like a businessman on a train.

In fact, the film starts to turn me off right away with wobbly camera shots that give the flick a cheap reality show feel. I hate this in movies. It can work if the camera is incorporated into the film or if it is a mockumentary, but otherwise I don’t want my movies coming off like another The Blair Witch Project. Hell, I hated the original! I want a movie, folks, not an episode of COPS. Buy a dollie or at least hire someone with steady hands. Have some respect for the medium.

The credits kick in and they’re a fun throwback, which is just the sort of small touch that I like in Nicholson’s work. We get neon credits that wink at The Last Boy Scout’s epically outdated opening, accompanied by Rossi’s wonderful music.

We meet back up with the psychotic chauffer, Don, as he picks up a new crew that he will be escorting from the lodge to their filming location as they work on a slasher movie. The movie they’re making is supposed to be an homage but, as Don points out, it is really just an uninspired rip-off of old school horror. Why anyone tolerates Don is a mystery, because he is an unbearable asshole even when he isn’t exploding with violence. But whatever, I’m letting that slide too.

I like Don’s hardcore horror fan attitude though — as a writer myself who tends to loath the modern era of fanboy film-making in the genre, I want to like Don. Unfortunately he’s just too big of an unbearable asshole.

Enter Riversa Red: a sultry scream queen who is working on the slasher movie. Don is a big fan of her work and takes her more seriously than she herself does. We find out she’s staying in town under a fake name to thwart a stalker, and Don promises to take all too good of care of her. She is stressed about her stalker but does not seem too concerned that Don himself is such a fan of her work that he has written a screenplay for her and is virtually a walking Wikipedia of her on-screen history.

The film offers some excellent retro style gore effects, both in the movie itself and more so in the movie-within-the-movie, which is probably the most fun to watch — along with a few boobie shots from Red and her aspiring scream queen sidekick.

The movie moves slowly, with Nicholson taking this one much more seriously, but it doesn’t really work. In a weird way, I think he knows this too, because there is a moment where the movie stops and makes fun of its drag-ass pace. It points out to the audience that it’s dull and promises to pick up. While humorous and delivered in character, this is the one time the movie pulls out of itself and it fully derails Nicholson’s weak effort to create a genuine thriller.

Anyway, as anyone would guess, Don becomes an over-protective maniac with Red and everything rolls along predictably for a while as he kills anyone he thinks is a possible stalker or is under-utilizing her talent or just has a face he doesn’t like.

Eventually Don takes his rage to terrible extremes as he leads the film crew out into the woods, begging for their lives. At this point the movie disintegrates into despicable torture porn, as we watch people scream and cry while being brutalized by a ranting, raving doucehbag. It tries to give us a Last House on the Left kind of feel in its big finale, but it just feels like gratuitous nonsense because we have failed to establish any feelings for these hollow characters and their completely unrealistic world.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With this flick, Nicholson gives us the gore galore just like he always does — but I couldn’t help but miss the dark comedy of his other films. While they too had some serious grindhouse sleaze to them, such as Gutterballs’ horrible rape scene, I still felt like Star Vehicle crumbled into a much more shameless and senseless pile of cinematic trash. It isn’t scary, it just makes you want to take a shower. The small twists at the end should be obvious to anyone who has seen at least one episode of Tales from the Crypt, and the whole Hostel approach of just watching people beg for their lives while they’re ripped apart cheapens the genre every time. As a fan of horror movies, I hate being associated with enjoying torture for torture’s sake, because I despise that sort of thing. If a movie has torture in it for a reason, as in the fantastic film Martyrs, I can accept it and move on. But in the case of Star Vehicle, I felt like it relied too heavily on trying to create a shock sensation of virtual snuff.

I also tend to dislike movies about the movie industry, just as I hate novels about writers. It’s self worship and I have no interest in watching people blow themselves.

Boring first and later a hackneyed mess of voyeurism, this is Ryan Nicholson’s worst film.

However…

WHY I BUY UNDERGROUND HORROR AND SO SHOULD YOU, DAMN IT

This gives me a great opportunity to talk about why I buy underground horror movies, unseen, and why you should as well.

The underground horror movie industry, despite its flaws, does what it can to keep putting out fresh new material. Underground writers, directors, actors and other talents work hard on making these films on micro budgets. Sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they’re bad, but often we can’t see them unless we dish out the cash to buy them. They don’t come to many theaters and some of them never make it to rental sources.

Hollywood doesn’t need your support. Indie films do. When you buy an underground horror film, you are voting with your dollars. You are participating in the industry and letting it know you appreciate it and want more to come.

You would spend at least 20 bucks to take a date to the movies. For that same money you can buy an indie horror DVD. It seems like a big commitment to buy and own a movie until you break it down that way. Think of it as just paying to see it as you would at a theater. It’s a bonus if you end up liking it, because then you keep it. If you don’t like it just sell it, and make some of that money back while having still gotten to check it out.

This is what I always like to do. Hollywood is just giving us more remakes and limp PG-13 crap to fill seats. The underground horror biz is giving us the gore, chainsaws, ghoulies and titties we want and need in our fright flicks. Star Vehicle was not a good movie, but I don’t regret the lousy ten bucks I spent on it. I just hope Nicholson returns to form with his next feature and goes more Evil Dead 2 and less Funny Games.

  • RATING: 1 out of 5 stars. Uninspired, terribly paced, and far too torture-porny for my liking.
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: Sindy Faraguna as Riversa Red is hot in a music video whore kind of way.

BARTENDER’S NOTES

Hmm. Hard to tie this one in. Don’t want to inadvertently promote drinking and driving!

I’ll go with the redhead theme instead and suggest another brew from Sam Adams. I’d like to say their Brick Red, but that would only be for New Englanders. That beer is only available in the Massachusetts area and only on tap. If you’re ever in Boston I highly recommend it. But their widely available Irish Red is similar and truly a solid ale. I lived outside of Boston for six years. I did not come away with a love for the Red Sox, but I did come away with a love of Sam Adams, a fine American brewery with a wide variety of craft brews.

Irish Red has a ruby sheen to it and a malty fragrance that hints at its roasted barley. The hops are light here but the bitterness tends to kick back the caramel sweetness. This is more for IPA lovers because of this trait, but even though I’m not a bitter beer drinker I still enjoy this one for its balance and crispness.

It might be enough to help get you through Star Vehicle, but I would recommend something else from the Nicholson discovery first.

468 ad

What do you think?