As you may know, our favorite kind of movie is the direct-to-video stinker that lurks on the back shelves of the local video store. The scripts to such films are written on the backs of napkins, the actors are pulled off the streets, and the budget equals the remaining limit on the director's VISA card. For reasons so mysterious even we cannot explain them, we find ourselves drawn to these films, plunking down good money for the privilege of experiencing the pain for ourselves.
Perhaps the only thing worse than a bad movie is a bad movie about bad movies. We thought that There's Nothing Out There was the champion of such films, but that was before we saw... Director's Cut.
Reading the plot synopsis on the back of this film's video box might be a bit misleading. Words like "behind-the-scenes drama" and "homage to the horror films of yesteryear" might make you believe there's some substance here. There isn't. This is a horror film all right, but the horror comes from the realization that this movie was somebody's big dream, the one film he wanted to make.
Just a typical day for the Stomp Tokyo guys.
In case we don't come back to it, let's talk a little bit about the film's story. Following in the footsteps of Theater of Blood, the plot concerns one Kenny Schlussel (Jerry Gunn), an aspiring film director in L.A. Schlussel hopes to bring back the era of the monster film, and to that end he makes Gongorzo Attacks, a film about a giant scaly gorilla with claws for hands. A transparent amalgam of King Kong, Godzilla, and Gigan? Yes. Particularly compelling as a monster? No. Needless to say, Schlussel's film fails to impress anyone, especially the local circle of critics, who pan the film mercilessly.
Lambasted publicly and out of money, Schlussel goes on a bender and decides to kill himself by driving off a cliff. Before he can do so, however, a flying saucer crash-lands in front of him. Yeah, you read that right. A flying saucer. From the wreckage of the craft our director protagonist pulls a silver orb which grants him mystical powers. Driven mad by the power of the orb, he decides that his film is a work of genius after all, and sets about killing the critics in the styles of various movie monsters.
"You've got mail!"
Schlussel discovers the orb's power.
Finally we are introduced to the "hero" of the film, Tommy "Tom" Ruric, a police inspector who gets dragged into this whole sorry scenario. Ruric is played by German actor Ulf Globocznik, yet another in the series of foreign actors trying to break into Hollywood by being an action star. No explanation is given as to how a guy with this strong a German accent rose to be an inspector in the LAPD. Ruric is somehow assigned to most of the murders that Schlussel commits, which is a little weird because they aren't really murders per se (more on that later) and it would be tough to connect them, other than the fact that all the victims are film critics. And it's not like anybody would have a reason to kill film critics, right? Everybody loves film critics.
Out of sheer need to move the plot forward, Ruric deduces that all of the murders are based on monster films. He's right -- we see Schlussel watching the appropriate film intercut with the actual death. Because you might have a hard time finding this film, and the killings are kind of neat, here's a list of most of the deaths:
Critic Trent Bunch is hanging out at the beach when a giant rubber tentacle whips out of the ocean and crushes him, in an homage to scenes cut from Frankenstein Conquers the World.
Even Gongorzo's assistant director buys
the farm. If only we could have done the
same for Director's Cut.
Schlussel lures critic Tanya Munch to an abandoned construction site, where she is crushed by a cement mixer that falls from 4 stories up. This is supposed to represent someone being stepped on by King Kong. We think.
Christina Henkel, a TV-based critic, is suffocated by refuse when a garbage truck tips over, representing a scene from Godzilla vs The Smog Monster.
Critic Heather Virmani is killed by a collapsing brick wall, as from Gorgo.
International film critic Jyotika Morrison (?) is on a plane simultaneously struck by three lightning bolts, as if from Ghidora The Three Headed Monster. This killing, and any one that might take a budget, happens off screen.
Amy Faust is somehow caught on the tow line of a passing blimp (!) and her various body parts are distributed around LA, much like the victims of Q The Winged Serpent.
Obviously, that's a lot of female film critics. The makers of the film, like the makers of so many other horror films, seem to like to kill off women. It certainly ups the babe factor, even if this bizarrely monikered group of gals (Jyotika Morrison?) remain steadfastly clothed throughout the movie. Nope, not one shower scene or change of clothes of which to speak.
It's Carnosaur 4: Hand Puppets Attack!
Logically, Ruric must then pick up a female sidekick -- in this movie, she takes the form of forensics officer Sybil Haig (Katie Nail). Haig not only does most of the work involved in the case, she prods Ruric along in his investigation and even accompanies him in the field when he goes searching for Schlussel. Thus she is present for one of the few enjoyable moments in the film, when Ruric stumbles upon the flying saucer's wreckage, salvaging a weapon of his own: a toy ray gun. We mean, an alien laser. Yeah. Looks like a toy ray gun, sounds like a toy ray gun, but the director wants us to believe it's an alien laser, and the only thing capable of destroying Schlussel and the orb. Whatever ends this movie the quickest, we're all for it. Because this is a low budget horror film, the climax takes place at a convenient fairgrounds where Ruric lets loose with his ray gun in a crowd of innocents.
Simple laws of physics never come into play in this movie, nor do the simple laws of storytelling. More concerned with dropping monster movie references than with actually making a movie, the makers of Director's Cut have created one big in-joke. This is great if you're on the inside, but those of you who aren't raving fanboys may want to pass on this one.
Ruric and Haig do their best Mulder and Scully --
and it ain't that good.
Discerning the influences on these moviemaking fanboys isn't hard -- lots of footage is (probably illegaly) shown on Kenny's television screen. Actually, saying influnces is too kind, because this movie brazenly rips off other, better films. Sure, the makers of Director's Cut hide the rip-offs under the guise of "that's the point of the movie," but we see more footage of people getting killed from the original films than we do in this sad, amateurish attempt at cinema. And have we mentioned that the whole orb-from-a-spaceship thing is so Green Lantern it isn't funny? The final insult: this movie suggests that someone would actually want to kill movie critics. We find this totally implausible. Theater critics, sure. Movie critics? Never!
After we saw Director's Cut, we reflected upon the fact that we could probably make a better film than these guys.
You probably could, too.
Schlussel on the set of Gongorzo --
but where's the freaking camera?
They spent their entire budget on this one shot.
(Flashbacks to Tentacles, anyone?)