Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Beast of Bray Road | Swamper

By Steve Anderson
October 1st, 2005

The Beast of Bray Road
***
DVD
Directed by Leigh Scott
R
80 mins

Leigh Scott launches yet another remodeled classic horror pic for The Asylum with "The Beast of Bray Road", another in The Asylum's growing series of classically-inspired pictures.

So what we have here is the partially true story of werewolves in Wisconsin. And the new sheriff of Walworth County is the one who's got to face them down. Apparently there's been a lot of killings in Walworth County, something that's rather unusual for rural Wisconsin. The manner of the killings, an extremely messy M.O., plus the various eyewitness reports and the infighting inside the sheriff's department, makes for an even more confusing scenario. And when the sheriff finally gets to the bottom of things, what he finds will astonish him and leave us all wondering just how true this is.

Now, naturally, whenever someone says "based on a true story," I immediately begin wondering how true it is. Asking a couple of buddies who lived in Wisconsin all their lives turned up nary a thing, so I hit the web for the rest of it. The handy thing is they actually feature headlines from the "Waukesha Gazette" written by "A.B. McKorkendale", among others, so it certainly LOOKS authentic.

At least, until one of the articles comes up toward the end, credited to "Rick Walker" and featuring an interview with "Local man David Latt."

Astute readers and viewers will remember David Latt as being the fella who directed "H.G. Wells War of the Worlds", covered here not so long ago. He's also one of the three partners who owns and operates The Asylum Home Entertainment.

Ironically, he also produced this one.

Nice try, Leigh.

But anyway, about the movie.

I heard someone not long ago compare The Asylum to the old British studio, Hammer. And I guess in a very real way it's not so far from the truth, at least not lately. This is the sixth updated horror concept from The Asylum. "H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds" is self explanatory. "Frankenstein Reborn," ditto. "Legion of the Dead" is just a redone "The Mummy". "Hide and Creep" is a rebuilt "Night of the Living Dead," now a bona fide classic and don't you forget it. And Dracula gets his groove on once again in "Whatever Movie That Is Involving Van Helsing."

Which makes me wonder what they're going to dredge up next. The Thing from the Black Lagoon, maybe? Or perhaps some good old fashioned ghosts? But if they get Dave Chapelle to say "Ooooh Lawsy, this yere boy is a-scaird of de ghosties!" I think I'm gonna have to boycott.

And what's up with the bar at the fourteen and a half minute mark? "Pudweiser" logos everywhere! What's wrong, couldn't you guys get any product placement money out of the good folks at Bud?

Plus, you've got to love the redneck's speech at the nineteen minute eight second mark. He delivers it with such an odd, atonal speech pattern that I don't think even HE believes what he's saying.

You know, overall, there's not a whole lot wrong with "The Beast of Bray Road." This isn't one of those special, spectacular ones that I can recommend over and over again, but I tell you, if you're into monster movies, especially werewolf pictures, then "The Beast of Bray Road" is going to be right up your alley.

Even the bar fight. I can't believe there's an actual, honest-to-God, Dukes-of-Hazzard BAR FIGHT in the middle of a werewolf movie! Okay, yeah, it's set in rural Wisconsin, but still.

The ending is about what you'd expect from a movie like this, from the not-so-surprise cache of illegal weapons in a country barn to the not-so-surprisingly available amount of junk silver to the firefights and the inevitable destruction of the werewolf. Though finding out who the werewolf actually is is a bit of an actual surprise, and there'll be a couple others packed in for a note of variety.

The special features include a behind the scenes featurette, an outtake reel, cast and crew commentary, audio options, and trailers for "Frankenstein Reborn", "H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds", "Legion of the Dead" and "The Beast of Bray Road."

All in all, despite some extremely minor flaws, "The Beast of Bray Road" is going to prove worth a rental. Especially if you love monster movies or movies involving werewolves--and even if you don't, you'll still find something to like.

 

Swamper
****
DVD
Directed by Clint Berquist
unrated
93 mins

An amazing story of love, loss, and spooge cleaning comes through magnificently in "Swamper."

So what we have here is, basically, the story of a man with a lousy job, an occasionally fantastic sex life and a few unnerving troubles for variety. Eventually, he becomes the Speed King of Seattle...for a while.

"Swamper" starts off in truly baffling fashion. A fella inserts a twenty into a slot and expects a peep show. What he gets is a girl with a bottle of Windex cleaning up from her side of the booth.

Folks, I don't mind telling you--that's just bizarre.

But when we find out WHY she's cleaning the booth...well, it's just even more bizarre.

And by the time they bring in the main character, within the first three minutes, you've really got to wonder what we're in for here.

Especially since the movie gives an oh-so-savory explanation in dictionary format for our main character's job:

"Jared, 25, 'Swamper' (swomp-er)-def. One who cleans the booths at porn venues. See also 'Jizz Mopper'."

Considering that our swamper also arrives in a "Got Milk?" T-shirt (and if the National Milk Advisory Board ever gets word of this Berquist and company are ever so screwed from the libel suit bitchslapping they will inevitably get for this) it's especially ironic. And disturbing.

But man, this is some seriously funny stuff. Whether he's mopping up the spunk or staring down the Gary Busey-esque drug dealer who sells him his pot, Jared is one implacable individual. And if Berquist put any more jokes in the script, Dave Chapelle would jump down out of the trees and scream that it belonged to him.

Plus, J.P. Moore reminds me in a vague, unnerving sort of way of Diedrich Bader from the old Drew Carey show.

But what, dare I ask, happened at the twenty three minute twenty six second mark? The screen just goes BLACK for maybe half a second, but it's really very noticeable. Poor engineering, I guess.

And then they fire up the cartoon at the thirty one minute mark...and it's a good one, besides. It reminds me of the same artistic style that Sucker Punch was using in the Sly Cooper series of games.

Around fifty two minutes in, there is an unnerving sequence between Jared and his dealer, in which every time the cameras change point of view, the video quality noticeably changes.

And at fifty five minutes, when Jared and two other guys are walking uphill to snowboard, there's this really inappropriate blaring rock track in the background for three guys walking up a hill. At least it WAS inappropriate until the surprise happens about a minute later. Wow.

The ending is outlandish at best, featuring the long, rambling and largely pointless story of The Ster, who went from Rick to Rickster to THE Rickster to finally just The Ster (and even Ster, occasionally), more occurances of the word "fuck" in the space of six minutes than in any other movie I've ever seen. It beats the South Park movie, for crying out loud. And two truly, truly sad twists. Just really heartbreaking. Pathologically heartbreaking.

It's like the Kevin Smith version of "Traffic."

The special features include at the very least twenty solid minutes of bonus footage.

All in all, wow. "Swamper" is one of the single most unique movies I've ever seen, and at the very least, this uniqueness qualifies Swamper as some seriously impressive work. Featuring a fantastically crafted ending, and some solid performances, "Swamper" could easily compete with some of the big boys.

It's that good.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line. 

Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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