Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
November 1st, 2016


Directed by Andy Hurst
Written by Ellis Walker
Starring Chloe Snyder, Mark Hengst, Andreas Beckett
Produced by Ralph E. Portillo, Jamie Elliott
86 mins

Hey, Ulli a special message for you this week. Assuming you read these, which isn't likely given that you're still pumping out your special brand of direct to video drivel to an unsuspecting video store audiences instead of slinking off into the night like the crime against video store patrons you are. Anyway, message: If you want to keep doing lousy movies about serial killers, you may well want to grab a copy of Copycat, because even though it's not that great, it's still light years ahead of your spectacular sludge piles.

Copycat is all about a killer who's been busy studying up on all the greats--Ramirez, Dahmer, Gein--and putting their methods to work in his own serial killing endeavors. Naturally, a whole lot of killings draw both police and journalists like flies, and thus the killer finds himself tailed by journalist Laura Nelson, whose mother was the victim of a serial killer herself. Laura finds out more about the great serial killers than she ever wanted to, but her exposure to these monsters gives her fresh insight to chase this newest one down. And the closer she gets to him, the closer he gets to her.

Sure, Copycat is nothing great. Of course, we get plenty of footage of the serial killers in their elements, stalking victims outside gay bars, killing people while delivering milk, so on and so forth. But these elements are strung together in a sufficiently rapid fashion that it's difficult to get bored, because by the time you're actually ready to start yawning angrily at the screen for wasting so much time, they've moved on to the next thing. This prevents you from ever working up sufficient steam to get bored or pop the disk out, so in a sense, Copycat has achieved some minor manner of success.

Also, by adding the stalk-the-journalist subplot, we've actually managed to compress several short films into one significant whole, and that's a fair upshot. Of course, the whole thing is bland and mediocre at best, so the upshot can really only be fair.

The ending is actually fairly satisfying, and it probably won't surprise anyone to know that that serial killer is going to be dead by the end of this.

Special features include audio options, Spanish subtitles, and trailers for "The Morgue", "Artifacts", "Restraint", "Dead and Gone", and "Unemployed".

All in all, "Copycat" may never win awards for being a great movie, or even a great serial killer movie, but it will at least manage not to enrage anybody or waste anyone's time. So it's a fair rental if nothing else you want happens to be around, or you're just really into serial killers.

The Legend of Bloody Mary

the Legend of Bloody Mary
Directed by John Stecenko
Written by Dominick R. Domingo, John Stecenko
Starring Paul Preiss, Robert J. Locke, Caitlin Wachs, Nicole Aiken
Produced by Robert Ahrens
93 mins

The Legend of Bloody Mary proves to be an object lesson in truly bad timing.

Based at least tangentially on the legend of Bloody Mary (hence the title), it's basically the story of the legend in a world where this kind of thing actually happens. And of course when the legend gets to its absolute extension, the result is predictable enough and a demon / monster / ghost / something or other that lives in the mirror starts turning kids into hamburger. Because, of course, you never see grown men and women chanting into mirrors so they'd never get pulled into a mirror by that demon / ghost / monster whatever-thing.

The legend, which has been told a number of different ways over the years, in this case basically requires kids to write the names of themselves and anyone else they want to "mark" for Mary's vengeance on a mirror, say "I believe in Mary Worth" a few times and then wait. The killings begin directly after. I've heard it go a few ways myself--the legend that was big back in my day required you to tell the mirror--rather, tell Bloody Mary--that you were the one who killed her son. At the third repetition of this admission she'd jump out and kill you.

Needless to say, she did not kill anyone who tried this--and even I might have tried it in the cheerful idiocy of my boyhood--as there were plenty of people around to tell the tale.

But anyway, back to the movie, which alternates between kids playing the game built on the legend in flashback, a priest trying to explain a parishioner's nightmares, and flashbacks even farther back showing the original story behind the legend. Which means we're dealing with about two layers of flashbacks here, and that's enough to make the story a little confusing unless you're paying careful attention.

And remember what I said about this being a study in bad timing? Yeah...the problem is that this is going to be compared, and not without reason, to recent release Mirrors. When your big bad lives in the mirror and favors snatching people inside it,not to mention is able to influence the movements of others via the manipulation of their mirror images it's pretty safe to say, hmm...this has kinda been done already. Makes me wonder if Fox is going to hunt up Lions Gate for this....

The ending is actually kind of lousy--when they explain what actually needs to be done to solve the problem, do something different that still manages to solve the problem (how do I know? Bloody Mary actually thanks the main character BEFORE the last detail is accomplished. The problem was solved at that point), and then tack on the last detail just so they visibly cover their tracks, you know there's a serious problem with the narrative. Worse yet, they'll go for a twist ending on top of it, AFTER the problem's been solved!

The special features include featurettes with commentary, a section of "Bloody Mary Testimonials" which intermingles parts of the movie with people talking about their own Bloody Mary tangles, audio options, a commentary track, English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for The Legend of Bloody Mary, Unemployed, The Morgue, Artifacts, Restraint, and Dead and Gone.

All in all, bad timing and an unnecessarily complicated script bring The Legend of Bloody Mary down to just slightly less than mediocre. They tried to do too much with entirely too little and they're paying for it with a poor-grade movie.