Monday, May 17, 2010

The Texas Frightmare Massacre

As you may or may not know, I have frequented ye olde Texas Frightmare Weekend every year since it's 2006 inception. Year after year, I've seen this operation grow to greater and greater proportion, but I wasn't the only fan who recognized it's growing potential. Last year, a group of local filmmakers, led by writer/director Joe Francis, turned this annual event into an opportunistic film venture aptly titled...

The filmmakers made it known that portions of the film would be shot on location during the 2009 event (and some fans were given the chance to participate in one form or another), so it was no surprise to see the finished film premiering at this year's convention. I was interested to see what Francis and Co. had come up with and especially interested to see how they incorporated the event into their storyline (and also, how they would be able to feature some of the main guests, if at all).

The film is cleverly divided into subsequent storylines that eventually intersect with the event. The first storyline involves Lyle (Joe Francis) and Eugene (Chad Pallett), a pair of slacker buds who, inspired by a rather enticing commercial, decide to enlist as security officers for a major hotel (in this case, the Sherat... er, uh... Adamston Grand). How does one prepare for such a job? By growing impressive mustaches, of course!

Right off the bat, the film establishes itself as not only an appreciation of horror films and the conventions that celebrate them, but also as a satiric nod, ripe with sly and subversive humor. Enter "The Boss," played by Hunter Barnett, an R. Lee Ermey type who slings hilarious insults at Lyle and Eugene during their training. Whether scripted or impromptu, the comedic chemistry between Francis, Barnett and Pallett is a wonder to watch. Perhaps, the most entertaining interaction is when complications ensue after "The Boss" demands to be called "sir," to which Lyle and Eugene mistake as "sire".

So, where does the massacre stuff come into play? It begins with the interwoven story of boyfriend/girlfriend Todd (David Ayers) and Mary (Melanie Smith), who are already set on attending the Texas Frightmare Weekend at the Adamston, when they receive news that they must bring along Mary's stepbrother, Max (Allen Reed), whom they both despise. Max is your typical giddy fanboy who often can't control himself and in turn irritates Mary and especially Todd. The irritation hits it's peak when they first arrive at their destination, resulting in a "parting of ways" for the trio.

Left on his own, Max basks in the glory of the convention, while attracting the suspecting eye of "The Boss". Undettered, Max is set on meeting his idol, Parrish Randall, independent horror extraordinaire. A staple of Texas Frightmare Weekend, Randall's appearance here garners some appreciative laughs, especially considering his negative portrayal which is definitely all in good fun. Needless to say, Max's chance meeting with his idol doesn't live up to his expectations, resulting in Randall and friends laughing at Max's clumsiness.

Rejected and humiliated, Max makes his way to his hotel room, a room he shares with, but is not welcomed by, Todd and Mary. Intruding, in a round-a-bout way, on one of the couples sex acts, Max is punished once again by Todd's raging bullish tactics... to the point where Max eventually retaliates. Unbeknownst to Mary, Max feverishly murders Todd in the bathroom and dons Todd's signature mask, a horse head. What happens next is an homage to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, where Max, now under the guise of Todd, begins to charm Mary who is waiting anxiously on the bed. Choosing to bound and gag her, rather than kill her, Max has officially spun off the deep end and so begins his Travis Bickle-like murdering spree.

Spurred by their boss' suspicion, newly appointed security officers (armed with broom, plunger and walkie talkies), Lyle and Eugene attempt to solve the deaths in bumbling Clouseau-like fashion.  But, that's where I'm going to stop.  Sorry, no further plot details.  No way will I divulge as to whether or not there is more bloodshed, or more horse head mask wearing, or whether there may be a gratuitous, sudsy shower scene.  Nope.  You shant get such juice from me.  You'll just have to see the movie for yourself.

In closing, blending horror with humor is not often easy, but Francis does quite well here by essentially constructing a comedy which cleverly allows the horror to seep in at a welcome pace. It might help to be a horror convention fanatic like me, but regardless, there is plenty to enjoy here. If you want blood, you've got it. If you want laughs, you've got 'em. And, if you want tits, you'll definitely get 'em!

Favorite quote:
"You have holsters to use instead of your armpits. The video should have covered that."

For more information, visit the film's official site and become a fan on Facebook.