February 10, 2016 Scream Machine (Movie Review)
Latest Horror anthology Scream Machine, released on DVD September 29th, 2015 from Deadly Indie Entertainment, provides a unique viewing experience. Made on an estimated budget of $15,000.00, Scream Machine was written by Walter Ruether aka Scarlet Fry (Horrorama 1989, Nightmare Alley 2010), Paul C. Hemmes (Dead Enders 2010, The Reptile Sactuary 2015), and David Sabal (Blown 2005, Death by VHS 2013). Fry and Hemmes also appear in a number of the stories in this Creepshow (1982) type movie.
There are two introductions to the stories, the first by Horror icon Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger 1984, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead 2006). Kaufman gives a sort of boxing match style commentary of what is to come. The next is by Dr. Fry (Fry) and his assistant Dr. Headly Graves (Paul Hemmes). Dr. Fry advises viewers he brings five twisted tales from Mr. Kaufman, the only entertainment left on Earth after most of the population were wiped out from an Ebola outbreak. Dr. Fry is dressed in the atypical doctors dress from the plague, Dr. Graves is purely a head on a serving plate. The two interact between the stories and provide information in regards to the current status of the human race, as well as why they do what they do.
The first tale is entitled “Sledgehammer.” Sledgehammer is the nickname of an amateur baseball player (Scarlet Fry) who has a killer fast ball. Baseball scouts attend his game one day, and unbeknownst to Sledge, one of the scouts (Randy Robinson: Death by VHS 2013, Terrestrial 2014) is the brother of the catcher (Josiah Spargo: Death by VHS 2013). Sledge shows them his best fastball, which inadvertently eradicates the catchers face. Thereafter, the event sets off a course of horrific events in the name of revenge. A gory little piece, with usual character choices, is scattered with dark humor.
The second tale is “Cannibal Pen Pals.” An unhappily married man (Robinson) carries on a pen pal and obsessive relationship with Geoffrey Dahmer. He struggles to maintain the lies in his life, and in one swift movement, it unravels around him. A deeply twisted segment, it pushes the envelope of bad taste. Not one to watch after eating.
The third, “April Fool’s Day,” is a quirky black humor tale about a group of drug addicts plotting to rip off their dealer (Tracy Ellegard). They set him up, and during the course of their heist, he dies. What ensues is a combination of A Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) and Home Invasion (2012).
Then there is the next piece “Septic Shock,” which is best described as bizarre. A married couple (Tom Szczepanski and Kim Wagner-Hemmes: The Domain 2007, Dead Enders 2010) attend therapy, which does not go well for the husband. The wife and the therapist are having an affair and the husband unwittingly becomes their victim, finding himself in the septic tank. He then has to battle what dwells therein.
The last short story is entitled “Deadly Indie Drive-In.” A couple attend the drive-in for a date. The woman (Wagner-Hemmes) has forgotten to take her “medication,” which she hopes will not be a problem. The man (Paul C. Hemmes) brushes this off and focuses on the movie. He soon finds that it is a huge problem she has not taken her medication and deeply regrets asking her out.
Overall, the segments are well-written, although the ages of the chosen actors for particular parts is peculiar. Characters such as the couple in the drive-in and the baseball player trying for the pros are reminiscent of watching characters in Beverly Hills 90210 in the ’90s. Viewers will either love Scream Machine and appreciate its depth and uniqueness, or they will loathe it.
There is plenty of blood, gore, laughs, and twists to shock and entertain, but an equal amount of parts that did not work at all. While the segments with Dr. Fry and Dr. Graves are highly entertaining, they do provide a lot of information that could have been delivered by showing rather than telling.
Scream Machine is certainly a must watch for all fans who are looking for the left of center, obscure type of film. The special effects are low budget but fit within each scene, the cinematography is solid, with Fry being heavily involved in all aspects of the filming process. Fry and Hemmes are certainly ones to keep an eye out for in the future. CrypticRock gives Scream Machine 3 out of 5 stars.