Fantastic Fest: 'Smash Cut'
Saying "Mwah, mwah, mwah" to Herschell Gordon Lewis
By Richard Whittaker,
10:25AM, Sat. Sep. 26, 2009
Somewhere on his car, director Lee Demarbre probably has a sticker that says "WWHGLD" – What would Herschell Gordon Lewis Do?
The man behind zero-budget schlocker Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter has placed the man that turned a cow tongue into a star up on a pedestal in one of Fantastic Fest's quirkier outings (and that's saying something).
Able Whitman (David Hess, star of the one true The Last House on the Left), like Lewis, is a maker of crappy horror; Unlike Lewis, he's terrible. Like Lewis, he uses real body parts for his effects. Unlike Lewis, the body in question isn't bovine: It's his recently deceased girlfriend GiGi, Which is all fine until her sister April (Sasha Grey: It's alright, you can pretend that you just know her from The Girlfriend Experience) starts asking around.
This is a flat-out, no-holds barred, ground-round covered and corn-syrup drenched mash-note to the director that truly defined the "Give the audience what they want" school of film-making. When Demarbre says he knows HGL, he's not kidding: The man himself appears, re-enacting the famous pre-show warning from The Wizard of Gore.
There's no subtlety here. Demarbre isn't just emulating Lewis' ghoulish glee for bood and guts, or his late '60s dayglo sensibilities. Everyone either overacts or underacts, meaning half the cast chews the scenery and the other half looks like it. The script occasionally throws characters straight through the fourth wall. Grey keeps her clothes on, just as Hess' fellow Wes craven alum Michael Berryman covers his infamous peaked dome of a head with a wig. He gets the delicious, off-kilter anti-tease of Lewis, right down to setting exposition scenes in strip joints (just so the audience doesn't get too bored of the talky-talky).
It's a simple equation. If you like Lewis' clever-smart brand of gut-gushing comedy horror, Smash Cut is a blast. If you don't find gizzards full of blancmange and food dye entertaining, then move along. It's cheesy, overblown and operates wholly on its own terms. Just like Herschell would do.