Imagine a film where Leatherface meets Freddie AND Mike Myers, and others, and THEN they all go on a road trip in a Winnebago to a lake side resort, where tables are turned and they are terrorized for change!
Smothered is that film. A funny indie horror film written and directed by Superman’s Dad, Dukes of Hazzard’s John Schneider. He has done something that at least one actor says every convention I attend…. “we should all do a film sometime.” Except he went and actually did that. If you go to horror cons you will have probably seen most of this great cast and maybe bought their autographs. Most of the actors play a version of themselves trading on their fortune to be the actor behind the masks in many of great horror classics and the sequels. John’s script gives a sneak peek behind the workings of the convention circuit and the lives of the actors attending them.
DISCLOSURE: Recently, on a flight to PensaCon, fog and flight delays meant that I had a four hour car ride through the southern states with Billy Dee Williams and various other artists and writers. The scenes in the Winnebago felt pretty similar to that experience so I have to admit bias in that I may have LIVED a great many portions of this movie. That made me both happy and sad.
And that is because these horror icons decide to take a gig where they haunt a lake side RV park in Louisiana for a weekend instead of selling autographs at another horror convention. Then one by one they start disappearing just like in the movies they are known for. Are they set up? Is it one of their own? Can I get a gig scaring people in a RV park for weekend? So many questions.
What Mr. Schneider has done here is kinda clever. He has actually given each of the actors REAL acting moments within the context of the funny premise. By taking the threat and drama seriously, it allows for the humor to come through with more heart and some bonafide comedy moments. The movie at times teeters on the edge of a “Troma-esque” schlock fest, but then it veers back with deft editing and a grounded emotional core
The camera work and production values are far and above where an indie like this usually resides. This thing looks like every dollar of whatever their budget was ended up on screen. Clearly, someone has been reading my other reviews about how non linear timeline editing can save a pic. I often mention that we the audience can follow a story even if it is NOT in sequential order. At the start there are bylines giving you time indicators info but toward the end, mere title cards indicate the shifts in story. It works so that grisly deaths are placed around other subplots and events leading up to and afterwards payoff later on.
Just check out some of the Horror Legends in this thing playing themselves, more or less.
– Bill Moseley: A quick glance at his IMDb shows that he is currently filming 16 projects RIGHT NOW, another 20 or so in various stages of pre-production and then 58 to his name including Devil’s Rejects and Army of Darkness. All that film work clearly shows as the natural ease all the cast on camera.
– Don Shanks is fucking hilarious in this, and the fishing scene just reminds me that I don’t do enough upper body work at the gym.
– Kane Hodder carries this film and does so very well. Considering that he is Jason from Friday the 13th Part VII: New Blood and Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (filmed in Vancouver) to name a few, he is amazingly comfortable with both the comedy and the drama.
I could go on and on. There are so many other actors providing surprise after surprise in this movie that it was a treat that just kept going to the last frame.
There are also great inside jokes to us actors who travel to the conventions to make appearances. I don’t know to even call them jokes so much as truths about life for an actor known mainly for one thing. Like all indie films these days, it’s life and chance to to be seen depends on a groundswell of fans to find it and spread the word. So open a browser right now and click, like, poke, tweet, and share. Then hopefully it will connect to the audience it deserves.