Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Earlier this year, The Weinstein Company released the schlocktastic "Piranha 3DD" in theaters. The film, scripted by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton and directed by John Gulager, was a reunion of sorts, coming seven years after their collaboration on the horror movie, "Feast." "Feast" was the product of the third season of the late, great "Project Greenlight," the show in which neophyte screenwriters and directors were given the chance to become the next Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
The third season of "Project Greenlight" was its last, with the attempt to shift to genre filmmaking in the wake of the financial failures of "Stolen Summer" and "The Battle of Shaker Heights" being unsuccessful, but the PGL franchise has several lasting legacies: Shia LaBeouf. Chris Moore. "Project Runway," Dunstan and Melton went on to pen the last four "Saw" movies. And who's to say that Affleck didn't learn a thing or two about what not to do as a director from the show before helming such well received productions as "Gone Baby Gone," "The Town," and "Argo."
Many are calling "Argo" the Oscar favorite this year. That film concerns a 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran. Specifically, the operation consisted of the creation of the titular fake science fiction film as a cover for sneaking operatives into Iran and sneaking American hostages out. Here's an idea: How about reteaming Gulager, Melton, and Dunstan to make the fake science fiction movie into an actual movie? Sure, it's sci-fi and not horror, so it's not quite in their wheelhouse, but with the success and publicity of "Argo," you'd have to think that an actual "Argo" movie could do quite well.
Feast(The Weinstein Company, 10.17.2006)
At the opening to the third (and final) season of Project Greenlight, the Dimension Films representatives threw in the creative towel. After the commercial wipeout of the series' first two films (Stolen Summer and The Battle of Shaker Heights), they decided to aim for the lowest common denominator and greenlight a horror-comedy script that everyone from Wes Craven to Matt Damon recognized was neither scary nor funny. Their reasoning was that the horror genre was hot and that even critical trash could become box office treasure. What they failed to realize is that horror comedies almost never do well commercially and that a horror film approved for the masses by studio heads, but hated by the Master of Horror, isn't likely to connect with anyone.
Like Peter Berg's The Rundown, Feast opens in a bar with freeze frame graphics giving us the vital stats on its patrons. The bar, The Beer Trap, is a desert watering hole populated by the likes of Henry Rollins' surprisingly keyed down motivational speaker, Balthazar Getty's misogynist prick, Krista Allen's trick-turning single mom, and Jason Mewes's...Jason Mewes. Eric Dane's Hero and Navi Rawat's Heroine soon appear and tell them that they accidentally crashed into a Skekses-like creature and that its parents have descended upon the bar for revenge. What follows is copious amounts of gore, surprisingly sparse humor, and blurry, zoomed-in, sped-up action scenes that are utterly impossible to follow.
It's clear that neophyte scribes Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton tried to fuse Assault on Precinct 13 with the second half of From Dusk Till Dawn to create a horror/comedy/action hybrid, but their script is plagued by a litany of stodgy characters who died on the page long before they die on the screen. Worse, Mewes, the only actor capable of spinning comic gold out of the writers' trite quips, is killed off in the first few minutes and center stage is ceded to Rawat (The O.C.), another studio concession, who kills every scene with her leaden delivery. The pacing of the film is also bizarrely off-kilter with a flurry of action at the very beginning, followed by horror and action beats that only randomly crop up in fits and starts.
Gulager was touted as a sort of directorial idiot savant on Project Greenlight 3, but there's little in the finished product to suggest a personal stamp on the material, which, to his credit, seems to have died a death by a thousand cuts. What's left is a film that dances about its limited budget with two left feet and drowns in a horrible heavy metal soundtrack.
The disc features an 88-minute, unrated version of the film with a murky 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Gulager, the writers, 2 producers, and creature designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Candyman) contribute a commentary track which, like the film, is plagued by too many people with too little to say. We also get about 7 minutes of worthless deleted scenes, 3 minutes of humorless outtakes, a promo for the awful soundtrack, and some decent featurettes on the making of the movie (11 minutes) and its creature effects (about 9 minutes). My advice: pass on Feast and wait for the release of PGL3 on DVD.