Ok, before I review this movie, which is damn good by the way, I have to rant for a minute first. It’s a tried and true rule in horror cinema, and cinema in general, that if someone stumbles upon a profitable idea, it will be taken, copied endlessly, ridden hard and hung up wet, done to death, and run into the ground. Currently, mainstream, big budget studio horror is riding the tail end (hopefully) of the remake and 3D waves. In indy horror, neo-grindhouse and exploitation flicks are currently all the rage.
At least two thirds of the trailers I’ve seen for low budget, independent “genre” films in the last year have featured either fake film aging or an old school “coming attractions” screen. Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse may have been a box office disappointment, but it sure was influential. Actually, maybe a better word would be imitated. Fake age drives me nuts. I think it’s ridiculous to buy brand new t-shirts made to look like you’ve been wearing them for 20 years. You have to earn that vintage look. I feel the same way about the fake film aging. It’s just dumb. It was fine in Grindhouse, because it was unique. That hadn’t been done before. Now everyone and their mothers are making crappy slasher or “exploitation” flicks, artificially aging the digital footage, and calling it a “throwback.”
It can occasionally work as a nod to the genre's heritage, but a little goes a long way folks! Lines, grain, lost reel gags, and that sort of gimmickry is not what draws us to these films. The best neo-grindhouse movie since, well, Grindhouse was Hobo with a Shotgun, and it had none of that. What makes this subgenre special is its spirit. The ideal that nothing is off limits, anyone with an idea can make a movie, and being as outrageous and potentially offensive as possible is the name of the game. It’s the manic energy, DIY aesthetic, and “up yours” to conventional standards of cinema that made these movies special in the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s what makes the good flicks of this new wave exciting.
Which brings me to the flick at hand; Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Dead Hooker in a Trunk doesn’t employ the fake aging, but it is more spiritually akin to the exploitation movies it is inspired by than most I’ve seen. - Nathan Hamilton, Son of Celluloid
Thank you, fucking eh, I completely agree, and thank you again so kindly. This is the beginning of the fantastically intelligent and knowledgeable piece by the sharp, Nathan Hamilton of Son of Celluloid. It's amazing how GRINDHOUSE - which was wrongfully considered an unsuccessful project - was the force that re-ignited the flame of grindhouse, DIY filmmaking.
But as Nathan explains - it's not the weathered footage or the missing reels that make the flick, it's something deeper, and for it to be successful you need to grab onto that independent, 'we don't have any money, so let's use our brains to make something rad' spirit that will never let you down. But did we, the team that I love who came together to create DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, succeed in our ambitions?
The passion they have for films like this and the fun everyone was having making it is evident. It definitely epitomized the DIY school of filmmaking. They have been tight lipped about what the actual budget was, but in an interview on the Altered Realities podcast they said that you couldn’t buy a used car for what they spent on the flick. For a film this low budget, it looks great. The action scenes and gore are amazingly well done, and it has a definite visual flair.
Everyone puts in a good performance. The four central performers in particular have a great onscreen chemistry and, in a rarity for movies these days, actual character arcs. The story is very creative and unpredictable. It moves along at a breakneck pace that keeps you constantly anticipating just what kind of outrageousness and weirdness they are going to throw your way next. The final line of the film is both a perfect coda to the ride you’ve just been on and a laugh out loud inside joke for lovers of this type of flick. In other words, this movie is just a whole hell of a lot of fun.
Now no more delicious morsels of this fine horror aficionado dining review - you must make your reservations, put on a tie, and prepare for the entire yummy helping here. Also, I think if you look around for a boo or two, you will dig this talented and well versed writer's musings on your favorite bloody flicks.
Thank you so kindly for checking out the film and doing such a thoughtful review on the piece, Nathan! Can't wait to share the new flick, AMERICAN MARY, with you. All of you.