Here’s your plot folks: the story takes place in a dystopian future where an evil corporation (Horn Industries) runs things. There is only the good part of town and the poor part of town. There is a Dexter-esque (although Mr. Grillo swears he never watched Dexter) serial killer, Darian, dubbed the Red Harvest Killer who has taken it upon himself to serve the function of population control. Two young, hot lesbian killers, Kat and Gladys come to town and start hogging Darian’s spotlight. Despite the fact that their styles are completely different, the media groups them together and starts giving credit to Kat and Gladys as being the Red Harvest Killer. Add in a cop seeking redemption, some serial killer friction, a Yoda like fortuneteller and a big plot twist that you will just have to see for yourself and you have yourself a low budget, Sci-Fi Troma style movie film.
What was good? The score of the film was excellent. Director Christian Grillo’s background in music shines through, with pretty much every musical choice in the entire movie being spot on. Grillo tries to really hear the tone of the scene, what is really going on and then apply the right music to bring you there. The music was a huge bright spot on an otherwise dreary film.
There were some performances that were pretty enjoyable, including wacky dive café owner Jarvis (Carl Stevens). He gave some much needed comic relief to scenes with Detective Jerry Hipple (Tom Detrik) without which would have been unbearable, but I’ll save that for later. The fortune-telling pawnshop-owning wizard (Brian Anthony Wilson) was very entertaining; especially with his anime style Asian schoolgirl sidekick cackling in his throne style tv set. Grillo uses this character to advance certain plot elements including revealing the big plot twist and balancing the power between the serial killing factions.
It was really good to see Lloyd Kaufman in a cameo appearance as the President. It isn’t that his acting was that good, but when you are making a film in a particular genre and you have a legend of that genre in your film it sure adds a lot of credibility. Grillo considers himself unable to escape quirk in his writing and working with one of his film heroes was awesome. Me personally though, this role, I prefer Mel Brooks in Spaceballs.
There were also some well placed one liners and exclamations. Some were so cheesy but these lines showed me that Mr. Grillo was able to laugh at himself, and his film, which is certainly something I appreciate.
What was bad? The plot for one, way too much going on, too many plot lines and not enough attention paid to them individually. I also didn’t like the big plot twist, which seemed unnecessary to me and overshadowed everything else. Grillo explains the plot twist as satire, a metaphor for unforeseen things mucking up our efforts, and while I love that explanation, it didn’t help me while I was watching the movie. It’s almost as if I enjoyed talking about the movie more than I enjoyed watching it.
What else was bad? The acting. I’m sorry to say, but on the whole, it was atrocious. I don’t want to single anyone out, but the acting took me out of the movie way more than it brought me into it. The “special effects” were very low budget; I do not enjoy seeing “behind the curtain” so much. Also, the male full frontal, was not cool, I can NEVER unsee that!
What was tough? Watching a Troma style film, while not being a Troma guy. The basic story was good, but got too overshadowed by too many plot lines and a completely unrealistic, out of left field plot twist. It was also tough to speak to writer/director Christian Grillo, as I really got a feel and appreciation for his efforts – I was just unable to like his film.
So is this movie bad, good or tough? That’s up for you to decide, but I just wanted to give you a heads up for what you are in for so you can go into it with eyes wide shut, LOL.
Interview with Christian Grillo
One of the things that stood out the most to me was the music in the film. The music chosen was very fitting for the scene throughout the entire film. Can you please tell us a little bit about that process, give us some insight as to how you go about matching up the right music for the right scenes?
Music was my entrance into film. I was a musician before a film maker. My process is probably unorthodox but I tend to hear the music when I write a scene. Sometimes I write listening to other music. But music is always first. I feel that in writing you need to have a tempo, a rhythm. It’s in everything. When we walk, when we talk, when we drive. I’m lucky to be able to hear that rhythm, so I just apply that to the scenes after I edit them. I’m also lucky to have the ability to be able to compose most of what I hear.
The plot seemed quite full with the utopian future, broken cop looking for redemption, killers trying to define themselves, and then the plot twist of the planet heading towards Earth to destroy it. What were you trying to express with the addition of that plot element by adding it to the story?
I think it’s my own satire. We work so hard to accomplish something… like make a movie, just to watch some sort of impending doom blow it up after it’s done. Bad reviews, poor sales performance, or just people not paying attention to what we did. To an artist it’s like the world coming to an end. As if none of our efforts ever mattered.
Both Gladys and Kat were not shy in showing their breasts in this movie. During the casting process, how many breasts would you say you saw before you found the perfect pair?
Actually Kat never shows anything, Carmela is very modest in that sense. Tammy Jean was already a friend of ours. So she was already in thought when we we’re looking for the right cast. She didn’t need to show her breasts to get the part, she had to perform the role well. She did.
I enjoyed the fortune-teller very much but wasn’t quite sure what his role was. Could you expound on his role in the story, what function his character served?
He was the Yoda in the mix, he was the one who already knew the fate of all the people around him. He served the position of creating mysticism in the film as well as balancing the scales in Katia’s favor against Adrian. Adrian had access to all information to serve to his advantage, that was his secret weapon. The Wizard gave this power to Katia thus balancing good and evil… or evil and evil.
The scene when the Red Harvest Killer wraps up his next victim in plastic, talks to him then kills him appeared to be a naked homage to Dexter. Was it? If so, could you explain the impact that show had on your story telling in this movie?
Here’s the big shocker. I never watched Dexter. I don’t even have cable TV. After I wrote the first draft of Apocalypse Kiss, my co-producer John Kent pointed out to me that this is how Dexter kills his subjects. I was not surprised this was done before. How many clever ways can you kill someone on camera? We discussed changing it but I liked the fact that that kind of kill was so hands off. I decided to keep it in the story and then let people think it was an homage. But once again… I never watched Dexter.
This movie had a very “late night cable” feel to it and of course Lloyd Kaufman, who had a cameo in the movie is known for this type of movie. What was it like not only to make a movie in a legend’s genre but to have him actually be in your film?
I can’t seem to escape quirkiness when I write. I like quirkiness, things that are just a little off, like this movie. So I guess that’s the late night feel your talking about. As far as Lloyd goes, he was the first pick for the role. We already have had many encounters with Lloyd and I have always been a big fan of his. The guy is an independent icon. He was awesome 180 degrees. He showed up with camera in hand shooting his own behind the scenes which can be found on the DVD or Youtube. He was a complete gentleman and a professional.
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