Watch A Bad Movie With a Friend Redux or Breann Can Get Me To Watch Anything!
Whodini once posed a question that will best reflect this movie review. “Friends, how many of us have them?”. Why am I bringing this up? Because when my dear friend Breann helped me get over my bout of THE PLAGUE the other day, she put a movie into my possession along with the over the counter drugs and Orange Juice I required. You see, for months young Breann has been telling anyone who will listen about how she bought a DVD for $1. This fact would be a tad more impressive but I’m pretty sure she bought the movie at a Dollar Store (Yup she confirms this was indeed a Dollar Store purchase, something she takes way to much pride in). Anyway the movie in question was titled Zipperface. She recommended that I review this movie, in her ever so subtle way of saying “I thought maybe you could review this” and alas here we are. Now this goes against my “Watch a bad movie with a friend” philosophy but what the hell, how low-budget can this movie be?
So low-budget that it comes in a cardboard sleeve.
I knew I was in for something, I just wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. Based on that cardboard sleeve I’d either laugh my ass off during this piece of cinema or sit there for its 90 minute running time bemoaning my fate with cries of “Why? Why did I agree to watch this”. The cardboard sleeve itself was very bare-bones. It had the title of the movie with a diagonal image of a zipper with a drop of blood eking out of it. I deduced one thing right away based on that image… this probably wasn’t a feel good comedy, at least not intentionally. The best part of the cardboard sleeve is that it proudly let’s the viewer know that they can watch the movie “in English and Espanol”. This made me chuckle a bit too much because what if someone purchasing this isn’t aware that Espanol is Spanish for… well… Spanish? The comedy of errors is an improv sketch just waiting to happen.
I waited a day to watch this thing, I felt some mental steeling was necessary if I was going to sit through this potential cinematic catastrophe. I first did some research. The movie is from 1992 so I was going to have deal with a little bit of culture flashback. The Internet Movie Database gave me the list of actors, none of whom I recognized. Is one of them really named Harold Cannon? That can’t be his real name for fuck’s sake! HARRY CANNON! Already we have one guy with a pseudo-porn name, can it get any worse than that? The IMDB also informed me that the movie, as of 2009, has been adopted into a comedy musical. I have no doubt, knowing Breann’s love of musical theater and her knowing my rather less than favorable view on musical theater, that she is more than likely trying to track down a performance of the musical to torment me with. Do you realize I haven’t even gotten to talking about this movie yet? The last 2 paragraphs are about the packaging of the DVD and the research I did to prepare for watching the movie! Does this give you any idea how much I’m looking to viewing this movie?
The movie itself, oh Jesus Christ… The Movie Itself!
First let’s get my initial disappointment out of the way. With a title like Zipperface, I was expecting some horror movie featuring a deformed guy with some sort of a zipper for a face. I mean the title kind of implies that. Man tell me that isn’t some crazy concept that Full Moon would’ve done back in the 90s? Sounds like the perfect thing to make between Puppetmaster and Subspecies movies. Sadly, this isn’t what we get. There is no deformed weirdo with a zipper for a face. Instead what we get is a very sub-standard slasher flick. Even worse it is so obvious that the people that made this are trying to make a low-rent Jason Voorhees, I’m stunned they weren’t sued by Victor Miller for copyright infringement. Now no one is going to run out and say that the Friday The 13th movies are the best movies ever made but going in, you know what to expect. It’s not like people are going to show-up at Camp Crystal Lake expecting a 10 minute soliloquy from Jason Voorhees about how he is terribly misunderstood. So excuse the fuck out of me if I want to see some dude with a zipper for a face go on a killing spree, I’m only fucking human.
To make things worse, Zipperface is a slasher flick with BDSM as one of its lesser story hooks and even then the movie is just so painfully dull. If this got released today it would be PG-13 at best. I mean a guy in a leather suit and gimp mask goes around killing hookers? Who cares! One of the reasons the psycho-slasher genre works is because there is a motivation for the anti-hero, at least initially. Freddy Kreuger and Jason Voorhees are out for revenge plain and simple. They go to some serious fucked-up extremes but deep down revenge is the core of it all. You want to know how ineffectual Zipperface is as a slasher villain? He makes his first kill by accident. No revenge, no real reason why he kills. He just got his whip around a hookers neck and snapped it. That is just fucking pathetic. He didn’t mean to kill anyone but once he does then his penchant for violence is unleashed. Penchant for violence with a machete no less, the favored weapon of Jason Voorhees.
Another gripe I had were the victims. The victims are all just prostitutes that were hired by Zipperface for BDSM role-play and shit got out of hand way to fast (to put it mildly). Zipperface isn’t going after anyone that has wronged him. Since his first kill was accidental, he is just cleaning up his own mess and very poorly at that. He is a desperate person covering up his crime and not a true psycho-killer of the cinema that we all kind of love. Zipperface going after plain old hookers just doesn’t cut it for me. The worst part is the hookers he is going after are just not proactive enough. They are timid and week. I like my hookers tough and at least capable of handling a shiv. The only thing that the hookers in this movie do is knee him in the balls. Repeatedly! See, that’s another reason he is an emasculated slasher. You want your slasher to be kind of unstoppable and not let something like being kneed in the huevos stop him. Could it be that Zipperface is some sort of social criticism of slasher films in general? Is it, in fact, a parody of a slasher film? It is entirely possible that is the case and perhaps, if this movie weren’t hampered by being so cheap, such a parody might have been decent but alas we have this end result of a film.
This film is also a victim of presenting the viewer with too many Red Herrings. No less than 4 characters are presented as the Red Herring during the course of a barely 90 minute film. That means for every 22.5 minutes of screen time one more character introduced could be Zipperface. There is also the overabundance of Red Herring clues for each of the Red Herring characters. The “Sledgehammer of Plot” is used in large, liberal doses in this movie. Then it goes a step further by presenting a non-contender for the revelation of Zipperface’s identity. The execution is so ham-fisted and clumsy that when the movie finally has its big moment, you simply don’t care what Zipperface’s motivations are or who he actually is. In fact his motivations are so weak that you’ll be stunned he killed anyone on purpose at all.
The film suffers a lot for its lack of a protagonist you want root for. One problem is the female lead being so unlikable. I ended up hating the female lead, not because she isn’t a potentially well written character but because the actress playing her is so awful. The character of Lisa Ryan is supposed to be a passionate cop who was made Detective, yet she shows no real insight nor passion for her work. It would be one thing if she were being played as a sort of female Sherlock Holmes, an emotionally detached observer who can pick-up on the slightest clue but trust me that isn’t the case with Lisa Ryan. No Lisa Ryan approaches police work with the same determination one would approach to hanging laundry. Hell she doesn’t even dress like a sensible Police Detective, her wardrobe makes her look more like a New Hampshire Real Estate Agent. There is no way she would ever rundown a perp in that skirt and don’t even get me started on her neckerchief. Did I mention she is kind of a slut? Of course she falls for one of her suspects in the Zipperface case, of course she sleeps with him within 24 hours of meeting him but she is so dull and the suspect so skeezy that they make for the most un-erotic on-screen couple in the history of cinema. Hell their “Sex Scene” is the most G-Rated sex scene I’ve ever viewed simply for the fact that to call it a “Sex Scene” is a horrible joke (1-4 seconds of screen time maybe? Not even a side-boob shot).
I think the only actor that showed any sort of ability at acting was the character of Harry Shine played by David Clover. Harry Shine is a likable police detective teamed up with Donna Adams’ Lisa Ryan. He is one of maybe 3 actors in this little exercise in cinema that doesn’t seem to be blankly reading off of cue cards. Clover makes Harry Shine look like a good mentor or father figure for the new young Detective Ryan but Detective Ryan is so emotionless and bland that any wisdom he could offer wouldn’t matter. This movie would’ve been far more entertaining with Harry Shine as the protagonist since Shine has that worn-out mid-80s early-90s cop look about him. Hell, between Lisa Ryan sleeping with her suspects and Shine’s old partner being kind of a misogynistic screw-up, Harry Shine is the lone competent Police Officer in this whole movie. Hell I’d watch a series of cheap Harry Shine detective movies or even better, a weekly Harry Shine TV show.
I guess in the end the crime of this movie is that its just not good. It might be worth a “Bad Movie Night” with friends just so you can all sit around and tear it apart bit by awful bit. I really should have waited to watch this thing with Breann, so she could revel in its horror, at least then I could listen to her revel how bad it was. She is unafraid to sit there and say what comes in her head while watching a bad movie. Hell one day I will regale Brave Blog with the of “How Breann Didn’t Believe Beastmaster Was A Real Movie!”. But for now there is Zipperface. There is Zipperface and I’m kind of pissed off about it. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a movie and come away angry simply for the movie being awful. See this is what I was talking about a few days ago. Bad movies NEED to be watched with friends because, if nothing else, watching that with friends will help you carry the burden of watching a horrible, horrible movie.
So I will start as I began, by quoting Whodini “Friends, how many of us have them? Friends, one we can depend on”. For bad movies, you need to depend on your friends because no one should have to bear the burden of watching bad movies by themselves. Because there is pain and then there is PAIN and Zipperface is a whole shitload of the latter, no matter how much I wish it was the former. The whole ordeal would have been much less painful if I had watched it with a friend. Well, at least a friend cared enough to lend it to me to make me feel better and I guess that is the real point of it all.