Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…
I’m not going to lie, I did take umbrage with a quote on the sleeve of THE BEASTER BUNNY boasting that it was “The greatest Easter horror movie ever released”. Well, we all know that that honour belongs to Chad Ferrin’s twisted gem, Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006), but for the sake of impartiality I figured I’d approach this newbie with an open mind. After all, it was spawned from the demented vision of Zack Snygg and his brother Spencer.
While Zach’s name might not cause the ringing of too many bells in the warped imaginations of lovers of schlock, his alter-ego John Bacchus should light up many a set of glazed eyes due his association with Seduction Cinema at the turn of the Millennium. Although this writer could wax lyrical for quite some time about the impact of Bacchus’ work on the softcore scene in UK video stores with titles like The Erotic Witch Project (2000) and Play-Mate of the Apes (2002), I’ll leave that for another time, and instead go back to the early nineties and to the New York offices of Lloyd Kaufman and Troma.
“I worked for Troma for about a year altogether” Syngg recalled from his New York home this week. “It really was a beacon for filmmakers who were attracted to working in the B-movie genre, but with an edge towards outrageous and campy comedy. I did the sales and marketing for James Gunn’s Tromeo & Juliet, which along with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Cannibal: The Musical had the gratuitous nudity, humour, gore and cheesy special effects that matched what I liked.”
Such inspiration is certainly oozing through every pore (or paw) of The Beaster Bunny, which feels like the mutant baby offspring of Troma, with a dash of the Polonia Brothers too. It’s a low-budget love letter to nineties SOV schlockers as a fifty-foot, bloodthirsty, floppy-eared killer leaves a trail of dismembered corpses in its wake in an anonymous town in Middle America.
“It’s a parody of the eighties slasher movies based on holidays or events, like Halloween (1978), Friday 13th (1980) and Happy Birthday to Me (1981). In most of the slasher films of that era the plot was very similar, where we saw everyone in the school, chapel and butcher shop getting killed one by one. Everyone was keen to get naked just prior to their dismemberment, and of course they were all completely oblivious to the fact that people around them are dying until the third act of the film. It was always the dead carney that did it too, or the long lost mutant cousin, or perhaps someone from an episode of Scooby Doo!”
Cutting out the logistical bullshit is key to the Snygg brothers’ film, as free from the shackles of having to explain anything, The Beaster Bunny is content to exist as an eighty minute paean to blood, boobs and bedlam, as Snygg explains; “We were keen to do something in the style of the current SyFy movies, but we wanted to make a point of NOT having long scenes of exposition where they ponder “Why did the bunny get so big?”, and “How can we defeat this giant creature?”. We just never wanted to explain the rabbit or why it was there, and what its motivation was to kill nude sunbathers”.
Though the latest crop of SyFy Channel spectaculars are recommendable only for their moreish madness, the standard of CGI has seen a marked improvement, which was something Snygg was keen to reverse! “We just wanted to combine old school bad special effects with NEW school bad special effects! Why have bad CGI when you can have bad puppetry I say! It was our first foray into doing extensive after effects, but Spencer and I had lots of fun creating the gags. Every death scene is a story unto itself, having a setup and a payoff. We knew going in that this is not everyone’s cup of tea, and many people don’t actually realise that it’s making fun of itself, but then that’s half the fun of making it.”
Fun is certainly the operative word with The Beaster Bunny, a movie that will no doubt attract its fair share of detractors, aghast at what they perceive to be hackneyed and amateurish filmmaking. Ignore the naysayers though as this is a film that should appeal to all trash hounds with its bountiful moments of seedy depravity, featuring a rabbit that looks like it’s been dead and decomposing for two weeks, before being reanimated and injected with rabies. It’s a grim creature that moves awkwardly with the jerking staccato of a marionette, shifting across the frame like a mutant David Allen creation on crack.
This lovable ball of fluff maybe the star attraction, but we’re also treated to a bountiful cast of low-budget regulars who deliver the Snygg’s wise-cracking lines with aplomb (“I guess this is karma for all the chocolate rabbits I ate as a kid”). The luscious Darien Caine (Lord of the G-Strings (2003)) pops up for a brief two minute cameo, while Peter Sullivan as Doug the Dog Catcher comes perilously close to walking away with the movie in his back pocket. That honour goes to the ubiquitous cult icon John Paul Fedele, a veteran of Full Moon (Zakorr! The Invader (1998)), Seduction Cinema (Gladiator Eroticus: The Lesbian Warriors (2001)) and Polonia Brothers movies (Splatter Beach (1997)), he’s a constant source of whacked-out insanity as The Mayor.
For Zack Snygg though, it was just a great opportunity to get back to shooting the kind of movies that inspired him back in his Troma days, as well as the fact that he could reunite with his brother on a film for the first time since Blood, Bullets, Buffoons (1996). “My brother Spencer is a gaffer who has worked in Hollywood for the best part of two decades on films like Spider-Man (2002) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). Although he works on these huge budget pictures, he doesn’t really get the opportunity to write and direct films. So, after years of doing my own thing, I felt the urge to reunite with the idea that we could co-write, co-cast, co-produce and co-shoot the movie. Since both of us make a living as cameramen or lighting directors, it made sense to do it this way.”
The Beaster Bunny hits DVD this week in the UK thanks to Second Sight, and Snygg is happy to admit that it’s a flick you’ll either love or hate. “Well, that’s what people tell me anyway! Some people really love it, but others are more “What the fuck did I just watch?” which is fun to hear too! I had kind of retired from doing independent films for a while with the crash of the DVD market, but with VOD being a growing avenue, and the fact that we could get The Beaster Bunny on HULU and Amazon Prime, it just felt right. Besides, any time you can tell a person on the street “Hey! Check out my film on…“ has to go down as a satisfying experience!”
The Beaster Bunny was released in the UK on the 3rd April 2017
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