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September 26, 2010

Movie Review: Lights Camera Dead (2007)

by Jeff Dolniak

Directed by: Tim Reaper

Buy Lights Camera Dead on DVD

These days, it seems many micro-budget filmmakers are going the way of the 60's and 70's exploitation films (I Dismember Mama, Night of the Bloody Apes, etc.) with the use of some truly absurd and at times humorous titles. Who can resist popping in recent b film entries with titles like Incest Death Squad or the awful Destined to Be Ingested? I know I can't, that's why I was excited to pop this micro-budget slasher, from writer and director, Tim Reaper, called Lights Camera Dead. Great title, right? Some times you find a diamond, and other times you get Destined to Be Ingested. Will Lights Camera Dead live up to its clever name, I wondered; or is it just going to seriously lay the smackdown on my brain-stem.

Lights Camera Dead begins with what maybe one of the best credit sequences I've seen in a low-budget movie recently. There's some very sharp editing and a highly creative way of revealing the cast and crew names. It's a wonderful start. Ryan Black (Wes Reid) and his partner, Steven (J.C Lira) really want to make a movie, but can't quite get any of there incompetent cast, including the obnoxious, big busted star, Melanie (Monica Moehring) and co-star, Kari Price(Amy Lollo). The crew isn't any more receptive to Black and Steven's high expectation to complete their horror masterpiece, "The Music Box". What do you do in a situation like this? Well, Ryan and Steve decide the best idea would be to slay everybody on screen; catching all their screams and even throwing their own lines in, to further the stellar narrative.

The first half of Lights Camera Dead has some laughs in it: An albino rapper, named T-Love (Ashby Brooks) steals an audition with his rhymes. Richard Christie (The Howard Stern Show) is pretty goofy as "The Composer". Christie basically plays himself in this very brief scene. The "Whack-Packer" just doesn't do anything with bodily fluids; like taking queefs from strippers to the face, as he does for his primary employer, Howard Stern. The humor though, unfortunately, doesn't always hit its mark; nor does the promised gore on the DVD cover box. When someone does die, it's generally off camera, and of the aftermath variety. I think it may be from the budget restrictions. T & A is also, non-existent (There's an "almost" boob shot, but that's it.).

The extra features on Lights Camera Dead are actually quite entertaining, most notably the commentary with the crew. I actually chuckled more during that, than I did the movie. We also get to hear an interesting explanation to the boob shot, the audience doesn't get to see. Lights Camera Dead actress and writer, Monica Moehring, is a school teacher. She has no qualms about nudity though otherwise. Overall it's an enjoyable listen. The short film "The Music Box" is also one of the bonuses, as well as a Subrosa trailer reel (Including a film called Ms. Cannibal Holocaust that I have to see!) and finally a commentary by Richard Christy over his scene.

Lights Camera Dead is a mixed bag. It has a fairly clever plot -surrounding the production of a horror film- but it doesn't quite deliver the horror. The second half is really where the movie starts to become fun, you just need to get through the first. That may not work for some, but if you are a Howard Stern completist and love the "Whack Pack", Lights Camera Dead may just be a welcome addition to your schlock collection.

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