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March 9, 2013

Movie Review: Night Of The Tentacles (2012, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley
This is the first film of Dustin Mills I've ever seen. I've heard of his work before with flicks like Zombie A-Hole & Bath Salt Zombies. I must say I'm really impressed with what he was able to achieve, working no less with a budget of only fifteen-hundred bucks.

The film deals with a fellow by the name of David (Brandon Salkil). A man who's life really isn't going the way he plans. He's a struggling graphic artist who specializes in erotic horror artwork. He lives next door to some neighbors who are constantly causing a ruckus having sex non-stop. Things are looking to good for our dear David. Who's sole pleasure in life in waiting for his down stares pregnant neighbor Esther (Nicole Gerity) to get home. Why? So he listen in, ear to the floor and masturbate to the sounds of her moaning, doing the deed herself. Not much of a silver lining in his life eh? 

Well things get worse for David has after finishing up his “business” the man has a heart attack. Dear David has a bum ticker and doesn't have the cash for any surgery. Luckily for David one night who shows up? Satan himself, shows up to pay Dave a vist. An interesting looking satan at that. Almost looks like a dude in a rat suit with four red L.E.D. Lights for eyes who enjoys the occasional free style rap. Sounds like it doesn't work, but it does.

Anyhow the Devil makes David a deal, a classic Faustian one at that! If David agrees to give his soul to him, he'll get a brand spanking new heart. It doesn't take long for David to agree. One problem though, the heart has tentacles and is contained in a wooden box. The heart must be fed ala Little Shop of Horrors. If the heart dies, so does David. So what's a down & out graphic artist supposed to do? Bump off your asshole neighbors to feed the beast... errr heart and maybe even get the girl he dreams to be with.

One of the things I especially loved about this little flick was it nailed the tone within the first 5 minutes. When your main character starts out his voice over with “I know what your thinking, what could be more pathetic then this? A single 24 year old man argues the artistic merit of adding more alien semen to a digital painting while his neighbors have hot awesome sex next door at 1am on a Friday.”

I'm guessing before Dustin Mills wrote this flick he enjoyed a steady diet of Frank Henenlotter films. Which is a good thing because at times the films reminded me of Brain Damage, Basket Case but most evident in influence to me was Henelotter's most recent body horror flick “Bad Biology”.

We also have the “Little Shop of Horror” influences with the heart insisting “Feed Me!”. Also we get a bit of Poe's tell tale heart along with some Lovecraft thrown in for good measure. The film wears it's influences on it's sleeves but it does it's own thing. Never for a second does it feel like it's copying another film.

The film is a nice mix of gore, toilet humor and tits. It's not high art and it never was trying to be. The film just wants to entertain you and it does in spades.

The film's concept is cool and is executed nicely. The cinematography is very pleasing to the eye, it looked much more crisp then most no budget flicks. The acting is what really pleased me though. I was expecting to groan my way through this flick with occasional bits of gore to help keep me interested. But the characters of Dave & Ester were actually three dimensional, well written characters that you could relate to on some levels. This is isn't your typical straight outta theater school acting where the cast seem to be reading off cue cards. Everyone of the cast definitely did this project because they had a passion for it and it shows in the solid performances.

Brandon Salkil plays the everyman in over his head role very well. But most impressive is Nicole Gerity fucking rocking performance as Esther. Both leads share a great chemistry which really helps when they start to get romantically involved in the flick.

Lastly, how's the gore you might ask? Nicely done, over the top sure but luckily they don't over do it with the CGI. They stick mainly to straight up old school special effects. There is even one clever FX scene that is a straight up homage to the infamous Evil Dead tree rape. The film mixes the CGI splatter with the practical blood and grue perfectly.

At the end of the day, Night of the tentacles is an outstanding Indie horror/comedy and truthfully I have no complaints with it. It entertained me for it's 90 min running time and that's more then I can say for most films these days.

The DVD from MVD Visual features a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that really looks impressive. Image detail is pretty high, close ups look good. All of the colors pop and I'm happy to say even though this film was shot on digital the image has more depth of field to it then is typical. So you won't be watching an overly flat looking image for the 90 min run time.

The stereo audio gets the job done. Voices and sound effects are clear and the electronic soundtrack sounds great.

For extras we get trailers for two of Dustin Mills previous efforts “Zombie A-hole” & “The Puppet Master Massacre”.

The biggest and best extra though is the feature length audio commentary by Mills. Mills comes across as a real down to earth dude. He discusses everything you could possibly want to know about the film from shooting locations, to the actors and to the influences. He handles everything with a nice sense of humor and one thing I really appreciated was his lack of ego. He doesn't take himself or his films too seriously and he's very passionate about his work. Which is nice since so many Independent film directors these days seem to be ego maniacs with chips on their shoulders.

This is a great commentary and is definitely worth a listen if you enjoyed the film or if your looking to get into Indie filmmaking yourself.

The films a clever, silly, over the top homage to a film genre that's sadly long dead. It's refreshing to see a good horror/comedy they are so rare these days, especially in the Independent film circle. So grab some friends, some pizza and some beer because this flick comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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