Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Phillip Newman, Robert Z’Dar, Rachael Robbins, William Smith, Tina Krause
Written & Directed by Donald Farmer
Released by Midnight Releasing
A psychopath in a welders mask bound and gags a naked woman to an auto body shop slab and proceeds to slowly spray paint her to death. If this wasn’t an unusual enough means by which to murder another human being, it seemed to me that the director was shooting for something slightly erotic with the attractive naked woman getting blue body painted aesthetic. I’ve never seen a slasher movie where a naked woman got lovingly spray painted to death so I have to give Deadly Memories some weirdness points for that scene alone.
Then a guy is watching his girlfriend do a striptease while bouncing on a trampoline that just happens to be situated out in the middle of a rocky ravine when the killer opens fire on them with a rocket launcher from up high. He proves to have lousy aim but plenty of reloads. Rocket launchers – not your typical psycho killer paraphernalia.
Another interesting change of pace, the teenage victims actually have it coming. There is no sympathy for these punks; their punishment is well earned. They steal some beer from an Alabama gas station run by Robert Z’Dar. Who in their right mind would try to rob a convenience store owned by Maniac Cop? They even savagely beat Z’Dar in the process. Then they make a speeding getaway and cause a family on their way to church to crash. The father is injured, the wife is killed, and the young adult daughter ends up in a persistent vegetative state. The punks get away with it too.
Two years later, someone dons a welders mask from Art’s auto body shop and begins killing off the two girls and a guy responsible, as well as any surly customers and anyone else giving Art a hard time.
Is it Art, the grieving father with a chip on his shoulder? He may be a good Christian family man but the Bible does talk about “an eye for an eye”, and let’s not forget how many people God had wiped out in the Old Testament. Would it really be beyond him to exact some biblical vengeance?
Is it Billy Ray, an ex-employee who used to romance the comatose daughter that just returned to town looking for work? He’s a smooth talker, but is he also a deranged maniac?
Is it Robert Z’Dar, the revenge-minded gas station owner who really has it in for those thievin’ punks that left him with a scarred-up face? In another moment of peculiarity, this film actually has the audacity to include a scene where Robert Z’Dar looks directly into the camera with his gigantic face bemoaning a small scar on the side of his cheek that’s barely noticeable when you look at him head on because his face is so ginormous.
Investigating it all is the grizzled sheriff and a female rookie. It’s rather amazing the conclusions he can come to just by looking at a crime scene for a few moments yet this same sheriff wasn’t able to catch the punks responsible for the accident two years earlier.
The film attempts to make a mystery out of the killer’s identity. I assure you it isn’t much of a mystery. But it does provide us with plenty of gratuitous nudity, those bizarre kills I already described, and a laughable climax set at the bedside of the comatose daughter.
Not quite a redneck revenge drama, not quite a full blown slasher flick, Deadly Memories (originally made in 2002 under the title Body Shop) is definitely different; a peculiar hicksploitation murder mystery set in rural Alabama that occasionally tosses aside any pretenses of being a Southern fried melodrama with blatant sexploitation elements (gratuitous shower scenes, a sex scene worthy of Cinemax After Dark, body painting a comely naked lass to death, for crying out loud) and periodic violent slayings by a masked killer. It makes for an awkward, though not entirely unwatchable mix.
What does cripple Deadly Memories? For starters, it’s too damn long, at least 15-20 minutes longer than need be. There’s still a whole half hour to go even after the punks are sent to their maker. The movie is overwritten so even the simplest of conversations drag on beyond reason, and we get treated to way too much of the sheriff riding around investigating, Billy Ray romancing an attractive blonde, and one too many scenes of Art at his comatose daughter’s bedside. There’s an unmistakable sense of filler and drawn out scenes that could have used a trim.
Add to it the awkward acting. This is at times a detriment and a source of entertainment. The majority of the acting is bad, but not bad in the typical bad acting way. Everyone in the cast is trying really hard and that just makes their acting sound awkwardly phony. And mind you almost every last person in this movie sounds like someone from rural Alabama. It makes for a mixed bag.
A mixed bag also sums up my thoughts on the film. Deadly Memories is not entirely without merit, it deserves credit for trying to be something a bit different, but the movie as a whole doesn’t work and grows quite tedious by the one-hour mark. Parts of it entertain oddly enough. The motion picture previously called Body Shop definitely needed some body work.
The DVD outtakes included prove to be just different takes a single scene between Robert Z’Dar and star Philip Newman – not even funny bloopers. I have no clue why this was included.
The behind the scenes extra lives up to its name; it’s just a half-hour collection of camcorder footage taken by someone walking around behind the scenes. We see particular scenes being set up and his camera’s take on the actual filming of others, almost all of it with little audio, almost nothing by way of narration, explanation, or insight. This is why the fast forward button was created.
They tossed in trailers for the film and a couple other trailers from Midnight Releasing for good measure. Not that good a measure, if you ask me.
2 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Deadly Memories in the Dread Central forums!