The Blood Stream: The Big Bad
The Blood Stream mines the Internet for horror gold so you don’t have to, delivering streamable horror titles never before featured on Dread Central. Occasionally I’ll dredge up something good, maybe even great. To find those gems, I’ll have to sift through a lot of breathtakingly bad cinema. Enjoy!
After the torture of The Devil’s Gravestone last week, I am delighted to present a marginally more professional, infinitely more watchable movie this time around: The Big Bad (2011).
I attribute the phrase “the big bad” to Spike from "Buffy." He used it to refer to himself, seeing as he was Buffy’s arch nemesis at the time. I therefore assumed the title of this movie was simply synonymous with "the main villain." That's not untrue, but there’s another, even more obvious reference I didn’t get at first (because I didn't watch the trailer and am generally not terribly bright about such things). I’m glad I didn’t know in advance so I won't give it away, even though the marketing materials make it a selling point. If it surprises you even a little, so much the better.
The Big Bad follows Frankie (Jessi Gotta), a pretty young lady who has lived out of her sedan long enough to fill it with plastic bottles and fast food containers, yet somehow manages to keep herself in clean clothes, flawless hair and tasteful makeup.
The first fifteen minutes of the film are intentionally and unnecessarily impenetrable. Do yourself a favor and push through. It gets better.
After a difficult-to-follow encounter with a young, drugged up Sandra Bernhard doppelganger, we learn that Frankie is on the trail of a supernatural killer who done her seriously wrong. What follows is a very standard revenge narrative: She chases, strangers unexpectedly intervene, all seems lost, a narrow escape, then a big showdown. Fin. But! There are one or two neat tricks along the way that might make it worth your while.
For one thing, an indie like this has carte blanche to do wacky stuff like, say, rip out the main character’s eyeball halfway through. I’m racking my brain to think of another beautiful leading lady that gets disfigured in such gory fashion so early on. Maybe Doomsday, but that’s not really the same. It certainly didn't look like this:
RIGHT? The flipside, of course, is that such creative freedom is available only because there are no investors to placate, or very few. That means the awesome eyeball nastiness is followed by a dimly lit, poorly photographed fight scene in which a drag queen melts into a pile of latex and old clothes draped over a lawn sprinkler. The sprinkler beast proceeds to squirt water at our heroine, who flails around like she’s playing air drums for about nine minutes.
In most areas the minimal budget is stretched fairly ingeniously. The number of locations is kept low, and most outdoor scenes are shot on a sound stage (or possibly a large garage). They mask the lack of scenery with uncomfortably tight framing, copious smoke effects and a glowy, soft focus filter. It does the job but, like the continual handheld camera work, makes the movie feel pretentious and cheap at the same time.
With the exception of Gotta herself (great name BTW), the cast resembles a really enthusiastic community theatre troupe. Their zeal doesn’t make up for a dearth of training and talent. Fortunately Gotta carries the movie from start to finish and – lo and behold – she wrote the damn thing to boot. I’m excited to see her latest creature feature, They Will Outlive Us All, has been getting a little buzz the past few months. She wrote that one, too, but it looks like it takes itself a lot less seriously.
While I do recommend The Big Bad if you’re hard up, it’s not an objectively good movie. For every intriguing moment there are five that are poorly conceived and/or executed. Shoddy creature effects, editing gaffes and unclear cinematography (Are we in third person or POV? Who knows!) make it more of a desperation play than anything else.
Instead, why not watch Stake Land? Like The Big Bad, the performances are uneven, though on a higher level. It at least makes for a more fully featured supernatural road movie. There’s actually, you know, road visible in some places.
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