One of my favorite trends in filmmaking these days is the “mockumentary.” Whether they are of a serious nature like The Last Horror Movie or more comedic like Incident at Loch Ness, I just can’t get enough of them! So it was with a lot of hopeful anticipation that I popped Actress Apocalypse into my DVD player. What I saw was a visual extravaganza that far exceeded my expectations on just about every level imaginable.
As a child of the 60’s and a big fan of films from that era as well as the early 70’s, I found a lot to love about Actress Apocalypse. It combines a trippy psychedelic vibe with an edgy, more modern day editing style. Richard Anasky, the film’s writer, director, editor, and cinematographer (just to name a few things he did!) really has a keen eye for what works. The story is simple: David B. Lincoln III is putting together a new horror film, which he plans to shoot in a shed in his backyard, and has decided to memorialize the process in a documentary. The inevitable happens, which is that no one other than one actress (who provides some truly memorable hysterics) shows up for the first day of filming. But David refuses to give up, and soon his crazy brother Vance takes over as casting director, which leads to a cavalcade of hotties taking off their clothes and servicing him in hopes of starring in David’s epic, Clearwater Canyon, in which a big gay Indian stalks and kills women. (I can’t believe no one has come up with this idea before!) However, things take a turn toward the bloody and deadly as Vance, who decides the script should be rewritten as a zombie flick, loses his tenuous grasp on reality; and soon David finds himself helming a real-life snuff film.
Vance and David are assisted in their endeavors by boom operator “Golden Terror,” hilariously portrayed by Jay Ingle. Terror is so over the top and flaming that in the hands of a lesser director, his character could have easily become a bad joke, marring an otherwise stellar cast. But Anasky knows just when to rein him in and when to let him run free. I expect great things from Ingle in the future – along with all the other Actress Apocalypse cast members. I honestly can’t remember when I’ve seen an independent (or even Hollywood based) film with such a uniformly talented cast. As luck would have it, a large majority of the actors in Actress Apocalypse will be returning for Anasky’s next feature, I Am Vengeance, and I for one can’t wait to check out their progress.
One aspect of Actress Apocalypse that male moviegoers will certainly enjoy is its unabashed use (some might say over-use) of female nudity. All that skin is yet another, much appreciated homage to the experimental, cutting edge films of the 60’s and 70’s. From its opening shower scene full of girl-on-girl action all the way through its multiple stripteases performed as part of Vance’s audition “process,” Actress Apocalypse does at times veer dangerously close to being nothing more than just another exploitation film. However, its great humor and refusal to take itself too seriously, its original story and the execution thereof, the obvious love for the genre by everyone involved, and the aforementioned first-rate acting all combine to raise Actress Apocalypse above that level. The final third of the film does drag on (and on) for far too long and is rather repetitive, but even that’s not enough to diminish all that came before it.
The DVD is available from Evilshop, and the unrated director’s cut comes with a bonus soundtrack CD by Space Probe Taurus. It’s loaded with extras including the trailer for I Am Vengeance (the making of which is what inspired Anasky to concoct Actress Apocalypse in the first place). The transfer looks and sounds great when it’s supposed to and like a flawed, somewhat sleazy documentary when that’s what’s called for.
Anyone who has ever made or attempted to make an independent film will definitely appreciate Actress Apocalypse as will those who enjoy a healthy dose of offbeat, provocative satire.
Actress Apocalypse (2005)
Directed by Richard R. Anasky
Starring Garo Nigoghossian, Greg G. Freeman, Jay Ingle, Lily Walker, Dahlia Legault, Angel Martin
Deleted scenes and outtakes
Sexy stripper featurette
Extended shower scene
The Lincoln Brothers pilot
Trailer for I Am Vengeance
3 ½ out of 5
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