DVD Release Date: Oct.
= Highest Rating
in just 2½ days with very little money, the shot-on-digital-video
Splatter Beach is both a homage
and send-up of such Z-grade aquatic monster movies as Del Tenney's
Horror of Party Beach and Roger
Corman's Creature from the Haunted Sea.
It doesn't possess a pretentious bone in its cinematic body,
content to serve up a little female flesh, a little rock 'n'
roll and not a few laughs in lieu of anything remotely serious.
It's dumb, silly and, for the most part, rather fun for what
it is a party movie, the kind of flick you watch while sitting
around with your buds. (And smoking them).
Sea Bright Beach has been the locus of many
mysterious deaths and disappearances over the past two years,
earning it the nickname "Splatter Beach". But this
doesn't deter Rodney (Brice Kennedy) a white, wannabe gangsta
hip-hopper from bringing his impossibly hot girlfriend Tonya
(Erika Smith) there to party. (Why she'd even be seen with him
is highly questionable... I gotta stop overanalyzing this
thing right now.) They've rented an oceanfront cottage so
they can spend the weekend having sex when not dancing to Tonya's
favorite band, the Riptides, a rock 'n' roll group that plays
regular gigs at the beach. Tagging along with the couple is
the proverbial third wheel, Rupert (Dave Fife), a nerdy journalism
major doing a story on the weird happenings at Sea Bright. He's
especially interested in checking out rumors of humanoid fish
monsters that people claim to have seen in the area.
arriving at the cottage Tonya and Rodney immediately set to
shagging (cue topless scene), so Rupert wanders around outside
playing reporter and introducing us to the other characters.
Duke (Ken Vansant), a crotchety, muscle-brained bodybuilding
nut who literally spends the entire day standing on the beach
pumping iron, doesn't believe in sea monsters. A pretty young
woman named Tess (Erin Brown, alias "Misty Mundae")
tells a different story
she claims that scaly, humanoid fishmen killed her boyfriend,
dragging his body away and disappearing into the ocean. No one
believes her, though; the locals all think she's a lunatic.
She warns Rupert to take his friends and skedaddle pronto...
Otherwise they, too, are doomed as monster chow.
Meanwhile, the Riptides
are jammin' away at surf's edge Beach
Blanket Bingo style, a gaggle of dancers shimmying to
the beat. A couple of random victims are tossed into the mix
to be immediately slaughtered by the creatures. Then Tonya disappears
after heading off alone to sunbathe. Rodney is the next to vanish.
After nearly being killed by one of the monsters, Rupert joins
with Tess in trying to warn the beach revelers of the danger
but to no avail. With the coming of night the two believers,
joined by Duke, find themselves besieged in the cottage by the
Opening with that
hoariest of exploitation/monster movies clichés, the
shower kill, Splatter Beach doesn't
aim very high but it does what it does in an entertaining fashion.
This is an extremely low budget affair, something the
directors, twin brothers John and Mark Polonia, were quite accustomed
to. Impoverished as the pic is, it actually marks a step up
in quality (especially in post-production) for the siblings,
makers of such SOV feature length films as Splatter
Farm (1987) and Feeders (1996),
which received international distribution on VHS. Producer Michael
Raso, head honcho of direct-to-video specialist E.I./POP Cinema,
staked the Polonias with enough bread to hire some actors and
craftspeople and shoot a horror movie in a few days on the shores
of Lake Erie. What emerged is basically a goofy spoof of 1980's
Humanoids from the
Deep, with numerous references to virtually every other
aquatic monster pic tossed in just for fun... "Piedras
Blancas!" a character exclaims in surprise, getting
in a nod to 1959's The Monster of Piedras
Blancas that sort of thing.
A few minutes of public domain footage lifted from Creature
from the Haunted Sea (1961) is incorporated into the
film itself, seen as part of a TV "creature feature"
presided over by an amusingly weird horror host called Specterini.
(A clever way of saying to the viewer, "See! Even the
great Roger Corman had a cheesier monster than we do!")
The rock 'n' roll dance party sequences are given a patina of
surrealism by the use of green-screen effects; the dancers and
the Riptides (in reality a band called Trigger Finger) were
all added in post they were not present during principal photography.
Sure, it looks incredibly fake, but it's supposed to...
It's a cheeky reference to the phony rear-projection shots that
were a regular feature of those old Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello
The cheap, rubbery
creature costume is mostly hidden beneath garnishments of seaweed,
whereas the gore, what little there is of it (not really qualifying
for EC's "Blood 'n' Guts" icon), is mainly limited
to splashes of the red stuff. There just really isn't that much
"splatter" in Splatter Beach.
Nor is it a wall-to-wall skinfest, as some folks familiar with
other E.I./POP Cinema product starring Misty Mun uh, "Erin
Brown" might expect. In fact Ms. Brown keeps her clothes
on throughout, which probably meant a nice change of pace for
her. Fully into the spirit of the thing, she sells the silliness
like the B-movie pro that she is; the flick certainly benefits
from her presence. Ditto for sexy Erika Smith, who was Misty's
um, I mean Erin's co-star in the psychodrama Sinful.
Sensitive and angelically innocent in that film, here she proves
equally adept at playing a ditzy tart and happily does
show us some skin (the aforementioned topless scene) and flaunt
her shapely derri่re. (I'd like to see her in more movies!)
Ken Vansant, however, nearly steals everyone's thunder as the
blockheaded weightlifter Duke, with his goofball character netting
the lion's share of the laughs.
Much of the music
is surprisingly good, too. The tunes contributed by Trigger
Finger are particularly catchy. (You can check out "My
486" by clicking on the MP3 link near the top of the left-hand
an ultra-low budget project Splatter Beach
fares well on DVD. Brett Piper, a special effects artist and director
in his own right (Shock-O-Rama),
handled the DP chores; only occasional solar "blow-out"
in a few daytime outdoor scenes
the bane of SOV cinematography
mars the visuals. The film is presented fullscreen (as intended)
and offers a basic but decent stereo sound mix. I had no difficulty
understanding all the dialog and don't recall any problems with
dropouts, distortion or hiss.
Some may question the value of some of the
supplemental materials offered in this two-disc set but there's
no denying there's a shitload of stuff here. Splatter
Beach was the first original production by Camp Motion
Pictures (a sub-label of E.I./POP Cinema) so they obviously wanted
to release it in style...thus the oodles of extra goodies. Disc
1 contains the movie, various featurettes, a bonus film from the
Polonia brothers' private vault, and trailers for other CMP releases.
The second disc is an audio CD of the music soundtrack, a (mostly)
cool bonus. (Take my word for it
you can skip
tracks 10-15. They're quite awful, heard only in bits and pieces
in the movie as songs on the radio.)
1 extras include a behind-the-scenes 'making of' doc (8 min.);
a 1990s episode of a local cable TV show called 'Round the
County, hosted by Ken Vansant, profiling the Polonia Bros.
and their lifelong passion for filmmaking (23 min.);
a 58-minute shot-on-camcorder horror opus they made during their
high school years, entitled Hallucinations; and Profile:
Anthony Polonia (17 min.), a look at Mark Polonia's 12-year
old son, a budding DIY filmmaker who's following in dad's footsteps.
Two fake commercials (only one made it into the movie) hype humorous
products "Sugar Frosted Sugar" and "Ass Balm".
A pair of deleted scenes
cut from the film after it was finished by the Polonias;
what the original title sequence and the initial incarnation of
the Riptides would've looked like. The less said about a wretched
music video for the godawful song Surfing Cadaver (one
of the tunes all but cut from the movie),
The main extra is the audio commentary, in
which John and Mark Polonia are joined by their buddy Vansant.
turns out to be fairly interesting. Their lighthearted chat focuses
mainly on the challenges of shooting a feature-length film in
less than three days, the type of equipment used and the pitfalls
posed by their main location, a rented cabin on Lake Erie. (Stock
shots of the Florida surf were used to help it pass as the ocean.)
They also discuss
how their completed film was significantly altered by E.I./POP
Cinema after they turned it in, candidly admitting that the changes
made it better. (I'd say much better.) The original group
portraying the Riptides was axed and Trigger Finger brought in,
various scenes were recut, an animated title sequence created,
digital effects added, and so forth. Amusingly, Mark Polonia mistakenly
refers to the Trigger Finger song "My 486" as "My
Four-inch Sticks", complaining that it makes no sense!
(I apologize right now if the guy is genuinely hard-of-hearing.)