Bloody Disgusting Selects has had its share of successes and failures. I’ll leave their past endeavors up to the readers and history to decide since we’re not here to discuss the entire B-D label, but I will say that it’s damn good that someone’s out there fighting the good fight for our genre (that would be horror with the ever present dusting of science fiction, dear reader). There’s a new kid on the block. This movie’s got just what we want in a sci-fi, cyber punk, journey into the distant future and post-alien invasion apocalypse. Hellacious Acres: The Case of John Glass has something fun to offer genre fans.
First, the pleasantries (The synopsis straight from the production’s mouth to help avoid spoilers):
John Glass wakes up in a desolate barn from a long cryogenic slumber, to be informed that not only has the planet been devastated by a third world war, but also reduced to little habitability by a subsequent alien invasion. He learns that in order to help reestablish a livable atmosphere for what’s left of humanity, he’ll have to go on a solitary mission to retrieve important codes dispersed throughout remote locations. Soon enough he’ll encounter more than he “bargained” for: aliens, crazy survivors, inadequate equipment, LOTS of walking and a pretty unhealthy dose of bad luck…
This is a “guy in a suit” movie. Guy is in a suit or is combined cyborgically with machines that allow him to be more human than human, the allow him to access his new environment with new challenges with the advantages of modern science. The suit is a sham. The technologically meant to help our protagonist merely hinders him at every turn and is near impossible to operate without instruction. This comes off like a mixture of slapstick humor and Lady Terminator. It works completely because it’s low budget enough to pull it off. It makes you think of the 70’s… when science fiction didn’t need an over abundance of non existent computer technology to make effects believable and antiquated clunky computers of say the Millennium Falcon were a product of model making. Seeing as this was a self funded project by director Pat Tremblay I think he did a fine job. Sometimes less is more and in this case less is hysterically funny.
A short list cast of unknowns completely wallop you with satire and dialogue that might as well come straight out of Dr. Who. While the actors are encased in the technology that is meant to assist them through their new environment it also keeps the face time to a minimum and mostly relies on body language and “the voice”, the computer assist of the cybernetic suit. Nothing will disappoint in this department and even if it does you’ve got only three folks to pick from. There’s something special about a production this small. It has heart. The actors are dedicated. Hungry.
I’m a particular fan of the music. A slow drudgey death metal dirge that lays down a feeling of grime and agression. Pat Tremblay and Jean-Francois Deshale composed the off kilter doom music for this production. Sounded like something straight off an early Electric Wizard album which, to this metal maniac, is a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a student film that a classmate of mine put together in high school. It was only five minutes long but it had a similar post-apocalyptic feel with a guy walking around the country side doing … something. We did an experiment in which we first played a Life of Agony soundtrack behind the film. Then we played Supernaut by Black Sabbath and it gave the film an entirely different feel. Then we tried Bach’s Toccata & Fugue. All had very different emotional feeling from action/adventure epic to end of the world, doomsday. I think this one could easily handle the soundtrack from the movie Hardware. I kept thinking of the movie the entire time I watched this for no particular reason. Public Image Ltd. and Hellacious Acres would make strange but fitting bedfellows. Maybe someone should experiment with that. After watching the movie take a listen to this track and see if it fits the bill.
Wait till someone dies. I won’t spoil it, but when I think if you watch this movie for only one reason it should be to see just how creatively Tremblay and his effects crew get. It’s super ick, super low budget but very effective. For some reason the modified motocross outfits spray painted black and with a few add armor related options is effective as well. This kind of low budget costume design stirs innovation during the ripe periods of a genre’s spring.
I’m not going to recommend this picture to everyone because I’m sure the big budget, need more effects, need more CGI crowd will frown up on this. The people who love Blade Runner or THX-1138, the fan boys who thing the construction of the Daleks is genius… these are the core audience and they are many. If you like Hardware then you’ll like this. Cyber and steam punks folks will appreciate its costume and effects ingenuity even though it’s not overly complex. This is a straight forward sci-fi flick with bleak overtones. It is not the feel good movie of the year, but after a few beers and among friends you might find this somewhat quoteable. A fine choice by Bloody Disgusting Selects. We should be glad they chose this to promote as we might otherwise be unaware of Mr. Tremblay’s talent. Let’s keep an eye on his work. This is what you want. This is what you get.
Hellacious Acres: The Case of John Glass is available now for purchase. Support indy science fiction/horror.