Toronto After Dark 2013: Button Your Lip, Shortdick – A Review Of Bounty Killer

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I understand completely, why there has been no marketing behind this film, but unfortunately it has done it a great disservice. A quick glance at the PR behind Bounty Killer, would lead you to believe that it is on the same level as many of the other straight-to-video action fare you see coming out of Anchor Bay, Universal, Lionsgate etc. Even the final poster/cover art is horrendous. After digging a little deeper, and learning that it was directed by Henry Saine, that previously directed The Last Lovecraft, a film I’m quite fond of, I decided to give it a shot. I’ll admit upfront, that it was helped by the fact that the film is now screening at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and allows me to assist Jeff in his coverage, to somewhat lessen the load. Click here to find his recounting of the first day of the festival. And, while it’s unquestionable that this is an extremely over-the-top, goofy kind of movie, I was never bored, and to be honest, it was kind of awesome. 

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Bounty Killer takes place in a dystopian future society, where the corporate greed rules(that sounds familiar), and eventually leads to the complete collapse of the United States’ economy. A council of 9 emerges, and begins to put bounties on all of the heads of the white collar criminals, creating a breed of bounty hunters that complete for total body count, as well as plenty of stacks of the new currency. The bigger the body count, the splashier the persona the bigger the rock star said bounty hunter becomes. The two biggest bounty hunters have somewhat of a past together, and though they appear to be competing from the outside, it’s clear that they cooperating, at least to a certain degree. When one of them receives a bounty on their head, tensions rise as seemingly every tribe of hunters in this new, post-apocalyptic world are out for blood and cash.

Even if this sounds like a movie that won’t appeal to you at all, I urge the gorehounds out there to watch it, simply for the fact that there is a metric ton of disgustingly effective head trauma. The first scene alone, there is at least three shotgun blasts to the head, causing an exploding head effect that rivals, sometimes anyway, most that I’ve seen in any horror movie of recent years. One instance in particular(when you see it, you’ll know), was probably one of the greatest gory on-screen deaths I’ve seen in recent years. Every now and then, you will get a slice of some questionable CGI, where creating a practical effect would have exceeded the available budget, but it’s merely sprinkled in between some rather impressive practical effects, which constitute for most of the deaths within the film. So, if you’re into splattery body count films, this might just be what you’ve been looking for, despite the awful cover art.

Even though this is a film that delves into the downright goofy at times, over-the-top as some may be, there were some decent performances. Most notably, for me anyway, was Barak Hardley, who hasn’t been in much yet, but he has that quirky mixture of both Brian Posehn and Zach Galafianakis, that may just transform him into a regular with films such as this. There are a lot of players to this story, and none of the acting is what I would consider bad, but the three main faces you’ll see in this film, Hardley, Matthew Mardsen and Christian Pitre are all competently performed, and likable enough characters that you won’t be wishing for their demise.

It’s not perfect, and I certainly recognize that it’s not going to be enjoyed by all, but it kept me entertained, and shockingly, even surprised me a time or two. Bounty Killer’s TAD screening is tonight, at 9:30 PM. The source of this review was a screener that was provided to me a few weeks back. I was holding off until the Blu-ray review copies were sent out shortly, but I wanted to get at least some quick thoughts up on the day that it screens in Toronto, just to help add to our coverage of the festival. I will have a, perhaps more technical review of the Blu-ray once it lands on my doorstep. My hope is that this will be a well received film at the festival, but it’s hard to say. It could definitely go either way. It’s definitely a movie I plan to revisit a time or two in the(hopefully not dystopian) future.

(7/10)

About Shawn Savage

I say stuff. Shawn@liberaldead.com @theliberaldead
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