Dream Reaper (RePost from the old Ryan’s Reviews site)

Description (from hackmovies.com):

Metal band Dream Reaper is having problems. Bassist Dick Gibson and front man Willy Nutsack have begun to disagree about the direction of the band. Willy wants to play epic fantasy metal, Dick wants to be an emo band.

But Dream Reaper have bigger problems. Some mysterious force is killing off the band mates one by one. Will Dream Reaper be able to figure out who or what is destroying their precious band before it’s too late?

Major Cast:

Kevin Strange as Willy Nutsack, Joshuitsuo Montoya as Dick Gibson, Cris Deveroux as Tiffany, Chadwick CockStricker as Hwang Johnson, Matt Ringerling as Dream Reaper

Special Features:

Intro by Kevin Strange and the Hack Crew, Blooper Reel, Special FX Tutorial by Kevin Strange, Feature Length Audio Commentary from the Hack Crew

Written and Directed by Kevin Strange

Dream Reaper is obviously cut from the Troma / Low Budget Pictures mold, but something went wrong in the baking. The idea is ok, but DR felt like there was little to no pre-production involved, which is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT at the no-budget level. While watching DR it felt like the majority of the dialogue was improvised, which is fine if you have trained improvisational actors. Unfortunately, Hack Movies – like any no-budget company – does not have trained improvisational actors, they have friends who have agreed to come out and be in a flick. You cant ask for much more than help from your friends at the no-budget level, which is why a good script is required!

DR felt very thrown together. As I mentioned before, the script seemed lacking, and unfortunately the gore effects, camera work, lighting, sound, and most of the acting are not much better. Dont get me wrong – there is a lot of love for camp in this film. However, DR does not pull off the camp, and comes across as straight cheese – close, but not quite the same thing as camp.

Before I go any further, let me tell you what I liked about DR. Kevin Strange obviously knows what he wants in his flicks, and his acting cements the camp in this film. Some of the dialogue made me laugh – I guess this is a dream, but if this IS a dream, why do I have to piss so bad? – and the acting was not the worst Ive seen. Plus, you have to give credit to anyone who not only completes a film, but also has the balls to put it out there and let people see it. With that out of the way

First off, DR was shot by ten different people, and it is very obvious. When Strange is not on screen, the camera work is much more fluid, much better composed. When Strange is on screen, it feels like the camera was handed to anyone that wasnt doing anything. This causes the images in this movie to lack any sort of continuity of style, or voice. Also apparent is the lack of lighting – there was only one scene in the whole film where I felt like there MIGHT be some lights other than the natural lighting present. The lighting and camera work, added to the fact that the film appears to be shot on an older digital camcorder using the on-board microphone, makes the production quality extremely low on DR.

Also adding to the low production value is the fact that none of the gore scenes look even remotely realistic. Now I know some of you are saying so what? but I truly feel that using gore as comedy is extremely effective when you get a squirm out of the audience. In order to get a squirm, that gore needs to be at least somewhat realistic. In DR, Strange has his cock ripped off by the Dream Reaper – which could have been funny had they invested just a little bit of money into buying a semi-realistic dildo and adding some gore effects. Instead, the cock appears to be made out of paper towels now I dont know about you out there, but last time I checked a cock didnt look ANYTHING like rolled up paper towels. A ninja gets its head crushed later in the film – in true Troma fashion – via the use of a melon for the head crushing. Melon head crushings can work extremely well – if you dont see its a melon! The ninja in question is facing up, making the fact that it is a watermelon plainly obvious! Now, this may have been a joke, playing on the fact that they have no-budget if so, not funny. Seeing the watermelon completely ruined any squirm factor, and made me think wow, they didnt even TRY to conceal that! The gore in this film is way to cheesy to be campy, and thats a bad thing.

DR also suffers from near constant breaking of the fourth wall, and seemingly unintentionally. Now if you purposefully look into the camera and address the audience, that can be funny. However, it felt like the actors (including Strange himself) were just checking to see if the camera was on them – and peeking at the camera like that completely breaks any suspension of disbelief the film may have had.

One last pair of subjects I want to address: the masturbation and homophobia present in DR. First, it feels like this film is extremely homophobic – even though one of the characters is gay. The gay character does not feel gay at all, but like a really bad parody of a gay man in the closet; the other characters (mostly Stranges Willy Nutsack) seem to be afraid to catch the gay, or something like that. Sorry, but these homophobic jokes did not come off as funny to me, only as near prejudice. Now to the masturbation scenes. Every character in the film spends some considerable time jacking off (to the requisite porn music). The very first jacking scene was funny; there was a good contrast in the scene and the music was funny and fitting. But then there was another jacking scene. And another. And another. And so on and it just got really old really fast. Way too much of the hour and fifteen-minutes of this film was spent watching people jack off; it felt as if these were added to help make the film feature length. And really, DR is way, WAY too long. This film would have been much funnier if it were pared down to about 45 minutes maximum.

Overall, I felt that Dream Reaper was a failed attempt to try and copy the Low Budget Pictures formula. What Hack Movies failed to think about was the fact that Chris Seavers LBP is built on the foundation of strong scripts / characters, decently good gore, and much better humor! While I could see the influences on Hack Movies, and they are influences I have myself, I just could not get into this film. However, I can see that there is some talent to be found in Strange and his Hack crew I just hope that Hack Movies next flick will be better prepared and not so thrown together – with some decent pre-production and some help on the effects, Strange could just make a really funny movie.

Overall 4 / 10

Dream Reaper is not on the imdb

Dream Reaper for sale: http://www.hackmovies.com/flicks.php

Dream Reaper site: http://www.hackmovies.com

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