Midnight Melinda (2011)

Description (from http://www.angelfire.com/movies/wilburcinema/midnightmelinda.html):
Scott’s first film of 2011 is a throwback to those grimy low-budget films of the 1970’s. Let’s take the time to meet former porn star Cash Hungerford, who has retired from a 20-year career and is living on his own, raising money by the way of frequent orgies with various women and friends (including town gynecologist Dr. Elden, and another retired porn star named “Zorro”) to build his dream home. His perverse life style is interrupted by the arrival of his new neighbor Melinda, and she proceeds to creep out Cash by watching him every night from her yard. It gets even creepier when Cash discovers that Melinda is a 200-year-old vampire who lives off the orgasmic energy generated by people during sex. Finding out that she leaves the guys and girls sexless, Cash and his buddies decide something has to be done to stop her.

Wilbur Scott as Cash Hungerford, Dr. Bryce Elden, and Thaddeus Crutchfield, Melissa H. Green as Melinda, Tim Sabin as Edmund “Zorro” Amero, Steve Bassett as Bob the Realtor

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written and Directed by Wilbur Scott

That’s a pretty damned awesome moustache.   “The local crotch doctor” is a really funny bit of dialogue.  The original music is well done, and fits well within the context of the film.  Unfortunately, those were the best bits of MIDNIGHT MELINDA for me.

MIDNIGHT MELINDA is an odd film; it’s about a “psychic vampire” that has moved in next door, but it’s not scary enough to be a horror.  It’s about two former porn stars making money in a small town by throwing orgies for the local folk, but it’s not outlandishly funny enough to be a comedy.  I’m really confused; I don’t know what to classify this movie as, beyond “low-budget.”
Cash Hungerford is a former porn star, retired from “the biz” and living in a random, non-descript (extremely) small town, saving his money to build a new home with an orgytorium in which to have even bigger orgies.  The way to save?  Charging $10 for entry to his current orgies.  His livelihood is threatened when a weird woman, Melinda, moves in next door, and eventually is discovered to be a psychic vampire that feeds on sexual energy.  Cash, assisted by his friend (and also former porn star) Zorro, decide that they need to take out Melinda before their dreams of an orgytorium can be squashed.  The premise is interesting, and in theory, quite funny.  The execution, not as much.

The first thing that I noticed about MIDNIGHT MELINDA was the music.  As the opening credits play, the original music felt very “professional,” and I was looking forward to what would come next.  Once the credits ended, I was immediately struck by the production quality:  MIDNIGHT MELINDA seems that it was shot on a 1CCD camera, using the on-camera mic, and little to no lighting beyond what was available in the rooms being shot.  Yes, you can make a movie for almost nothing these days, but with a little work and a little bit of money, you can make it look less like it was made for almost nothing.  That did not happen with MIDNIGHT MELINDA; it wears its budget on its sleeve.

The production value was further diminished by the fact that there are about 3 different actors in the entire film (four, if you include the voice on the phone).  That would be ok, if there were 3 different characters… but there’s not.  There’s more.  And there’s “orgies,” but two men and one woman do not an orgy make.  Though an ingenious way to get around not being able to find an actress willing to get nekkid, taping amateur porn off a computer screen just looks…  well… like you set up a camera in front of a computer and found some amateur porn!  It cements the low production values into the basement.  I know (from personal experience on DEFECTIVE MAN!) that it can be hard to find an actress willing to bare it all on camera for free, and you have to learn to accept your limitations.  Either you search and search and compromise until you find SOMEONE that will do it, or you re-write your script and change it; on DM! we did a little of both.

Beyond the production issues, I was confused about much of the plot.  The biggest piece of which was, why would a psychic vampire be attacking people?  I don’t presume to be an expert or anything, but I went through my “paranormal phase” and studied a lot of different weird stuff.  Unless I’m completely off base, psychic vampires are not actually vampires, they are people that feed off of the emotions and energy of others.  They are just called “vampires” because they feed on others, not because they have fangs, or widow’s peaks, or sleep in coffins, or speak with Transylvanian accents, or (insert any other vampire stereotype here).  Melinda, the psychic vampire, not only feeds off of the sexual energy of her neighbors, she also drinks blood and sleeps in a coffin (no accent, thankfully).  Color me confused.

I don’t want to give the impression that MIDNIGHT MELINDA was all bad; it wasn’t.  It had some good bits (as mentioned in the beginning of this review), and it was evident watching it that the filmmakers probably had a really good time making it.  I know it can be very tough to make a movie by yourself, and I get the impression that Wilbur (at least mostly) made this movie completely by himself.  I have learned from my experience that you CAN’T do it completely by yourself, at least, not if you want to end up with a decent final outcome.  There’s just too much to do.  In order to make a decent low-budget film, you need to find other people that are (almost) as passionate as you are about making a movie, and are more talented than you are in certain things (like lights or sound or composition or whatever) and take advantage of their talents.

Overall, I can see promise in MIDNIGHT MELINDA, and in Wilbur Scott.  There is something there, just under the surface, waiting to be exposed.  I think with a decent support system, and just a little better equipment (which you can get for free; find people who already have the stuff you need and recruit them!), he could make a really good, funny movie.  I just don’t think MIDNIGHT MELINDA was that movie… I wonder if it’s an inside joke, and I just don’t get it.

Overall 3.5 / 10


MIDNIGHT MELINDA is not for sale

MIDNIGHT MELINDA site: http://www.angelfire.com/movies/wilburcinema/


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