Written & Directed by: Jay Wade Edwards
Starring: Claire Bronson, Jonathan Michael Green, Travis Young, Bill Szymanski, Cynthia Evans, Mary Kraft, and Ned Hastings
- Feature length audio commentary with writer/director Edwards, cinematographer Evan Lieberman, producer Arma Benoit, actors Green, Evans, Kraft and Hastings
- Deleted scenes and raw footage with optional commentary by Edwards and Lieberman
- Behind the scenes footage with optional commentary by Edwards and Lieberman
- Teaser trailer
- Production stills slideshow
My Advice: If you’re a fan of the genre, buy it.
Isn’t that always the way? Life in a small town on an island is fine until a stranger comes to town–then everybody’s running around, other strangers are arriving, people are being mutilated, the beach is getting littered with goreâ€¦you know, the usual. Of course it’s usual when the stranger is a skunk ape, finding itself a strange ape in a strange land. And now that it’s in town, the authorities and Scientist Guy have to figure out a way to stop the killings–before it’s too late. In the meantime, though, at least the tunes are good.
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Speaking of the characters, they’re excellent. What drives the point home is the portrayal of Jonathan Green as Scientist Guy. He shows up in his suit, spouting multisyllabic scientific terms and Knows What’s Really Going On–and at that point the movie all was solidified for me. He can’t walk on screen without his performance calling to mind every single Scientist Guy down through the ages. And I think he’s wearing the same suit they did. I think they only had one between them, honestly. Speaking of nailing things, Bill Szymanski deserves special mention for providing Sneering Authority Figure to a tee. And for being the smokingest actor I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the guy drags off a cigarette and proceeds to leak smoke for the next five minutes. It’s amazing.
Also of note is Claire Bronson’s performance as Theodora, frontwoman of the all-girl band The Violas, who find themselves caught up in these shenanigans. She’s the film’s answer to Annette Funicello, has the most emotional baggage of anyone in the film–and a show-stopping musical number to go along with it.
Bottom line is the movie is a lot of fun, once you’re on board. Edwards and company get points for having fun with the genre or for being smart enough to armor themselves in it: any bit of dialogue, any effect that looks cheesy, any problems with the budget–they can be “true to the style of the originals.” I say this with great admiration, because not many films are smart enough to make themselves bulletproof.
Of course, helping things is the DVD presentation, which is more than most studio films get. First up, there’s a commentary with Edwards, cinematographer Evan Lieberman, producer Arma Benoit and actors Cynthia Evans (Jody Viola), Jonathan Green (the aforementioned Scientist Guy), Ned Hastings (your Skunk Ape for the evening) and Mary Kraft (Carol Viola). It’s here that we get some great insight on how the shots were done, how they saved money and time by eliminating establishing shots, and that Edwards named the main characters after his grandmother who has a cameo in the film. How cool is that? Also, plans for The Skunk Ape Trilogy are revealed–and they’re hilariously awesome.
Then there’s a series of behind the scenes footage and interviews–which also comes with commentary. Seriously, there’s so much commentary going on, I expected the menus to have commentary. Anyway, here you learn how they handled FX on a very small budget, the importance of shooting on film and you get to see great bits like the girls learning to play their instruments. You also learn the backstory of cameos by Dana Snyder and Hastings (out of the ape suit), who I’m certain need their own spinoff movie. There’s also cut scenes with–you guessed it–commentary. This is great for me, because I’m a commentary junkie.
The one major drawback to the DVD is no chapter stops on the feature. That gets kind of annoying if you’re watching a film in stages (like I end up doing), but beyond that, as I said, it’s better than most normal single discs we get in here.
I would say to buy it to support indie horror films or if you love the genre. I have no idea if it’s available at Netflix or whatnot, so it would be sort of hard to sample beforehand, but if you know where the film is coming from, you’ll want this. You can buy it from their website.