Originally planned as an episode of a TV series called "Monsters," writer/director Paul Bunnell expanded his script with deliberately arty visuals when the show's producer died. Bunnell and producer/editor Mastromarino spent the next three and a half years shooting their 16mm horror film, which contains some really beautiful black & white cinematography and Lynchian visuals.
Characterized as Lynch-does-Chuckie, Bunnell's "Twilight Zone" tale was transferred from a clean print, and Elite's done a nice job retaining the diverse gray levels of Craig Bassuk's cinematography. The minor grain merely adds to the retro ambiance, and Bunnell's added a musical overture, title cards (don't worry, there's dialogue), and an intro (delivered by Forrest J. Ackerman) that uses some of the words and mannerisms of Universal's original "Frankenstein" intro. Bunnell's Bob Hope fixation and set décor, liberally incorporating Fifties props, also give the film a weird, timeless mood, and belie the under $30,000 production budget.
It's a glorified short film, but Elite's added some suitable extras, starting with Bunnell's first short, "The Visitant." Going for a twist ending, Bunnell seems to have added a more recently filmed prologue and narration, and remixed the film with a newer synth score from composer Jerry Danielson. The film proper, shot on 16mm colour film, has some rough edits, and the print has a lot of wear and scratches. The sound stereo mix is quite good, and some vocal effects have been tweaked to add a measure of depth.
There's also a nineteen-minute Q&A from "The Best List," a local cable-access type show, between Bunnell and host Robert Armen. Two film clips are shown, and a puzzled Armen tries to get Bunnell to discuss the film with some seriousness between the director's grating camera mugging and Bob Hope shtick. It's a bizarre appearance, perhaps the result of a major attack of the butterflies, and viewers will find a more suitably restrained director on the disc's commentary track.
Joined with producer/editor Mastromarino, the two filmmakers go through the film's production history, including the film's look, special effects, and elaborate camera movements. One advantage to short independent films is the necessity for the commentators to deliver the goods in a shorter time, resulting in a tight, well-paced track with more down-to-earth recollections about filming; where an A-list studio pix might have the director lamenting the cold weather and bad food during location filming, the Indie equivalents discuss practical yet compelling aspects that any low-budget filmmaker can find useful.
© 2002 Mark R. Hasan