Kicking off the Summer of Campbell is a film I'm truly surprised I didn't know existed. Did anyone else know that Bruce Campbell co-produced a film directed by Sam Raimi, who also wrote the screenplay along with the Coen Brothers? I was actually gonna give this one a pass at first, as Campbell plays more of a side character, but the people involved otherwise pretty much forced my hand.
This one is completely off the wall, and plays out as a very Looney Tunesque concept. Although it's deemed a comedy/horror of sorts, the comedy certainly takes over as the main genre, and the opening tells us all we need to know about what we're about to get into; a car full of nuns racing down the street! They are listening to a news report on the public execution of Vic Ajax (Reed Birney). As he's being led to the electric chair, he recaps the story of how he got there in the first place.
He once worked at a security shop for Donald Odeguard (Hamid Dana) and Ernest Trend (Edward R. Pressman), and finds out that Odeguard was going to sell the security shop under Trend's nose to the greedy and overconfident Renaldo "The Heel" (Campbell) who plans to turn it into a gentlemen's club. He then makes Trend out to look like the real culprit, stating he'd have done anything to save that business, including hiring an extermination company who takes out such things as "rats, mice, bats, roaches, men and ants".
The exterminators, Faron Crush (Paul L. Smith) and Arthur Coddish (Brion James), are two of the cartooniest live action characters you'll ever see. One could compare Crush to 'Popeye's Bluto, and Coddish to perhaps one of the weasels from 'Roger Rabbit'. While they're meant to be our "horror villains", the real creep here is who we came to see, Renaldo, who plays a constant romantic competition to Ajax. He's pretty much playing the role of Ash the way he played it in 'Army of Darkness', he's just not fighting off any evil here. While the exterminators are a couple of bumbling murderers, Renaldo is just a straight up asshole.
The film offers up a ton of laughs, and it seems to be incredibly self-aware, much like 'Evil Dead 2', 'Army of Darkness' or pretty much any Bruce Campbell movie you could watch. It blends all the fantastic cheesiness of 80's slashers with cartoon comedy, and it's so much fun to watch. The only real downside is that it's damn near impossible to find. Cards on the table, this was one I had to download, and even the downloaded copy I have is pretty rough quality. But it wasn't so bad that i didn't enjoy it. I would love to see it made widely available, because fans are missing out on some of the great early work of everyone involved.
If you can get your hands on it, and have the desire to go braindead fo about an hour and a half and just laugh at silliness that's attempting horror, this is a great watch. Honestly, it's one of the strangest yet funniest things I've seen in quite some time, and it even does it all somewhat artistically. There are shades of things like 'Creepshow' here as well, when it comes to the film's execution.
Although this isn't exactly the best example of a Bruce Campbell film, as hhe's not really in it that much, it is a very interesting and fun watch. It had me laughing throughout, but largely in the same way I'd laugh at something like 'Beavis & Butt-Head'. It's a ridiculous movie, but the fact that it's so self-aware and hilariously stupid makes it kinda awesome, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see how Raimi and the Coen Brothers would collaborate on a film. That's what sold me!