A Fiend On Film’s Interview with EMMA WESTWOOD, author of THE FLY (2018)

I have been very fortunate to have known Melbourne, Australia’s Emma Westwood for a few years now and have been looking forward to her new book on David Cronenberg’s THE FLY (2018, Devil’s Advocates). After a bit of spotty availability, the book is now out everywhere and I asked Emma to answer a few questions about it. I have read it and Emma brings more to the table on the film than you might imagine. It definitely deserves a spot on your bookshelf.  Look forward to her next book on The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) down the road (and she does a ton of film commentaries for the boutique labels). Follow Emma Westwood on Twitter @EmmaJWestwood and her website:  emmawestwood.wordpress.com

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FIEND: Before we get into the book itself, can you let us know what interested you in becoming a film critic/writer? How did you get started?

EMMA WESTWOOD: I never wanted to be a film ‘critic’, so to speak. In fact, I never really liked the term ‘film critic’ because it seems to suggest someone who is better than the films themselves and is looking for the negative aspects when judging them. I just love cinema and want to celebrate the things I love, which means largely steering clear of talking about the ones I don’t love. But, initially, I wanted to be a filmmaker – more specifically, a director – rather than a commentator, but I quickly realised that I despised the shooting process and I just didn’t have the right personality to do it. That was all a process of self-discovery that took place when I was at university and hanging around with the university filmmaking club. I was also studying film theory as part of a Bachelor degree in Arts/Humanities so the writing about film – ‘criticism’, if you wish – just continued by an extension. I still harbour fantasies of writing some screenplays. I hope to do it someday. When I find the time.

F: I know you are a major fan of David Cronenberg films but what attracted you in writing a book on The Fly? Were there any other films of his you considered before this one?

EW: When I put forward a list of films to my publisher, John Atkinson, there were two David Cronenberg films included. He leapt on the opportunity for a Cronenberg monograph, and said he’d been waiting to add one to the Devil’s Advocates collection. The two films were The Fly and The Brood, and my publisher pretty much left it to me to choose which one appealed most. To be honest, I found it really hard to choose but I ended up going with The Fly because I had seminal memories around that film, including having just done a recent presentation, so it felt like the film was choosing me, in some way. Also, I love the simplicity of The Fly, and where it sat at the juncture between the two halves of Cronenberg’s career. I’m now glad I chose it because Electric Dreamhouse are publishing are book on The Brood. And my next house, Bride of Frankenstein, is for Electric Dreamhouse. Everything seems to have worked out nicely.

F: Who did you actually get to speak to and/or interview for this book? Did you find it easy to get subjects to discuss the film?

EW: I ended up speaking to 10 different people for the book, which was a lot for the Devil’s Advocates collection. Many of the Devil’s Advocates books just stick to straight film analysis but I have a journalistic background so I feel compelled to speak to the people involved in a film production; it’s just part of my curiosity. My publisher didn’t want to dictate things one way or another. He was careful not to stifle creativity but I also realised he didn’t want a ‘making of’ book so my challenge was to find the right mix of film analysis versus eyewitness accounts. I really wanted it to be entertaining, rather than too academic.

It wasn’t difficult getting the subjects to discuss the film at all. In fact, it was probably harder getting them to shut up! I was thrilled at how generous with their time and information they were – the producer, Stuart Cornfeld, talked to me for almost two-and-a-half hours! I couldn’t stop thanking him and he said that the film meant so much to him, he was more than happy to talk about it. That seemed to be the universal sentiment – everyone who worked on the film loved it and the experience of making it, despite the pressures. And a lot of that had to do with Cronenberg and his conduct on-set. Everyone spoke about him in glowing terms. I’d love to have interviewed him for the book but his PA told me he couldn’t remember the details any more! I think that was a bit of an excuse but, in the end, I’m actually glad I didn’t get to speak to Cronenberg because I could talk about the film entirely on my own terms without being overly influenced by the opinions of its director.

F: You have an anecdote in the acknowledgments section on your father’s reaction to a scene in the film. Did you two see it together in the theater?

EW: Ah, yes – it’s good to see you picked that up. That was one of the seminal memories I have around that film; taking my father to see it at the cinema. I’d already been to the cinema on the sly and seen The Fly when I was underage and shouldn’t have been there. I loved shocking my father, who had a weak stomach so, when I saw The Fly come up as part of a double feature (with Aliens, I believe) at a local arthouse theatre, I seized the opportunity to take Dad. Then I watched his face at all the key moments. I swear, when George Chuvalo had his wrist broken, Dad looked like his own wrist had been broken too! He loved the movie but it was a bit traumatic for him.

F: Why do you think in the past few years that film critique books on a single film are becoming more popular?

EW: It’s an interesting and exciting trend, which I think has a lot to do with the accessibility of older movies these days. When I was young, if you wanted to find anything beyond the mainstream, you had a real hunt on your hands. There were some great video stores that stocked hard-to-get horrors and the like (that’s how I got obsessed with Dario Argento) but you really had to work hard to find these films. Nowadays, you catch wind of something and it’s just a matter of punching it into your computer to stream or download. It feels like everything – a whole world of cinema – is available. And then you’ve got all these interesting companies like Kino Lorber, Arrow and Indicator that are seemingly pumping out these rare, almost forgotten titles, and even going to the trouble of providing extras about them and commentaries, of which I’ve been lucky to participate in a few. All of this creates a ‘cult of the film’, which means it’s not just about watching a film but it’s about dissecting a film in every which way, which allows the viewer to ‘own’ that film in a way they’ve never been able to before. I think the film monograph has arisen from that zeitgeist.

The Fly has definitely been comprehensively covered in the film press but it’s never been the subject of a monograph, as far as I know. There have been books dedicated to the original 1958 The Fly but not Cronenberg’s version. So, straight away, that gave me the opportunity to craft something unique because the narrative flow of a book is inherently different to an article. Creating a story arc over a book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, is a very challenging process. I wanted to reflect the essence of Cronenberg’s The Fly – the DNA aspect of it – by metaphorically mirroring that in the content of my book. So it’s all about the ‘DNA’ i.e. where did The Fly come from and what were the influencing factors that culminated in Cronenberg’s vision? I was lucky because The Fly has such an illustrious ancestry so I think my analogy worked very well. Well, at least I hope it does.

Get Emma’s book here or at any other book sellers:


A Fiend On Film: Thoughts on Le Accelerator (2017)

Last week, my buddy Mike Olafson of Hot Lead, Hard Fury fame messaged me with a link to a newer film that he thought I might like to check out. It might suit my tastes based on what he knows about me. I was like sure, always looking for new and different films to check out. The link was for a film on Vimeo called Le Accelerator. “Check out the trailer and if interested buy it!”

Well, I did check out the trailer and was immersed into the visuals. What was this film shot on Super 8 (in Black and White) all about? Who was Thomas Eikrem? Curious about it, I plunked down the $10 and started the film………….


To begin to explain Le Accelerator is an effort. The film is not at all conventional. It is like a 90 minute transgressive visual treat. The “story” is about an assassin who just goes around killing and fighting people, spend “quiet” time with his girlfriend, enjoys strippers, travels and works out. This is all told silently as there is no dialogue and thru the excellent multi genre music throughout. It just goes from scene to scene…one scene can be killing, the other someone just standing there, etc. Like I said this goes on for 90 minutes……. and it’s good. Really good.

There is no true narrative and at the same time there is. There is a philosophical air for it as at random times in the film, a title card will appear with “happy thoughts” pertaining to death. The film is all about death and it lets you know that death is the only true thing. An absolute that will happen.


The assassin is played by David Sakurai, who has been in more mainstream fare, is well equipped for this film. He is buff, knows marital arts and truly makes his scenes believable. Most often when he appears…he is delivering death. Dozens die in this film. Die.

The film, like I said, is transgressive. Most of the scenes are very art house and usually of the character looking straight into the camera. The rough blown out Super 8 film gives it a real gritty quality. The director has assembled some great performers who visualize his wild ideas. The women in the stripper/ burlesque scenes are gorgeous, even when covered with copious amounts of blood or facing death. There is a lot of blood. Death. Nudity. Gore. Violence.


Le Accelerator is easily one of those films where after watching, you just want to pick up the camera and start shooting. I felt exactly that way after seeing films like Rubber’s Lover and the works of Richard Kern (which visually Le Accelerator has to be influenced by at least a little). It’s not for everyone but it easily explodes the Fiend ‘O’ Meter to the 10/10. I could rate it higher. Worth the $10. You would take that cash, go to the multiplex and be again disappointed by what is shown.


Get it on Vimeo On Demand. Today.

A Fiend On Film looks at Scott Schirmer’s The Bad Man (2018)

2018 saw many indie horror-centric releases and I would be the first to say, I haven’t seen too many. Some of the ones I did see were just not exciting. Much more of the same. I have been a fan of Scott Schirmer’s previous films especially Found (2012). When I first started seeing the stills from the The Bad Man (2018), I swear to you I thought he was making a comedy. The stills from the film just gave that vibe… “Another clown movie?” Then after missing out on the fundraiser for the film, I saw the trailer. Right from the get go, watching Ellie Church talking to some off screen interrogator, I knew I was wrong about it. Thankfully, the film was available as a download from the director’s personal site and I got it.


Mary and her boyfriend PJ (Played by Ellie Church and Jason Crowe) arrive at her recently deceased grandmother’s large estate. It had been a bed and breakfast but they are going to close it down. A traveler (Arthur Cullipher) shows up stating he had rented a room. After some discussion, Mary decides that he can stay for just one night. In the evening though, while Mary and PJ are taking a bath together, she sees the traveler’s face in full clown makeup peering from around the door… there is some commotion but after a short investigation, all is well. The next morning arrives….and the nightmare begins.

I don’t wish to say much more about what happens but it’s all “bad”. The only thing you really need to know is that The Bad Man is next level material across the board. Scott Schirmer has assembled a collection of fine actors here. They all work so naturally together you think it’s is all real, that this actually happened. A special nod has to go to Ellie Church, as for me this is her star turn, from her scenes in the interrogation room (where you only she her face) to her reacting to her crappy situation, she simply shines. Arthur Cullipher’s understated delivery of his lines are creepy and everyone else in the cast are spot on.


The Bad Man is a truly disturbing and exceptionally well made film. For me, it has a 70’s psychological horror film vibe throughout (it is set in a very large but well kept sprawling house). It plays more on off screen terror and suggestion. Schirmer could have easily went the gore and ultraviolent route but that would have cheapened the whole film.

I clearly found that this film was near perfect and I really don’t know how he may “top” this one. The Fiend ‘O’ Meter is going to definitely going to reach the exceptional 10/10 for the The Bad Man. That is just for the sheer tenacity that went into making this one. Ignore anything that might give you false hopes at the multiplex and buy The Bad Man for your collection.  After seeing it, you will be thinking about it for days.

https://scottschirmer.com/ <—— Buy Scott’s films here.

What The FIEND has Seen! December 2018

The Fiend ‘O’ Meter didn’t get the biggest workout but here is what the FIEND has seen in December 2018


10/10 An absolute must own. Should be on display in your home for all to see.

8/10 or 9/10 Definitely add these to your collection. You will watch them again.

7/10 A film worth seeing and possibly buying.

6/10 or under: Throw this junk in the nearest trash can or use the discs for skeet shooting. If you pass these on to others, you are evil (OK I’m evil………………..)


Sometimes I think I film is going to be one way…and it’s something different entirely. Miami Blues (1990) is a “comedic” thriller and nobody warned me. The blurb on the cover of the DVD… “A tour-de-force thriller, crackling with intensity!” My ass. It’s just too odd a film. Even JJL naked can’t make me watch it again…6/10 on the disappointed F’O’M (Steel from Day of the Dead has a great little part in this thou…)


OK so everyone knows I am not a fan of the “modern” Nick Cage. I just don’t get it. I am though a huge fan of the director’s, Panos Cosmatos, only other film Beyond The Black Rainbow. I have been on the fence to see Mandy (2018) and after seeing the DVD for $5.00 the other day, I decided I had to get on board. Trying to explain what Mandy is about besides the cliche of “it’s a revenge film” is very difficult. As a revenge film it’s very cliche, as an dark art house film, it succeeds on every level. Nothing in this film can be considered “real”. It just goes from scene to scene with some of the stunning visuals. Anybody could have been in the Nick Cage role. Seriously, he barely has any dialogue and over acts throughout. This is a director’s film and after this, his 2nd film after many years, just solidifies why he has it down. Turn your brain off and just watch. Fiend ‘O’ Meter gives a retina lovin’ 8/10.


Man, I hate to crap on Indie films at times but the director of Death Kiss (2018) really missed an opportunity. I liked the fact they kept the proceedings serious, considering the film’s concept is one big gimmick. Uneven, flat direction…bad action sequences, nobody including the main character can’t hit anything with a gun, bad CG blood. The film begins and ends with no explanation or back story, which was sorely needed here. Did have a good look throughout but that is about it. 6/10 on the Fiend ‘O’ Meter…will have to find a new home for this.


Undertow (1949) is an earlier William Castle film that definitely falls under the film noir style. Man with a shady past buys into a resort area to change his life. Goes back to Chicago to propose to his girl and gets framed for a murder he of course he didn’t commit. A story you have seen quite a bit before but the actors, real world/outdoor locations and very good direction from Castle bring it a notch. Pretty rough and violent with a great endgame (suggestion is everything here) Fiend ‘O’ Meter gives it a 7/10


Ok…I watched the Grindhouse Releasing version of Pieces (1982) (poster image below by James Stewart, brilliant isn’t it?) and this is the first time out of quite a few views that I seen it in widescreen. Does that make this “classic” any better? Not really. The film itself is still one of the most ridiculous ones out there but for some reason, I have always gave that part of the film a pass. I now remember where Christopher Bickel cribbed a line in Vampryas Psychdelikas… ? and always knew of the scene recreated in Sean Donohue‘s Death Scort Service (it’s a classic). So I still rate this very influential film high…but now I do think it’s the last time I see it. Really need to move on. Fiend ‘O’ Meter final score is an 8/10.


Once you get past the fact that 95% of all the Chinese people (including the film’s lead Christopher Lee) were played by whites, Hammer’s The Terror of the Tongs (1961) is actually a pretty well done production. In Hong Kong, a British sea captain’s 16 years old daughter is killed by the Red Dragon Tong, which leads the captain hell bent on revenge. The bodies pile up along the way. Looks great like all the early color Hammer films did and features the stunning Yvonne Monlaur as a mixed breed servant (I only wish back in 2002 I had the nuts to approach her at Chiller Theater but alas…) F’O’M gives it an 8/10…it’s much better than what you may have heard.


Sometimes I need to pull a random film off the shelf and just watch it… this time out it was House Of Whipcord (1974) by director Pete Walker. Now I have seen some of his other films, most recently Die Screaming Marianne, which I didn’t care for at all. The set up here is pretty simple, even though it takes a little time getting going. A young French model, who has recently been arrested and fined 10 pounds for “indecent exposure” (or the Brit equivalent) gets picked up by a guy, who later brings her to a creepy old jail to “meet his mother”. Soon after, she finds herself captured by some matronly lunatics, who have been enslaving young women, who like the lead, have committed some small crime. The court system obviously “failed” and they will rehabilitate these young women or they….will be executed! At times ridiculous, at others brilliant, House Of Whipcord does have a good story and solid characters. It’s not as violent or F’d up as I was led to believe but is dark and creepy to say the least. 7/10 on the F’O’M


So………. I just watched Frankenstein Created Bikers (2016). I really did like James Bickert ‘s follow up Amazon Hot Box but kinda was lost on Dear God No. I have to say though that Frankenstein Created Bikers is the sweet spot I was looking for. The amount of crazy dialogue, splatter, gore and violence this film has is what I like. On top of all of that, this is one of the best produced modern independently made films I may have seen. Shooting on 35 mm had to be difficult but the results are there on screen. Everyone did a great job on this and even at the 2 hour length it has, it moves pretty quick. The Fiend ‘O’ Meter almost hit the top but balanced out at a 9/10. Grab this one while you can!


68 Kill (2017) at first glance can appear to be another heist type film but after about 5 minutes…you know you are in for a very different film. It’s basically an upside down neo-noir train traveling down the track at 140 never slowing down…all with the conductor manically laughing. Poor dude just wants a normal girlfriend but not only is she a prostitute with violent tendencies, she is really crazy. They hatch a plan that will net 68,000 dollars to put them on easy street. OF COURSE, it doesn’t go exactly as planned but not how you think. Like I said, the girlfriend is really crazy. Add to this, the dude…meets two more women in this film equally crazy… and are strangely the SAME crazy. It’s like all three women are the same person in different skin. The filmmakers keep it light but it’s exceptionally violent and gore laden. Two personal notes: Alisha Boe is stunning to look at and I love how the last woman’s “place of residence” has a wall full of very early 1980’s hardcore music show flyers, some really obscure. Get on this F’O’M 8/10 rated film… (you can pick it up at Big Lots for $1.88…strangely.)


Until next time…

Follow me on Twitter: @AFiendOnFilm

COEURS NOIRS Film Noir Newspaper Ad Fanzine is OUT!

ad for noirvember mag

#Noirvember (started by the one and only Marya E. Gates, @oldfilmsflicker on Twitter) is here and this year I decided to create something for it. COEURS NOIRS (roughly “Black Hearts”) is a downloadable and printable PDF which contains 20 pages of Film Noir newspaper ads from the 40’s and 50’s. It’s FREE and printing it is encouraged!

GET IT HERE: COEURS NOIRS #Noirvember 2018

Check my Twitter feed throughout the month to see more old ads and retweets of #Noievember events and articles @AFiendOnFilm

Let me know what you think of COEURS NOIRS! and spread the word!



Jimmy George is a Screenwriter, Script Consultant & Horror Film Producer with films likeWNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (2013) & CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU (2014) under his belt. I caught this long but seriously interesting thread on Twitter and asked if i could get it up on my blog as I thought it needed to be SEEN! Thank you Jimmy for letting me do this.

STOP TRYING TO SELL YOUR SCRIPT, AND START LEARNING HOW TO MAKE THE FILM YOURSELF: A THREAD I’m in a bunch of #screenwriting Facebook groups and the #1 thing writers ask for advice about is HOW TO SELL THEIR SCRIPT. IMO, they’re asking the wrong questions.

“How many scripts have you optioned or sold? Any advice on how to sell your script?” Assuming you’re going to achieve financial success as a writer, ESPECIALLY when you’re just starting out is a recipe for heartbreak.

Inflated expectations and entitlement of an EPIC PAY DAY as a #screenwriter are going to set you up for massive discouragement. When the reality hits of how rare an actual script sale is, if all you’re hoping to achieve through writing is a BIG CHECK you’ll probably give up.

Driven to see your script come to life? THEN FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THE DAMN THING YOURSELF. Learn through trial and error and endless failure at every level of the production process how to take your script from page to screen. TRY AGAIN. FAIL AGAIN. KEEP FAILING BETTER.

I’ve optioned some scripts. NO SALES. 2 close calls. BUT with the help of my fake blood brother, Chris LaMartina and a village of talented team members, we’ve produced 7 Feature Films from our own scripts. How did we do this? We worked our asses off for years on end.

Chris LaMartina and I spent over a decade of trial and error filmmaking riddled with endless moments of failure at every level of the production process which eventually lead to successes.


Again, STOP worrying how you’re going to sell your script, and START asking the RIGHT questions: QUESTION #1 – IS THE SCRIPT BULLETPROOF? If NOT then get some fucking professional notes, and work through as many drafts as it takes. There is no excuse for filming a shitty script.

YOU HAVE ZERO CHANCE FOR APOLOGIES TO THE AUDIENCE ONCE IT’S ON THE SCREEN. So why film the script if it could still be improved? Don’t even think about pre-production until the script is ready. ONCE IT IS and ONLY ONCE IT IS READY then ask:

QUESTION #2 – HOW DO I BUILD A TEAM THAT WILL HELP ME BRING THIS SCRIPT TO LIFE? If you live outside the hubs of ATL, NY, & LA you need to entrench yourself in the local filmmaking community. Attend local events that involve creatives, especially film and video production.

Attend 48 Hour film fests. 29 Day film fests. Local festivals. Local screenings. Student film screenings. THESE EVENTS ARE OUT THERE AND YOU NEED TO FUCKING FIND THEM AND ATTEND. It’s an absolute must. DO IT.


And if there’s nothing local going on. If there is no local film scene, then you need to find the next closest filmmaking community and entrench yourself in that one. Fuck the commute. Just make it work. It is your responsibility to find your filmmaking tribe.

There’s a reason WORK is part of NETWORK because it takes effort to build RELATIONSHIPS. These relationships will help you form a team of hungry crew members who share your DIY spirit and passion for storytelling.

Then with the help of those team members, you gotta learn on the fly how to bring the fucking scripts to life. YOU CAN AND MUST DO THIS.

Help these DIY kindred spirits with their film projects too. Make some shorts with them based on your scripts AND help them make their shorts too. You’ll figure out fast if you want to keep making movies together. If not, RINSE, REPEAT. TRY AGAIN. FAIL AGAIN. FAIL BETTER.

Once you’ve figured out the well suited team members, strategize how you and the crew can bring your feature script and their feature scripts to life on your own collective terms. WORK TOGETHER TO HELP EACH OTHER’S VISIONS BECOME A REALITY. TEAMWORK MAKES THE FUCKING DREAM WORK

Make crock pot meals and salads for catering. Buy props and materials at the dollar store and Walmart. DOLLAR STORES AND GOODWILLS ARE A FILMMAKER’S BEST FRIEND.

Take your cast to thrift stores and get your costumes for cheap. Every last Saturday of the month is 50% OFF! Trade video work in exchange for locations. BEG, BORROW, SCRAPE and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS SHOW GRATITUDE FOR ANYTHING YOU’RE GIVEN.

BE GRATEFUL! Any success you have as a no-budget filmmaker will be 100% due to the KINDNESS AND SACRIFICES OF OTHERS who are most likely working for free. Often that kindness that will even come from strangers. SO TELL THEM YOU APPRECIATE THEM, DAMMIT!

Your #1 job as a no-budget film producer during production ABOVE ALL ELSE is to ensure every person involved in your project FEELS VALUED AND APPRECIATED at all times.

Every THANK YOU expressed to your cast and crew must be infused with genuine gratitude and deep appreciation. As it should be. Because if you manage to build a filmmaking team who’s game to sacrifice their time to help you bring your vision to life YOU ARE FORTUNATE AND CHARMED

In my experience, there is no epic pay day coming for your screenplay. MAKING THE SCRIPT INTO A FILM YOURSELF is the best option to see your script reach the screen. BUILDING A TEAM AND WORKING YOUR ASS OFF WITH THAT TEAM TO MAKE IT YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT is 100% attainable.

Whether that’s self-producing and finding someone else with DIY spirit to direct or self-producing AND directing yourself. WEAR ALL THE HATS IN THE FILMMAKING TRENCHES.

The process of learning how to do all of this will give you a better understanding of how to craft a cinematic story on the page, and make you a better writer screenwriter along the way.

The best way to become a better screenwriter is to bring your scripts to life so you can watch what fails with an audience. TRY AGAIN. FAIL AGAIN. KEEP FAILING BETTER. “There’s no excuse not to make films on weekends with friends.” -@MarkDuplass

YES, BILLS MUST BE PAID. So KEEP YOUR DAY JOB and while you’re working that shit job take solace in the fact that when you’re not working there, you’ll be working with like-minded passionate DIY warriors on your off days to BRING YOUR STORIES TO LIFE.

QUESTION #3 is HOW DO I FUND MY FEATURE? It’s another beast that I’ll tweet rant about some other time. I consulted on 250+ crowdfunding campaigns helping creators earn over $1.5 Million, all while working at the mall. A lot to say about this subject.

But dammit if you get as far as Working to Answer Question #3: HOW DO I FUND MY FEATURE? you’re on the right track and you should be proud.

So in closing, STOP TRYING TO SELL YOUR SCRIPT AND START LEARNING HOW TO MAKE THE FILM YOURSELF. It will be the hardest mission you’ve ever undertaken but it will be worth it. If you’re driven to see your scripts go from page to screen, YOU CAN AND MUST DO THIS.

“There is no such thing as a final draft. There is a finished film or an unfinished screenplay.” – @chrismcquarrie

On the 1st day of production of our 1st no-budget feature film, as the screenwriter I didn’t know a damn thing about making movies. The PRODUCER quit on DAY ONE. He handed over his materials to me and I was forced to do learn how to do his job. This obstacle changed my life.

Follow Jimmy George on Twitter at @JimmyRGeorge and @scriptbutcher

Hot Lead, Hard Fury (2017) Film Review by Dave K./A FIEND ON FILM

Recently, I was introduced online to a film maker from Colorado named Mike Olafson. He was complimentary to my short film and told me he had a new feature that was completed. I was curious and saw the trailer to Hot Lead, Hard Fury. In turn, Mike was gracious enough to send a screener so I could see the full film. Glad to say that I watched it and can report this is a fantastic film, especially considering all the back story behind it.

Hot Lead Hard Fury 1

The plot is… it is 1977 in a place called Steel City. There is a drug bust that goes bad and a few cops are wiped out. One of the dead is the brother of a former Steel City cop named Chuck Beefer, who has left town after something “bad” happened in his past. Now Chuck has returned to join a small team of people to weed out the crime mob responsible for this action and the distribution of a new drug called Voodoo Blue. Voodoo Blue is a combination off LSD and cocaine, which gives an incredible high but if used even in the most smallest dose, can cause immediate death. What happens afterwords is a journey of death, destruction, back stabbing, plot twists and a lot of Beefer.

Now my plot synopsis sounds like it has been done a million times before…and it has. The difference here is how the film makers (and include all people involved in this one) did it. The first big thing is the entire film is shot with a Super 8 camera with various qualities of film stock. That means it’s full screen 1:33 to 1 though most of it. The director really works with the limitation of the dimension very well and also throws you off when the screen will go 16 x 9 for excellent split screen action at points of the film. The action is also top notch, from the fight scenes to the car chases, it’s all done by some brazen and talented people. Many films try to get a “retro” look with varying degrees of success, but the use of Super 8 makes it actually look like it was made in the 1970’s. There is also some great arty type moments through that makes it looks less “standard”.

https _cdn.evbuc.com_images_49226010_264351963541_1_original

I felt the acting was strong with the massive cast they had for this 2 hour long action fest. The script is damn good though there is some cheese especially with the Chuck Beefer character. I did get tired of the wacky sound effects after a bit because the film is played pretty straight. I know it was intentional and I’ll take it for what it is worth. The gore from the violence goes from well done to Herschell Gordon Lewis territory… again I think that was the point and people are going to love it. I can’t believe they got some of the gun play and car chase scenes on the low budget they did this on. If I start on how great the film’s score is…I won’t stop. It’s solid.

Olafson and crew took the Colorado locations, which all look like it hasn’t changed since the 70’s, and ran with it. Hot Lead, Hard Fury is a great indie film that deserves to be seen and is inspiring. This looks like it was a lot of work with long hours to boot. I am not sure as of this writing how and when this will be distributed (there are screenings abound), it does deserve a full physical media release. You will want this one on the shelf for sure. Fiend ‘O’ Meter is a 9/10.