Hills and Hollers: Movie Review

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I have long been a proponent of sub-B movies.  It wasn’t long ago I praised Don Dohler’s “classic” Galaxy Invader, an objectively terrible movie that is fun precisely because of its low-budget terribleness.  But there’s an earnestness and love for the material that is really fun to watch.

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It’s also impossible to think of sub-B movies and not think of Ed Woods’ entire career.  Plan 9 From Outer Space is the easiest to reference (mainly because it’s the one I’ve seen the most), full of swaying tombstones and terrible acting and a nonsensical plot and all matter of other shenanigans.

plan_9That’s not to say that all sub-B movies are terrible.  When I think about no-budget movies, the zombie movie Colin comes to mind.  It was made for less than $200, and it shows, but it’s a terrific movie that offers a different look at the zombie genre.  It may be cheap, but it’s lovely and sweet and heartbreaking and terrific, provided you can get past some of the sound/lighting/acting limitations.

colinOne thing all of those movies have in common is a love for the genre, and an honest desire to make a good movie, even if there isn’t enough money to throw a glossy coat of paint over it.  A filmmaker is a filmmaker, regardless of how much money they have.

Night of the Living Dead.  Halloween.  Evil Dead.  The Blair Witch Project.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  Manos: The Hands of Fate.  Basket Case.  It’s Alive.  The Stuff.  Chopping Mall.  Midnight Movie.  Motel Hell.  Sleepaway Camp.  Anything Troma puts out.  Horror has a long-standing history with low-to-no budget movies.  Every movie I just listed is enjoyable, if not always for the same reason.

motel-hell-pigMade on a budget of $5,000, Hills and Hollers certainly fits into the no-budget category.  The production values are low, but there is a charm and love that is present every step of the way.

hills-frank-and-patriciaWe start off the movie with a wannabe rock star and his gum-snapping girlfriend as they wind their way through Indiana backroads.  Even before they encounter a leering creep in a gas station parking lot, we know how their story ends: quickly and with guts strewn on the blade of a chainsaw.  They’re the cannon fodder to whet our appetite, and I was not the least bit sorry to see them go.

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For the rest of the movie, we follow around Frank and Patricia, a newly pregnant couple just trying to make their way in the world.  And also to escape from a gang of silent, backwoods psychopaths with a love of power tools.

I had actually come up with names for each of these psychopaths, only to find out that they already had names.  I will say that their actual names were better than my made-up names, but only slightly.  I have a very high opinion of my ability to name masked killers.  Everyone has a gift.

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This is by no means a great movie.  The budget is low, the action is slow and there is a 5+ minute scene of our heroes talking about the rules to a card game.  (Considering the movie has a run time of slightly less than an hour, that card scene really sticks out.)

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No, it’s not great.  But, provided you’re in the right mindset, it can be a ton of fun.  I loved the villains as they trudged through the forest in their makeshift killing clothes.  I loved the man who kept using his blowtorch on every rock and plant he passed.  I loved how Frank had a couple scenes where he spouted action movie clichés.  I loved the look of entrails draped over a chainsaw.  I loved how the washed-up rocker guy wandered a solid 200 yards from his car to urinate, allowing him to be killed without alerting his girlfriend.  I loved the deaths (particularly the final one).  I loved the scenes of Frank and Patricia eluding their captors through the hills of Indiana, with the fall leaves fresh on the ground.  I loved it all.

Throw on Hills and Hollers and embrace the low budget nature.  You’ll be glad you did.

Galaxy Invader: Movie Review

 

Synopsis:
An asteroid crashes to Earth and is discovered by a professor and his student.  Is their relationship more than just “professor and student”?  Oh most definitely.
Anyway, the asteroid is a glowing orb and there is also a large, rubbery alien creature and there is a dysfunctional family trying to capitalize on it and a bar full of drunks wanting to murder and so on and so forth.

Pictured: Justice

Thoughts:
Everyone has their favorite bad b-movie that they ran across in a video store.  We used to go to the video store located in the front of Wal-Mart once a month or so and look for the worst movie we could find.  Have you ever seen The Boneyard, in which an old woman and her poodle are turned into hideous, mutated creatures?  Or The Beast, in which a man turns into a drooling, claymated monster for some reason?  Or Puma Man, which involves Aztecs, Stonehenge, Donald Pleasance and the insinuation of a flying sexual encounter?  Because I have.  I’ve seen all of those, and more.  So much more.

My favorite in the bunch was Galaxy Invader.  It was my go-to when a friend was in town.  “You haven’t seen Galaxy Invader?  YOU SIMPLY MUST!”  I’ve seen it more times than I care to count.  I’ve seen it so many times that, when I finally tracked down a copy to buy, I noticed that a line of dialog was missing from the copy I had seen.  I can see JJ saying, “What could I do, Pa, he had a gun,” with his arms in front of him, bouncing awkwardly.  I can see it in my head, but not on my DVD copy.  I own 4 copies of this movie and that dialog is missing from all of them.  It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya.

Did I say I own 4 copies?  Because I meant that I own, um, 0 copies of this movie.  I’m borrowing one from a friend.  You probably don’t know him, so don’t bother asking.  He’ll deny it, anyway.  And he doesn’t have a phone or anything.

Not Pictured: A Phone

This movie is beautiful.  The monster’s suit is terrible and rubbery, and, for a movie called Galaxy Invader, he is not the star of the show.  The star of the show is the Montague family.  The father – Joe – is abusive and leers after the wife of his best friend and owns one shirt that has a giant hole in the middle.  His daughter – who seems to be in her early 30s – desperately wants to run away with her boyfriend, a flannel-clad man who either hides his smoking from her, or was smoking during his shooting breaks and didn’t throw the cigarette away before the camera started rolling.  There’s no way to know for sure.  The wife – Ethel…of course it’s Ethel – just kind of puts up with Joe’s crap for some reason.  Their son is an idiot and is easily in his 40s.

Joe’s best friend is a cowboy-hat wearing jackass by the name of Frank Custer*.  For some reason, Frank is a big figure in the community and can easily gather up a bunch of trigger-happy drunks at a moment’s notice.  Frank says things they “HEYYY GOOOOD,” and has large strings of drool escape his mouth when he removes his cigar.  Frank’s wife – the aforementioned object of Joe’s affection – is Vickie.  She wears low-cut shirts and has a mole that reflects light.

The back of the VHS box shows a scene that never comes close to happening in the movie.  Not in any of the copies that I…I mean, my friend owns.  My friend.  Who, again, you probably don’t know.

The ending is delightful.  Just delightful.  I once watched this movie in a room full of people who had never seen it and the entire room erupted into roars of laughter.  It’s unreal.  It’s one of my all-time favorite scenes in any movie ever.  It’s perfect.  I would highly recommend that you watch the full movie.  But, if you just want to skip to the end, well…

The full movie is on YouTube!  I repeat, it’s on YouTube!

This movie is terrible and trashy and I love it completely.  Please watch it so we can all talk about it.  Please.  Please?

Pretty please?

Rating: 15/5

* Frank Custer is played by Don Leifert.  In the credits, it says, “Hat Provided by Don Leifert.”  They had a line in the credits that told us that he brought his own cowboy hat.  That always killed me.