Movie Review: Rubber Puppets, Karo Syrup Blood, No Budget, and Red Letter Media’s FEEDING FRENZY….

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TRAILER!

In the pantheon of “internet celebrity culture/whatever” there isn’t a whole lot of quality content. Most of it panders so intensely to a demographic that it becomes a series of self referential in jokes, and then just flat out devolves into something more akin to fan fiction than “artists” doing what they want to do. Everything starts bleeding together, like some sort of nostalgia fueled nightmare; you can’t tell where one “producer” starts and the other one ends, and they cease to be unique to themselves. There was a time where I used to occasionally check out videos on sites like That Guy With the Glasses, but it was pretty short lived, as I quickly realized that it had become a crass commercial product that preys on the nostalgia of it’s audience.It’s gotten to the point of parody, really. It also doesn’t help that these “producers” seem to almost disdain their own audience, and more often than not fall into attitudes of entitlement and condescension. Listen, I’m on the outside looking in, so, I could be wrong, but that’s just how it seems. That’s not to say that it’s all “dog shit,” though, and there is a few content creators that I’ll check out from time to time even now.

Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be able to make a living off of creating content for the internet, but there should be some sort of quality barrier to entry for success, right? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, and the older I get the more discerning I become about the media I consume. Especially that of internet based media, considering that most of it it real garbage. It’s become so formulaic that I don’t understand how people don’t get tired of it when watching on a regular basis. I don’t regret it all, though, because if I hadn’t been a tourist in that culture then I would have never stumbled into finding Red Letter Media.

I found out about RLM in the same way that I imagine most people did, and that was through their 70 minute dissection/evisceration of Star Wars: Episode One- The Phantom Menace. The brilliant thing about the approach that was taken in this long form criticism was that they were able to make it something unique, and special. It felt wholly their own, and wasn’t pandering to any one demographic. They wrapped up their “review” in a character, Mr. Plinkett. It’s actually a pretty brilliant framing device. Well, if your sense of humor skews a little dark. It’s made for those who like it, and no one else. I mean, I’m not saying that they are being purposefully exclusionary, not really anyways. I’m sure that they would love it if everything they did was seen by the masses, but their out put seems to indicate that they would like it to be on their own terms. I guess you could call it integrity, or some stupid shit like that! You know what I’m saying?

So, after watching these guys for a few years, and consuming most of their stuff(Half in the Bag is something I always look forward to, and their new series Best of the Worst is also pretty great as well!), the announcement that they were going to be making a new flick actually had me pretty excited. I don’t know why, but I just really enjoy their sense of humor, and their sensibilities speak to me. It’s the same kind of “humor” that I share with my friends. You know the kind! Joyfully dark, and painfully awkward! So, when I watch their stuff I feel like I’m actually having a good time, but it’s not just a superficially enjoyable experience. They are pretty smart folks over at RLM; their film criticism is both pointed, and most importantly, to me anyways, fair. They are pretty up front and transparent about their preferences, but I never feel like their tastes dictate their final conclusions. Well, not totally anyways. They judge each film on it’s individual merits, and even if it’s something that is “not for them,” as long as it’s well made, they’ll recommend it to it’s intended audience.

Seriously, it’s such a refreshing approach in the world of internet “criticism.” A place filled with snarky, egomaniacs that devolve into such depths of logic as, “It’s my opinion! So, it must be right, and you’re all idiots if you disagree!” Anyways, enough ranting already! Moving on…

Right up front, I really enjoyed Feeding Frenzy, and I didn’t ever feel like it was predicated on my appreciation of their other work; it stands pretty well on it’s own. In fact, I’ve shown this film to several friends that had never heard of RLM, and everyone one of them enjoyed this flick on one level or another. Sure, there was a little trepidation at the start, because, honestly, the average movie watcher doesn’t have a whole ton of interest in “low/no budget” film making(I know! They are missing out! I was thinking the same thing! Good on you.), but once they got into the movie “it was all smiles,” so to speak.

It’s actually pretty shocking how good this movie looks considering the circumstances it was made. This movie was brought into existence through attrition; a bunch of friends, at different levels of “professionalism,” coming together to make a movie. It’s shot in their homes, friends basements, and local businesses on pro-sumer cameras. It’s incredibly consistent with lighting, and color schemes. I mean, sure, it isn’t perfect, or anything, and there is some presence of artifice that stops it from feeling completely immersive , but all things considered it’s pretty forgivable, and honestly, you don’t even notice it after awhile. Why is that? I’m getting to it!

The script is pretty good too. Which, in the world of “home-made” movies is even more impressive. They have an understanding of pace, and motivation. Even the scenes that are designed to throw “one-liners” at you have their place, and are used to propel the character arcs and plot. What I mean is that they don’t feel superfluous. Even one scene, where a mail order Russian bride talks about murdering her blue collar husband is given context to the larger story. They understand that just because it’s funny doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. They have a plot and characters to serve, and they understand that, at the end of the day, that’s what’s important to a cohesive film. It’s even more impressive that they are able to maintain these tenants while still making you laugh the whole way through, because often in comedies a surplus of jokes comes at the cost of having a plot that makes sense.

The performances in this film aren’t too shabby either. Especially considering that the only “professional” actors in this flick are, Gillian Bellinger, Jocelyn Ridgely, and “B movie” starlet, Tina Krause(Who are, actually, real stand outs, and I hope to see more of them in the near future.). Yeah, I know, it’s not “academy award winning” stuff, but it’s pretty all around competent. Comedic timing isn’t something everyone has, but these folks do it with great aplomb, and more often than not the jokes land really well. It doesn’t hurt that the script seemed to be pretty solid as well, and probably helped some of the more “amateur” cast members. Also, Rich Evans, and Mike Stoklasa(Co-Writer/Director) absolutely kill it! “They ate his fucking face!”

Another aspect that I really loved about this flick was how they embraced their limitations, and even used them to increase the “funny factor.” They didn’t try to work outside the bounds of what they could actually produce by stuffing the movie with cheap and shoddy looking CGI. Instead, they filled their movie with cheap and shoddy looking practical effects! But, considering the goals of the film, it actual elevates the proceedings, and is used both in terms of being completely successful and also completely “fake/cheesy” looking. I was kind of taken aback by how well it worked in both of these contexts, and whether or not that was their intention, it totally works!

I guess you could consider Feeding Frenzy a “homage” type of picture, but they avoid the traps that most of these kinds of movies fall into. They have made something that is completely it’s own, and doesn’t ever become just a series of references to the films they are homage-ing. It seems like they considered the fact that “rubber puppet monster movies” are a sub-genre, and set out to make a movie in that tradition. Honestly it could stand toe to toe with a lot of the flicks that came out in the late eighties that share the concept(Ghoulies, Hobgoblins, etc.). They obviously love these kinds of movies, and wanted to make one of their own; with their own style and sensibilities on full display. It feels like a movie that fits perfectly in their oeuvre.

I actually bought the DVD back when it first came out in 2010, and it’s totally worth it. It has a full breadth of pretty in-depth special features. Including a really great commentary, and “making of.” It actually makes you appreciate what they were able to accomplish even more, honestly. Everything about this movie is “sincere,” and in a world full of “irony” drenched bull shit, it’s much appreciated. Totally worth picking up.

So, I really like this flick a lot. If you enjoy a good horror-comedy with a dark sense of humor then I think this would work for you. If you check it out, and like it, show it to your friends! Even if they don’t usually enjoy the genre. In my opinion, and experiences showing this film to others, I think that anybody with a good sense of humor will find something to enjoy. I mean, seriously, you’re friends aren’t dicks, are they? It’s important to support true independents. If you like their stuff then help them out. If only for the selfish reason of that they’ll be able to continue making things for you to enjoy. So there!

Also, just as a side note, they have another movie in the pipe line! They’ve been raising money for it by doing E-Bay auctions, and selling DVD’s. I have a lot of respect for them for going about funding this way, over getting on the Kickstarter train. I mean, there isn’t anything wrong with it per say, hell, I would have donated, but the fact that they have confidence in their work says a lot about them, in my opinion. They’re “earning” their place, rather than asking people to hand it to them. Good on them, as far as I’m concerned…

Oh, what’s their new movie called?! Motherfuckin’ Space Cop! That’s what it’s called! I don’t know why, but I really love that title, and every time I hear it it kind of makes me chuckle. Apparently, they had tried to make this movie awhile ago, but only shot for a few days. It was enough that they were able construct a pretty hilarious trailer(Embedded Below!), but I’m glad that they are going to push forward with the project. Here’s the teaser for it!

Here’s the original “fake” trailer. If it points to how the actual movie will be, like, at all, then I’m so on board.

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10 thoughts on “Movie Review: Rubber Puppets, Karo Syrup Blood, No Budget, and Red Letter Media’s FEEDING FRENZY….

  1. Bill

    As a fellow RLM fan, I’d like to say that you’ve captured what makes Feeding Frenzy good fun and explained RLM’s strengths quite well. Their projects feel uniquely their own, and they mix humor with insightful criticism better than anyone else I’ve seen. I was fortunate to meet them at the Milwaukee Film Festival earlier this year and found Jay, Mike, Rich, and Jocelyn to be tremendously approachable and friendly. I must have chatted with Jay for a good ten minutes. At one point, Jocelyn came up to ask Jay a question and put her arm around my shoulder ( !!! ) and she and I talked for a good 5 minutes about her other projects (she was in a lengthy run of the stage version Trainspotting at a Milwaukee theater).

    Completely unrelated: as I reached the bottom of the page I saw your “about” blurb in which you say you started this blog to help you become a better writer and thinker. That’s great! You have a good voice that conversationally engages the reader without getting awkward, which is easy to do when a writer uses a conversational tone. However, the English teacher in me compels me to suggest that you review the rules for comma usage as you often use them unnecessarily. ( I wouldn’t have said anything if not for your stated desire to improve your writing ability.)

    Now I’m going to take a look at your previous entries!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! Especially thanks for the constructive criticism! You have me dead to rights about my comma over usage. It’s something I struggle with. I think it has to do with my conversational tone that you pointed out; as I write in a lot of fragmented sentences Also balancing these long winded things with life is sometimes a chore, but I truly enjoy doing it! So, that helps! I wrote this in about an hour, and what you’ve said is a good reminder to slow down and take the time to be more careful. It’s something to definitely work on, and I appreciate you taking the time to point it out to me!

      Also, it’s good to hear that the RLM crew is just as down to earth in person as they seem on their site. It does my heart good to hear about decent people doing well, and finding success!

      Thanks again, Bill! I appreciate it!

  2. James

    Great review and I completely agree with you on ThatGuyWithTheGlasses. Most of the content creators on that hellhole are talentless, egotistical manchildren that are very obviously only making reviews for an easy paycheck. Doug Walker is the best example, he finally stopped doing Nostalgia Critic reviews and then he immediately brought them back because his views hit rock bottom after he stopped doing them.

    1. I haven’t gone on that website for years. Actually, linking to it for this article was the only time I can remember even thinking about it in recent memory. Yeah, but I definitely see where you’re coming from. The “writing was on the wall,” so to speak, even back in 2008.

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