Friday, June 12, 2009

Melvin (2009)

It seems that nowadays every other indie horror film features zombies. And why not? Zombies are more popular than ever and a zombie film can usually be made on the cheap. Still, I wish zombie films would deviate a little from the standard story of zombie outbreak and a group of survivors fighting hungry brain-munchers. Luckily, there are those few indie projects that try something different with zombies, like Melvin.

Melvin is the new feature-length film from writer/director Henry Weintraub that was shot in Oregon with a local cast and crew of 50 or so people. Though low on budget, the film is big on heart! It has a few flaws, mainly the pacing, but overall Melvin is a fun, memorable and original zombie film!

Three years ago, the class nerd, Melvin (Leif Fuller), was accidentally killed during a prank gone wrong. His death was ruled “accidental,” but Melvin won’t rest until his death is avenged. Melvin has chosen fellow geek Norton (Patrick O’Driscoll) as his vehicle for revenge. Crawling out of his grave, Melvin bites Norton and Norton’s transition to zombie begins. Each night Norton “sleepwalks” and turns into a zombie while attacking anyone that gets in his way. He wakes up each morning not remembering what happened the night before, but Melvin haunts him during the day and persists that revenge will be his! To quote the official synopsis, “Melvin’s thirst for vengeance will take this dynamic dork duo on a mind-blowing streak of throat-ripping, vomit-spewing, head decapitating and much, much more!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Melvin is a fun, energetic indie effort that tries something new with the tired old zombie genre and works! Writer/director Henry Weintraub has created a funny, inventive and entertaining film for genre fans. The story about a misfit returning from the grave for revenge for his wrongful death and infecting a fellow geek to carry out his vengeful plan is just so unique! Plus, I really enjoyed the amusing characters, from the punk bullies to the nerdy duo of Melvin and Norton. Weintraub infuses equal parts humor and pathos into the characters, so you really grow attached to them as the film progresses. You also love to hate the punk bullies, who are every bit as dumb as they are mean.

The acting is above-par for an indie flick! Really stand-out performances from both Leif Fuller as Melvin and Patrick O’Driscoll as Norton. I also really enjoyed the performance from Lilly Maher as Norton’s love interest, Wendy. The three guys playing the punk bullies, Ben Chinburg, Hudson Hongo and Yonatan Schultz also did a fantastic job as well! You usually don’t see such a high-quality of acting in indie films, but the cast of Melvin really impressed me. Also, there was a neat cameo by Lloyd Kaufman of Troma in a movie-within-a-movie (Night of the Driller…it’s a sick little added bonus! Watch for its faux trailer as the credits role!) that just proves that Melvin was made by horror fans for horror fans!

Now, for another part that made this film so much fun – the gore! Once the film got going there were lots of great gore gags! A guy’s head gets run over by a car, a zombie gets a beer bottle through the throat and spurts out blood through the bottle, a guy gets his eyes gouged out, a zombie gets decapitated, a guy gets his head and spine ripped off his body, two people get a pole through their necks, people get their throats ripped out and lots of other gory goodness! Plus, all the effects looks great!! Kudos to the makeup/special effects and editing people for making the effects look seamless!

I must also mention the excellent punk music they have throughout the film. It sets a certain reckless mood that fits perfectly into the movie!

Now, I do have a few complaints about the film. One is that the beginning of the film is a little on the slow side. Plus, it took a while to get to Melvin’s demise and really figure out what was going on. I think had they started right off the bat with a flashback of the complete story of Melvin the rest of the film would have gone much more smoothly. Secondly, I thought the ending was a bit anti-climactic. Though the effects were cool, it just didn’t feel like “the end” and that it needed a little something extra.

Overall, though, Melvin is an indie horror gem that is a rare discovery for horror fans! You can tell that the cast and crew put a lot of love and hard work into bringing Melvin to life, and all their efforts paid off! This quirky, original, gory and fun horror film is well worth the effort to track it down!

Available on Amazon!

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