Before the Camera:Leighton Meester (TV's Gossip Girl)
Melora Hardin (TV's The Office)
Nicholas D'Agosto (TV's Heroes)
Lola Glaudini (TV's Persons Unknown)
Larry Joe Campbell (TV's According to Jim)
Van De La Plante (couple of TV guest spots; first movie)
Penn Badgley (TV's Gossip Girl)
John Gilbert (The X-Files computer game)
Sean Whalen (TV's Unfabulous)
Morgan Spurlock (TV's 30 Days)
as Robbie, the Hella-Burger Manager
Behind the Camera:
Directed by Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn
Produced by Matt Milich, Martin Wiley, Chris Sievernich, and 9 other assorted Executive, Associate, and Line Producers
Written by Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn
The opening shot of this flick introduces us to four extremely obnoxious teens cruising about town. They next decide they need to stop for some chow, and pull in at the local "Hellaburger" restaurant. Although the building is dark and the parking lot empty, these dimwits notice nothing and pull up to the drive thru. The clown faced speaker perks right up, but as the order conversation goes on, whoever is behind the clown face makes some strange statements, stuff that sounds threatening. Hmmm. When challenged on this, the voice goes back to standard fast food terminology that rhymes with the earlier threats. Eventually, the two lads in the SUV decide their manhood has been challenged, and they head into the restaurant to kick some tushie.
However, the joint seems empty, and then a figure pops up who looks like a mashup of the restaurant mascot Horny the clown and one of the members of KISS circa 1982 (ending up looking sort of like a mobile version of the clown faced speaker outside - the mask looks just like the head down to the speaker grid across the mouth) and does them both in messily. The young women out in the SUV, in the meantime, have fallen asleep (!) and are ill prepared for the clown to join them, swinging a large cleaver moments later. Cue credits.
After a fairly annoying song performed by an onscreen girl band we learn the lead singer is our protagonist Mackenzie (Meester). She is a standard issue horror movie final girl, right down to her retained virginity which is on the table for loss with her boyfriend Fisher (D'Agosto) on the clockstroke of her 18th birthday in a few days. We meet her parents, and are happy to see that mom Marcia is played by Trudi Monk aka Melora Hardin. But then Mackenzie's friends start to meet up with that heavy metalized Horny the Clown and die in weird and gory ways - ways that for the record often have little or nothing to do with fast food, fast food restaurants, fast food mascots, or drive thrus... Mackenzie begins to think that the killer is supernatural in nature (he "appears" where and when needed to spring his attacks) and that he's somehow tied to events in her mom's life.
Eventually, we do go back to Hellaburger for a cameo by Morgan "Sure I'll be in your anti fast food movie" Spurlock and a fairly cool kill scene that takes place in the kid's play area of the restaurant - with Horny's emergence from the ball crawl a high point of the flick. Then we move on to the home of Hellaburger founder Jack Benjamin (Gilbert) where we learn that mom Marcia was involved in the death of Jack's son Archie (De La Plante), the first person to wear the Horny the Clown mascot outfit and the first and only person to burn to death wearing it in a "cruel prank." Now, "prank gone wrong" scenes almost always hit home with me in movies like this, because it's usually a moment when any filmmaker can push an audience's sympathy buttons, if only for a moment or two and no matter how crappy the surrounding movie might be. However, when they flashback to this one it turns out the event was more stupid than cruel and not particularly pranky, which is too bad - another misstep.
But I digress.
Now Archie has returned in ghostly form as Horny to kill off the kids of the now grown-ups who killed him. Before you can cough "Nightmare on Elm Street!" into your fist, Horny knocks out Mackenzie and she wakes up in a Hellaburger restaurant, tied up and surrounded by the corpses of her friends, which causes us to cough "Happy Birthday to Me!" into our fists just in time for the fiery finale of the flick.
|A tiny Horny was hiding in their bag of Skittles the whole time.|
I will tell anyone who listens that clowns are creepy, so I had medium high hopes for this one, also anticipating the shtick of a killer in a fast food restaurant. So, as the film wandered far afield from its title and concept after the opening 15 minutes or so, I found the movie heading toward Misfire Lane. It never fully recovered from driving down that road, but there were still some solid moments along the way.
Breaking down the ingredients- on the plus side: 1) the tongue in cheek tone; 2) the silliness of a fast food concept of a devil clown with tiny horns - hence the name Horny - for a fast food joint known for its spicy food; 3) the always welcome Hardin; 4) Spurlock, genuinely amusing in his three minutes onscreen; and 5) a couple of good gory deaths mixing practical makeup effects with not-as-successful CGI.
On the downside: 1) I wasn't much on Horny's mask or spiked boots or other heavy metal trappings; 2) making a lot of the characters obnoxious (especially the quartet in the opening scene) so the viewer wants to see them die - meh. It's okay to let me feel bad for the characters who meet their ends - if the humorous touches are funny, I'll still find them amusing even if I liked the dead character; 3) borrowing a little too liberally and literally from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Happy Birthday to Me; and most of all - 4) after the filmmakers provide a satisfying end to the supernatural killer - which is great because it allows this movie to end well and still leaves the door open for a sequel because it's so easy to bring back a supernatural killer with a minimum of fuss for a sequel - they can't let it go and first go for a tacked on last few minutes with an ill-advised and ill-explained cliffhanger, then a final scene that basically negates the ending and picks up the story again, meaning the movie stops instead of ends. Feh. (And while there was at one time news that the sequel had wrapped production - I don't think it's been released if true...)
So in the end, no recommendations for this one except to Melora Hardin or Morgan Spurlock completists.
Let's Get Out of Here ?
At 51:49 Nicholas D'Agosto decides he has spent enough time in the police station, and at 1:09:33 he goes for it again, this time tied to an F-Bomb for extra impact. Or not.
Eye Candy ?
The filmmakers would probably think I'd choose one of their teen-ish ladies, but no, the clear winner here is Melora Hardin, a hottie every day and twice on Sunday. Welcome to the list, Ms. Hardin!
Buddha Man Sez:
|"Drive Thru...bup bup bup bup ba...not lovin' it!"|
As always, BM says in 10 words what I take 1000 to say...sterling work, Buddha Man! And oh yeah, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!