Shock-O-Rama Cinema // 2000 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // May 9th, 2008
They'll suck the life out of you.
Drainiac opens with two guys (are they bums? hitchhikers? lost? We never find out) who end up in a house seeking warmth. Once they infiltrate the basement, they discover green goo leaking from the pipes. When one of them touches it, the goo infects him, leading to gory death. Flash forward to young Julie (Georgia Hatzis), a high school senior whose mother died under odd circumstances. Now, she's stuck with her obnoxious and abusive father who makes her clean up the junky houses he buys hoping to get rich. Three of Julie's friend decide to join her to avoid a local creep. Naturally, the house they have to clean is the one from the beginning of the movie, and weird things start to happen to all the young people. When things get really bad, a random psychic warrior (named Plummer, in a film called Drainiac, ha ha) shows up to help the kids exorcise whatever is causing the problems in the house.
Do I need to tell you it's bad? Of course not, you know better than to think that a movie called Drainiac was going to be anything but an exercise in genre cheese. I watched the film with a couple of friends and a couple of beers, and it fell somewhere in the middle of the B-movie scale: it's far from the worst or the best "bad" movie we'd ever seen. I was ready to consign it to the dustbin of horror, but the next day I read the liner notes and listened to the commentary. Between the two I learned a bunch of information that made appreciate (if not like) Drainiac a whole lot more:
* Director Brett Piper made Drainiac on film for 10,000 dollars. Yes, he shot in 16mm, but that is still a shockingly low number for a feature film in any genre. I've seen crappy shot-on-video features cost that much and look half as good. I honestly thought this film cost at least three times that figure just from the way it looked.
* This version of Drainiac is not the one originally released on VHS in 2000. Because of budget constraints, Piper didn't get to finish all the post-production effects editing he wanted. This version contains some computer enhancement to the effects, as well as some smoother dubbing. This release also went back to the original elements and mastered them in HD.
* Speaking of HD, high def is the future at Shock-o-Rama. The commentary, recorded in December 2007, mentions that the label is going HD-DVD sometime in 2008. The subsequent demise of HD-DVD ensured that won't happen, but it's nice to know they're contemplating the shift to HD for the near future. Misty Mundae at 1080P will be a sight to behold.
* The vast majority of the effects were done in-camera, and only minimally enhanced on computer during this remastering. For a film of this budget, they look pretty darn good, especially the green goo. This is not a film for gore-hounds or monster-lovers, but the effects were better than Karo-syrup and rubber-mask grade.
* Gregory Conley, writer/podcaster at yourvideostoreshelf.com, hosts the commentary with director Brett Piper and president of Pop Cinema Michael Raso. Towards the end of their chat, Gregory gives a nice shout-out to Verdict which was much appreciated.
The cleanup and mastering process did this film a world of good. Considering the budget and the 16mm origins, Drainiac looks fantastic. Yeah, it's a little washed out and grainy, but nothing so bad as to detract from the film. Even the effects weren't hurt by the cleanup process. My only complaint about the transfer is that Drainiac was originally full frame, but for this transfer they zoomed and cropped to get a 16x9 image. But, considering the director doesn't seem to mind, it's a minor quibble. What I really wanted to see after listening to the commentary was the original version. I can understand why Piper wouldn't want to put it out there again, but a comparison featurette would have been nice. But no, the only other extra after the commentary is a typical Shock-o-Rama trailer vault.
So there you have it. Drainiac isn't going to change anyone's life, but it's a worthy entry into the world of B-movies. If you've enjoyed other Shock-o-Rama releases in the past, this film has everything you're likely to look for (blood, breasts, and beasts). If you're new to Shock-o-Rama and its ilk, there are better places to start. This film is also recommended to anyone looking to get into filmmaking. Seeing what Brett Piper did with a miniscule budget should inspire the most pessimistic filmmakers out there.
Drainiac is found guilty. The court admonishes Piper to spend his considerable energy on a more engaging script in the future.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Director Brett Piper