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Case Number 19609: Small Claims Court

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Suburban Psycho Horror Collection

Psycho Sisters
1998 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
2000 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
Suburban Nightmare
2004 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Skin Crawl
2007 // 75 Minutes // Rated R
Released by Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // September 3rd, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Roman Martel goes suburban psycho when snails invade his garden. Eat salt you slimy freaks!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Drainiac (published May 9th, 2008) and Skin Crawl (published March 28th, 2007) are also available.

The Charge

Ever hear the one about the psycho sisters whose suburban nightmare forced them to skin crawl away from the drainiac? I hadn't either, until this compilation showed up.

The Case

Ah, the low budget horror film, so sweet and wonderful. Offering you a bit of blood, a bit of nudity, and hopefully a good time. Sure, you know the acting is going to be suspect, and you can't always expect a coherent story, but that's all part of the fun. Either you enjoy this kind of thing or you don't. Let me warn the non-believers now: this collection is not going to change your mind. Everything you dislike about the genre is in full display here. But to everyone else who enjoys some fake blood spattered on the topless actress as she delivers her lines in the most wooden way possible, lets dig right in.

One the first disc we have the Psycho Sisters. This is a horror comedy that tells the story of sisters Jackie (Pamela Sutch) and Jane (Christine Taylor). After witnessing the rape and murder of their sister, Jackie goes off the deep end and Jane follows right behind her. Their objective is simple, kill every man they can get their hands on. They find some stupid chump, slaughter him and then hack off his area to store in a pickle jar. Eventually Jane falls for a guy who works at a sperm bank. Jackie loses it completely. Meanwhile the police, a biker gang, and a neighbor into S&M close in. It all ends in blood, guts, and a few surprises.

This could have been really funny, and some of the jokes do land. When the Jackie pulled a knife the size of her arm from a purse the size of a wallet I chuckled. But most of the humor is too forced and too stupid. Everything is over the top in the film and unfortunately that takes away from the horror.

I was entertained, because the dialogue is so ripe that Ed Wood would be proud. The delivery ranges from ranting and raving to wooden as a plank. It adds to the fun. You also get a few sets of naked breasts, so the movie covers all its bases. This is the weakest offering in the set. However if you and friends are up for some riffing this makes an easy target.

The disc includes a commentary by director and selected crew.

Disc two presents Suburban Nightmare, a tale of two serial killers who married but now are falling out of love in a most spectacular fashion. Petty squabbles turn into full-blown arguments. And since Deborah (Brandy Little) and Charles (Trent Haaga) are insane, these arguments end with knives, blood, poison, and women tied up on the basement.

This film is the best made in this set. It's got a clear story to tell and it's told reasonably well, with solid acting and a few plot twists. Interesting camera techniques and a lot of style in the sets help create a dark and twisted atmosphere. But it's not really a horror film. What we get is a twisted relationship movie with some very dark humor.

This is an actor's film with Little and Haaga on screen for the entire running time. They do a good job with it. But those looking for some really gruesome stuff won't be satisfied here. Most of the blood and gore comes from the aftermath of the killings and some of the fighting. But horrible mutilations are only shown in still photographs, mementos of the couples past escapades.

Things end up getting a little tricky in the tone. Is this supposed to be a super dark comedy? Or are we supposed to care about the relationship between these killers? The movie seems to want it both ways. It also drags a bit in the middle. Director John Keeyes overuses flashbacks and ends up interrupting the flow of the film.

Extras include a commentary by director Keeyes, and some behind the scenes documentaries dealing with various aspects of the production. There is a collection of three short films and a music video featuring a song from the Suburban Nightmare.

Skin Crawl is on disc three. Hate to bring the bad news here, but this isn't a horror movie either. In fact it's more like a standard late night thriller. It deals with sleazy Howard (Kevin G. Shinnick) plotting with his mistress Sadie (Julian Wells) to kill off his wife Margaret (Debbie Rochon). The set up and the execution of the plot are interesting, even if they final editing makes it a rough ride.

For some reason director Justin Wingenfeld uses excessive flashbacks to put the story together. It's almost clever but ends up feeling really redundant and makes the first half of the film appear slower than it really is. If you can get past that bit, the rest of the story works well, especially for anyone interested in seeing Wells pretty much nude for the entirety of the film. When she isn't offering to have sex, she is having sex, or talking about it and taking her clothes off. The funny thing is, she's also the best actor in the film, delivering some funny lines and looking very comfortable in her various stages of undress.

Bookending this story line is a segment about witches being tormented and creating a curse. Turns out Margaret is descended from the witches, so after she is murdered, she comes back from the grave to exact revenge. The finale features the Margaret zombie going around killing people. The horror and the gore arrive in these final moments. Some of it is pretty gross, involving not only blood but copious amounts of insects. Unfortunately most horror fans I know are going to have given upon the film by this point, unless they are distracted by Julian Well's naked body.

Where does that leave you? It's got its moments. I found the murder plot interesting and didn't mind the naked romps. But the zombie and witch moments left me a little cold. I was entertained; but this needed a bit more polish to make it one I'd want to revisit.

The extras include a commentary as well as interviews with the cast and crew. I gotta say, Rochon and Wells are some brave actresses to fill their mouths with live bugs.

Disc four unleashes the Drainiac He's a drainiac, drainiac on the floor, and he's killing like he's never killed before!

Now that we've got that out of the way, I can say that Drainiac reminded me of those '80s style monster flicks. You know, some high school friends get together run into a scary monster, and barely escape alive. That's your basic premise here. What makes this a winner is all the creativity that goes into the fun special effects and over the top gore. You get people melting, exploding bodies and even a girl attacked by tentacles in a bathtub.

While the low budget is pretty obvious at times, there is a spirit of fun that just carries the movie right along. There's a lot of humor in the movie too, mostly in the form of one-liners from the teens, instead of lame attempts at sex humor (like Psycho Sister). The actors all do a good job and the direction is good about using interesting camera angles and to keep you watching (probably inspired by The Evil Dead).

The only downsides are the rushed ending that seems to come out of nowhere and a bit of meandering in the middle that slows things down. It never gets boring, but it feels like the teens wander around the house a bit longer than they should. But all told this movie was a lot of fun.

The movie was made in 2000, but this version is the revised 2007 version, which includes some enhanced effects and a remastered image in widescreen. The insert that comes with the set deals entirely with Drainiac. The disc itself includes commentary with the director.

The Verdict

You get four films for a little more than the price of one, so this isn't a bad deal at all. If you're in the mood for a grab bag of gory fun on a budget, you could do worse. Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice, Psycho Sisters

Judgment: 38

Perp Profile, Psycho Sisters

Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Psycho Sisters

• Commentary

Scales of Justice, Drainiac

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile, Drainiac

Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Drainiac

• Commentary
• Booklet

Scales of Justice, Suburban Nightmare

Judgment: 62

Perp Profile, Suburban Nightmare

Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Suburban Nightmare

• Commentary
• Documentaries
• Short Films
• Music Video

Scales of Justice, Skin Crawl

Judgment: 58

Perp Profile, Skin Crawl

Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Skin Crawl

• Commentary
• Interviews

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