Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ravage (USA, 1996)

Ravage is a direct to video ultra-low-budget, multi-violent, homegrown crime film that should better be titled Bullets & Blood. The cheap credit sequence and shoot-out that open the film are a good foreshadow of all that has yet to come: bad visual quality, bad sound, bad lighting, bad special effects, bad editing, bad acting, bad script—a true home movie, starring family, friends, neighbors and anybody else who had the time to take part. There is loads of blood but no suspense, and the only real tension to be found is due to the film’s soundtrack, a true aural horror which tortures the viewer’s ears for most of the entire 80 minutes this video nasty runs. Featuring a world of K-Mart interiors in which virtually everyone is 10 pounds or more overweight, the body count in Ravage is as big and the blood flow as copious as most of the actors are corpulent. (Of course, I say this as someone living in Europe; by US standards everyone is probably “average”.)
The plot of Ravage follows a tried and true, cut and dry B-Movie scheme: Psycho kills Daddy’s kiddies in front of said parental figure, Daddy survives, killer gets away, killer comes back and kidnaps Daddy, Daddy gets away (somehow the fat new girlfriend does too), Daddy wants REVENGE. Tracking down someone he believes to be the killer, Daddy goes to Chicago and promptly stumbles upon Samuel, the leader of some multi-violent religion complete with a flock of blood thirsty and dedicated murderers. Then, suddenly, surprise!!! Unknown to everyone, Samuel has an equally crazy twin brother, the real killer of Daddy’s family, who finally shows up on the scene, burnt face and all, with a long, blood-gushing trail of mayhem behind him. The fists get swung and the bullets fly and the blood explodes and gets spit everywhere before everyone but Daddy dies—finally. But is Daddy now a psycho too? Well, the sequel—if there ever is one—will answer that question.
Ronnie Sorter, the writer and director of Ravage, claims that having seen too many lousy low-budget trash films, he decided that he could do better himself, and, along with friend Todd Reynolds, began to do so. Knowing that this film is their third completed feature production, one is almost forced to respect their ambition and drive, even if the film itself never even reaches B-Movie status but instead grovels around Z-level. In all truth, though, Ravage is probably not that much different from the very trash that inspired Sorter to make films in the first place—only with a lot less technical aptitude.
Without any of the humor (intended or otherwise) and endearing ineptitude of such master trash film makers of yesteryear and today, be it Ed Wood Jr., Al Adamson, Fred Olen Ray or Michael Bay, Ravage is also much too new (and badly shot) to have the nostalgic patina of past tastelessness caught on film that render so many filmic atrocities of yesteryear so enjoyable to watch. True, the film does feature an enjoyable police station shoot out and buckets of buckets of buckets of blood, but when watching the film, one can’t help but think that people with talent and no money make something like Glen or Glenda (1953/trailer), Night of the Living Dead (1968/trailer), Two Thousand Maniacs (1964/trailer), Pink Flamingos (1972/trailer) or Street Trash (1987/trailer), while people with no talent and no money make something like Ravage.

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