My biggest problem with a large portion of modern-day B-movies, if I may be so bold, is their penchant for unchecked, misplaced arrogance. Before you start overloading your limited synapses with several cubic tons of anger and rage, allow me to explain. The cult classic is, by definition, a piece of work which has gained a small yet loyal following over an extended period of time. Just because your low-budget, mom-and-pop financed horror epic starring your girlfriend and her cousins falls within the cult film spectrum does not necessarily mean that it’s a bonafide classic right out of the box. Distributors often use this terminology to lure in unsuspecting buyers, teasing them with press quotes which name check superior films in hopes that someone — nay, anyone — will drop the wrinkled bills to bring them home forever. You might be peddling a big bucket of bullshit to a room full of quaking fecalphobics if you claim this has never happened to you.
Besides, how can a film be a “cult classic” if virtually no one has watched it?
Such is the case with podunk director Brett Piper — also known as the Michael Bay of low-budget schlock — whose only major contribution to the cult movie cause is the 1991Troma-esque cheesefest A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (aka Dark Fortress). The man’s latest release, the Shock-O-Rama distributed Drainiac , is a perfect example of why most B-grade directors and their respective handlers rub me the wrong way: Situated prominently on the back of the DVD case is a grossly misleading statement which declares this moldy slice of lukewarm cinema as a “traditional FX and stop-motion animation cult classic.” If this is what cult classics have become, please allow me to vomit profusely onto my well-worn copy of Dolemite.
Here’s the setup: Julie Ashbrook (Georgia Hatzis) and her numbskull friends are attempting to clean out one of her abusive father’s latest real estate acquisitions when they suddenly discover they’re not alone within this sorry excuse for a financial investment. Zipping around violently inside the home’s caustic plumbing system is some sort of ancient evil, a constantly-morphing flesh-eating monstrosity which has the uncanny ability to castrate would-be rapists and swallow second-hand automobiles in one solid gulp. Can these ever-bickering paper-thin characters escape their predicament without having their bowels removed from one of the many juicy openings on the human body? More importantly, will you stay awake long enough to view the insanely overblown finale for yourself?
If you’ve ever seen any of Brett Piper’s previous films, then you should be painfully aware of the man’s cinematic limitations. The glut of his productions are nothing more than cheap, second-rate horror flicks with just enough nudity, gore, and bargain basement special effects to assure that at least a few lonely white guys will rent and/or purchase his picture at some point during its shelf life. Drainiac is certainly no exception, though most will be overwhelmingly surprised by the overall lack of, well, anything remotely worthwhile sprinkled throughout the film’s slim 78-minute duration. Unless, of course, you consider a generic teenage girl’s strained relationship with her evil daddy to be the stuff of B-movie legend. I didn’t think so.
Surprisingly, Piper has assembled an astonishingly strong group of youngsters to handle the lukewarm material contained within his so-called script. The aforementioned Georgia Hatzis, as well as Alexandra Boylan, Ethan Krasnoo, and Samara Doucette , do wonders with their respective roles, but, to be perfectly fair, there’s really not much for any of them to accomplish. Philip Barbour — otherwise known as bearded exorcist Plummer (get it?) — also contributes a modest performance to the film, though his time on-screen doesn’t account for very much at all. However, nobody on God’s green booger is slapping this silly product into their DVD player to witness ground-shaking examples of high-quality acting or world-renowned slices of grade-A dialogue, are they?
Of course not. And that’s why Drainiac disappoints.
Technically speaking, the film is shockingly competent. Piper makes the most of his minuscule budget, utilizing various post-production techniques to accomplish shots which would have otherwise been impossible to achieve. The stop-motion animation, while crude, is reminiscent of the work found in Sam Raimi’s immortal classic Evil Dead, and occasionally works well given the circumstances. However, according to the glossy booklet which accompanies the DVD, Piper and colorist David Northrop spent months adding computer-enhanced effects to what they considered to be an incomplete production. These additions are obvious to anyone who has spent any amount of time in an editing room, and actually contribute very little to the film’s overall impact.
Let’s do the math, shall we? A tiny cluster of rudimentary kills plus one or two moments of pseudo-erotica plus several cheap special effects certainly do not add up to a full-blown “cult classic.” Drainiac is yet another no-budget horror opus dressed in pretty clothes by a distributor who knows exactly how to make celluloid bowel movements seem appealing in a competitive marketplace. Design a clever cover, slap a few ads here and there, send out a handful of screeners to morons like me and wait for the proverbial pennies to trickle ever so slowly into the company bank account. That’s all fine and dandy, and I’m sure Brett Piper has a strong following amongst those who thrive on flea market thrills and microbudget chills. Just don’t refer to your movie as a “cult classic” when, in fact, no one but yourself believes the hype. I, for one, simply cannot recommend it.
However, if for some bizarre reason you’re still interested in picking up a copy for yourself, Drianiac will hit retail shelves on June 24th.