You know? Sometimes it’s pretty tough writing about movies. I know, I know. I can hear the world’s smallest violin playing my song as I type but hold up. I think you’ll understand. It’s a little like when you’re out to dinner and you have a couple of different courses to eat. You’ve got a vegetable and something else. I don’t know. Rice. Sure. You’re eating the rice right after you eat the vegetable and in the rice, you swear you can taste the vegetable. Whatever the veggie is, it’s influencing the taste of the rice. Maybe it’s an unpleasant combination, maybe they go great together. Who knows but I think you get my drift. The last movie I saw was Inception. Drawing comparisons to my metaphor, reviewing The Diamonds of Metro Valley after watching Inception is like taking a big pull off a Slurpee right after you eat lobster. A good reviewer would compartmentalize the movies they see and write about them as entirely different entities in an impartial manner. I’m going to attempt this because after all, I’m just some schlub with a website and nothing makes me actually qualified to write about movies. Just know this: Inception is the movie of the year, if not the movie of the last fucking decade. It just doesn’t get much better than that. If The Diamonds of Metro Valley were a Slurpee, though, it would be one of those blue Mountain Dew ones. The ones that taste fucking awesome no matter what you put them up against.
Seems like I last wrote about The Diamonds of Metro Valley a long time ago and my last reportage said that they were putting the finishing touches on post-production. Well, that was, like, a year ago and the film is just now being released. You have to cut these folks some slack. A picture like Diamonds comes along only once in a while and it’s going to be up to the internet to get the word spread about it because it’s novel, it’s fun and it’s the sort of picture that ought to be inspirational to filmmakers moaning about the cost of making a movie. Read on and I’ll explain what I’m talking about.
Dr. Price is a brilliant scientist with a couple of nasty black marks on his resume. He has an experimental weapon that crosses cybernetics with lizard biology in the form of RONALD, a super strong bipedal lizard capable of growing to great heights or shrinking to palm-size for convenient storage and containment. He also has a pretty serious drug problem. A drug problem that Metro Valley crime lord, Jonas Caine is only more than happy to fuel in exchange for the use of RONALD in a heist to steal the ancestral diamonds of the Sagawa Yakuza clan. Obviously, the cops are going to try and stop the heist, Caine is going to try and steal the diamonds, and it culminates in a brand of mayhem and a car chase that I am comfortable claiming have never been seen before. Also, the mayor of Metro Valley is a stuffed ape in a suit.
The Diamonds of Metro Valley, from director Aaron Arendt and writer, Mary McIlwain, was produced, allegedly, on zero dollars. It’s a top to bottom green screen flick crammed with style and ingenuity. Making a movie is an expensive undertaking no matter how you slice it but making a movie that’s heavy on special effects, even cheap ones, is next to impossible. Diamonds wears its shortcomings on its sleeve and it becomes a part of the charming tapestry as everything gets lost in one big anachronism. The general vibe of the picture feels like it takes place in some Glenn A. Larson picture of the future but produced in the 70’s with a funky soundtrack to match. It’s a high gloss crime movie and heist caper filtered through the lens of Sid and Marty Krofft. If it weren’t for the mild sexy factor and Caine’s disco strippers grinding around with dildo guns, this might have made the rounds on Saturday morning circa 1978.
But is it good, you’re asking? Good is a subjective term and often what I deem to be good, people with a higher standard for good condemn to the pits of bargain basements. The Diamonds of Metro Valley is fun in spite of its often glaringly obvious production flaws. This is an ambitious feature that throws caution to the wind and inexplicably tosses crazy ideas at you, expecting you, the viewer, to just accept them and roll with it. Contributing to the madness is a wildly original set of models that look distinctly like Frankenstein model kits of cars. Everything is characterized by very plastic-looking vehicles sporting multiple sets of wheels and bristling with weapons. The action culminates in a fantastic chase sequence that brings to mind the insanity of the final Gone In 60 Seconds chase, but where Gone In 60 Seconds is plagued by an agonizing story while waiting for something awesome to happen, The Diamonds Of Metro Valley keeps you hanging around with high-weirdness until the very end.
The Diamonds of Metro Valley is one of the strangest experiments in micro-budget filmmaking I’ve ever seen. It’s a barrage of weird ideas and silliness poking up out of a gritty, grimy crime story of retro-future Los Angeles. It’s funny. It’s goofy and it seems like it was conceived and shot over a long, drawn out sesh of bong rips and mushrooms. Yet, everything about it is functional and a roadmap for how to make a genre movie on no money. If you’ve been sitting around with a script, trying to figure out how to raise the money to shoot it, you’re doing it wrong and The Diamonds of Metro Valley did it right. The end result seems like they don’t care if you’re on board or not, they had a blast making it and that counts for an awful lot.
Since I usually point out where to buy this stuff if it’s available at Amazon, go over here and buy the god damn movie.