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cast: Misty Mundae, Julian Wells, Erika Smith, Caitlin Ross, and A.J. Khan

director: Brett Piper

89 minutes (R) 2006
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
ei Independent Cinema
NTSC DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
It doesn't take a genius to notice that horror is currently in style. Every week sees a new horror film arriving at the local multiplex and old classics are being re-made or re-released on DVD. The last time this happened, the 'horror' in question was 1980s' slasher films, but the success of Japanese horror and beautifully bleak western titles such as Wolf Creek, it would appear that the general public are slowly acquiring a taste for real horror movies. But what about all the films that are not considered classics - the ones that were a bit silly and a bit camp? What about real exploitation films? They're still out there too.

Shock-O-Rama is a sexploitation film with an impeccable pedigree. Misty Mundae (a doyenne of the modern exploitation scene) plays Rebecca Raven in this collection of short films held together by a postmodern and post-feminist plot about an exploitation actress falling out with her production company.

The three short films are low-budget gore-fests dealing with tiny aliens, pathetic zombies and evil scientists. The effects are cheap and cheerful but surprisingly effective and the women are all beautiful, permanently made up and always lounging about the place in lingerie and silky things when they're not taking their clothes off, being killed, or getting tongued by succubae.

The acting is as hit-and-miss as you would expect except for Mundae herself whose astonishingly naturalistic delivery and wonderfully foul mouth are undeniably the best things on screen here.

Shock-O-Rama is genre through and through, the little jokes (like Mundae saying "It's nice to get undressed without being filmed" whilst getting undressed whilst being filmed) that would completely destroy the atmosphere in a straight horror film here serve to heighten the atmosphere of fun and omni-directional silliness.

Your tolerance for this type of film is largely determined by how much irony you can bear. The short films aren't scary, but they aren't supposed to be. The effects aren't realistic, but they aren't supposed to be. The depiction of women is misogynistic, but it's supposed to be. Like the Scream films of the 1990s, Shock-O-Rama effectively parodies a certain genre whilst lovingly making a film that's part of that genre.

If you can take a film that has more irony than a Ricky Gervais routine, you will be delighted by Shock-O-Rama. Not a film to be taken seriously or enjoyed alone, this is silly escapism at its very best. Invite some friends round, have a few beers and laugh like drains.

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