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May 2011

Melvin

cast: Patrick O'Driscoll, Leif Fuller, Lilly Maher, and Yonathan Schultz

director: Henry Weintraub

62 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Chemical Burn NTSC DVD Region 1

RATING: 6/10
review by Mark West

Melvin

Your enjoyment of this film is going to depend, completely and utterly, on your tolerance for ultra-low budget films (the IMDb says it cost $1,000, but I'd say that was a bit generous), with all the foibles that entails. For my part, having dabbled in this area a few times myself, I loved it.

Melvin (Leif Fuller, who is also the film's cinematographer) is a geek, put upon by just about everyone and accidentally killed by three bullies - Trash (Yonathan Schultz), Spit (Ben Chinburg), and Knuckles (Hudson Hongo). Three years later, those same bullies are now persecuting Norton (Patrick O'Driscoll) and his only friend is Wendy (Lilly Maher), sister of Melvin. One night, Norton is taking a shortcut through the cemetery when a zombified Melvin attacks him and bites him, turning Norton into a zombie-by-night avenger to take out everyone who was horrible to each of them. With that simple set-up, it's a case of despatching the bad guys - the overbearing college teacher, Wendy's abusive boyfriend and, finally, the bullies.

This film isn't technically perfect, not by a long shot - it's not altogether cohesive, it doesn't have a plot that thrums like a well-tuned engine, some of the acting is a bit wooden - but that's not the point. It is good fun - the gore scenes are brilliant, the make-up is surprisingly good and the locations are well-chosen and well-used - and you can tell that everyone behind the camera (most of whom appear on-camera at some point) is having a great time.

Shot on digital, the night scenes are as grainy as you would expect but, in daylight, the image is clear and concise. Although perfectly lip-synced, the soundtrack sounds over-dubbed (though you see a boom operator in the making-of) and the lack of sound effects (drawers open and close silently) would back this up. This film isn't going to win awards, it might even struggle to make its money back, but it is well worth a watch (and only runs for 62 minutes), because you can see that there's a real passion behind it.

As a bonus, the film that both Melvin and Norton watch - 'Night Of The Driller' - has a full trailer here, which is shown in the end credits. There were two extras on my screener copy of Melvin: another (slightly longer) trailer for 'Night Of The Driller', and a 38-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which is basically camcorder footage of the cast and crew setting up shots and appearing to have a good time.



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