Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Road to Hell is Lined With Feeders

In case you hadn’t guess from the peppermint scented sewage dripping out of the Doll’s House, I’ve been devoting the month Christmas horror movies that have by some miracle on 34th street completely evaded my eyes in past years. It hasn’t been easy (why Santa Claws , why?) but the randomly wrapped diamonds in the rough (may your days be merry and bright Harry Stadling ) and the festive support of you dear readers has made it worthwhile.
And then I watch something like Feeders and its sequel, Feeders 2: Slay Bells, and wonder just exactly what is wrong with me and the world I live in.

Quick Plot:
We’ll start with Feeders, a 1996 shot-on-video alien invasion film about two friends who go hiking in the wilds of Pennsylvania and encounter paper mache Martians. Before this happens, we’re subject to lots of driving and a vaguely Peanuts-esque musical score to guide our way. The characters are played by co-directors Jon McBride and John Polonia, and I suppose the nicest thing I can say is that they’re equally good at performing as they are at making movies.
No, that’s not a compliment at all, because Feeders is insanely awful.
The guys hike. At a gas stop, Polonia’s Bennett arranges dates with a pair of single ladies who make your average school lunchlady look like Charlize Theron, much to the chagrin of the nature loving Derek (McBride), who’d rather take photos with what resembles a secret water squirting prop camera. You can’t really blame him.
At some point, the synthesizer hits pause to let in the growls of angry puppies, aka our main villains. Blood is spilled. Derek must make a fateful decision. Polonia gets to play possessed. The credits roll and we breathe a pained sight of relief.
Rather than flush the DVD down the toilet like the filmmakers did 68 minutes earlier with my spirit, masochists like me then return to the menu for the long awaited (by those nearing suicide but in need of an extra push) sequel from 1998.
Feeders 2: Slay Bells takes the petite carnivores into the holiday season as they stalk an unattractive and unlikable family bearing a creepy resemblance to Billy Pilgrim’s wife and kids in the film adaptation of Slaughterhouse Five. The aliens have received something of a makeover, looking a little slimmer, smaller headed, and much grayer. I’m fairly certain there’s a very rational explanation for this, such as the props were stored in a damp closet and this is simply what they look like water damaged. 

Anyway, Dad’s churning out a Bob Cratchit like existence and Mom’s honing her parenting skills by making her cute kids abandon imagination-enhancing games of make believe to sit in front of the TV and watch public domain cartoons. After what seems like eternity in a vacuum, the arts & crafts aliens break into the heavily decorated home and...growl. Dad investigates. We get randomly placed interviews with “special guest star” Jon McBride, reprising his role in Feeders by recounting exactly what happened in that complex and riveting film. Santa Claus shows up to conquer the Martians  and, by default, prove that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is nowhere near the worst film ever made when this production company has at least 20 more to choose from.
I was all set to give a full disclaimer about the Feeders series being low budget indies made by well-intentioned amateurs, but then I did some IMDBing and learned that this was their sixth film. A Wikipedia entry mired with typos informed me that the Polonia Brothers and McBride (he of Woodchipper Massacre fame) had become something of a success amongst the direct-to-video renting Blockbuster crowd. 

This proves once again that Blockbuster may indeed by run by exiled demons of hell.
I try not to allow myself to fully hate any independent do-it-yourself movie because filmmaking on a nonexistent budget is a challenge only the bravely dedicated can possibly complete. I’ll give my token congratulations to McBride and the Polonia Bros. (total twin power who directed Slay Bells), but I’ll also confidently proclaim these movies to be, without question,  an experience less pleasant than watching a retirement home’s theatrical adaptation of Showgirls.
High Points
The DVD extras show that the filmmakers had enthusiasm. So, you know...good for them
Low Points
See review
Lessons Learned
If you want to make an audience truly uncomfortable, be sure to feature extreme closeups of unattractive actors in your film

Puppets do not require mouths to chew through human flesh
When your only special effect is to insert the time of day in bold print at the bottom of a shot, you might as well utilize it as often as possible. 
Violently aggressive aliens are coming to earth for the sole purpose of stalking a single lower middle class family

Winning Line
“It was too surreal to be a dream. but too unreal to be believable.”
This is actually kind of tragic, as it reveals the writers aren’t even creative in their dreams.
No. Just no. For the love of all lovably bad cinema that actually deserves a watch (Don’t Open Til Christmas  never looked so good), avoid this movie or use the DVD for something far more productive, like making a disco beret for your cat.

*DVD pictured is not from Netflix, as no matter how much I want to spare others from the Feeders fate, I could still never bring myself to destroy a film. Nope. That’s just my overly scratched and now unwatchable copy of Love Actually.
Yes, believe it or not, I do occasionally watch Christmas films that have an IMDB rating of greater than 2.


  1. I usually love incredibly low budget, shot on video movies from the 90's, but I trust your opinion since it is often similar to mine, so I'll stay away from this one and watch some other shitty horror movie. There's plenty to choose from!

    And I don't think even an old lady could have a butt as flat as Jesse Spano!

  2. There's definitely a difference between so-bad-it's-good and just plain terrible. I find it almost impossible to enjoy a film that I could have made myself at the age of 11. I would say the only reason to watch it is either a) you've lost a bet or b) you really want to have some fun writing a review.

    And true, Spano's butt is rather one dimensional (unless her acting, which is 3D to the point of punching you in the face), but no senior citizen could THRUST! with quite the same level of enthusiasm as Nomi Malone.

  3. oh man a showgirls adaptation at a nursing home...i might make that with my new camera!

    p.s. well done on the beret for joplin, well done.

  4. Thanks fellow Intravia. I was impressed with Joplin's natural modeling abilities. Maybe she can play Nomi's ill-fated roommate in your Showgirls adaptation. Or at least be the stunt double for some sweet old lady not looking forward to getting beaten and raped.

  5. Wow I've never hear of this flick, and I think I know why. It doesn't seem to have a bad/good quality so I think I'll skip it.

    It's too bad your copy of Love Actually is scratched and unwatchable. I love that film, and I've been tempted to review it. Yet I'm trying to cling to the meager amount of "genre street cred" I have.

  6. I had heard legendary things about Woodchipper Massacre, but nothing about these two. I rented it solely based on the fact that I was running low on xmas movies, and having seen this, I may switch over to Hanukkah very soon. I don't think I'll be revisiting the Polonia Bros' anytime soon, but check out their kind of hysterical Wikipedia page for more info:

    And yes, Love Actually is one of the most enjoyable films made in the last ten years, genre be damned! I too could go on and on about why I love it: the opening airport scene, Emma Thompson making a bed, the Wisconsin bar, the octopus at the xmas pageant...Plus I'm a softee for any movie that features the vocal chords of Alan Rickman, even if he is playing something of a jerk.

    Needless to say, you will have one unalienated reader should you delve into Britain's biggest love story!

  7. Glad to know someone else likes that flick. I catch lots of crap from my friends for liking it. I think my favorite part is Colin Firth and his maid. One of the best love stories ever.

  8. I commend your tenacity for suffering through films like these (and a double feature at that!) so that others like myself can spare our retinas. Also I've learned that bad movies can be turned into fun and fashionable accessories for cats! Who knew?

    And one last thing I'll add - I am a hater when it comes to romantic comedies most of the time but Love Actually rocks! Colin Firth is dreamy, Hugh Grant is his usual charming self, and Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman can be in any movie I'm watching any old time they feel like it.

  9. Thanks Lady F! It's funny because I was just up last night debating whether I should buy the two disc set of RObin Hood: Prince of Thieves. My biggest guilty pleasure of all time (I have far more shame admitting love for this film than I do Love Actually) but it does sometimes get a pass from others due to the incredibleness of Alan Rickman. If I could make love to one voice, his vocal chords would never leave my bed.

    And Bill Nighy is constantly battling Leslie Nielson for my ultimate senior citizen crush.

    On the front of watching these movies, I sometimes do worry that I have a serious addiction. But it has benefits, like toughening me up and making my cat more fashion forward, so I won't seek help just yet.

  10. I wholeheartedly support the buying of guilty pleasure movies, having recently purchased Road House on Blu-Ray. Because the combination of Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliot was just SCREAMING to be viewed in Hi-Def.

    When I saw the last Harry Potter movie, it struck me that Alan Rickman as Snape reminded me of Vincent Price - in his total committal to radiating eeeeeeevilness. The voice of buttah doesn't hurt either.

    P.S. I'd also add Ben Kingsley to the list of sexy AARP card-carrying members!

  11. I must confess to always harnessing a slight grudge against Kingsley due to his involvement with Gandhi, a film that robbed E.T. (one of my all-time faves) of the Best Picture Oscar. He has been aging quite well though, so I'll give you him as I circle Anthony Hopkins like the opposite of a cougar that I am.

    Now that you mentioned the Price connection, it's something of a shame that Rickman hasn't done more genre films. I suppose he tends to avoid those iconic villain roles after having mastered it so early in his career, but he'd make such a good narrator of a horror anthology!

    And Road House=AMAZING. Elliot is all sorts of sexy in his grizzled way, and the very concept of a philosophy spouting bouncer with mean roundhouse kicks sets my heart a flutter.

  12. I just watched Roadhouse during my post-Christmas celebration, and then immediately rewatched it with the Kevin Smith commentary. If you haven't listened to it, I highly recommend checking it out.

    PS And you're right - Sam Elliot IS all sorts of Sexy.

  13. I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas. I do enjoy the SMith commentary and could probably rewatch that on its own! I wonder if there's a Rifftrax version...