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This review is rated PG for “Pussy Gouging.”
Oh, wait. Sorry. I’m thinking of MR. FISTER, one of two clever ‘previews of coming attractions’ that kick off Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon’s inaugural short film release DOLL BOY (2010)...
First on the menu: cannibalistic clowns in CIRCUS OF THE DEAD followed by HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN trailer contest entry MR. FISTER. Although he did not take the prize, it is without question that Pon is well versed in all the essential content and technical elements needed to create a great grindhouse trailer. You know the drill: loads of ridiculous dialogue, absurd comical gore, fake film grain, and the ever-present repetition of the film's title.
Despite two impressive trailers I remained a tad skeptical. Sure, "Bloody Bill" is creating well crafted imitation, but will his short feature also rely on imitation or will it bring something fresh to the table? I try hard not to be pessimistic but you know, as well as I do, the insane amount of uninspired crap we watch trying to find that rare bloody gem.
It turns out those two make-you-laugh-because-they-are-so-outrageous trailers are actually Bloody Bill doing the audience a favor in giving the viewer something fun to laugh at before dropping us into good ol’ Texas. You know, the kind of Texas that feels like a massacre happened a couple decades ago? Leatherface and Co. may be long gone but Doll Boy (an egg shaped demented Tweedledee with a sledgehammer played by Sergio Gracida) and partner in crime Noodledome the clown (Ryan Clapp) have set up shop. Let me say now, if you didn’t have a fear of clowns before, you might have a change of heart after this.
Within the first few moments, DOLL BOY establishes an eerie claustrophobic atmosphere. Jerry Jeff Walker’s country song “Redneck Mother” plays from inside a beat up yellow cargo van:
“He’s not responsible for what he’s doin’, his mother made him what he is…..”
The dirty white frill gloves on the steering wheel and a quick glace through the rear view mirror reveal a large man in clown makeup. To passers by the van looks normal - maybe this clown is just on his way home from a children’s party? The weather outside looks beautiful and the sun is shining, but the confines of the van reveal a different story, one of disturbing squalor and sinister intentions. We see a horde of fast food wrappers, a hand gun, a lunchbox filled with doll heads and skulls, and sharp metal trinkets adorn this scum shack on wheels.
The music stops and the van backs up [beep beep beep] in front of what looks like a big warehouse. Noodledome gets out of the drivers seat, walks around back and throws open the rear end of the vehicle revealing a group of a kidnapped strangers, trying to scream through the duct tape over their mouths. He grabs each one, throwing them inside the mysterious building. A baby girl inside the van is crying and trying to keep her balance as her mother is ripped away and taken inside. As the baby stands in the back of the van trying to reach out for help, the clown makes a big happy face, waves goodbye at her, and slams the van door closed. We hear the piercing shrieks of the baby girl over the title card: DOLL BOY.
Unlike most slasher films that take place in the woods or some other secluded place, these strangers are inside what we learn is an old abandoned flea market smack damn in the middle of civilization, yet their screams go unheard. Tiny hints of daylight stream through cracks in the walls, and though daylight is usually a sign of hope, this daylight is more taunting and cruel.
The slasher plot is not revolutionary, we have a killer, we have victims, and we know the killer is going to chase down the victims one by one. What makes DOLL BOY so special and creeptastic is the way sound is utilized to create a bizarre and frightening universe. There is only one song in the whole film, the above mentioned “Red Neck Mother” which is oh so fitting, as we all know the momma had something to do with the killer’s maladjustment. The rest of the sound is heavily intertwined with the haunting warehouse setting. We hear soft echos of children laughing, violent screams, old projectors play black and white Mickey Mouse clown cartoons, parade music spins on a record player, and rotting dolls squeak when squeezed (or stepped on, giving away your hiding place). Even the sound of a rusty nail hitting the floor is pristine. The set is haunting: clown head flashlights, dead dolls (some dolls, and some dead children), snakes in jars, expired evaporated milk and rat poison on decrepit shelves. There is palpable sound to this space without needing to use much sound at all. I wish Pon had relied solely on these sort of natural sounds and taken out the occasional ominous tones heard during kill scenes.
This level of artistic skill is rarely seen in a directorial debut. There had to be more to Bill “Bloody Bill” Pon then just another dude trying to make a slasher film, so I did some research (also known as internet stalking) and it quickly made perfect sense. DOLL BOY may be Bill's first short film, but he has one hell of a background in scaring the crap out of horror fans. Since 1998 Pon has been terrifying people via his yearly Texas horror attractions know as “Def Con 1” and “Circus of the Dead.” Does the latter Sound familiar? “Circus of the Dead” was not only the name of the first "faux" trailer, but as further Internet stalking revealed, may in fact be the title of a DOLL BOY feature film. Can you say, "hell to the yeah?!"
Bloody Bill has a goal: to bring fresh meat to a genre stuck in a sludge of remakes. Horror fans everywhere should thank him. In fact, don’t even wait till you see the movie, just thank him. You will be glad you did once you purchase his DVD.
Want to see the creepy for yourself? Head on down to Texas this October and step inside the "Def Con 1 Haunted Warehouse & Circus of the Dead: Murder Maze." Sure you will be able to purchase the DVD, but getting the opportunity to enter the freaky world of Doll Boy and Noodeldome promises even more excitement. One tip - you might wanna bring a safe word.
For more info on DOLL BOY and Pon's other projects, head to his official site HERE.
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