Hills and Hollers: Movie Review


I have long been a proponent of sub-B movies.  It wasn’t long ago I praised Don Dohler’s “classic” Galaxy Invader, an objectively terrible movie that is fun precisely because of its low-budget terribleness.  But there’s an earnestness and love for the material that is really fun to watch.

It’s also impossible to think of sub-B movies and not think of Ed Woods’ entire career.  Plan 9 From Outer Space is the easiest to reference (mainly because it’s the one I’ve seen the most), full of swaying tombstones and terrible acting and a nonsensical plot and all matter of other shenanigans.

plan_9That’s not to say that all sub-B movies are terrible.  When I think about no-budget movies, the zombie movie Colin comes to mind.  It was made for less than $200, and it shows, but it’s a terrific movie that offers a different look at the zombie genre.  It may be cheap, but it’s lovely and sweet and heartbreaking and terrific, provided you can get past some of the sound/lighting/acting limitations.

colinOne thing all of those movies have in common is a love for the genre, and an honest desire to make a good movie, even if there isn’t enough money to throw a glossy coat of paint over it.  A filmmaker is a filmmaker, regardless of how much money they have.

Night of the Living Dead.  Halloween.  Evil Dead.  The Blair Witch Project.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  Manos: The Hands of Fate.  Basket Case.  It’s Alive.  The Stuff.  Chopping Mall.  Midnight Movie.  Motel Hell.  Sleepaway Camp.  Anything Troma puts out.  Horror has a long-standing history with low-to-no budget movies.  Every movie I just listed is enjoyable, if not always for the same reason.

motel-hell-pigMade on a budget of $5,000, Hills and Hollers certainly fits into the no-budget category.  The production values are low, but there is a charm and love that is present every step of the way.

hills-frank-and-patriciaWe start off the movie with a wannabe rock star and his gum-snapping girlfriend as they wind their way through Indiana backroads.  Even before they encounter a leering creep in a gas station parking lot, we know how their story ends: quickly and with guts strewn on the blade of a chainsaw.  They’re the cannon fodder to whet our appetite, and I was not the least bit sorry to see them go.

For the rest of the movie, we follow around Frank and Patricia, a newly pregnant couple just trying to make their way in the world.  And also to escape from a gang of silent, backwoods psychopaths with a love of power tools.

I had actually come up with names for each of these psychopaths, only to find out that they already had names.  I will say that their actual names were better than my made-up names, but only slightly.  I have a very high opinion of my ability to name masked killers.  Everyone has a gift.

This is by no means a great movie.  The budget is low, the action is slow and there is a 5+ minute scene of our heroes talking about the rules to a card game.  (Considering the movie has a run time of slightly less than an hour, that card scene really sticks out.)


No, it’s not great.  But, provided you’re in the right mindset, it can be a ton of fun.  I loved the villains as they trudged through the forest in their makeshift killing clothes.  I loved the man who kept using his blowtorch on every rock and plant he passed.  I loved how Frank had a couple scenes where he spouted action movie clichés.  I loved the look of entrails draped over a chainsaw.  I loved how the washed-up rocker guy wandered a solid 200 yards from his car to urinate, allowing him to be killed without alerting his girlfriend.  I loved the deaths (particularly the final one).  I loved the scenes of Frank and Patricia eluding their captors through the hills of Indiana, with the fall leaves fresh on the ground.  I loved it all.

Throw on Hills and Hollers and embrace the low budget nature.  You’ll be glad you did.

Dinner: Movie Review

Dinner is a short film written and directed by the very talented Aleksandra Svetlichnaya.

It’s fun and short and you can watch the entire thing below.  Make sure you give her a follow on Twitter as well.

Dinner follows Dylan as she walks through a deserted town filled with chain-link fences and burned out buildings.  She’s on her way to a date, but there may be something sinister lurking in the shadows.  Every glance over her shoulder could reveal something dark advancing towards her.  Every turn down an abandoned street could be filled with monsters.

I don’t want to give away too much – clocking in at 12 minutes, I could spoil the twists and turns simply by synopsizing it – so I’ll stop.

I really enjoyed this short film.  The term “no budget” was thrown out by Aleksandra, and that’s exactly true, but the lack of a budget doesn’t mean there’s a lack of style or substance.  The opening scene of Dylan walking down the street – in glorious black and white, no less – is stunning, creepy and filled with tension.
The lack of budget doesn’t even really show up with the make-up.  The monsters look great.
It does show up a bit in the fight scenes, but that’s because “no budget” means it’s hard to make it look like you’re burying an axe in someone’s skull without actually doing it.  The fact that some of these actors weren’t willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a movie really makes me question their commitment.

Dinner is a really fun short film, featuring a leading lady I would gladly have on my side in any kind of scrap.  And by “scrap” I mean “me hiding behind something while she kicks everyone in the face and tells me when it’s safe to come out.”  Man, Dylan is the best.

Watch this movie.