poster via wrongsideoftheart
Here in Savannah, we have the distinct luxury of being home to the long-running Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah that screens rare/campy/foreign/crappy/amazing/cult films every week (sometimes a couple times a week). I'm going to try and start coinciding reviews with the screenings, but don't hold me to that. Seriously, don't be a dick.
Anyways, this week's gem is the Willard-esque romp Stanley, except replace Bruce Davison (or Crispin Glover) with Chris Robinson and replace a rat named Ben with a rattlesnake named Stanley. Also replace quality with poops. I think this film fits in nicely with the last review, Curse II (and former PFS screening as a matter of fact) since it has snakes. Also snakes are pretty sweet.
IMDB says this script was started and finished over the course of the weekend and the shoot itself was twenty days, and frankly I'm surprised either took that long. It doesn't play out that way on screen anyways. Oh wait, I forgot about lunch and bathroom breaks. So yeah, twenty days.
The story follows Vietnam vet Tim (a Seminole) that lives alone out in the Everglades with his pet snakes, his favorite of which being Stanley. Things start out simply enough with him just being a weirdo cat lady-like dude with snakes. But over the course of the movie, he starts to lose it when people beat up on his snakes and he learns the truth about how his dad died. Then he releases his inner slitherin and starts getting his snakes to kill people, kidnaps and rapes one of his victim's daughter (though she's ok with it at first), and then Stanley turns on him. At this point, I realized, Tim isn't crazy! Stanley DOES understand and think and make decisions, WTF! Before it just about a mentally unstable veteran man-handling his snake (tee hee). But now we see that he wasn't totally nuts. Before this it wasn't completely clear that Stanley was a rational snake, but only biting in self-defense like any aggravated rattlesnake might do. So yeah, Stanley starts biting the shit out of Tim when he realizes TIm's lost it. And then Tim gets all burned up in his cabin and the girl runs out and Stanley presumably as well.
So let me say, while I did like aspects of the film, like the weirdo placement of the music, the great Alex Rocco, and the whole oddball portrayal by Chris Robinson, the movie draaaaaaaaaggsss. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me, but seriously, it takes some time to get going and when it does, it goes no faster than a brisk early morning mall walk. And it was harder to watch the snake deaths than I thought. Dudes seriously pound on some snakes. Robinson slams 'em around at the end for real and one gets its head blown off by a shot gun. In the end though, the pros outweigh the cons and the film's moments, when it has them, are pretty great—Tim burying his snakes in tiny graves with tiny crosses, anyone?
Director William Grefe is probably recognizable to many of you guys from Mako: The Jaws of Death and Wild Rebels. According to IMDB, he still has the snakeskin vest Rocco wears in his opening scene. It did rule pretty hard. The dvd has a couple commentaries from Grefe and his screenwriter, Gary Crutcher, and the only reason I'd be interested in them is to hear what the hell they were thinking. And if anyone got bit during production. And why it took them a weekend + twenty days when the production values suggest it was no longer than a coke-binged weekend.
You can grab Stanley from Amazonor Netflix. And if anyone can find the tracks from this film by Jack Vino, please let me know, they are a laugh riot!