2014 NOTE: THIS IS AN UPDATE. MY ORIGINAL REVIEW IS BELOW, AS WELL AS NEW INFORMATION. THE FILM IS AVAILABLE NOW ON DVD FROM SCOTCHWORTHY PROCUTIONS.
Director: Tony Wash
Screenplay: Johnny 5, Tony Wash
Screenplay: Johnny 5, Tony Wash
Burke: Kevin Zaideman
#32: Kendyl Lynch
Dr. Bucher: Chad Meyer
Creature: Adam Stephenson
Herr Schnitt: Steven James Price
Pvt. David Jesser: Doug Heiar
Rosche: Tony Lee Gratz
Creature: James Barbee
Sgt. Draper: Kyle Anthony Silviera
You may think you aren’t interested in seeing yet one more Nazi zombie movie. You would be wrong. “A Chance in Hell” premiered recently in St. Charles to a very enthusiastic crowd. It is a 30 minute short film, produced, directed and co-written by Tony Wash. Think zombies, throw in a bit of “Aliens” and “Dog Soldiers”, a smidgen of “A Bridge Too Far”, and maybe just a pinch of “Assault on Precinct 13”. Not that this one is imitating any of those films. This is an original story, but there is a tip of the hat here and there, and that’s not a bad thing.
Filmed in Illinois, it is set sometime during WWII but in which country is not certain. It could be taking place in Germany or any of the German occupied areas. After a few brief scenes which set up the plot, we are thrown into the middle of the action. We are suddenly with a squad of GIs who are fighting their way through a building overrun with the hideous results of an insane experiment.
The actors are all fine. Chad Meyer portrays Dr. Bucher, the mad Nazi scientist who shows us not only the banality of evil but its casual callousness as well. Mr. Meyer speaks the German dialog with a very decent German accent. This character’s motivations are not clear, however that is something else that I am sure would be expanded upon in a longer film. Kendyl Lynch is remarkable as the young concentration camp prisoner who is his first victim, at least the first one we see. The silver lining in her cloud is that she is able to exact some nice, bloody revenge on her tormentors.
I enjoyed the use of color in this film. Most of the movie looks almost black and white due to the muted color scheme. Green, brown and even white look washed out and dismal which fit the bleak atmosphere of the location. It all feels real even while it looks somewhat unreal. This almost monochrome palette makes one color pop out – red. It is used to identify what is evil or frightening - the red of the Third Reich’s flag, blood of course, and even the candy which is given to the little girl before the torture begins.
And what of the zombies? They are very nasty brutes indeed. The make up job is excellent and we are shown enough of each grisly visage to be properly horrified, but the camera does not linger so long that we could pick out any (possible) flaws. Mr. Wash is a smart director who knows to show us enough but not too much.
We are left with a lot of questions however. What was the point of this experiment? Is the scientist obeying orders, or is he a rogue nutcase running amok just as the Allies are advancing and the dreams of the ‘Thousand Year Reich’ are dying? What was the GIs’ mission? Were they after this guy? Were they expecting what they found? Who are these men? We see them just long enough to want to know more about them. Obviously with the time constraint of the format there is a lot of room for the writers/director to expand the plot into a feature-length film.
The idea behind this was to produce a short film in order to encourage funding for a feature length version. As it is now, “A Chance in Hell” can stand on its own as a short. It makes me think about how nice it would be sometimes to go to the movies and see a short along with the feature film. However, I for one am looking forward eagerly to the complete, finished product. I have seen just enough delicious horror to whet my appetite for a lot more.
“Open House” is the title of another Tony Wash horror/comedy short which premiered on the same evening. It tells the story of one very unlucky real estate agent who attempts to prepare a house for showing. There is always something very creepy about a completely empty house, even in the middle of the day. But it is especially unnerving when there are strange noises and smells emanating from the basement. She hires one very, very unlucky exterminator to venture downstairs and check it out. What he finds appears to be very large, slimy and bad tempered. Oh well, one less agent and one less exterminator in the world.
And one other thing, if you will indulge me. Here is a little female perspective/reality check, and after all, isn’t that what I’m here for? No one, and I mean no one would be wearing that cute little suit she has on and be on her knees scrubbing the floor. A monster in the basement I can buy, no problem. But vacuuming in heels? No way. But when the camera goes from the floor looking up at her and climbs up her legs, it’s obvious why the director made this decision. And I’m sure most if not all of the men in the audience appreciated this aesthetic choice. But, I stand by my statement….vacuuming in heels, no way. Not a chance in hell, in fact.
Several previews were shown at this premier also: “Souls of Mischief”, a film by Bennie Woodell of “Fast Zombies with Guns” fame, which stars Will Cummings III also of FZWG; “Check Please”, a comedy; “The Grocery”; and “The Sad Café” another Bennie Woodell effort.
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