FILM REVIEW: BUNNYMAN : GRINDHOUSE EDITION
4/20 where I live (Denver) is such a big deal, it’s almost easy to forget that it’s also Easter weekend. Personally, I love holiday horror films and I’m always looking for the next big thing. Needless to say, when BUNNYMAN: GRINDHOUSE EDITION made its way to my inbox, I was pretty stoked. Though, I tend to be a bit critical of grindhouse inspired films, but hey, that’s the job right?
Full disclosure, BUNNYMAN:GRINDHOUSE EDITION is a re-issue of the 2011 film BUNNYMAN. According to the press release, this “new” version has been re-edited, with added footage and special effects in order to provide a truer version of what director Carl Lindbergh had always intended. I did see the original all those years ago, but my recall of it was more than a bit hazy. There are also two sequels that I have not seen. I just went into this new edition as fresh as possible, and overall, it definitely had its moments. It’s a fun little romp into exploitation territory…when it isn’t getting in its own way.
BUNNYMAN:GRINDHOUSE EDITION is a pretty straightforward exploitation film with little in the way of substance. In the world of grindhouse cinema, that statement isn’t in and of itself an insult. In fact, some auteurs may consider that a compliment! The plot can be summed up in a sentence or two. Several “teens” led by John and Rachel (Matthew Albrecht & Cheryl Texiera) are on a road trip when they run afoul of an ominous truck driver wearing a bunny suit (Carl Lindbergh). This masked psycho seems to kill anyone in his path, almost indiscriminately. As the “teens” attempt to outrun and outwit this murderous maniac, they come across various types of backwoods yokels. It’s a page taken straight out THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE playbook. Some of these country folks are in on the killing, and some just consist of chewing tobacco, sexism, and stereotypes. Get the picture? Also, I put teens in quotations, as these folks are clearly in there late 20’s or early 30’s.
If you’re still reading, that means that these things may appeal to you. I will say that most of it is actually quite funny and enjoyable. The kills/gore are on point…just the right amount of schlock and silliness. The acting is predictably bad and good, blurring the line of the director’s intention. The musical score (Peter Scartabello) is absolutely on point, and definitely harkens back to the films of the 70’s that BUNNYMAN wishes to pay homage to. Even the cinematography had the right look and feel, which is not that easy to do without looking forced in this digital age of movie making. It actually looked like it was shot on 16mm at times. So, there’s the good…now for the not so good.
First of all, the plot is nothing new. If that’s not a problem for you, and you like your backwoods horror taken from the same cookie cutter mold as SCORES of other films…I’m cool with that. The major shortcoming of BUNNYMAN: GRINDHOUSE EDITION is in its inherent desire to inject humor in the strangest of places. It was simply unfunny (to me) and completely ruined the sleazy 70’s vibe it had been so successful in achieving. For example, after one of the early deaths in the film, there’s an extended ballad singing about the person that had just died. Mentioning him by name and describing the events. I’m aware that this was intended to be funny, but it was too tongue in cheek. Later in the film, there was an inexplicable shift where the actor’s voices were dubbed over by someone with a Russian accent. It was meant to be funny and add some exposition….but was totally unnecessary. In those moments it was taking successful grindhouse homage and diminishing it into a parody of itself. Was this a spoof film? The film was humorous without the need for self-referential humor breaking the fourth wall.
Unless you’re an uber fan of grindhouse/exploitation films, BUNNYMAN:GRINDHOUSE EDITION is nothing to write home about. Frankly, I wish the attempts at humor had been left on the sidelines, as the movie was fairly successful when it wasn’t “winking” at the audience. The look and feel of the genre were right, and it is just in time for Easter. Saying that however, there are plenty of better offerings to satiate that holiday horror craving. If you absolutely NEED some horror in your Easter basket, I highly recommend the EASTER segment in the 2016 horror film HOLIDAYS. If you have a better one than that…get at me!!!
BUNNYMAN:GRINDHOUSE EDITION is out on Amazon today!
“BUNNYMAN:GRINDHOUSE EDITION is a fun little romp into exploitation territory…when it isn’t getting in its own way.”
2 out of 5 Tombstones…