SERIAL KILLING 101
(Aka: SERIAL KILLING 4 DUMMYS)
Directed by Trace Slobotkin
Written by Trace Slobotkin
Produced by Wayne Beswick, Matthew Davidge & Harry John Trube
Cinematography by John Tarver
Music by Jeffery Alan Jones
Cast: Justin Urich, Lisa Loeb, Thomas Haden Church, Rick Overton, George Murdoch, Barbara Niven & Corey Feldman
2002/88 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0
Full Frame/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
When you enter your typical Hollywood franchise video store to possibly rent a film, the store is basically littered with two types -- the shit Hollywood force-feeds us, and the terrible straight to video horror crap that you can never comprehend how they had the ability to have been made in the first place. No matter how much I would have liked this film to work, it still falls into the latter category.
SERIAL KILLING 101 opens with a stereotypical hard-ass FULL METAL JACKET "gymnasium coach" (Church) who singles out the star of the show, Casey Noland (Urich, HORROR 101) and forces him to perform squat thrusts in front of the class. From the opening sequence we all know Casey despises his gym teacher Mr. Grimaldi. This fact is further evolved when a teacher, Mr. Korn (Overton, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS), gives the class an assignment on where they see themselves in ten years, and Casey says he sees himself on death row after killing several people including decapitating his gym teacher. Thus the plotline thickens...
Casey meets Sasha (Loeb, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL), a stereotypical Goth (minus the makeup) chick in the library reading up on serial killers, and once she hears he wants to become one of them, she and he begin researching his new career path. The only problem is Casey hates the sight of gore and can't even bring himself to kill the annoying dog next door, let alone a human. He lives out his serial killing fantasy in his mind where he kills with gusto, and decides a unique murderer must have a weapon of choice. After a visit at the hardware store -- insert corny Cory Feldman cameo he returns home with some power tools, straps himself up and begins to come up with catch phrases for his victims. The film tries so hard to be campy and funny with scenes like this, but unlike EVIL DEAD 2 just comes off as really lame. Costumed with various power tools in front of the mirror Casey recites "I have the urge to purge.", "I got the skill to kill.", and even mentions Campbell.s trademark "Groovy" continuing with that's "too EVIL DEAD". It.s as bad as that, which is why I can.t understand the director/writer Slobotkin concocting such drivel and letting it pass into the final product that is SERIAL KILLING 101.
Meanwhile a real serial slasher is on the loose in their town and Casey and his suicidal love interest Sasha may know who the killer actually is. After a few attempts at red herrings the film takes a dive and we know who the killer is all along -- but by then you couldn't care less.
The concept of the film seemed well enough for me to give it a chance but all SERIAL KILLING 101 is, is an exercise in immaturity. The films character design is elementary, as is the script which is bounded by clichés and stereotypes, attempting to be a black comedy (not even of the Troma standard), eventually resulting in a loss of 88 minutes. Creating a movie with the plotline surrounding an immature adolescent who proclaims to the world he wants to become a serial killer just to impress a girl is ridiculous. Especially with no actual payoff as to what the character wanted to achieve, since he couldn't even bring himself to murder.
Lions Gate Home Entertainment brings us a lacking DVD for a lacking film, so I guess the suit fits. The film is Full Frame and looks nice. The cinematography is as basic as it gets with minimal shadows and lighting so as long as the disc is authored fine, the picture works. Little or no grain or artifacting is apparent. Dolby Digital 2.0 gives us an acceptable audio format, not that we need it with the choice of angry hard rock/metal permeating through the film. During scene transitions however we get a nice rip-off of Friday the 13th music. You're an inventive man Mr. Jeffery Alan Jones. Like the film itself, the DVD is also empty of extras. Three trailers can be found as an Easter Egg once the Lions Gate logo on the main menu is pressed, which include a trailer for our feature revealing the outcome of the film and throwing out the subtle red herring idea all together. Watch the trailer and thank me for not engaging 88 minutes into it. Additionally there is a trailer for HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, and CABIN FEVER -- both of which are far superior to SERIAL KILLING 101's entirety.
No points were allowed since there is no extras on the disc.
This Film Features:
Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©