BY BLAINE McLARENThe good folks at Sleaze Box have been working overtime to bring us some of the best no-budget exploitation films since bursting on to the scene with Amerikan Holokaust a few years back. As rough-around-the-edges as that first movie was, there was something unique and fantastically DIY about their vision. Chris Woods and company have been putting out a lot of titles and each release has shown a progression in craft, but (thank God) not lost that charm and grittiness that I have come to love. Their name says it all. These are sleazy, fun exploitation films that make Florida seem even more dangerous than any twenty-four hour news cycle could ever imagine. They wear their influences on their sleeves, but they are not pulling from your typical pool of influential movie directors. Directors like Bruno Mattei and Todd Sheets have made major impressions on these guys and it shows up in a glorious way. Their most recent effort, Chaos A.D., is no exception. We are treated again to an ultra-violent world of naked ladies, over the top gore and way too much of actor Bob Glazier’s anatomy.
The story takes place on Halloween night and we are introduced to a housewife, a brother and sister and a hooker loving politician. Each of our central characters are kidnapped by a gang of viciously perverse weirdos that are ready to celebrate the night with torture and murder. Once our protagonists are forced into their world, its a non-stop game of blood thirsty cat and mouse.
Having seen all of Sleaze Box’s releases this film is a big leap in production and sets. Most of their films have been pretty minimalists, but they seem to go out of their way to mix things up this time around. Also, Chris Woods spends more time developing characters and establishing who these folks are. Ashley Lynn Caputo really shines as a housewife with a secret and I cannot believe how well she plays her role. Both her and Bob Glazier steal every scene they are in, not to mention giving brave (nudity filled) performances. Overall, the acting is pretty great. Most of these actors have worked with Sleaze Box before and seem to have a level of comfort that is rarely seen in no-budget filmmaking. My only complaint is very minor. The runtime is a little longer than expected, but luckily it doesn’t feel too padded. I just prefer these types of movies to be shorter and more briskly paced. Besides running a little long, this is another great “gore and gals” roughie that lives up to its provocative title. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the few who dig this kind of unapologetically filthy filmakking will love the shit out of Chaos A.D. The film has not been released yet, but is currenly available to pre-order at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chaos-a-d#/
There has never been a more aptly titled and timed film than the most recent entry in The Purge series. The U.S. is currently suffering through a real “Election Year”, enduring our way through two power hungry assholes that don’t seem that far off from the film’s fictional “new founding fathers”. The concept of an annual purge has been a pretty high concept idea from the beginning, but I don’t think the creators had any idea of what they were starting. The series had a pretty rocky start, but really found its footing with the release of its sequel “The Purge: Anarchy”. This film took us into the streets and became an ultra violent homage to films like The Warriors and other action/exploitation films of the 70s and 80s. The streets seemed as dangerous as you would imagine, allowing for some very interesting set pieces that were more than satisfying. What I never expected was the introduction of a not-so-subtle message of class warfare. We followed the lower class this time and we were tossed into a gritty world of survival that showed the true nature of why The Purge (actually) exists. The big question going into this follow up (at least,for me) was “Is this going to just be Anarchy all over again or will this build on this concept and offer something new?” and I am glad to say it did!
The story picks up two years after the events of “Anarchy” and we are reintroduced to Leo, our unlikely hero from the last film. He is currently working as bodyguard for a controversial senator who is currently running for president. Her entire platform is built around outlawing The Purge and restoring the lower classes of this alternate America. As you can imagine, this prompts the New Founding Fathers to attack her, setting off a series of events where our protagonists end up back on the city streets on Purge night. From here we meet a slew of good guys and baddies hunting and surviving on the streets of Washington D.C.
The biggest difference with this film is the shift in tone. This time around, the writing is much tighter and allows for more humor and humanity. The comic relief is subtle and does not take away from the tension. The streets feel even more dangerous this time around and the bad guys are even worse than before. Some of the actors may be a little too exaggerated for some movie goers, but I feel their bigger than life performances fit this film perfectly. The overall vibe has more in common with classic blacksploitaion films and this is (once again) because of the excellent script they are working with. The only thing that can be grating is this series’ obsession with its “white crusaders”. The events seem to be constantly surrounding Senator Roan and her every action seems out of place in this world. She is given a compelling backstory, but every word from her mouth seems phony and incredibly cringe-worthy. That aside, The Purge: Election Year is better than it has any right to be and I will be ready to fork over my next fifteen bucks when the inevitable sequel is released. The Purge: Election Year is currently playing in theaters everywhere.