When I was about 15 years old, I lived in a small town. Part of small town living was dealing with the fact that there was never anything to do. So I used to hang out at a local video store and rent whatever I could get my hands on. When one of the employees at this fine video store noticed how much I hung around, we started discussing our likes and dislikes of the industry. He then began giving me recommendations of obscure films that barely saw the light of day. If it weren’t for this fine member of the video store staff, yours truly would have never discovered the fruits of “Riki-Oh” or the splendor of “Nekromatik.”
That was over ten years ago and I haven’t seen this employee since. So imagine my surprise as I sat down to write this review that I would learn that the director of “Actress Apocalypse” (Richard R. Anasky) was that very employee who salvaged my youth those many years ago.
The line on the cover box of this DVD says, “When a documentary goes wrong, you get an…” The three periods, or ‘dots’, then lead you to the title of this film, “Actress Apocalypse.” The line would have worked better if, instead of leading to the title, it finished with something like, “…mockumentary from Hell.” The filmmakers would have to then change the “an” to “a” but it would still be fun nevertheless.
This movie documents the filming of a low budget horror film written and directed by David Lincoln III (Garo Nigoghassian). Accompanying him (and his annoying yet brilliantly pretentious lisp) on his filmmaking journey is his producer/psychotic brother Vance (Greg G. Freeman), the trusty yet idiotic boom operator Golden Terror (Jay Ingle), and cameraman Fernando (Angel Martin). During the pre-production stage, everything seems to be set but when the first day of shooting finally rolls around, principal players are nowhere to be found and the production team begins to lose it. The females they audition to fill the roles mostly end up frustrated with how unprofessional the team is, while others just end up dead.
For the next hour and change, we watch these auditions as Vance convinces his brother that they only way to tell if someone is a good actress is if they are naked. It’s a good philosophy for shooting porn but David knows that is not the case. He starts to lose control of production and Vance just gets crazier and crazier as the days pull forward.
This film is a bitter satire of Anasky’s own personal experiences of shooting a horror film he was so passionate about. A lot of the situations in “Actress Apocalypse” (such as actors not showing up, key production crew not showing up, etc.) are typical in the world of backyard filmmaking, mostly because some get caught up in the rush of being apart of an actual “film”, then lose interest when the time comes to shoot.
The inevitable thing about mockumentaries is that they usually last longer than material allows for. As a satire it only glosses over the problems of filmmaking and as a horror piece, the body count isn’t high enough. A lot is centered around the collapse of the crew as they bicker back and forth, shouting as loud as they can, repeating the same phrases over an over. The psychedelic editing style loses its spunk halfway through by showing images of various “actresses” doing strip teases over and over. Most of the time they are in slow motion but that isn’t to say the nudity isn’t a plus. And speaking of the plus side, there are plenty of witty moments throughout (mostly due to how clueless both the actors and the director are portrayed).
This isn’t a film for everyone mind you. It’s mostly for those with a wicked sense of humor (for instance, when Vance chokes one of the actresses to death, Lincoln tells him, “Because of you we just made an illegal movie!”), a taste for those that rock (great soundtrack by Space Probe Taurus) and for any filmmaker who has lived through a failed low-budget production.