Tuesday, 3 February 2015


In the past I’ve spoken about how horror and comedy make for a fine mix. Both provoke strong visceral reactions in viewers, the humour makes for a nice tension breaker between frights and comedy actively encourages the audience to laugh at the horror genre's more outlandish elements.
A month or so ago, I heard about Joe Grisaffi's Conjoined. With a premise ripe for inappropriate laughs, I knew I needed to check it out.
So would Conjoined stick with me? Or would I be keen to split?


Dir: Joe Grisaffi
Starring: Tom Long, Michelle Jones, Keefer Barlow, Jacob Byrd, Sara Gaston, Deirdre Stephens

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk.

Lonely Stanley (Long) has been in an online relationship with the seemingly perfect Alina (Jones) for some time and has decided to take it to the next level. 
However, when the couple meet face to face for the first time, Stanley discovers Alina has been keeping something from him — her needy sister Alisa (Barlow) is actually her conjoined twin.
Stanley is alarmed at first, voicing his concerns to co-worker Jerry (Byrd) and an online cam girl Courtney (Stephens) with whom he has struck up an unlikely friendship. In time he agrees to make a go of it, not least because he really does love Alina and he doesn’t want to give up his one shot at happiness.
After the sisters move in, Alisa’s erratic behaviour, sarcastic outbursts and problem drinking start to cause issues, so the newly-weds decide to find her a man to help her settle down.
However, when the date goes badly, Alisa reveals that she is actually psychotic, brutally murdering her potential love match. 
As Stanley tries desperately to protect the woman he loves , he is forced to help hide the body. But as the blood-thirsty Alisa starts to claim more victims a tough police officer, Detective Waters (Gaston) starts to investigate.
Will she discover the truth? Just how many victims will the crazed Alisa claim? And how far will Stanley go for the woman he loves?

BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): This one came as quite the shock! A low-budget comedy-horror can fall down on so many levels, yet Conjoined sidestepped potential pitfalls with ease.
The story, written by Chuck and Tim Norfolk, keeps you off balance and went to a lot of unexpected places. What I liked most about it is the steady shift in tone throughout. What starts off as an innocuous bad-taste comedy, a la the Farrelly Brothers, gets darker and darker, until, by the time the gory climax hits, it has shifted much more into a horror flick.
This works particularly well because at that point in the story the loveable characters have sucked the audience in, so as they start to hack one another to bloody bits we really do feel for them.
The characterisation throughout is superb, with just one seemingly left-field plot development for a character that left me scratching my head. The dialogue is witty, snappy and delivered well throughout. This is obviously helped significantly by the top cast. EVERY single actor in this flick nails their performance, something which is quite the rarity in low-budget indie horror. Long’s Stanley is suitably dorkish, yet his nerdiness is endearing, making him the sort of loser that an audience can’t help but root for. Long understands his role and he delivers in spades. Jones is wonderful as the sweet and impossibly perfect Alina. She has an air of Naomi Watts about her and has some top acting chops to go with her good looks. Barlow is something of a force of nature in this movie, she is gleefully deranged, a larger than life crackling ball of psychotic energy and she steals many of the scenes she is in. At times you can almost believe this very talented actress is actually genuinely unhinged. A wonderful performance!
The supporting players all deliver too, with Byrd, Stephens and especially Gaston all having their moments. My kudos to you all!
I’ve mentioned before that this is allow budget affair, but that doesn’t stop Grisaffi from getting the very most out of every single buck. He’s obviously a very good director who has an assured hand and steady vision for where he wants his movie to go. He knows his stuff and he gets the job done. No small achievement on the budget!
One area in which I was very pleasantly surprised was the sterling effects work by both Kristi Boul and Nick Rios. There are some awesome splatter moments in this movie, some played for laughs, some less so, but they always deliver the gory goods. 
Ultimately, I suppose that Conjoined’s strongest point is the amount of heart that has clearly been poured into it by everybody involved. The cast are committed and talented, and the film has a sense of fun written in by the Norfolks and gleefully brought to life by Grisaffi. These are the things that overcome any budgetary constraints. Sometimes movies just need to entertain, and Conjoined does so in spades.

THE WORST BITS (minor spoiler warning): Well, it seems a little mean to pick on a movie like Conjoined that does so much with so little, but that is why I’m here.
The film’s official Facebook page includes a description that reads:
A lonely man. An internet romance. A house with no doors. No shot list. Complete disregard for continuity. Plot holes you can drive a truck through. Lowering the bar for indie horror.
Now, I feel that the folks over there are being a little harsh on their creation but I did pick up on plenty of continuity errors throughout, not least one particularly glaring and disconcerting one in the final moments of the film. Also certain elements of the plot are unrealistic (science fact, conjoined twins are always identical and while Barlow and Jones are both very attractive, they are clearly quite different!)
However, I can forgive a comedy things such as continuity errors and plot holes because they are a work of entertainment —the far-fetched elements of the storyline are a big part of what makes them funny.
I praised the characterisation earlier and I stand by that, although I did mention a turn that knocked me for a loop. In it a likeable and pretty decent seeming character is suddenly revealed to have necrophiliac tendencies. WTF? Okay, it made that character’s fate a little more poetic, plus it served to advance the plot in some key ways, but it seemed quite out of character. Oh well.
Also, while I praised Gaston’s work as Detective Waters (and she was excellent) in the end, her’s was a character that served no purpose to the plot. Of course, when it comes to comedy a character that exists to spit killer one-liners and make you laugh your ass of is every bit as important as those that advance the story, but Waters doesn’t even get to share any screen time with the other lead characters!
Finally, some people may be a little shocked by how dark the movie gets — and it goes to some pretty bad places. This tonal shift may well jar with some viewers, I personally loved this shift in tone, all too often horror-comedies forget to include any actual horror elements, this cannot be said of the gory, disturbing climax of Conjoined.

VERDICT: Conjoined is a great, fun, horror-comedy movie. It’s cheap, brash and a little bit schizophrenic, but it is also entertaining and has a tonne of heart, a great cast and some top, top dialogue. This is a deliciously culty film and I imagine it will pick up legions of fans in the years to come. Give it a whirl, it will almost certainly surprise you.
If you want to get your hands on a copy, DVDs can be brought from the movie’s official website here (links to Amazon). There is also an option for a cheap online rental too!
While you’re online, why not head over to the official Conjoined Facebook page and give it a Like? Support indie horror!

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.


  1. Thank you for the thoughtful review!

    1. You're very welcome, thank you for taking the time to read it!

  2. Hi Hickey! I was wondering if I could get your permission to reprint your Conjoined review in our new newsletter Houston Indie Film Report? It's a free newsletter in pdf form as well as physical newsprint that we're distributing around Houston Texas. www.facebook.com/houstonindiefilmreport