Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Horror, by its very nature, can be extreme. To provoke a truly visceral response, it is sometimes necessary to disgust, to traumatise, every bit as much as you seek to scare the viewer.
These types of film can be truly powerful, although the depths to which they sink can shock and offend those less accustomed to such movies.
Doug Gerber and Caleb Pennypacker's Crazy Murder will shock. It will brutalise the viewer.
So, do you have the stomach to read on?


Dir: Doug Gerber, Caleb Pennypacker
Starring: Kevin Kenny, Mark Hunt, James Quall, Brandon Ropati, Jamie Greco, Samantha Bogach

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much but continue at your own risk.

After some onscreen text reveals the depressingly high instances of mental illness among New York's homeless community, we follow one such individual, The Killer (Kenny) for a year, with the movie split into four chapters, one for each season.
In each we follow the killer as he aimlessly wanders the streets of the City, bellowing nonsensically at anybody and everybody who comes near, eating whatever filth he can find, regularly shitting himself and smearing it all over himself and, on occasion, brutally and violently murdering innocent passers by.
There really isn't much more to it than that, but that really is more than enough.

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Crazy Murder is a gruelling experience. It isn't a feel-good film, it isn't a light-hearted jovial teen slasher with a few jump scares and a neat happy ending — this is a film filled with vile, often volcanic expulsions of bodily fluids and horrific senseless violence.
Gerber and Pennypacker shoot the film as if it were a documentary, the camera unflinching as it follows Kenny's Killer about the grimy, dirty streets of New York City. This terrible realism, both humdrum and understated, yet hideously repulsive, is an effective and powerful tool. This is the real world, but it is also hyperreal, a chilling movie representation of the filthy underbelly of society that we fear may be bubbling away, just out of sight.
Of course, some of the worst horror in this movie comes from the fact that this situation, this lunatic could all too easily be real, roaming the streets but ignored. How many times will city workers walk past a ranting, raving homeless man on a street corner? How many times will police gently shoo these men on? And who is to say that one of those is not disturbed enough to act out on haunting, nightmarish fantasies?
Gerber and Pennypacker have done an incredible job at getting the viewer to examine society and our role in caring for those who most need guidance and protection. It can be easy to look at Crazy Murder as a steady stream of blood, shit and puke, but that is to do the film an injustice. Yes, the film features an utterly vile amount of body functions, but it has a message. Underneath the stomach churning exterior there is a deadly serious question at the core: how long until this fiction becomes a reality?
Of course, the film and its message are only as believable as the central character and no review of this movie will be complete without examining and praising the incredible work done by Kenny. A real revelation, Kenny provides us with an utterly committed, dedicated performance. He is stunning, sad but without redeeming features, sometimes he's even funny, but most of the time he is utterly terrifying. This is an almost animalistic role, the frightening irrational unpredictability of a mind completely without reason. The audience has no way of knowing what The Killer will do next because it really feels like he has no idea himself. He could just as easily lay down to have a nap as start to slice at his own penis with a knife... or worse. The bravery with which Kenny throws himself into the role is admirable, his dedication brings this deeply disturbing cinematic creation to life.
There are other strong performances in the film but we should make no bones about it, this is Kenny's show.
However, that isn't to say that Kenny is the only memorable character in the movie — thanks to the cinematography and assured vision of Gerber and Pennypacker the city itself becomes not just a location, but a player itself in the events of the movie. Bringing the bustling, thriving, teeming streets of the Big Apple to the viewer, the camera transports you to the city's less savoury streets and alleys.
As visually striking as NYC is, it is the moments of depravity that will stick in the mind after viewing this film. It isn't entirely without humour, but these scenes can be extremely distressing. From multiple slashed throats, heads caved in with bricks, even infanticide, the parade of gruesomely, gory violence is pretty relentless and it is effectively presented. The effects work is often top notch, the bloody wounds frighteningly lifelike while the stomach-churning explosive diarrhoea that the Killer regularly sprays over his surroundings is horribly realistic.
It is this handful of disparate elements: a stunning central performance, a simple but haunting message, a dark and disturbing view of the world's most famous city and genuinely disgusting imagery that make Crazy Murder work.
It is an experiment in abject, senseless, poetic but starkly nihilistic horror. On that level, it is a resounding success.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Crazy Murder is the most extreme title I've reviewed here for this blog. It isn't an enjoyable film, in fact it's quite the struggle to keep watching at times. This will not be for everybody. In fact, I imagine there are scenes in this movie so vile that they are not for anybody. If you are squeamish, there's a very real chance that Crazy Murder will be too much for you to take. Only the most hardened and desensitised of horror viewers need apply.
I am actually quite impressed by the experimental nature of the narrative, foregoing a more traditional story structure, instead giving us a look at a deeply damaged existence with little to no meaning for this. I imagine this will irritate plenty of viewers, those who will see it as simply a series of horrifying images with no story. I can understanding that criticism but I think it could be argued that this is very much about the telling of the story, rather than the tale itself. It is about the journey, not the destination. I can take this, but I know some cannot. Be warned.
The one element of this 'experience-over-explanation' approach that did misfire with me was that, for a spell, the movie seemed to become a little repetitive and actually started to lose its ability to shock. However a sudden drastic escalation with the aforementioned infanticide and the Killer's transformation into a duct tape and blade 'superhero' soon ensures that jaws are once again dropping... and with a vengeance.
Finally, while Kenny is astonishing in the film, there are a couple of bit-part players here who are decidedly stilted and unconvincing. Obviously this is a micro-budgeted effort and that brings its own limitations. Sadly some of the acting appears to have been compromised as a result. Luckily very few roles have much screentime besides Kenny, so these don't form a serious barrier to 'enjoying' the film.

THE VERDICT: Crazy Murder is as difficult to review as it is to watch. I'm faced with quite the conundrum — should I recommend a movie that I know will shock and offend a large percentage of the audience? Furthermore, if a film's driving purpose is to shock and brutalise the senses of the viewer, should it be called a success for doing so?
I'm of the opinion that art should provoke an emotional, even a visceral response in the beholder. I think horror is a far more diverse genre than many naysayers give it credit for. There is room for lighthearted, silly as hell gory fun (just look at my glowing reviews for the likes of Zombeavers and Junk Bonds as evidence of that!). But there is also room for true horror, that which sets out to genuinely horrify. WIth that in mind, I'm going to recommend Crazy Murder, but with a caveat. This film will not be for everybody, but as a gutpunch of sickening cinema, a legitimately gruelling watch, this is a true 'experience'.
Want to test your mettle? Start here. You may not enjoy it, but you will never, ever forget it.

Should you feel brave enough, you can check out the Crazy Murder Facebook page for more info. Give it a Like too, show these guys that their efforts are appreciated. If you want to take the plunge, you can buy the movie here.

Also, 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.

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