Speck (2002)

Speck_1Starring Doug Cole, Beverly Sotelo, Stacy Cunningham, Flynn Beck, Kaycee Shank, Sunny Lombardo, Cinderella Gatcheco, Dawn Hawley, Erin Shayla Cullen, Debra Mayer, Larry Dirk

Directed by Keith Walley

Expectations: I don’t know. Not much.

halfstar


Speck is of the rare breed of low-budget horror films that go the arthouse route. This is always shaky ground, because unless the filmmakers are very competent, “artful strokes” very quickly devolve into boredom and pretense. In the case of Speck, this is definitely the case. To be fair, Speck is made with some amount of skill, but its arthouse leanings never translated to any kind of meaning for the audience. I had lots of thoughts about the film while watching it, but instead of looking for insight into its murderous lead character, I found myself wondering more about the filmmaker behind it and why anyone would want to make this movie.

Speck seeks to dramatize a true story. On July 13, 1966, Richard Speck entered a Chicago home and one-by-one murdered eight student nurses who were living there. This brief description also serves as a plot synopsis for the film, as Speck is very much focused on this night and not much else. The film shows us the world from Richard Speck’s point of view, and it’s colored with hateful narration that informs us of his views on humanity and how we’re basically all worthless maggots. His victims are nothing more than women in a room in Speck — we know nothing more about them than Speck does — and their status as student nurses is only conveyed to us through some on-screen text as the film opens.

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Stitches (2001)

Starring Elizabeth Ince, Robert Donavan, Kaycee Shank, Lindy Bryant, Marc Newburger, Alex Peabody, Debra Mayer, Maggie Rose Fleck

Directed by Benjamin Carr

Expectations: Low, this era of Full Moon is always a sticky proposition.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If you were to chart the course of Full Moon’s history, the early 2000s would be the lowest point on the entire graph. It was when Full Moon was all but dead, going from 19 films released in 1999 to one in 2004. Somehow they managed to rally around The Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong, resurrecting the company into the thriving beast it is today. 2012 marks the first year since 2003 to have more than three releases, and while none of this is specifically related to Stitches, it does play into my expectations going into it. See, because I’m familiar with Full Moon’s history I always start films of this era with trepidation. So imagine my surprise when Stitches stepped up to the plate and delivered one of the best Full Moon films to date.

The rating above might not reflect that, due to some incredible dropping of the ball that happens throughout the film’s second half, but even these mishaps didn’t diminish my feelings about this movie. It’s good, surprisingly so, and while I don’t think mainstream audiences would enjoy it, it’s definitely a diamond in the rough for hardy Full Moon fans looking for something a little different than the average fare from the company. The story is quite simple: a demon wearing the skin of a friendly old lady arrives at a boarding house in the 1920s and systematically tricks the inhabitants into willingly surrendering their souls to her.

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