Midnight Skater DVD Review
Written by Eric Strauss
A Splatter Rampage DVD
Directed by Luke Campbell
Written by Stacy Silvers, Andy Campbell and Luke Campbell
2002, Region 1 (NTSC), 91 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on March 19th, 2004
Cory Maidens as Richard
Nick Jackson as Bruce
Ashleigh Holeman as Kim
Ezra Haidet as Alvin
Jen Meissner as Shelly
Luke Campbell as Pete
Roza Haidet as Annie
Andy Campbell as Danny
Stacy Silvers as Dealer 1
Ed Bishop as Dealer 2
and Mike Neeson as the Midnight Skater
At Kent State University, there’s an epidemic of bad fashion, a drug problem with far-reaching consequences, and a machete-wielding killer on the loose.
But what are the campus do-gooders concerned about? A renegade skateboarder vandalizing school buildings in the dark of night.
If the very concept makes you laugh, you’re going to enjoy Midnight Skater.
There’s something endearing about Grade-Z horror films. There’s rampant ham acting, copious amounts of blood and gore, goofball ideas that would never see the light of studio day and usually a tongue planted firmly in cheek.
A zombie slasher named after its MacGuffin, Speed Freak Productions’ Midnight Skater has one thing going for it: Enthusiasm. And one thing going against it: Absolutely no budget (we’re talking a few hundred bucks, here).
The most impressive aspect of the film is that the script — by Stacy Silver (who in classic zero-budget form, doubles as an actor) and brothers Luke and Andy Campbell (who not only act, but serve as director and producer, respectively) — actually manages to combine its random premises into some semblance of parody coherence.
The actors — Kent Staters in real life as well as on film — are almost universally horrible. On the audio commentary, the group — friends and family — even admit their inexperience and weakness in front of the camera. But say this for them, they are having a great time. It’s obvious on film and even more so on the commentary.
Who else deserves a gold star? Certainly, Ashleigh Holeman, who’s the cutest of the girls, swings a mean sword and has the most natural (or least unnatural) delivery in the cast.
Luke Campbell’s direction and the Campbell brothers’ editing are most definitely an asset to the film as well. Midnight Skater may reek of amateurism in many ways, but the Campbells certainly make the most of what they have, building tension, (usually) crafting sharp transitions, and most importantly, adding emphasis to the gore and humor.
Ezra Haidet not only goes crazy in his comic-relief role as the flamboyant geek Alvin, he’s responsible for most of the effects. And those may be the strongest part of the film in their over-the-top craziness.
There are decapitations, limb severings, eviscerations, shockingly well-done rotting flesh, horrible geek-dancing, neon-green vomit, zombie bites and not one, but two severed penises. Well, it’s apparently the same severed penis, but does that really matter?
And what the props may lack in realism, they hide under buckets of blood. Haidet’s favorite toy is clearly his blood-sprayer, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Of course, the effects are sometimes hard to see because of the technical limitations of the production process, which wreak havoc on the video and audio and are undoubtedly the biggest hurdle for the film in attracting an audience — no high-end DVD technophile is going to sit through this film.
On the other hand, horror film fans who get a kick out of rooting for the underdog and value entertainment and blood over production values should find plenty to enjoy.
Video and Audio:
As mentioned, the full-screen image is atrocious. Daylight scenes border on the acceptable, but the many nighttime scenes — putting the midnight in Midnight Skater — are full of grain and suffer from a lack of lighting. It’s a shame, but the film’s low budget really shows in the video quality, which wouldn’t even be decent on VHS, much less DVD. Even grading on a zero-budget curve, it’s barely passable. When the best thing you can say about the picture is that you can usually see everything, that’s not good.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack also suffers from the low bank-account balance. It’s better than the image, and the stereo sound is used to good effect with the familiar wheels-on-sidewalk sound of the titular skater. But here, too, typical pitfalls plague the film.
An audio commentary features just about everybody involved in the production, and like Midnight Skater itself, it’s full of enthusiasm and humor — as well as some actual detail on how the film was made. Of course, with any mass commentary, it’s tough to tell who’s who. Participants include — take a deep breath — Luke and Andy Campbell, Roza and Ezra Haidet (who’s in character as Alvin some of the time), Mike Neeson, Cory Maidens (who gets plastered, apparently a regular thing), Ashleigh Holeman, Ed Bishop, Nick Jackson, Jen Meissner, Matt Trahan, Elias Newton, Matt Kelley, Ryan Olinger, Bob Hawkins (who’s not even in the movie) and maybe some others.
A series of deleted scenes feature intros from such participants as Silver, Maidens and Andy Campbell — who cheerfully admit the scenes are so bad, they couldn’t even make this film. And they’re right, but at least they’re honest.
An included short film, “The Stranger,” includes several of the Speed Freaks and is just as oddly humorous as the feature.
The trailer for Midnight Skater is certainly indicative of Speed Freak’s kooky mind-set and captures the essence of the film nicely. There are also trailers for two other Speed Freak films: Both Demon Summer and Splatter Rampage Wrestling appear slightly less tongue-in-cheek — the latter only because of some dangerous-looking stunt work.
Certainly an impressive package — another tiny indie that puts bare-budget studio releases to shame.
|Movie:||– Yeah, it’s bad. But it’s fun, too.|
|Audio:||– Unlike the video, the audio is sometimes a plus, but Speed Freak’s limitations show here as well.|
|Features:||– The commentary really captures the spirit of the Speed Freak crew — probably because they’re all in it.|
|Overall:||– Don’t be surprised if Speed Freak comes up with a cult classic in the so-bad-it’s-good vein someday — really.|
Any film that includes two different girls telling people to “suck my dick,” severed-limb sex spanking and homosexual geeks with inflatable sheep has some issues.
But if the mere idea of that combination cracks you up, take it, dip it in some blood and guts, shake it enthusiastically, liberally spice it with college humor, bake at 375º for 91 minutes and enjoy!
(Weapons of Choice: Mitsubishi 1080 series 42” TV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player, Bose Lifestyle 25 Series II speakers and, in certain situations, Panasonic 27” TV, Panasonic A110 DVD player and Bose TriPort headphones.)