Murder Loves Killers Too DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Well Go USA
Man, am I gonna party. – Kyle
Written and directed by Drew Barnhardt
2009, Region 1 (NTSC), 80 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on June 30th 2009
Christine Haeberman as Aggie
Allen Andrews as Big Stevie
In the past few years, low-budget slasher movies used to be a dime-a-dozen. You generally need one location, a quick script and a couple bucks and a video camera and you have yourself a low-budget movie. Yet with everyone with a video camera and an abandoned house saturating the market, the dime-a-dozen turned into a nickel-a-bushel and the victims weren't just those in the film, but also the unsuspecting horror fan that was fooled into buying (or renting) garbage because of a snazzy DVD cover.
If there's one good thing for horror fans that I've noticed in this floundering economy, it's that companies are no longer picking up movies willy nilly for a quick profit, regardless of quality. Slowly, oh so slowly, but surely, it seems there is some quality control finally seeping into the studios, and it is evident in Well Go USA's newest release Murder Loves Killers Too.
Murder Loves Killers Too is a sight to behold before you even open the case. Designed by Stephen Romano — an amazing artist specializing in grindhouse-esque posters — the DVD cover art is an accurate representation of the movie. Coupled with the…dirtiness of the film, the 42nd Street cinema feel of the cover is apt, and Well Go USA couldn't have asked for a better artist to match the quality of the film within.
At first glance Murder Loves Killers Too seems to be your average slasher: Kids go to a remote cabin with the intentions to party and sex it up, only to find themselves in the grasp of a killer with nowhere to run. Then it hits the 10 minute mark and you realize, "Wait a minute, this isn't the stereotypical formula I'm expecting!" Because it's at that time two of the five teens are eviscerated. That in itself may not be so novel, but when you see the man doing it is wearing a bathrobe and drinking a cup of coffee moments before he effectively destroys their lives without saying a word, it's a bit unsettling because he looks like he could be your friend's father. He dispatches the first two victims while wearing a bathrobe for crying out loud. No mask, no disfiguring appearance, no intimidating wardrobe. Just a guy with a coffee in one hand and a knife in the other — and that's what makes it so damn frightening: the realism of it.
In addition to going against type for Big Stevie, the killer, Murder Loves Killers Too takes a wicked turn when Stevie captures the last victim standing, Aggie. Breaking the slasher movie stereotype, this plot device begs to be talked about with fellow fans, but only after they have seen the film because to tell them before hand, which I won't do here, would ruin its impact. You'll know the moment when you see it, though, I promise, and it's one worth talking about.
The acting across the board is solid, and high credit goes to writer/director Drew Barnhardt for picking the perfect person for their respective roles. Often times — especially in the low-budget field — you run into situations where actors are miscast due to the inexperience of the director, but that is far from the case here. What's most impressive is that this is Barnhardt's first full-length feature, and the majority of the cast does not have much more film acting experience outside of bit parts in TV shows and other low-budget films. The two standouts, and rightfully so if nothing more for their time on screen, are easily Allen Andrews (Big Stevie) and Christine Haeberman (Aggie). Not only do the two absolutely nail their characters, but the chemistry between the two is spot on; especially their first "scene" together. It's both frightening and intimate all at once, and actors of lesser skill would have destroyed the scene instead of making it one of the most uncomfortable in the movie.
Adding to the package deal is Kevin Graves cinematography. When the teens first arrive at the house a couple of minutes into the movie, you are treated to a long three minute shot to get the layout of the house. That's one long shot, kids, no cutaways. It's impressive when extended shots are seen in big-budget films, but it's more so when done in a low-budget movie — and done well. It makes me want to high five the filmmakers (and it certainly doesn't hurt that a funkalicious soundtrack is playing as this shot is going, adding to the old school feel of the movie). That must have been a bitch to tackle.
Murder Loves Killers Too is one of those ultra rare low-budget movies that gets just about everything right and brings something fresh to the table as well. It's got a '70s feel without advertising its intentions on the box, giving you false hope. The film doesn't have to have a flashy tagline to make it good: It does just fine on its own. Buy this sucker.
Video and Audio:
The anamorphic widescreen picture is gorgeous. Colors are natural, darks are deep with no murkiness to be seen. What's interesting is Murder Loves Killers Too is obviously influenced by the grindhouse movies of the '70s, but didn't go for the grainy look; instead going for a very clean, very beautiful picture. Either way it would work, but it's more powerful without the grain as it's more realistic.
The 5.1 soundtrack works very well. It's not a demo disc by any means, but it's well balanced with a great score by Ryan Franks which is a mixture of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in some parts and '70s exploitation in others, all of which is good. There are a couple scenes where the music overtakes the dialogue by a hair, but it's not enough to distract from the movie.
- The Making of Murder Loves Killers Too
- Director's Take
- Creating a Killer
- Music to Murder By: Scoring Murder Loves Killers Too
- Title Madness
- Image Gallery
- Original Trailer
Murder Loves Killers Too is chock full of featurettes, each one as interesting as the last. The longest of the featurettes is "The Making of Murder Loves Killers Too", checking in at about 18 minutes. Consisting of behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew, there are a lot of interesting tidbits about the film to be garnered from this piece, since the interviews concern the actual filming of the movie and not how great the people were to work with.
The "Director's Take" featurette runs about nine minutes and is a sit-down with Barnhardt discussing the movie. The best part is when Barnhardt talks about the sometimes subtle homages to other horror movies. Some I had caught, some I had completely missed. Good for him for acknowledging his influences.
"Creating a Killer" is a quick four minute piece that's all about Big Stevie and Allen Andrews. Good times.
"Music to Murder By: Scoring Murder Loves Killers Too" is an in-depth interview with Ryan Franks going through the film's score and how he came up with the music.
"Title Madness" is mildly humorous, but overlong. It is nothing more than Barnhardt reading off alternate titles for the movie, and it runs over 14 minutes! That's a lot of titles. To be fair, he might have said something other than the titles and I missed it because after two minutes I hit the scan button and was reading every other title.
Do yourself a favor and do NOT watch the trailer offered on the disc. Not only does it ruin one of the key turns in the movie, but it shows way too much of the movie. Go in blind, watch the trailer after you watch the film and see what would have been ruined for you.
Overall an incredibly solid package, but the greed in me begs for a commentary.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, OPPO DV-970HD DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)