The Lottery and Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes Movie Reviews
Written by Steve Pattee
Dude…why did you have that girl's face in a bowl? – Josh (The Lottery)
Directed by JD Scruggs, Jason Patfield and John Bienasz
Written by Kevin Kruzel (Story) and Jason Patfield (Screenplay)
2009, 43 minutes, Not rated
Steven Rohlf as Josh
Robert A. Young as Lando Lord
Alex Gonzalez as Spanky
Michael Shmid as Rhett
Sharon Dalla Costra as Bag Lady
Bryant Dailey as Locash
Dion Strowhorn Sr. as Agent Roth
Mike Tracy as Scott
Claudia Di Biccari as Lana
Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes
Directed by Jose Carlos Gomez
Written by Jose Carlos Gomez (Screenplay) and Jason Patfiled (Series Creator)
2009, 26 minutes, Not rated
Jason Patfield as Chino
North Roberts as Gino Passo
Carla Westlund as Anne Passo
For almost four years, I've been reviewing Jason Patfield's "Welcome to Dreadville" series, starting with Distraught, all the way up to Welcome to Dreadville: The Series.
With each subsequent review, I've always had the same criticisms: The writing is solid, the directorial choices are questionable, and the filmmaking is improving with each movie. With these two new entries in the series, The Lottery and Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes it's yet another improvement in the Dreadville universe. Well, at least with The Lottery.
In The Lottery, Steven Rohlf stars as Josh, a likeable loser who spends all of his money on lottery tickets instead of what he needs to spend it on, like rent and money owed to The Syndicate (the local gang that is behind all things bad in Dreadville). After threats from both his landlord and a thug sent to collect on a loan, Josh turns to his buddy Rhett (Michael Shmid), a plastic surgeon, to borrow some coin to get him through, but even Rhett can't help him due to his own problems with the Syndicate…and the law. But Rhett has a plan to get some money, and if the two can avoid the people looking for them (Mike's creditors and the government after Rhett), they may be able to get out of the mess they are in.
I've complained in prior reviews that the effects in the Dreadville series are patchy at best, but The Lottery shows the growth of the Bublenutz crew, as the gore is better represented than in prior attempts. The opening shots of Rhett "operating" on his patient were impressive, especially in comparison to past films. Whatever weaker effects The Lottery have go virtually unnoticed because the filmmakers no longer linger on half-assed effects.
In addition, the short uses a couple of CGI effects that work relatively well. A bar scene shows Rhett explaining his legal troubles to Josh, as the character of Rhett also stands behind the two acting out what the Rhett sitting at the table is discussing. It's not seamless for sure, but it's far from distracting and is more enjoyable to watch than the alternate of the two just talking over a beer.
The Lottery has a very cool Tales from the Crypt vibe to it in the regards that everyone gets what's coming to them. The story itself is pretty straight forward, but the script is strong enough to carry the piece more than a lesser script would.
In contrast, Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes has both a disappointing story and script. In this short, The Syndicate has put a hit out on all the rival gang leaders in Dreadville to take complete control of the city once and for all. That, however, becomes the side story to the Romeo and Juliet-esque tale of Anne (Carla Weslund) and Chino (Jason Patfield).
Anne, a high school girl straight out of the suburbs, is pining over Chino, who is just gang trash. Her father, Gino, is obviously against the relationship, but that doesn't stop Anne from going to the shady side of town to see her true love - and getting kidnapped in the process.
Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes' ultimate problem is that it desperately wants to be bigger than it is, and does not have the budget for what it tries to accomplish. This, of course, can be said about any low-budget movie, but the Dreadville series has always managed to bring an extra "umph" to its films with the writing strength, and that is just not evident here. The short is entirely predictable within the first few minutes, and while the ending does have a humorous little lesson, it's not enough to make the piece memorable.
However, Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes probably has the best acting in the Dreadville series, in particular with Carla Westlund. A natural to the camera, you root for Westlund's Anne, even though she is an annoying know-it-all teenager. Her schoolgirl crush on Chino is believable, and Westlund does a good job in conveying Anne's doubt and confusion in the relationship in the film's short running time.
According to the Bublenutz website, they have stopped productions and "…will reform under a new name and [they] look forward to putting together some other productions in the near future outside the realm of the [Welcome to Dreadville] Series." I am anxious to see what series creator Jason Patfield and company have to offer next and curious to see what they can bring outside of the Dreadville universe (hopefully something that will entail a feature length production). I would have hoped for a stronger closer to the series than Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes, but The Lottery does manage to show the experience Bublenutz has acquired since Distraught, and makes me continue to root for the team behind it.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Not graded as this is a screener.
(Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes)