28 April 2009 | Quinoa1984
short and sweet super-gonzo horror comedy
Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, as part of their midnight movies series (along with this there's Black Dynamite and Moon), is Hysterical Psycho, a movie that can draw in a crowd just by the title. The question then is, does it hold up to the possibilities? The answer is: it depends. The directorial debut of actor Dan Fogler, shot in 13 days up in Maine, is like a beautiful calling card for Troma. I say this as complimentary as I can, since Troma often churns out Z-grade malarkey that sparks the interest of the disciples of Lloyd Kaufman (I imagine that if he wasn't at this first screening tonight he'll be there soon) and that Hysterical Psycho should become a super-mega cult sensation. This won't happen quite overnight, but for those who like their horror with lots and lots and LOTS of extra spikes of the f***ed-up and bizarre and off-key, then this is a sundae of it.
It's a little like Cabin Fever, only, well, better, much better. It's about a group of guys and gals going up to Moon Lake Inn Motel (yeah, an Inn and a Motel, go figure), and then a killer proceeds to kill em one by one. Like a possible Troma entry, it's cheap, dirt cheap, and the effects and acting reflect that. The difference now, as digital technology improves, is that the film doesn't look too messy (amusingly, Fogler knows this and has fun with a scene in the opening shot like an old-school no-budget horror film, featuring a cameo by Gilbert Gottfried and the director himself as a psychiatrist) and computer editing helps open whatever floodgates he's got going on.
Suffice to say, without spoiling too much, this is weird on parade. Just when you think another left turn can't be made it's made with sharp and ludicrous distinction, upped by the addition of a narrator (also voiced, I believe by Fogler) like a Hitchcok parody and with much to do about the moon bringing on evil vibes and whatnot (it often appears in the shots like a gigantic mega-God threatening all the characters). The performances, with a few exceptions, are lots of fun to watch, particularly Randy Baruh playing Lenny. The film comes in, works its madness, and leaves at the end with one last big uproarious hurrah. If it needs to be done, it should go like this.