Monday, October 03, 2016

Instruments of Evil (review)

movie poster
Instruments of Evil movie poster
Instruments of Evil (IoE) is a low-budget, horror/comedy, anthology movie shot in Saskatchewan without the aid of that province's film tax credit, which was cancelled in 2012.

In other words, don't expect great special effects or elaborate, detailed sets. The cast and crew had to make do with limited resources.

However, that does not mean that Instruments of Evil is without charm.

I've always said that a movie can be bad but it should never be boring. Bad movies can still be entertaining and IoE passes that test mainly on the strength of its humour, music, and amusing characters. The budget may have been limited but the humour was not.

The plot revolves around a viking warrior known as the Dark Viking (Huw Evans) who must track down and destroy some musical demons that were created by the god Loki. Who the hell needs The Avengers when you have the Dark Viking with a forkin' sweet sword? Sorry Thor, but your hammer just won't cut it.

Here's how the movie is officially described:
Created in the ancient mists of time by the Viking god Loki, four musical demons have left carnage and horror in their wake as they’ve travelled through the centuries, using the vibrations of music as a conduit across time and space. Now, as the harmonic horrors attempt to reunite and bring about the end of the world, can a cop, a hooker, and a warrior from the past defeat these evil spirits before the music stops ... forever
The hub of IoE takes place in a small police station, where Sgt. Savage (Rich Belhumeur) and his  constables are busy taking inventory of their evidence items, some of which are possessed by evil, unbeknownst to them. As they sort through each item, one of them recounts the grisly tale in which it was involved. Three of them involve musical instruments and are featured in its own story.



1. Hip Hop Zombies

Dylan Evans & Brynn Krysa
D.J. Daddy Long Leg
The first story takes place in 1985 and involves a vinyl record that unintentionally contains a voodoo chant to raise the dead. The record was actually a hip hop album being recorded at Max Wax Recording Studio by rapper D.J. Daddy Long Leg (Dylan Evans) and his bass player (Brynn Krysa) next door to Mme D'Voo's Voodoo Emporium. As is explained later in the movie, the human voice does qualify as a musical instrument. The songs Rise Up and Daddy Like Booty are quite catchy and I can't blame a zombie for wanting to bust a move to the groove, which does occur later in a cemetery. A cool little Easter egg to watch out for is when MANCLAM is playing on a laptop computer in the Vinyl Diner record shop.

2. Gratuitous Violins

Brock Andrews and Doubla Véy
The Sinister Violinister & Doubla Véy
This story involves an evil madman in a ridiculous disguise who abducts a couple (Jordan Bzdel & Jackie Block) on Christmas Eve with the intention of inflicting some pain on them, with the help of his poorly-constructed table of torture.

This segment of the movie hits a few sour notes and is the weakest of the three. The villain rambles on and the scene tends to drag on a little bit but it does end with an interesting twist involving a violin with a circular saw blade attached to it which is illustrated in the movie poster. You also get to hear French-Canadian, hip hop icon Doubla Véy on the radio performing his hit song Talk Into My Dictaphone which is probably more torturous than anything the Sinister Violinister can administer.

3. Heavy Metal Devil

A struggling, heavy metal rock band called Lame Demons Flame Demons bargains with the devil to make it big. All the devil wants in return is a human sacrifice which involves blood being shed on a bass drum. They just need to decide who will be the unlucky victim.

face ripped off
Flame Demon face-off
This is definitely the best of the three stories which includes an impressive (for its budget) and gory face-ripping scene.

There's also a moment that caught me completely off guard involving one of the band members and his mother that made burst into laughter. I won't spoil it here but it's shocking and I felt a little bad for laughing after seeing it. In my defense, I know it's not real so I laughed at it again on second viewing. I seriously doubt the lead singer has MOM tattooed on his arm inside a heart.

MANCLAM makes another appearance, this time in the form of a movie poster in the band's dressing room. Nothing wrong with a little cross-promotion, I always say.

After the conclusion of the final instrument story, we see the Dark Viking finally arrive at his destination, that being the police station where the possessed instruments are kept in the evidence room. Before he can destroy the three demons though, he has to deal with three people; Sgt. Savage, an old woman named Mrs. Gingle-Whickles (Dawn Bevin) and a pretty prostitute named Nadine (Anna Mazurik) who speaks fluent Klingon. Trekkies rejoice!

Anna Mazurik
Nadine the hooker
Once the viking convinces them he is there to help, the final climatic showdown takes place.

For me this is the strongest part of the movie. The exchanges in the police station between the four characters mentioned above are well-written, well-acted and well-executed. The best evidence is a comedic and convoluted conversation between Sgt. Savage and Mrs. Giggle-Wiggles. As much as I enjoyed the whole film, I wouldn't mind seeing an entire movie that focuses on the Sargent, the hooker, the old lady and the viking.

Overall, IoE is an enjoyable movie that has many of the elements that B-movie fans expect. Although advertised as a horror comedy, I would say it's a comedy movie first and horror movie second. I would even argue that the gore is so campy, it could almost be categorized as pure comedy.

Another thing I enjoyed was the subtle references to other B-movies such as when Mrs. Google-Whipple says she lives at 446 & 1/2 Torgo Ave. For those who are unaware, Torgo is a character in my favourite bad movie of all time; Manos: The Hands of Fate. No self-proclaimed B-movie buff can claim such a title until they've watched Manos.

There's another scene with a couple of gravediggers that is reminiscent of Plan 9 from Outer Space. I'm sure there's more that I missed as I've watched IoE three times and notice something new with each viewing.

Huw Evans
The Dark Viking
The acting for the most part is adequate to very good, with the strongest performances coming from Belhumeur, Mazurik and Bevin. Props to Huw Evans for fully committing to the viking beard. Props also to the prop man for the unique and clever sword design. That is one prop I'd fork over some cash to have.

To sum it up, Instruments of Evil is a movie with a good dose of humour, campy gore, and catchy music. I suggest checking it out because it just might be in tune with your tastes, provided you keep your expectations in check.

There is some brief nudity, depictions of drug use and some coarse language so keep that in mind when deciding if IoE is for you.

Rich Belhumeur
Sgt. Savage
DVDs will be shipped anywhere in Canada or the continental USA by sending $20 (in the currency of the receiving country) by PayPal or e-transfer to huw@eyecat.com

It's also available as a limited edition VHS cassette from Videonomicon.

I wonder if they would consider releasing MANCLAM on VHS in a clamshell case. I would shell out some clams for that! Hopefully they'll shell it on their website.

OK, I've run out of puns so watch this shellevision report about the making of Instruments of Evil.



Below are characters featured in IoE; Mrs. Gingle-Whickles; a break-dancing zombie; a tortured couple
Dawn BevinInstruments of EvilJordan Bzdel & Jackie Block


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