Friday, October 23, 2015

Digesting "Eaters"

In 2010, I played a flamboyant supporting role in a local horror film, and blogged about it here when the film was still called Folklore. (See here, here, and here for some stories and photos; and bonus audition story here.)

The movie was written and directed by Johnny Tabor, and was his first feature film. He has since gone on to other projects and spends most of his time in California although he likes to film in New Mexico. The next couple of years after we shot the movie were hard for him, as he and his photographer did all of the post-production themselves on a shoestring. The movie languished for a long time, hung up mainly on problems with the sound. There was a period when Johnny just about gave up. It cost him money, some friends, and a romance.

But in 2012 he had a finished cut. I saw it. It screened at the Rio Grande Theatre in Las Cruces (while I was in Italy doing Shakespeare) and various companies took turns talking about distribution for it. Johnny more or less quit talking to me in 2013 so all I had were rumors here and there.

This fall, out of nowhere, I was asked to sign pieces of paper for an impending release of the film, under its new title Eaters, by Lionsgate. The release date was early this month. I actually purchased a copy for myself via their online store even though the film was distributed to Wal Mart, Target, Red Box, Best Buy, etc. 

Reviews on IMDB and Amazon have been rough. Some just hate the movie - angry, in some cases, at the lack of sex and nudity, I would guess. Jon Haltiwanger was actually tracked down on Twitter by somebody just so he could tweet hateful messages at him. My wig is the object of some scorn as well. Jon is amused and the wig doesn't seem bothered, either.

Then I watched the movie. All I'm gonna say is, I wish Lionsgate had just cleaned up and released the cut that Johnny screened in 2012. Even with the sound problems, it was an entertaining horror flick, a creepy movie with goofy characters, mixed acting performances, some good music by an Austin band called the Black Angels, and beautiful New Mexico exteriors including a model ghost town that is still standing in Deming.

Someone apparently decided the movie would be improved if half of it were in slow motion - not just action scenes, but scenes with dialogue. This includes most of my scenes, where the bikers and I seem to be underwater. The constant slow motion was such a distraction I actually ran diagnostics on my laptop assuming the problem had to be with my player. Nope. Speaking to others who viewed it on DVD or streaming, the slow motion is a consistent feature.

Some amusing character scenes got lopped. The Black Angels were removed and unpleasant noise was patched in. Sound effects are inserted where they don't make sense. One example that online reviews have been mocking is when the young friends are searching for their missing comrade, and unaccountably fail to hear a scream that has been inserted into the shot. The reviewers are right: it makes no sense. Johnny didn't do that.

The DVD has an attractive package and will probably make a few bucks for Lionsgate for Halloween before it gets remaindered.

Well. Johnny's a better filmmaker than this represents. Defending my own performance won't be my business here. I had fun playing the character and yeah, I'm in a wig. (I was actually bald when we shot it.) I didn't get paid but there was beer, and I spent some time with people I enjoyed. Watching the movie reminded me of them, and a funny few weeks we spent together five years ago.

And we wish them well and move on.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Ouch! The reviews at IMDb really are brutal. Then again, I normally prefer to draw my own conclusions rather than depend on the comments of others.

It sounds like Lionsgate ruined what was previously a fun, campy horror flick. A shame.