Friday is here and the weekend is upon you. With your gift card balances bulging on Amazon and iTunes, and with Video On Demand (VOD) sites popping up everywhere, you’ve got money to burn. What better way to harmlessly and helpfully whittle down that balance than spending the weekend watching a few locally made features that are now streaming online. Here are 5 randomly selected Arizona indie VOD choices to consider, in no particular order.
Deadly Sanctuary (2015)
Ditzy ace Philadelphia reporter Kendall O’Dell (Rebekah Kochan) is lost in the desert on her way to interview for a job at a podunk newspaper in Castle Valley, Arizona. She’s never written an article in her life but lands the gig based on her dads glowing recommendation. Her bored new boss Morton Tuggs (Eric Roberts) assures her there is NOTHING interesting going on in Castle Valley except for that one murder thingy that happened and also that the reporter she is replacing vanished under mysterious circumstances. He explains that as the editor in chief, he never looked into it further because, quite frankly, its not very interesting to the tiny readership of the town and besides, there’s a fish fry on Friday and he needs to get down there and cover it! She also meets her hunky coworker; sports writer Bradley “Tally” Talverson (Marco Dapper) whose wife was murdered and the killer was never caught. Tally also never investigated the crime or searched for his wife’s murderer because, well, who cares and besides, the horseshoe pitching finals are tonight and he needs to get down there and cover it! Kendall rents a haunted house and is often awoken by angry spirits in the middle of the night, catching her in various stages of undress and revealing her stunning collection of still fashionable East Coast lingerie.
As she lumbers through her investigation, she meets uncooperative sheriff Roy Hollingsworth (Dean Cain), and a slew of unsavory suspects including the snarky Claudia Phillips (Bobbi Jeen Olson), director of the local home for runaway girls and Dr. Price (Daniel Baldwin), director of a high security private psychiatric hospital. Kendall eventually becomes romantically involved with studly and wealthy adoption attorney Eric Heisler (Paul Greene) who whisks her off on a romantic getaway in his private plane. As the thick plottens, Kendall survives an attempted assassination by tarantulas, does some two-steppin at a hoedown and eats her first Jalapeño pepper. All the while, Kendall’s lame brained investigation is able to progress not by her investigative skills, but by the sheer dumbassedry of the suspects who should not be associating with each other, yet often meet in public (?) at a crowded restaurant (??) and holler above the din of the Mariachi band to brag about how no one will ever uncover their diabolical crimes (???). Allowing Kendall the opportunity to employ the complex “sit-in-the-booth-next-to-them-and-listen-in” style of investigative technique.
Originally slated to be shot back in 2008 with a million dollar budget, Deadly Sanctuary is the Arizona indie that simply refused to die; withheld from production for over 7 years by lingering lawsuits, the loss of Arizona film tax incentives and sweeping social and political changes in the ensuing years, leaving today’s ‘Sanctuary’ a decimated and hopelessly dated, dopey indie from start to finish. Available for 3.99 on Amazon.
Stealing Sunrise (2015)
Eddie (Andrew DeCarlo) has just been released from prison and wastes no time reuniting with his rag-tag criminal gang of misfits consisting of his dimwitted brother Harold (Rhett Crosby), the Mohawk wearing, criminally reckless Dallas (Michael Jason Allen) and Eddie’s sweetheart Lisa (DeAnna Cali) who also happens to be Dallas’s sister. Eddie discovers that Dallas has squandered the stolen loot Eddie had stashed while he was incarcerated, making it necessary for the four of them to combine their criminal skills in order to bilk a small town out of their cash. Their weirdness brings them into the radar of bungling Sheriff Porter (Rob Edwards) who pursues the criminals with lethargic abandon. The incompetent Sheriff is the least of their problems, as they bicker among themselves for their fair share of their newly acquired loot.
It’s hard to tell at times whether this film is trying to be a comedy or a serious psychological examination of criminal loyalty all set in the 80’s, as the not so terrifying characters mostly come off like some sort of ‘Saved By The Bell: The Prison Years.’ Rhett Crosby puts a little too much into his Harold, while Rob Edwards is sleepwalking through another slumbering performance. The club scenes with the Duran Duran-ish house band are groovy and the big haired gals hitting the clubs are comfortable in that era. ‘Sunrise’ has an appropriate original 80’s era soundtrack performed by ‘Official Version,’ the electro-retro band fronted by Michael Jason Allen. The film is jam packed with all things 80’s, both kitschy and nostalgic, including an Atari game console, a working Pontiac Fiero, a calculator watch, velcro high-tops and lots of other terrific thrift store finds. You can watch ‘Stealing Sunrise’ now for 1.99.
The Coldest Kiss (2014)
Oh what the heck, we’re already on the He Said/She Said movie page, might as well make it a double feature. Right? Poor suffering doormat Mattie (Laura Mestas) is harangued and harassed by her violent and criminal husband Floyd (Mario Guzman). In post depression-era America, the lonely housewife finds friendship and compassion in her housekeeper Lula (Nadine Jackson) and also in the desperately outstretched arms of Floyd’s whimpy nephew Thomas (Michael Jason Allen). Thomas endures Floyd’s threats and Mattie’s lemonade that apparently tastes like elephant piss. As the years drift by, they go on picnics, ride bikes and threaten trick or treaters. Mattie confesses that their relationship has grown much more serious over the years as they are now (gasp!) holding hands! All the while, the asexual simpletons dodge the watchful eye of Floyd as he drags Mattie to a bizarre dog-and-human show, rides a biplane and plays doubles tennis with their pals Howie (Rhett Crosby) and Cecilia (Renee Bryant). Housekeeper Lula has had enough of the harassing hubby and pulls a gun on Floyd, pleading with Mattie to leave with her. Mattie sheepishly declines and now its up to poor Thomas to save poor Mattie. The doomed couple makes their escape from Floyd and hides out in a barn, where Thomas confesses his true love for Mattie. She rewards him by kissing him on the cheek. That’s right. She kisses him on the cheek. Aaahhhh. Nite nite snugglebums. That was fantastic! You are a MACHINE! Freaky Floyd finds the (non) fornicating fanfarons and fires fatally from afar. Just who gets iced? For that answer you’ll have to stick around for at least another 30 minutes for an extended death spasm, musical memory montage, re-cap confession, and comprehensive analytical secular light event.
This torpid tome has a lot of great antiques at its disposal to really sell the period it takes place in (1938 to 1948). Mario Guzman is at home and quite comfy as the sinister and psychotic Floyd, having a blast with this directorially restrained character. If this film belongs to one person it is the masterful cinematography of Mr. Steve Edward. I haven’t seen stylistic shooting like this since “Chinatown” (1974). Edward frames each shot perfectly, capturing not just the essence of the era, but the mood and style of 30’s and 40’s filmmaking. Take a look at what can be accomplished with a keen lensman behind the camera. You can watch “The Coldest Kiss” now for 1.99.
Camp 139 (2013)
Thirty-something teenagers Stacy (Sarah Wilson) and Brandon (J. Lyle) join their classmates Haley (Victoria Paege) and Mike (Frank Prell) for a weekend of copious drug and alcohol consumption, and casual sex. They encounter angry hillbillies in Glendale and are warned to stay away from the dangerous abandoned medical facility in the woods by the sheriff (Greg Bronson) driving his unmarked, undercover pick-up truck. Ignoring the warnings, they make camp and the girls strip down to bikinis for a swim in the creek. Stacy returns to camp and Brandon gives her an aphrodisiac, which seems like a wasted step considering her already hyper-libidinous nature. They get it on in the tent but their union is interrupted when Hayley and Mike go missing and their search for the couple leads them to (I know) the abandoned medical facility!
Sleepy slasher with mostly ad-lib dialog. At least I hope it is. You can watch ‘Camp 139’ now for 2.99 at Amazon.com.
Stuck Outside Of Phoenix (2013)
Tempe Arizona, April 1990. 21 year-old bass player Josh “Hote” Hotle (Brandon Hannifin) awakens to a phone call from Seattle with an offer to join a band there and catch the wave of Grunge rock. His V.W. bug is packed and ready to go, he just needs to say his goodbyes. Its easy for Hote to bid sayonara to his immature, dickish former bandmates, but not so much when the previously unattainable cute convenience store clerk Lola (Kat Bingham) asks him out. His douchebag bandies make his last days in Tempe a living hell as they sabotage his date with Lola and steal his belongings ’cause that’s what musicians do to show affection. As Hote scours Tempe and Phoenix for his valuables, he encounters greedy developers, falls in love and discovers an Arizona music scene on the verge of blowing up.
Based on the book (pamphlet really) of the same name by Art Edwards of The Refreshments, ‘Stuck’ moderately captures the burgeoning music scene of Tempe in the 90’s countered with the unrestrained development and destruction of local landmarks going on simultaneously. The unnecessarily strict adherence to the vapid, original manuscript prevents this film from exploring the essence of the era.
Lots of groovy tunes by the Gin Blossoms, with plenty of alcohol consumption and dick jokes. You can watch “Stuck Outside of Phoenix” just about anywhere now, including Vimeo and Amazon for 2.99. The soundtrack is available for 14.99 at cdbaby.com.