Director Chad Hendricks’s four films from between 2003 and 2007 recently hit Amazon Prime, so I thought I’d check them all out. Taking on slashers, backwoods horror, zombies, and even a psychological thriller, he most often plays up an urban comedy/blaxploitation throwback angle. The catch is, the dude is white! I found this interview in which he explains near the beginning how he ended up making urban films.
While his movies are clearly indie with the expected rough spots, it’s obvious Chad is a fan of and understands the genres he’s taking on, giving me a lot to appreciate here—and a hope that he might continue working on tightening up his filmmaking talent and return to making more horror flix.
KRACKER JACK’D (2003)
Kracker Jack’d is kind of a slasher spoof and sort of a horror comedy, but mostly it’s a low budget urban comedy that finally finds its slasher stride at the end.
While not as funny or well written as 90s urban comedies, it is definitely sort of an homage to them, and even flashes back to the decade with loads of references—the characters reactions to songs from the decade being one of the highlights. Overall, I think the actors are generally funnier than the material they’re delivering most of the time in this one.
The plot involves a bunch of black guys promoting race equality on a college campus when a white dude comes out acting all black and drops the N bomb. The guys beat his ass and leave him for dead.
The movie mostly turns into a goofy house party comedy for a while, with guys attempting to get laid…and occasionally being killed by someone in a hockey mask, complete with killer POV and rip-off Jason sound effects.
For me, the comedy and the slasher elements really come together from the point when a hot guy sings and grooves in a pool in the backyard while waiting for his girl’s return. This couple’s segment actually ends up being quite funny.
However, best sex scene goes to a couple that keeps getting interrupted. You’d swear they were really having sex, because the guy knows how to work those hips. He also has a nice booty, although he only shows half of it.
If you’re going to check out Kracker Jack’d, just be prepared for a long runway before it actually takes off.
INSANE IN THE BRAIN (2007)
Chad goes for a total 80s throwback in terms of zombie horror comedy vibe with Insane in the Brain, while loading it with a good dose of 70s bad taste sexploitation.
What better way to open a throwback flick than with zombies crawling out of graves drenched in neon light while groaning, “More brains!”?
That becomes the mantra of the zombies throughout the film—particularly the “main” zombie, who has a noticeably mask-like makeup job.
His first stop is a whorehouse, which immediately kicks off fart humor and explicit sex humor/gore.
The early sex kills set a great horror exploitation tone. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t stick with the premise of the zombies terrorizing the whorehouse.
Instead, the focus turns to a pair of detectives investigating the chaos around town, which gives a good chunk of the film more of a 1970s buddy cop feel. The shtick didn’t hold up for me, and I began to get bored with it.
Which is why I’d argue that the final segment comes way too late, with the detectives assembling a group of the characters together to go into the cemetery at night and kick zombie ass—with the girls as bait!
It’s almost like an unnecessary branching story was dropped into the center of the film, essentially interrupting the all-out “whorehouse under zombie siege” movie this could have been.
NECK OF DA WOODZ (2006)
Chad shares the directing duties with two other directors for this film, which could be part of the reason it is a bit uneven in tone. According to imdb, it was shot in 2 days and totally improvised, so that could be a contributing factor as well.
After watching it, I kind of wish there had been a script, because this is a fun backwoods premise for an urban horror, and it would have ironed out the uneven tone that has the film feeling sometimes like a total blaxploitaiton comedy and at others like a serious, disturbing flick.
A group of black buddies experiences truck trouble on a deserted road, so they go to the nearest house for help.
There are a bunch of white chicks in the house, and before long, one of the dudes is in a bedroom fucking one with huge tits. This scene goes on FOREVER, focusing mostly on her huge bouncing tits as all his buddies poke their heads in the door and peep the show.
There’s a drastic shift in tone when racist rednecks with guns bust into the house dropping the N word left and right as they hunt down and kill all the black guys.
The film is essentially very serious, but there are oddly out of place “humorous” moments, like two of the guys hiding in a bathtub and having to endure the sounds and smells of one of the rednecks coming into the bathroom to take a shit.
And because this is clearly a low budget film, there is sadly no gore, plus no thrilling death scenes to really give this a genuine horror film feel. It just seems like a really good plot that wasn’t able to reach its potential due to the experimental approach to making the film.
EVERYTHING MEANS NOTHING (2005)
I won’t really comment much on Everything Means Nothing because it’s out of my realm of enjoyment. Dark and psychotic but not specifically horror, this is Chad’s straight up serious film. It’s also almost entirely dialogue driven, focusing on two characters while exploring them unraveling madness of one of them.
A black dude wakes up to discover he has been abducted and tied up with Christmas lights by some mentally unstable white dude. The film is as frenetic as the white guy as he rants for the entirety of the movie in his fury to get the black dude to understand where he’s coming from.
I never really got where he was coming from. The film regularly jumps to choppy black and white footage of what apparently led the two guys to their current circumstance, but I really didn’t have the patience to follow it.
There is one scene to demonstrate that the white guy is crazy enough to kill, but it just seems like it’s throwing a bone to those looking for some thrills or suspense, because the movie doesn’t really delivery anything like that.