I’ll admit that the reason I first purchased 2003’s Parts of the Family was because I saw b-movie scream queen Tiffany Shepis in the credits. I knew this was going to be a low-budget film, so I had no expectations. But the fact that Tiffany was only featured in ridiculously inserted scenes in the “alternate” Troma cut of the film was a bummer. She has nothing to do with the official story of the film—a really bizarre story that is actually oddly entertaining in all its ridiculousness.
The film, which looks nice and gritty grimy like a late 70s/early 80s low-budget film, begins with a bank robber running from the police…and a mostly naked hot chick dressing in her room. The two scenes are in heavy rotation for like FIVE minutes!!! Finally, the criminal arrives at this decrepit house—out of which steps the hot chick, now dressed. The police pull up, the robber holds the chick at gunpoint, and then drags her back into her derelict house. He immediately thinks it weird that she lives there. As he should. This poor broke dweeb would have been better off in jail, grabbing his ankles in the shower on a daily basis.
As the robber holds the chick hostage with a SWAT team surrounding the house, the pair begins to build a weird sort of relationship. Interspersed with this boring bonding are flashbacks of the chick’s previous life in the home. Apparently she was the housekeeper, screwing an old man and his artist son. There’s jealousy, there’s violence, there’s tons of gore. But it’s all campy and humorous in its execution.
The robber is screwed…and not in a good way. This gore whore loves blood—because it brings back to life the dead family for whom she used to be the housekeeper: the family she always wanted to be a member of. Zombies begin popping out of the wooden floors—but they’re all wrapped in bandages! Nice way to save on zombie makeup. Make them zombie mummies! Zummies! Where the film doesn’t skimp on gore is when this chick gobbles on some dead cop’s guts! It’s SO nasty I couldn’t even look away as I tried to gnaw on the rack of BBQ sauce covered ribs I was having for dinner!
The classic staples are intact, with zummies feasting on flesh and the bitten coming back to life as zombies with very little makeup effects (clearly even the filmmakers knew it would be ridiculous to have the recently deceased come back to life as zummies). The grisly gore is offset by some classic comic moments, like the robber barking “Die motherfucker! Die!” to one of the zummies, and the chick, who brought the damn family back to life in the first place, having a change of heart and taking each of the zummy family members out with various fun weapons and one-liners.
As for the Troma directed version, it inserts footage that is essentially just a commentary on some of the more foolish parts of the film. It’s Pop-Up horror video! Now they need another cut of the film that adds footage that’s actually funny and works as a commentary on the foolish footage already inserted. The Troma version is also slightly re-edited with occasional dubbed-over dialogue so some of the original footage comes across as campy. I’d still rather watch the original cut.
The new footage in this alternate version tries way too hard to be over-the-top skanky with its toilet humor and explicit nudity and sex. We have the twin Sklar brothers as newscasters and they are painfully unfunny (they are much more entertaining when they do commentary on those VH-1 countdown shows), Tiffany Shepis and Ron Jeremy in bed commenting on the news as they watch it on television, and sleazy mock commercials for features like “Undead College Party Sluts Go Rabid.”
You know it’s bad when a movie company like Troma decides the way to make one of their low budget films “better” is to have people watching a television so they can insert “commercials” featuring lots of S&M lesbian action. Lesbians might be “family,” but theirs aren’t the kind of parts I want to see….