If it’s Prime time, it’s usually major indie time, as with these two films. Only thing they really have in common is that they each run about 70 minutes long. Are they worth a little more than an hour of your time?
CLEAVER: RISE OF THE KILLER CLOWN (2015)
This killer clown/Halloween slasher combo takes place in 1995. For me, the most effective scene is the opening kill involving a couple having sex, a life-size clown decoration, and the cleaver wielding clown, of course. It really captures the old school slasher style.
Overall, the retro look, feel, and score are the film’s strong points. It does a fine job of delivering holiday and horror atmosphere and visuals—it’s literally drenched in eerie orange, green, or red light at pretty much all times. It even seems to be about a babysitter on Halloween night.
But that babysitter plot is overshadowed by the focus on two local cops trying to figure out who the killer clown is after the first murder.
Part of that investigation includes the clown’s backstory unfolding in flashbacks.
Occasionally, the clown pops out and kills a person around town, but this doesn’t feel like a slasher, especially since it doesn’t revolve around the “main girl” and her friends.
We return to her for the final battle and the big twist (essentially the only thing that keeps the general plot from being a Halloween rip-off), but because we haven’t been carried through the film with her, what should be a shocking turn of events loses its potency. Even so, I like the familiar throwback style of director MJ Dixon, who has done quite a few indie films, so I would definitely check out more of his films.
SCARE BEAR (2017)
Love the title of this indie film, but it is a bit deceiving. Thankfully, it’s not yet another killer bear movie (they seem to be all over cable TV these days). It’s a psychological horror film that’s surreal and trippy in look, tone, and plot.
As I began watching it, within minutes I was thinking, “This feels just like a gay supernatural period piece I blogged about not too long ago.” Turns out that film, The Secret Path, about two young men being pursued by a creature through the woods, is by the same director, Richard Mansfield. The most notable difference is that this film is about a man by himself in the woods and is not a period piece, although the minimalistic setting creates a sense of being “lost in time.”
While exploring the woods where his sister disappeared when they were children, never to be seen again, this man becomes convinced he is being pursued by a mysterious bear creature.
This isn’t a straightforward “creature feature.” The “bear”—a person in a bear costume—is perhaps a figment of the man’s imagination, symbolic of something deeper as he journeys into his own psyche in an effort to work through his loss.
Scare Bear isn’t for everyone. You’ll know pretty quickly you’re not in Kansas anymore. This isn’t concrete horror, but a continuous hallucinatory state with lollipops on the forest floor, toys sprinkled about, telephones that ring in the middle of the woods and transmit calls from the dead, and a dollhouse in which a creepy as frick marionette puppet show is being performed.
Despite The Secret Path featuring cute guys and a steamy sex scene, I actually much prefer Scare Bear. Mansfield does a lot more from a horror perspective with the same general setup.