Wednesday 10 November 2021

Dude Bro Party Massacre III (Tom Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, 2015) Review

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What's taking you bros so long to shower?” If a Dude Bro could Bro Dudes, how many Bros would a Dude Bro Dude? This is the mighty question laid forth by 5secondfilms' Kickstarter-funded comedy slasher flick, in which the Delta Bi fraternity must once again face off against the crazed killer Motherface – all while shotgunning every beer in sight and dialling the homoeroticism up to a burly boy level 69...!

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This is about those two previous massacres on Frat Row, isn't it?” Posited as a horror movie personally banned by President Reagan in the 1980s, Dude Bro Party Massacre III is delivered like a scruffy old video recording of a Public Access TV broadcast, complete with shreds of advertisements (multi-layered, pin sharp, blink-and-you'll-miss-'em spoofs unto themselves), as if a bleary-eyed teen was lying on the living room rug with their finger hovering over the 'record/pause' buttons of their VCR. Starting off with a 'recap' of the 'previous films' in the 'franchise', as told by Brock Chirino (Alec Owen) to his therapist, it seems that revenge is on someone's mind – revenge for the murder of the killer in the 'second' movie who was similarly avenging the murder of the killer in the 'first' movie! Keeping up? Okay – well, Brock meets his end quite swiftly, but just as briskly his twin brother Brent rocks up at the Delta Bi frat house in search of answers – and revenge!

That fart on my face saved my life.” The Delta Bi frat boys, or 'dude bros', are a motley crew of testosterone/beer fuelled alpha males who are seemingly repulsed by women, fearful that their viriginities are in peril every time Delta Bi wannabe Samantha (Kelsey Gunn) attempts to inveigle herself into the frat boys' business. Amongst the bros there's head dude Derek (Greg Sestero, The Room), Nerdry the wheelchair-bound geek of the bunch (Jon Salmon), raging alcoholic Spike (Michael Rousselet), perpetually nervous Samzy (Ben Gigli), and super-aggro butt-paddler Turbo (Paul Prado) – the scene stealer of the ensemble. However, these beer guzzling brosephs are far from innocent, as their legendary college pranks have inadvertently resulted in the deaths of thousands, much to the chagrin of the local police Chief (Patton Oswalt), who is concocting a scheme to make sure Motherface returns to slaughter every single dude bro!

No consequences in America!” Isolated at a cabin/former sorority house by the lake (that was once the dusty community of Parchtown before one of the dude bros' pranks got out of hand), it's not long before the frequently shirtless herd are being thinned out, having their own fears turned against them (including an aversion to garden tools and canine todger-related personal paranoia). How many dude bros will survive and what will be left of them?!

Those dick farts never gave two shitty bitches about old iron arms.” Filled with goofily gruesome practical gore effects, Dude Bro Party Massacre III leans-in hard to the straight-to-video slasher flick aesthetic with a variety of inventive kills – from someone lashed with their own severed tongue to disembowelment via toilet flush. However, it's not just deviously gruesome murderous mayhem to be enjoyed, as the film – written by Alec Owen and most of the cast – boasts a rate of gags in the dialogue akin to a machine gun, rapid firing a mix of quirky thinkers and goofball silliness alike (convincing Officer Sminkle that the Delta Bi boys are secretly bags of oranges in human form). Visual gags similarly zip past with gleeful abandon, including a stand-out sequence when our protagonists go looking for one of their missing members – at first they're searching the rooms of the lake house, but then they're searching previous scenes from the movie!

I'm an immortal fuck machine!” It's also interesting to note how the film plays with some of the tropes of the slasher movie. In an age of 'sex swapping' film roles (to mixed success), DBPM3 dispatches the traditional slasher movie notion of 'the final girl' entirely with the central cast populated almost completely by males – 'the final boy' was a rare occurrence in the heyday of cinematic serial carnage. Simultaneously skewering frat boy sexual politics (Turbo's penchant for paddling men's bottoms) and machismo overload (a 'brotective' aversion to the female sex, competitive beer chugging masking a cry for help etc), the movie takes the false perception of the slasher flick as a 'male-only pursuit' and damn near makes it literal in the on-screen world.

Genre cinema devotees have long been used to female protagonists while actively rooting for/admiring them, raised on a diet of Alice and Ginny (and even Pamela Voorhees) from Friday the 13th, Nancy and Kristen from A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sally and Stretch from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Laurie from Halloween, Ripley from Alien, Jess from Black Christmas, Sarah from Day of the Dead, Baby Firefly from The Devil's Rejects, Sarah Connor from The Terminator, and countless more. Point being, genre cinema - especially the long-derided horror genre - has always been ahead of the curve. DBPM3 is thankfully far from a hand-wringing, guilt-tripping treatise on masculinity (about as far as one could get, in fact), but the movie nonetheless plays on multiple levels while making sure that above all else the audience has some friggin' fun! A good pairing for this film, albeit with a different tone, is The Final Girls (Todd Strauss-Schulson, 2015), written by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller, which doubled-down on the 'final girl' trope to mix heartfelt mother/daughter dynamics with an inventive lampooning of the summer camp slasher flick.

I would not want to get banged in a book mobile.” The gag rate may be pretty relentless, but they're not all gold, while the film does feel a little overlong and in need of sharpening in the editing room. Similarly, the offbeat humour has a tendency to take over entirely, with the film sometimes forgetting that it also has to deliver a consistent genre flick to fully sell their intentions (think how The Naked Gun or Airplane still functioned as satisfying genre pieces amidst the rampant silliness). However, DBPM3 hits more than it misses, and it even finds room for a variety of cameos – party rocker Andrew WK, adult film legend Nina Hartley, and talk show host Larry King. It sometimes gets lost in the weeds, but 5secondfilms' debut feature shows a real flair for absurd comedy and oddball genre nostalgia. A leap to an equally nonsensical seventh entry, for sake of argument, with a tighter script and execution would certainly be most welcome.

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