Chuck Steel: Night of the TrampiresReviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 12/04/18 23:11:31
SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires" does the thing where it spoofs dumb, tacky movies by being dumb and tacky in the same way only much louder, trying to legitimize a guilty pleasure by slathering a lawyer off irony on it so someone can say they like how it mocks those attitudes. It's not really fooling anyone, if it's trying; if you're inclined to react to the real thing with "not cool", you'll likely have the same reaction here, and the same likely goes if you delight in that sort of over-the-top excess.As you may expect, "Chuck Steel" is the name of a cop who plays by his own rules, to the immense frustration of his captain Jack Schitt and whatever poor bit of cannon fodder is assigned to be his partner. His wife has left him and the department wants him to shrink Dr. Alex Cular, but he's the only one noticing that there's something really weird happening with the local homeless population aside from British weirdo Abraham Van Rental, who claims to be a vampire expert (well, "trampire" expert, specifically). And what's this all got to do with the governor, who wants to outlaw booze?
Is Chuck Steel (both film and character) more than a bit crass? Oh, yeah, it leans pretty hard on getting laughs based on political incorrectness and gross-out humor, with the gags based half on being unexpected, whether because it seems like kind of a non-sequitur or because one doesn't expect the filmmakers to follow through on the crude potential of a set-up. It's not entirely shock-based humor that falls apart once you're expecting it, and it kind of works to filmmaker Mike Mort's advantage that he doesn't exactly go small: The gray area between "obviously a spoof of a thing" and "basically that thing" is huge, but he does all he can to get into the spot where it's obviously a joke.
Even if it's the sort of thing that works for you, this movie at least has the benefit of tossing its jokes out in rapid-fire fashion, never letting anything sit for too long if it doesn't make someone laugh. Mort also has more than a few genuinely good bits scattered through, when it takes a moment or so to pause for air in its setups and responses. Careful construction and execution is not really this movie's personality, though, especially given its voice cast - like a lot of animated movies where the filmmakers do most of the voices, they're not as practiced as pros, so the silly voice gets used more than the great reading of a line.
The animation turns out to be pretty darn slick, though - as an animated film with a lot going on in some scenes, it may have been excruciatingly slow and manual to make, but the end result is smooth and busy without what's in the background seeming to get less attention. The caricatured figures are fairly expressive, enough for a raised eyebrow or a blank stare to work as a joke rather than seem like a limitation. Those looking for some gross monsters and quality gore won't be disappointed either; Mort and company let their imagination run wild and the finale is a big, gooey, crazy mess.This is really not my sort of comedy, but it's got its moments, and for a small independent film, the animation is awfully impressive. If this is your thing, though, you'll probably laugh a lot.
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