Friday, October 5, 2012

I Guess You Have to Be in a New Hampshire State of Mind: "Monsters, Marriage, and Murder in Manchvegas" (2009)

While I enjoy a micro-budget horror flick as much as the next guy ("I'll Bury You Tomorrow"), I will admit I just did not get what co-writer/director Charles Roxburgh and co-writer/actor Matt Farley were dishing out.

Marshall (Matt Farley), Jenny (Marie Dellicker), and All-Star Pete (Thomas Scalzo) run a small entrepreneurial outfit in Manchvegas (a local joke on the city of Manchester, New Hampshire). The trio delivers papers, as well as books, lemonade, and some silly pop CD's of their own production. Their group, M.O.S. (Manchvegas Outlaw Society), also keep their eyes peeled for any criminal activity, which happens to occur as the film unfolds.

Young finishing school student Melinda (Sharon Scalzo) and bad boy Vince (Kyle Kochar) begin dating, much to Melinda's dad's (Kevin McGee) chagrin. The couple become engaged, and suddenly Melinda disappears and is presumed dead. Vince is the prime suspect, and soon a couple of other engaged young women are found murdered. Vince could be the murderer, or it could be the smarmy Sigmund (Bryan Fortin), or it could be the local university students on an archaeological dig in the area...or it could be the giant forest creatures known as Gospercaps, who sound like they speak Klingon. Marshall and M.O.S. decide to investigate, but Marshall is too wrapped up in his activities to notice that Jenny is in love with him.

While the cast and crew name a bunch of B horror movies as their inspiration in one of the DVD's featurettes, I found this film closer to a John Waters film than anything else. The city of Manchvegas is a fantasy town, the cast awkwardly deliver their lines, and the film has a goofy sense of humor. Unfortunately, the film never loses that goofy sense of humor, to the point where what was quirky and semi-funny in the script's opening half hour gets a bit tedious. Another difference from a Waters film is the lack of edge in this film. I know the budget was low, but there is no gore, scares, or nudity (and the trio of actresses here- Dellicker, Scalzo, and Elizabeth Peterson as a reporter are incredibly cute), making me wonder where all the inspiration that "The Pit," "Shriek of the Mutilated," or "Slumber Party Massacre 3" went. I guess you need to be from the Manchester area to appreciate the in-jokes, but me recounting all the nicknames for my hometown here in North Dakota, or retelling a bunch of Montana sheep jokes, would also be lost on anyone not from around here.

In addition to the cute ladies here, the cast does keep a straight face while delivering some pretty silly dialogue. M.O.S.'s goofy songs are hysterical, and this was shot on actual film, giving it a nice look.

I think you might kick my rating up a star or two if you are familiar with Roxburgh and Farley's other work (I have something called "Freaky Farley" in a giant stack of screeners ready to watch), or you are from the area. Otherwise, you rest of the world, you may have my reaction to "Monsters, Marriage, and Murder in Manchvegas." (* *) out of five stars.