Reviewing and analyzing low-budget movies is almost never as gratifying as it is for the big-budget ones, because often the cheapies make up for their lack of full-throated entertainment with eagerness and a strong effort. You almost feel a bit guilty when you pick on them, too, because you know the director probably hocked his entire Star Wars action figures collection to finance his labor of love.
Even so, the odds are against the low-budget movie. In order for it to be successful, it has to be really, really good, because it’s sure not going to get a huge advertising blitz – word of mouth will likely make or break it. The good news is that twenty years or so down the road, even the worst (especially the worst) will reemerge as cult classics. Hey, if it worked for Rocky Horror, it can work for anything.
I don’t think that sort of fate awaits Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas, from the makers of Freaky Farley. This direct-to-video comedy is set in Manchester, NH; well, it’s actually Manchvegas, a fictional stand-in for Manchester, but you get the drift. Anyway, the story focuses on a prank-loving group in town called the MOS (Manchvegas Outlaw Society), led by Marshall (director-writer-star Matt Farley). Marshall, who appears to be in his twenties, is in arrested development and only wants to have fun; meanwhile, his female coconspirator, Jenny (Marie Dellicker) is beginning to wish for a more adult relationship, which leads her to date older guys while still pining for Marshall. Secretly.
Meanwhile, young women are being kidnapped off the streets and then murdered. Who’s behind these diabolical crimes? Who knows? Who’s up to solving the mystery? Why, MOS, of course!
On the plus side, the movie is enthusiastic and silly; its high-energy attitude (despite the macabre plot) help disguise the fact that this is a poorly acted, poorly written, and poorly directed film. Okay, maybe that’s more like damning with faint, faint praise. The acting is uniformly – and hysterically – grade-school bad. People recite their lines as if they learned them two minutes prior and couldn’t be bothered to add such luxuries as tone and emphasis. The plot itself is nonsensical, sort of what you’d expect a hyperactive kindergartener to come up with after three hours of recess.
And I know that’s mean, and after all this is not a theatrical release anyway (it went straight to video), so what did I expect? I didn’t expect much at all, frankly, and that’s really what I got. The movie looks as if it were produced by a first timer, but this is the fourth entry for Matt Farley. I admire his perseverence, especially since he can’t be making any money off these enterprises, but if your fourth movie is still really, really awful, maybe it’s time to find another line of work.
Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas: *