Written & Directed by: Kevin Strange
Starring: Kevin Strange, Joe Hammerstone, and Erik A. Williams
Reviewed by: Brett G.
"What the fuck did our bitches get themselves into anyway? Thuggish kidnappers, supernatural monsters...I can barely get my drug-addled mind around it."
"Here, take this tab of LSD and help me comprehend the strangeness of this twisted day."
We've seen quite a few independent productions pass through OTH so far in 2009, each containing various degrees of effectiveness; however, one common thread among them all is an unquestioned passion and enthusiasm for the genre we all know and love. Enter Hack Movies, a group of independent film makers who are by their own admission are "dedicated to bringing you the sickest, silliest, and trashiest feature length flicks from the underground." Their most recent production no doubt epitomizes this creed, as it's one of the most outrageous, sick, and demented features you're likely to find. Ladies and gentlemen, Cockhammer!
Cockhammer is a porn producer who's been down on his luck for the past few years. Due to America's penchant for cheap, direct-to-video porn, Cockhammer's own lavish productions are no longer profitable. Having grown tired of the scene, he does what any sensible porn producer would do: aspire to transcend to a demonic dimension via the use of a Necronomicon-style book that apparently requires the blood of whores. This doesn't exactly come easy, however, as Cockhammer soon exhausts an entire town's supply of hookers via ritualistic sacrifice. Enter Perander and Terrence, two guys with a seemingly endless libido who have grown tired of their usual sexual escapades. In an attempt to spice things up, they send their equally promiscuous girlfriends out to acquire some "Columbian smokeweed" and sex toys that are to be used to screw the two guys in a very uncomfortable place. Unwittingly, the two fall victim to Cockhammer's latest scheme to ascend to the netherworld, and it's up to their drug-addled boyfriends to save them.
I'll say this about Cockhammer: it lets you know exactly what you're in for literally from the opening shot, as a pair of breasts fills the frame. It doesn't take long for some rad grue to join the party in a particularly deranged opening scene that allows Cockhammer to join the likes of Burial Ground, Castle Freak, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, and Beyond Re-Animator in a very exclusive club. What follows is a series of outlandish and crude events that could possibly make Lloyd Kaufman himself blush: guys talk about shoving things into every conceivable human orifice, a hardened hitman espouses Eastern philosophy, and demonic trannies are summoned from the underworld, among other things. If you're easily offended, this one's not going to be for you (and the folks at Hack Movies are kind enough to warn you beforehand).
Though the film's purpose is to offend, that's not to say there's not a certain amount of craft to be found in Cockhammer. While not extraordinarily stylish, the film is visually competent, and most of the special effects (especially the gore) are quite well done to be so low budget. The writing, acting, and characterization are far less consistent though. While it seems kind of defeatist to criticize a film entitled Cockhammer for its writing, it kind of lends itself to it because the dialogue just seems to be trying too hard. It's full of self-aware rants that come off as a somewhat cheap imitation of Tarantino or Kevin Smith, and it just ends up sounding stilted and unnatural. It is occasionally witty, but adding the word "piece" to every conceivable part of the human body gets old after the first ten times. On the plus side, I'm pretty sure the film manages to cram in every conceivable euphemism for sexual organs (and other nefarious parts of the human body).
Likewise, the characters are somewhat of a mixed bag. Because pretty much everyone is saddled with this outrageous dialogue, the characters generally come off as abrasive (some more so than others). For example, Perander and Terrence's acquaintances (Nixon and Hogan), are particularly annoying, with Hogan especially coming off as a bad parody of Fred Durst (which is probably intentional because I can't imagine anyone being unwittingly more annoying than the Limp Bizkit frontman). Our two leads are about as solid as any character can ever hope to be in a film like this, and the two leading ladies fill out their roles adequately.
Writer/director Kevin Strange brings the title character to gloriously maniacal life, as he's reminiscent of an over-the-top, cackling villain from an old B-movie. Perhaps the strongest performance comes from Thadeus Starbuckle in the role of Cockhammer's assistant; sure, he's derivative of Jason Mewes, but he's also one of the few people in the film that seems to be able to adequately handle the snappy and outrageous dialogue.Besides this, all I can really say about Cockhammer is that it accomplishes what it sets out to do from that opening mammary-filled frame: it's often gross, always obscene, and spills just enough grue to satisfy the gorehound in us all. Plus, the film knows not to wear out its welcome, as it runs at a brisk 80 minutes and features a surprisingly decent climax that's more about the horror than comedy.
Expect quite the opposite for most of the running time, though; after all, Hack Movies is where "comedy punches horror in the nuts!" Let's just say that a weapon called the "Phallimax" is crucial to the film's plot, and the name isn't incidental. Without a doubt, the guys and gals at Hack Movies are the horniest, most demented bunch this side of Tromaville. And somehow, I'm sure they'd take that as a compliment. If you decide to decide to seek out this one out, expect a more than decent quality disc: the screener I received not only features an anamorphic widescreen trailer, but also two commentaries featuring Kevin Strange and crew. Hit up their website for further information on both Cockhammer and their other features. Even though this one's not likely to ever show up at your local Blockbuster, find a way to check it out at least once. Rent it!
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