Movie Review: Sweatshop

Texas Frightmare Weekend was kind enough to show us anticipated slasher fans a screening of Sweatshop in 2010. Judging from the audiences response, they were beyond thrilled. I heard everything from screams, to laughs, to a loud bang from one of the drunken viewers passing out and splitting his head open on a table. He was escorted to the emergency room right away but came back to the convention immediately to show off his battle wounds. My brother and I sat in the front row, along with friends and colleagues hosting the following Q&A and we were over-joyed. The sound effects were impeccable! The film opens with a girl getting shot to death and you could hear her falling to her knees, face forward, effectively. I was quite impressed with the sound effects right away. I highly recommend watching this in surround sound.  The second screening I sat through, at The Meridian, had the same response from the audience. Lots of cheers, grunts, and viewers screaming, “OH MY GOD!” I relished the looks of revulsion on the viewers faces. They couldn’t figure out whether to be disgusted or turned on. Expect some comedic relief thanks to Ted Geoghegan’s fantastically witty script. The snow balling conversation was educational because I had no idea that dude cream only belonged on chicks.

As for the score, 80s fans will be pleased to hear the homage to John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. I expected more electronica, raver jams. In the 90s, ravers were fond of Lords of Acid, Enigma, Prodigy, and Baby D. Times have changed, this new breed of glow stick mother fuckers are listening to Lucid Dementia and other unknown artists that I have never heard of. Even their swag has changed. The only things I recognized were the glow sticks, crazy lights, and pacifiers. Another thing troubles me, where’s the E? We see a lot of pot smoking and whiskey guzzling but aren’t ravers prone to harder drugs? At least ecstasy and acid?

Sweatshop has your basic slasherama plot. Charlie and her friends are throwing a rave party in an abandoned warehouse that appears to be crawling with contorted ghoul girls and a gigantic ‘beast’ in a fur coat and welding mask. Forget the fur coat, this mysterious beast picks off his victims with a massive sledge hammer. I’ve never seen one that big! That would split me in two. All of these characters break the cardinal rules. Don’t wander off, drink, and have sex! Naturally, we have our final girl Charlie, who has a few skeletons in her closet. She pimps out her slutty friends for some extra cash. Hey, a girl does what she has to do. She is not the typical virgin type overplayed in these types of films. Scotty Boy is the mohawk male whore that I wouldn’t touch if you paid me to. Seriously, how are the girls so willing to spin on his Johnson? Wade is the fat hairy redneck who is also able to score with a hottie. I AM SO CONFUSED! We got this ‘Ghost’ guy chicks are pining over because long black hair with black and white facial make-up was made sexy by The Crow. Jade is a ferocious vixen with green hair that seems to have some bizarre triangle going on. Honestly, I am still confused as to what the hell is going on there and I couldn’t figure out if that thing on her head was a wig. Lolli is a lesbian mystery to me. Her only concern is to piss Jade off as much as possible and give her meat wallet away to whoever is willing. Miko is the crack baby that gets a little annoying with her high pitch voice and constant rambling but she appears to be the most fashionable within the group. Kim and Kenny were the only characters we don’t know much about. Kenny especially, I feel sorry for his character because what is his purpose other than being the only attractive man in the film? The only thing we know about Kim is that she previously slept with Scotty Boy and he never called her back. As for Charlie whoring her friends out, I don’t know where Kim fits into all of this. Finally, we get the token black DJ, Enyx, who is on top of Charlie’s being a pimp. These characters were far more colorful than what most slashers tend to offer but I didn’t like any of them enough to root for their survival. I think that was the point. These pacifier sucking, glow stick mother fuckers need to die!  We don’t know the beast’s back story or where the hell his ghoul girls come from. Is he inbred? Was he tortured as a child? Normally, I prefer a back story but anything this feature is lacking is certainly made up for with gratuitous nudity and gore.

There are elements in this film that are quite efficacious in expediting the requisite regurgitation. If you are a fan of gore then Sweatshop is for you! Expect lots of gore available to ravish and disgust thanks to Marcus Koch, Mike Oliver and Kristi Boul. They are masters of their craft. I have never formerly met Oliver but Koch is a stand up guy and Boul is on top of the effects for two films I worked on, Princess and The Good Girl. I believe the future has a lot in store for Kristi Boul. It’s hard to pick a favorite death scene. They’re all so glorious! A man receives garden shears through the neck before he is decapitated. There’s a random dick in a sock. Faces smashed into the ground. Faces smashed through an elevator gate. Fingers chopped off with gardening shears. Jaws are ripped off and splattered all over a sex booth. A girl is stabbed in the eye with a glow stick and a man walking on his hands gets chopped in half with a machete. I am guessing that was a nod to Friday the 13th part 3. The ghoul girls make-up was out of this world. Why can’t all independent horror films be this awesome? Finally, we are given a whole new meaning to ball gags. Top it off with bloody disco balls rolling across the room and you got yourself one hell of a party.

As for the acting, we’ve mostly got a bunch of new comers here but they will not let you down. Fangoria’s Michael Gingold makes a fun cameo asking, “Why can’t you kids fuck in the church like everyone else?” I didn’t notice that was him until AFTER I actually met Michael and noticed how much of a geekster he was. Even without his glasses and a gun in his hand, he’s quite the geekster. We get some decent performances by Ash Kay, Melanie Donihoo, Brent Himes, Naika Malveaux, and Roxy Vandiver makes a quick screaming cameo. Unless you are familiar with Roxy’s tattoos, I doubt you will notice as it happens within a blink of an eye. Amy Rene LaFaver’s has two roles, both ravers, and one of those ravers is the lucky lady that gets stabbed in the eye with a glow stick. She managed to pull off a convincing scream without being over the top. I was impressed with Danielle Jones’ cries for help as well as Peyton Wetzel’s. Towards the climax, Wetzel pulls off a dramatic speech before he’s quieted with a ‘ball gag.’ Krystal Freeman mesmerized me with her eyes. It’s a shame we haven’t seen her in more horror films because I think she could become a super-virtuoso. Julin seems to be a favorite as Miko, “Whatever, dude.” Yes, that’s actually how we sound here in Southeast Texas. Julin is climbing her way to the top and there’s no denying her talent after that dingy and unhinged performance. Be sure to check her out in Cherry Bomb and The Final. You may also remember her in Spirit Camp, alongside Roxy Vandiver. Who is this Fernando Phagabeefy and what’s going on with his name? His performance as Ghost was brief but the name certainly stands out. Last but not least, Jeremy Sumrall deserves more credit for ‘The Beast.’ He may not have any lines but you cannot tell me you have seen a more original villain in an independent slasher over the last five years.

The MPAA gave the film an NC-17 rating for ‘Disturbing sadistic horror violence, nudity and language.’ Screen Media released the film uncut and unrated. Extras for the DVD include; Audio Commentary by director Stacy Davidson, Writer Ted Geoghegan, and associate producer John Torrani. Sweatshop: Hide and Shriek motion comic that reveals the fate of ‘Ghost’ and photo galleries. The entire film is actually dubbed because they were shooting at the Meridian, one of the largest clubs in Houston, Texas during business hours. You can catch a few goofs in the dubbing here and there. You can hear the dialogue but no lips are moving. Believe it or not, I didn’t even notice the first couple of times I saw the film.

  • I know I speak for a lot of fans. Sweatshop is a fun film. Most dvd retailers like Movie Stop have that film brand new for like 7.99. It is a must own, and there is a cameo by Roxy Vandiver in the film also. This film has a lot of blog love. I just wish more fans would buy it..and hopefully we can get a sequel…