Wednesday, May 12, 1999

Tainted

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 1999 at 12:00 AM

One thing you can say about Tainted, alas, is that it may represent the cutting edge of ultra-low-budget regional filmmaking.

The new sensibility is immediately apparent. If this film had been made in the ’70s, it would have been padded by endlessly plodding, stalking shots. Instead, it’s padded by post-Tarantino talk. Unfortunately, the shaggy-dog digression is not a very easy thing to pull off and each attempt here falls a little flatter than its predecessor – until finally one begins to rue the day that the Big Q first lobbed the tale of La Big Mac into a sea of budding, impressionable future filmmakers.

True, this is a movie which needs to be cut some major slack – it’s a local production (yay, team) shot in 12 days with a core crew of two and a budget of $30,000 – and there are a few glimmers of wit in its screenplay about a metro Detroit vampire subculture, such as when one bloodsucker explains his lack of fangs by saying, "I filed them down. I kept biting my lip." Or when another character refers to a bar where vampires hang out as "Bram Stoker’s Cheers."

But there’s just too much here that’s more rough than ready. The screenplay, despite the aforementioned glimmers, is a few thousand words too long, and the rambling, anecdotal patter and constant pop culture references – including attributing a famous Groucho Marx quote to Woody Allen: a major boo-boo – combined with the long tracking shots (cheaper than multiple setups) make for a soporific mise-en-scene.

The acting is variable but serviceable and the result is a few notches above something you might stumble across on local access cable, but not above something that might end up on "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

Troma, the film’s distributor, is taking it to Cannes this year. But before you become unduly impressed, you should know that the famous film festival has its carnival aspects and Troma – of Toxic Avenger fame – usually shows up with a few rubber-suited monsters and topless starlets. Not that Tainted has either – though it could have benefited, I think, from one or the other or both.

Richard C. Walls writes about the arts for Metro Times. E-mail him at letters@metrotimes.com.

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