Review: ATTACK OF THE KILLER DOUGHNUTS
If you know one thing about me you know that I love movies that have theme songs. There’s something about them that I think just works. It’s usually extremely catchy, ridiculous and spooky lyrics, and they generally feel like underdogs. Everyone makes fun of “Nightmare On My Street” by The Fresh Prince but...it’s actually really fun! And I like championing the underdog. And the theme song here by Sunghosts is GREAT. Here are some choice cuts:
Attack of the Killer Donuts
Just the impossibility of it is making me so nuts
That late night snack
might be your last
They’ll rush you, Crush you
Put you in a sugar coma.
Glorious. And while the film has its merits, it’s unfortunate that the song plays over the closing credits because it’s the highlight of an otherwise down the line OK film.
The inherent problem with this style of send up films, the “intentional B movie”, is that the films they are parodying were never trying to make a B picture. The man behind Pieces didn’t think “oh you know what, if a character screams wildly the word ‘Bastard!’ it’ll be HILARIOUS!” No, it just happened. And the happy accident is now genre film history. The humor only works when the dialogue is taken dangerously serious, and there is nothing taken seriously in this film. Which is not necessarily detracting from the film, it just means it is something else entirely. A film like The Happening will always fall more in line with the spirit of the cult movie than the a film that is intentionally trying to create one. But again, this is a classification question. As a weird, better than average party film for a group of inebriated friends? The films hits its marks.
The plot is simple: Emma Wentworth (Kassandra Voyagis) and her son (Justin Ray), Johnny live in Los Angeles. Well, what Johnny and Emma don’t know is Uncle Luther (familiar face Michael Swan) is actually performing secret experiments to reanimate dead rats in their basement! And due to some rather fuzzy happenstance, Johnny accidently tracks some of his Uncle’s chemical agent to his job at Dandy Donuts, and wouldn’t ya know it the donuts start coming to life and killing everyone.
Before I go on I do want to address the big elephant in the room for this film and it’s WTF is going on with the age differences between the mother and son? Neither have their birthdates listed online so I can verify literally nothing, but I’m pretty sure they are the same age. The mother possibly a few years older than the son, but not by a significant enough amount to qualify her to play this role. And not saying the actress doesn’t play her part well, she’s fine, it’s just...kinda gross, especially when she is used predominantly as a way to insert a gaggle of MILF jokes. So. #REALLYGUYS? TL;DR gross casting choice is gross.
The rest of the film is filled out with your typical stock characters, which while larger than life are extremely clear. The mad doctor, the cheating girlfriend, the hot tempered boss, and a “too old for this shit” cop (C. Thomas Howell in a bizarrely satisfying turn). There is nothing wrong with utilizing stock characters. While it may not be the most inventive, there is something comforting about the familiarity. It has the charm of good community theatre, with the creative flexibility of independent cinema. The special effects are charmingly low budget, especially the practical effects and you know? The donut attacks work. By god they work. The visual effects, by director Scott Wheeler, who has previously worked on numerous mockbusters, while not as deliriously wacky as Zombeavers still aren’t terrible, which really...kind of all that matters. Even when the cast is being pelted by donuts from off camera PA’s, you can’t help but grin. The donuts drive cars, react to each other, and it’s all just silly, stupid, and fun.
Sadly after the initial excitement of the opening and promises of donuts and ridiculousness, a glaringly uncomfortable scene of sexual harassment is extremely off putting. Actually the general treatment of women in this movie had me thinking “Are we still really doing this?”, and I we shouldn’t blame the B movie. This falls squarely on the creative time. There is a gross level of aggression that all of the female characters have to deal with, from a trio of sexist male customers to even the “best friend” stock character when asking for shotgun. The manager of the donut shop? After victim blaming and firing his female employee he goes to the back office to masturbate. It’s not funny, and B cinema was never like this. Of course all of these disposable characters get their comeuppance, but we expected that going in, so their demise doesn’t feel like a reaction to their terrible behavior. Simply, there is no point for the misogyny to be written into the storyline. So why is it there? And I think that’s a question only the creatives can ask themselves. This is what it means to truly look at gender disparity in film. The assholes could have easily not been sexual harassers; there is more than one way to be a dick. And once creatives understand that then maybe we can finally start something real change.
It’s disappointing that the inciting incident has to be mired in such male chauvinism, but luckily the movies innocent stupidity kicks in and you can enjoy the rest of the film. Watch it bleary eyed on a Saturday morning, or with a group of friends getting lit at a party but if you’re in the mood for a film called Attack of the Killer Donuts, then Attack of the Killer Donuts delivers.