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HATRED OF A MINUTE is your quintessential indy horror flick. Its got the hokey acting, cliché storyline, and token genre legend necessary to push it into the upper echelon of recent low budget flicks of its kind. Yet, while the acting and story leave a lot to be desired, HATRED is a charmer; pumping endless amounts of charisma at the viewer with each scene.
I picked up Michael Kallio's eight-year-in-the-making baby late one night at Best Buy, minutes before it closed its doors. I had a few bucks burning a hole in my tan pleather wallet, and was already on the hunt for one of my favorite B-movie titles, EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE (featuring the legendary Alyssa Milano nudescenes that'd make any red-blooded American male drool like a retarded monkey) when I came across the title. I'd never seen it before, and so -- having memorized every single film title in the horror section three times over -- I picked up the new flick and inspected it. I didn't really have any intentions on purchasing it until I read the cover.
"Bruce Campbell Presents." was all it took to convince me that this was a film worth having in my collection. Being a complete Bruce nut, I glanced over the synopsis on the back, having already made up my mind. It was going home with me that night, along with Alyssa's perky chesticles, and that's all there was to it.
Well, like most spur of the moment DVD purchases, I wound up sitting on the film for a solid month before actually freeing the case from its protective cellophane, and popping the disc into the three headed monster that is my player. What followed was a good four hours of low budget fun that warmed my heart, and reinforced my gut instincts with a bear hug, a pat on the back, and affirmations that would send Stuart Smalley into fits of jealousy.
HATRED OF A MINUTE is a tale about a young man named, Eric Seaver (played by co-writer/director, Michael Kallio.) Eric is an aspiring writer engaged to a busty blonde, and works dictating crime scene audio tapes for the local coroners offices. Sounds like a guy with a bright future, don't it? Well, there's a lot of baggage weighing all the positives in his life down. like a past filled to the brim with abuse and alcoholism, all due in part to his stepfather, Barry (Gunner Hansen).
In flashbacks, we see Barry mercilessly beat his wife, as a young Eric watches on helpless to stop it. I'm not going to say that Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface from the Tobe Hooper classic, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) is perfect for this role, because he isn't. In fact, I probably would have preferred Kallio and company go with someone else for the part of Barry, because while Gunnar is a big, ugly, mean looking dude, he sounds like a friggin' chipmunk when he talks! And, when you sound like a chipmunk, it's awfully difficult to buy into the monster factor necessary to believe in the character. I feel confident that someone more like Sig Haig would have been much better for this role, but considering the success he's experienced portraying Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's horror delight, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, I can understand why he'd be slightly out of their price range.
Actually, that's not totally true. You see, one of the really interesting things about Hatred is that the footage you're watching, used for a movie that was released in 2002, was all shot in 1995. Yup, what is labeled as a one to two year old movie, is technically pushing ten. Of course, you can get the complete rundown when you watch the commentary featuring Kallio and Bruce Campbell (who produced). It's an interesting story, and only helps to lend more character to the film.
It was during the horrific smack laying sessions dolled out by Barry that introduced a new friend and influence into Eric's world, in the form of six-plus foot tall bald demon named Jack (yet affectionately referred to as Baldo in the commentary), played by Michael Robert Brandon. While never saying a word, Brandon gives Jack incredible depth. An impressive feat considering this was his first real movie role! And boy does he work it! Jack truly is one of those psychological horror figures that has the potential to go down as a cult legend, with his amped creepiness, and encompassing evil demeanor.
As the film progresses, we watch Eric's hold on reality slip away, instead replaced by a warped view that calls for him to free women from impending physical violence the only way he knows how. to kill them. These are no doubt messages being sent telepathically by the big bald demon dude, and God bless him for it! While Michael's interaction with other human's, and an angel named Michael (Jeffery Steiger) are weak and unbelievable, the bond that flows between him and Brandon is amazing.
Unfortunately for most cheap horror fan boys, there probably isn't going to be the kind of blood and guts that you usually get with the genre. Instead, Kallio takes a more classy, Hitchcokian approach to the murder scenes, which for me still conveys the best kind of horror. This isn't cheesy schlock on a stick film making, this is psychological horror that works its own magic not on screen, but in your mind. For that, I applaud him.
Because of the shoe-string budget used for the film (mentioned at $350,000 in the commentary), Kallio and friends are forced to come up with unique settings, and do the best with what they're given. What makes it into the movie is a collection of dim horror mixed with beautifully shot scenes including a breathtaking auburn and purple sky, shortly after Eric plunges into his psychosis head first. These scenes make it possible for viewers to overlook the unexplored subplots like Eric's love for his real father, or why, instead of calling 911 every time he committed a murder, he didn't write his exploits down, being the wannabe writer that he is. And then there's the underdeveloped angel that was meant to offset Baldo, but never quite broke through due to Brandon's Titanic sized performance.
HATRED OF A MINUTE is not a perfect movie, but it's not total crap either. It is somewhere between the two extremes, on the above average side. While it's not for everyone (these movies usually aren't), if you are a fan of indy horror without the gross out schlock devices most employ, then you'll like this movie. If not, go watch something from Tromaville, or EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE. since everyone loves seeing Alyssa in the buff as she's nailed by a white Steve Urkel-sized vampire!
- Brodie James is a guest contributor to Movie Criticism to the Retarded. You can read more of his reviews at his site, LivingCorpse.com.
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