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Evil Streets

At Washington, United States, Washington D.C. (DC), United States

Description

Evil Streets (1998)

This shot-on-video anthology was recently handed off to me for review by Manta Ray Pictures. I hope I'll be forgiven for some spoilers.
The beauty of the anthology film (you can buy films review, research papers, and essays online on our "homework help" service
- https://mcessay.com/do-my-homework/) is that the same economy which applies in short stories applies here. Depth or complexity is not required (though it certainly isn't discouraged); a short story, or a short segment, can work well on the strength of the story hook alone. Sometimes it rises to the level of a metaphysical conceit (that's the English Lit degree speaking);at other times, it's a perfectly acceptable "gimmick." But this strength is a double-edged sword -- if the gimmick or hook of the segment is lackluster, there's no time to develop character or mood to fill in the cracks.

With that said, here is my decidedly mixed review. By segment:
"The Downfall of Johnny Garrett"
In a nutshell, a smalltime hood rapes a girl coming home from work late. She goes back to her apartment and looks through pictures of her dead girlfriend. Later, she and the dead girlfriend confront Johnny, chop off his arm with an ax, then bury the ax in his chest. The end.

Now, in comparison to the last SOV movie I reviewed (Hellinger), this is much more active. Smoothly moving camera work keeps us interested through the longest part of the story, the stalking of the white-collar girl. A moodily minimalist guitar track fills in a dialogue-less scene well, circumventing the problem of location sound.

However, there's just too much setup for too little payoff. The rape is shown on screen (which rarely works -- seeing some guy's butt bounce up and down inspires giggles rather than the revulsion we need to feel at such an act); five minutes later, it's over. (I really wanted to like this segment, too, especially because the director of this and the third segment was Terry Wickham, who actually sponsored the contest.)

"Szamota's Mistress"
And now for something completely different... This is an incredible piece of short cinema. Shot in stark black and white, lit in strange and counter-intuitive ways, edited flawlessly. The story is of a man, Szamota, who is obsessed with a beautiful woman, Jana (Tina Krause). He is as surprised as anybody when she invites him to her big house, where they have delightfully spooky sex in silence -- she never says a word, just sends him notes between their encounters. As time progresses, their encounters get weirder, and Szamota becomes more and more agitated.

This is an almost dialogue-less film; the heavy first-person narration supplements the visuals, giving the feel of a '90's version of a Poe tale. (I was not surprised to learn, in the closing credits, that the script was based on a short story.) The music is great (although a bit MIDI-heavy), the imagery is haunting, and Tina Krause has just the foreign-looking beauty to pull of the voiceless role of the model.

The only downfall is in the last scene -- without giving it away, let me just say that it reminded me terribly of the last scene of Psycho: A big, awkward block of dialog designed to clear everything up. Not only does it not mesh with the dialogue-less montage which preceded it, but in dialogue the drawbacks of video become readily apparent. Rather than conclude the story in a satisfying manner, it sucked the impetus from its sails.

Director of this segment was Joseph S. Parda -- watch for his name in the future.
"Stalk"
This last segment was also directed by Terry Wickham, and it suffers from the same problem: Too much setup, not enough payoff. Misty, a nightclub stripper (SaRenna Lee), is being stalked by an unknown someone who peeps on her in her dressing room.

First problem: If you subscribe to the philosophy that "more than a handful is a waste" (as I do), then SaRenna's over-engorged mammaries will achieve the opposite effect of the tittilation that was intended by their exposure. If, however, you like boobs so fake they should have "Made in Taiwan" stamped across them, this may be your cup of tea. Since much of this segment is made of up SaRenna's strip act, you'll not have much else to look at.

But again, an abrupt ending spoils it all. From the time that Misty realizes that the guy is not just a peeper but a stalker, through the chase scene and the conclusion, takes about two minutes.

The Bottom Line

The first and third segments were competently made; they'll serve as good practice for another movie, which could be excellent if only they have a worthwhile script. The second segment is wonderful, and I recommend getting ahold of the tape if only for that.

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