Friday, June 10, 2011

One A Week Reviews #23: Sculpture

My history with Sculpture goes back a while. It was a pleasure to meet members of the cast and crew back at Horrorhound weekend in 2009, so when Dan at Exploitation Retrospect asked if I wanted to review the movie, it was a given I would.  

Sculpture is an unusual curiosity of a movie: A study of a woman going mad as the sexual abuses of her past catch up with her, dressed up with gory murders, then stuffed into a pair of posing trunks. Your normal, pulchritudinous Scream Queens are here replaced by a series of muscular hunks who's every curve and swell are explored by the camera before they're chopped to little bits by a crazed killer. It's nice to see how the other half lives.

Opening with a framing sequence at the art gallery of Alan Rowe Kelly (you really must see The Blood Shed), who's proud to present the newest show of Ashley Steele (Raine Brown). We then flash back to see how Ashley builds her show-stopping sculpture, "The Perfect Man." After the death of her abusive father, she returns home to brother Adam, his gang of muscle-bound friends, and old "frienemy" Emily. Things quickly take a toxic turn as she finds inspiration for her art in the bodies of Adam's friends

Erin Brown returns under the "Misty Mundae" moniker as Emily. It's a fascinating, fresh twist (though perhaps a one-note one) to see her and Brown's soft, "natural" bodies and breasts countered with the over-defined, pumped up chests of the men in the film. They're packing more cleavage than the actresses and the camera lingers over them longer, both when they pose and as Ashley methodically goes about harvesting their parts. Blake has beautiful legs and Greg has a nice rump, and she's not about to let any piece get away from her and her art. The sawing away she does to get such parts, though, is almost comical, but the dip into gore satisfies.

Aimed at an audience of women and gay men (more closeted than not, I'd guess), and produced by Screamkings, a company with a roster of films where pretty boys wind up in the grave, Sculpture actually has a subtle, surprisingly well-handled story of childhood abuse at it's heart. For low budget horror -with all the constraints that implies – this is a well-written and directed film. The DVD extras include a deleted scene of fantasized incest that's a textbook example of knowing what to cut to strengthen a film. There's also an excised gay subplot and fleshed-out version of a double murder scene.

Raine Brown is one of those B-movie actresses who shows up in fare that emphasizes her figure then surprises you with nuanced acting. She plays a modulated, methodical decent into crazy and in the end sells wide-eyed madness without going (too) over the top. We understand why she sees The Perfect Man as marble when the world just sees fly-blown meat. Both Browns and Kelly have the chops. None of the other actors embarrass themselves, though all are obviously featured primarily here for their bodies. Best are Dustin Kerns as Adam and co-producer Marv Blauvelt who appears as the father in flashbacks. Blauvelt is still producing horror films where the bread and butter is hot guys getting killed by scream queens, and more power to him and this odd sub-genre.

There's (and this is such a groaner I almost hate to type it) "meat" to the story in Sculpture behind the beefcake.

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