Directed by Blaine Wasylkiw (2006)
Reviewed by MaT, added on Sep 26 2006
I mentioned this as our spotlight indie flick of the week on Splattercast #14, and was excited to see this arrive in my mailbox. Very rarely are low budget films worth watching, let alone buying. In most cases, the concepts are uninspired, or the films take themselves too seriously, or the execution is flawed beyond hope. I am happy to say that Dancing Monkey Productions' The Muffin Man is an outstanding indie flick that deserves any and all accolades put upon it. So, just what the hell is The Muffin Man?
The film opens with a couple of cops who confront a deranged serial killing baker named Desmond Bailey. After a tussle, Bailey ends up "baked". Fast forward 5 years, and we enter a small donut and coffee shop named Gonuts Donuts ("You'll go nuts for our donuts"). After some hilarious scenes involving various customers, our "grizzled detective", who survived the encounter with Bailey five years ago, warns that Bailey has returned and has been massacring people all over the place. Even butchering Girl Scouts and going door to door selling their body parts in replace of the cookies! After the warning, our law enforcer (played brilliantly by a deadpan Michael Shepherd) warns that witnesses have described Bailey with the body of a man and head of a giant muffin. They don't believe the cop but of course, what ensues is that The Muffin Man shows up and begins killing off our various Gonuts employees.
I absolutely loved this film. The acting is really good and it straddles the line between overtly campy and playing it straight enough to allow a "funness" to pervade the preceedings. Chris Ippolito is outstanding as the sarcastic, slightly jaded Gonuts employee, and the scorchingly beautiful Allison Lynch (I think Steve's belief that redheads are "a hotness that surpasses all higher powers" is starting to rub off on me) is wonderful whenever she is on screen. As mentioned earlier Michael Shepherd delivers his dialogue in a deadpan, humorless way and many of the films biggest laughs come from his great delivery. The film is only 40 minutes long, and I think that really helps it. Too often, filmmakers try to pad out the running time and it seems that director Blaine Wasylkiw knew what worked and pandered to the strenghts of the project, namely the absurd premise, by loading this thing with comedy, which is wittier than most Hollywood comedies. I say absurd because the title character, who arrives on screen at about the halfway mark, is so over the top and ridiculous, that you can't help but love it. The head is a gigantic muffin (and when I say "gigantic", that's what I mean, GIGANTIC) with glowing red eyes. He also speaks cryptically in a demonic voice about such things as fire beetles eating your brain. Seriously. This film is fantastic.
But alas, no film is perfect and The Muffin Man is no different. Though the filmmakers should be commended on making a great looking film (I thought Wasylkiw had some good shot compositions and the overall look of the film was far more polished than your average low budget shlocker), there are still some rough spots. One particular scene involves the Muffin Man killing a Gonuts employee in a grease pit in the parking lot, but the editing of the scene leaves much to be desired. Other minor gripes include some low audio in spots, and an unfortunate lack of gore. There is one cool "money shot" when Jane meets the end of a rolling pin, but other than that, there isn't any real blood to speak of.
But in all actuality, the technical issues are minor, and because the film caused me to laugh out loud over a dozen times in its short running time, I can overlook a lack of grue. I was deeply impressed by The Muffin Man. All of the cast and crew brought a real joy to the making of the film and the concept is so over the top and the writing so terrific, that this is one of those films that I hope people will support and get behind. I've always found it difficult to be able to support a lot of the indie film companies out there because too often they make utter crap, and then hide behind the "Hey, we're indie filmmakers, so you HAVE to support us!". The Muffin Man is one of those films that makes a horror fan (and reviewer) happy to sit through countless hours of tedium in hopes of finding that shining jewel. If you truly want to help support a good indie company, then head over to the Dancing Monkey site. Ten bucks for a 40 minute flick may seem a little steep, but hopefully that small donation will help these guys make bigger and better things.
I suppose the best thing that I could say about The Muffin Man is that I will no doubt watch it again, and still get a lot of enjoyment out of it. When you are a low budget production, that's the best thing you could hope for, and in this case Wasylkiw and crew succeeded. Keep an eye on these guys.
Comments from Stevie-poo...
Redheads are so fucking hot. I love you all. You make the world a better place to live in.