A young artist sells his soul to Satan for the new heart he so desperately needs. How was he to know that his new heart comes replete with tentacles and a hunger for human flesh?
In the past I have bemoaned the relative low cost of video cameras & their ability to make any schlub with an idea for a movie think that they are Directors.The only thing they really need besides the camera is a few friends, some oatmeal (To pretend they’re zombies of course), a couple of flashlights & some beer. I cannot put into words the number of movies I’ve found myself forced to sit through that have all of these requisites yet all of them are missing the one thing that might’ve made a few of them palatable…TALENT. Some of these chuckleheads even manage to finagle some halfway decent money from family & friends to make their dreams come true. Every so often you’ll see one of these “Dreams” show up in a Redbox machine or maybe on Netflix but by and large these so called movies and the auteurs responsible for them fade quietly away, never to be seen again.
But there are young people who not only have the necessary equipment but the talent to make a nifty movie every so often and Dustin Wayde Mills is one of them. He not only writes & directs his films, he also composes the music, creates the special effects and produces them as well. In 2011 he unleashed the winning “Puppet Monster Massacre” and earlier this year “Zombie A-Hole” was released to favorable notices. His latest film “Night Of The Tentacles” is about to be released and once again Mills has crafted a no budget winner that is more entertaining than a lot of other so called “Films” with much bigger budgets and resources.
In “Night Of The Tentacles” (NOTT from hereon) we are introduced to Dave (Brandon Salkil), a graphic artist that is currently working on illustrating some alien p*rn. Single and lonely, Dave has to listen to his neighbors have extremely loud sex on a daily basis while the highlight of his day is to wait for his downstairs neighbor Esther (Nicole Gerity) to arrive home from work and masturbate as he presses his ear against the floor and pleases himself at the same time. As if that isn’t pathetic enough, poor Dave has a heart attack right after his latest adventure with his hairy palm and is told that he has a bad ticker which is going to have to be replaced.
Dave is left to bemoan his fate when he gets a visit from Satan! And of course Satan has an offer for Dave, one that Dave is more than familiar with. In exchange for his soul, Satan will give Dave a brand new heart. One that will never grow old and stop working, one that will last forever and all Dave has to do is sign a standard non-disclosure contract. After giving it some thought (About 30 seconds or so) Dave agrees & is suddenly the recipient of a brand spanking new heart! A heart in a small chest sitting on his table that is…
He’s told that his new heart must remain in the chest it resides in and for it to last forever all he has to do is take good care of it. Before Satan leaves Dave asks if he can take a quick gander at his new heart only to see that it’s something that looks more like a relative of Cthulhu than a human heart! But as long as it stays in it’s box and doesn’t bother Dave…Of course it’s gonna bother Dave! Almost immediately the tentacled heart starts a dialogue with Dave informing him that it has to be “Fed” meat twice weekly and Dave has to feed it else it’ll just get sick & die, taking Dave along with it. So Dave has to figure out a way to procure victims to satiate it’s ravenous hunger while he brainstorms a way out of the predicament he’s found himself in. Meanwhile Dave has managed to catch the eye of finger happy (& Pregnant!) Esther and a nice little relationship is starting to brew, but can he keep her away from his ever hungrier pox in the box?
Mills wears his inspirations on his sleeve and 10 minutes into the movie you can figure out what were some of his inspirations in making “NOTT”. He’s obviously a big Frank Hennenlotter (Basket Case 1-3, Bad Biology) fan. He’s also a fan of Roger Corman’s “Little Shop Of Horrors” & of midnight movie perennial “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Dave even has a “Rocky Horror” poster on his wall). Toss in some of Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”, some rough sex, some not so rough sex and a Satan that looks more like a really big termite than a red dude with horns & a forked tongue and you’re on your way to a fun filled “Night Of The Tentacles”!
Now let me state for the record that I am something of a fan of Mr. Mills. I think he has a well thought out vision for each of his films and he does his best to bring that vision to fruition (Hey..that rhymed)! Of course he doesn’t have a lot of money to transfer his ideas from his head to a small silver disc but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t give it his all. I daresay that he has more imagination in his pinky nail than some other “Filmmakers” have in their entire lineage. “NOTT” is a fun filled romp that manages to elicit both laughs and thoughts of sin at the same time. Where other movie do you know of where when asked if he’s “Really Satan” Beelzebub goes through just about every name he’s known as…in alphabetical order? Where else will you find a film where Satan’s assistant Belial (Another Hennenlotter reference) pops into Dave’s bedroom to check and see if he’s keeping up his end of the bargain & suggests some ways to relieve tension (Anal sex, farting on him as he masturbates) at the same time?
Another Hennenlotter influence that Mills utilizes is “Brain Damage”, the best “Drugs Are Bad” film ever made that features a 3 ft. long slug that sings and dances (Seriously acolytes…it’s a must see). The voice that comes from the tentacled thing in the box is straight up Frank N’ Furter of “Rocky Horror” fame and it’s equal parts mellifluous and malevolence, it does Tim Curry’s legendary performance proud. The performances are pretty much hit & miss but whaddaya expect? Mills gives himself a cameo as Dave’s sleazy landlord and he also has the most disgusting death scene in the film as well. Salkil has a tendency to bug his eyes out of his head & gesticulate wildly at times but he’s a likable sort & his voice over narration is spot on. Nicole Gerity is a tad bland as Esther but it’s a likable kinda bland.
The creature itself? Well once it’s revealed in it’s entirety it looks more like a toaster with an eye glued to it (It might just be a toaster the more I look at it actually) but I wasn’t expecting a special effects bonanza as I slowly got into “NOTT”. When it makes it’s appearance Mills makes sure it’s a short appearance, just enough to satisfy everyone who’ll be watching this & waiting for the monster to show it’s face. It’s kinda cute in a slimy way actually.
“Night Of The Tentacles” was completed on a budget of $1500.00! Let me repeat that (In case you turned your head) $1500.00!! I bought a new mattress last week that cost $1800.00 (Really…I did)! I could’ve funded this movie & still had $300 smackers to kick around afterwards but I don’t have much imagination…At least not like Dustin Wayde Mills does anyway. The man really is a talent to watch and he’s currently working on his next opus “The Ballad Of Skinless Pete”. I wanna see that based on that title alone! What this man needs a halfway decent budget, my mind reels at the notion of what he might accomplish with $50-$100,000 to kick around. And if there’s a smart producer out there with some spare cash just burning a hole in his/her pocket…could you look the man up please? Here dear acolytes…is a filmmaker!
“Night Of The Tentacles” – 3.5 out of 5 shrouds
Available now at http://mvdb2b.com/s/NightOfTheTentacles/MVD5300D
Night Of The Tentacles (2013)