Thursday, May 3, 2012

Smash Cut: Farewell to David Hess, Hello Sasha Grey

Sasha Grey in Smash Cut
Sasha Grey in Smash Cut

Smash Cut

Smash Cut is former porn star Sasha Grey’s first venture into the world of horror film.  In fact that’s one of the reasons I avoided it when it first came out.  Other than Traci Lord few porn stars have really made the leap from adult to mainstream entertainment.  Ginger Lynn Allen has had some success but mostly in small roles, but Jenna Jameson’s jump into horror in the horrible Evil Breed (which also featured Ginger Lynn) was what stuck in my mind whenever I saw Smash Cut on the video shelves.

However I kept hearing good things about Smash Cut.  Sasha’s other endeavors, such as her role on entourage, and her volunteering to read to school children, and resulting controversy, made me see her in a better light as well.  Thus I went in search of Smash Cut.  Unfortunately it was gone from the video shelves.  I finally knuckled under and order a copy on Blue Ray.  It was definitely not what I was expecting.
Sasha Grey in lingerie
Sexy Sasha Grey

Smash Cut also stars the late David Hess, which any cult horror fan worth his salt will immediately recognize as the evil Krug from Last House on the Left.  I am really sad I never got to meet David before he passed. Smash Cut was the perfect film for him, because he harkened back to a style of filmmaking that’s no longer around.  In fact it’s nothing less than homage to the glory days of Hershel Gordon Lewis.  While there is a huge stylistic difference between Craven who directed Hess in Last House and Lewis, both films were grindhouse splatter favorites.  A lot of the criticism of Smash Cut comes from those who have no clue about HG Lewis, and have never seen one of his films.

The acting in Smash Cut is almost universally bad, so bad in fact that it has to be bad on purpose.  The characters are almost carbon copy of Lewis and the dialogue made me think I was watching “Gore Gore Girls again.”  The same with the effects, they are totally unbelievable, and have been shocked to see people attacking the special effects and then bringing up Lewis as an example of better filmmaking. Drop your nostalgia and watch one of HG Lewis films again and tell me how great the effects and acting are.  Not to say that Lee Demarbre is as good (or as bad) as Lewis but he effectively channels and pays respect to him.

Jesse Buck could be a dead ringer in attitude and personality from the intrepid investigator Abraham () from Gore Gore Girls.  He gives off that same vibe, and you are never really sure whose side he is on.  His acting is probably closer to good acting than anyone else in the film, but it’s still bad as it should be.
Sexy nurse Sasha Grey

Sasha Grey’s acting was laughably horrible.  So horrible that her acting was wonderful, the blank stares, the painful pauses, the ridiculous lines she delivers so flat and deadpan.  Ever her slightly off cue screams were all marvelous.  Now I have seen Sasha act, both in Entourage, and in porn and I know she can act better than in Smash Cut.  It was either a brave move or a brilliant move making this near spoof her first mainstream film.  Brave in that many will assume this was her doing her best, or brilliant in that she can deflect any criticism to “acting bad on purpose.”  Personally I think it takes talent to act that bad and Sasha has talent.

Despite all the attention to Sasha Grey, you can’t talk about Smash Cut without mentioning David Hess.  Real horror fans were dealt a harsh blow when David passed, all too soon last year.  He began, and made his career with a cult film, so it’s fitting that one of his last films is homage to cult films.  Like the rest of the cast David’s performance will be criticized by those who don’t “get” Smash Cut and that’s very sad.  David delivered the performance the film needed.  Watching him in Smash Cut is pure joy, only tempered by the fact that he is now gone.  He will be missed by those who knew him and respected his work.
Cult legend David Hess

Visually Smash Cut is a 70s film but with better technical quality.  The colors are all intense and garish , with no muted tones.  Everything is out there, watching Smash Cut is like walking into a strip joint on retro night. Either that or imagine a bomb going off in a day glow paints factory.

I read an online review where someone decried the music of Smash Cut as 70s porno music.  The reviewer is right, but really what other music would fit. Watching and listening to this film was like being back in my giddy high school years and sneaking a forbidden VHS into the recorder while my parents were asleep.

The only thing missing was nudity, but I’m not going to tweak it for that.  The film is actually better without nudity (bet you NEVER thought you’d see me type that didya?) Anyone who has never saw Sasha Grey naked probably doesn’t want to, and if they do all it takes is a Google of her name with “safe search” off. 

Keeping her clothes on was probably a calculated, wise move to distance her a bit more from her porn past.  It also harkens to those older films where there was more tease than tit.  Sure HGL loved to show some nudity, but for the most parts those films promised way more than they actually show.  C’mon who didn’t expect to see Sasha at least topless?  I did till I was roughly half way through.  What got me was that seeing the lovely Ms. Grey in a white sweater, sans bra, was so titillating despite all of her I have seen in the past.  And yes, I have seen all of her.

The effects while gory are so unbelievable that only the faintest of heart will be disturbed.  More than likely you will find yourself laughing at the death scenes unless you really do some suspension of disbelief.  Like the rest of the movie you will either get it and enjoy it or hate it, and probably turn it off.

So final verdict? If you are a fan of Sasha Grey, and I mean real fan not just a fan of her sex games, you should enjoy it.  If you are a real fan just get past the bad acting and lack of nudity and support Sasha.  Fans of David Hess should likewise enjoy Smash Cut. His fans will also be more likely to “get” the film.  Fans of HG Lewis and the gory cult days should also enjoy.  Some may balk at the shoddy effects and weak plot, but most will get that it’s part of the charm of this film. All this and you get Michael Berryman in a jewfro wig to boot!

People looking for a film that makes sense and has great acting should avoid it.  Most of them simply won’t get the charm of Smash Cut.  Sasha Grey’s fans from her porn days will probably be disappointed, some even angry.  Tough shit, get over it, people move on in their careers and lives, let’s give Sasha a chance to shine in real films.  So if you can deal with a film that has bad acting, horrible plot, bad effects and 70s porn music then pop in Smash Cut.  If you are looking for the next Silence of the Lambs, keep looking, nothing to see here.  All this and you get Michael Berryman in a Jewfro wig to boot!

PS I loved it and for those who read to the end

Sexy hot Sasha Grey

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