The Dirty Sanchez (Review)

THE DIRTY SANCHEZ

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Anthony Cooney for allowing me access to an online screener of his 24 minute Exploitation/Grindhouse short, “The Dirty Sanchez”. The Dirty Sanchez follows the antics of Sanchez, a crazy local gardener (played by Rob Romero) who decides to take out his rage on locals, and in particular, young couple Jane (played by the lovely Lillian Lamour) and Bobby (Rob Suarez). The film also stars Michael Schmid, Anita Nicole Brown and Aydan Quinn. I recently reviewed Cooney’s debut short film “Leaf Blower Massacre” and quite enjoyed it *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/leaf-blower-massacre-review/. This is his follow-up short which was shot around the same time back in 2013.

THE GOOD

There’s no two ways about it, Cooney’s latest short film is quite clearly paying homage to the micro budget, SOV (shot on video) films of the late 70’s and 80’s. Everything from the washed out color grading and the grainy picture quality, through to the stock standard, gleefully eager madman looking to maim and rape. I enjoyed a couple of sections of the score, mainly the low-fi synth and bass which is very reminiscent of the scores you heard in most 80’s slasher films. There’s some Spanish music that almost seems at odds with the tone of the film, but I suppose given the villain’s Hispanic heritage, it works. The effects in this one are scarce, however, I can admire Cooney’s use of practical blood even if it doesn’t look that great. I’m not one to objectify a good woman protagonist, or any woman for that matter (even in film I try not to), but Lillian Lamour makes for a great watch and it’s a shame she isn’t given more screen time. She looks fantastic and has clearly worked on her curves.

THE BAD

As a rule, I tend to be hard to please when it comes to Exploitative inspired film making, and I’m usually demanding on the aesthetic appeal, or lack there of, as is the case here. It’s difficult to compare some of the genres best, whether it be low-budget entries such as “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and “Gutterballs” or the better known, “Maniac” and “I Spit On Your Grave” (particularly the remakes), with efforts like Cooney’s micro budget venture. I had a feeling right from the poorly presented establishing shots in the beginning that this one might not be for me. Michael Wade Johnson’s cinematography isn’t that bad, but once you add a cheap, nasty grainy filter over it (because you’ve got no budget) and wash away all the clarity, it suffers. I appreciate Anthony’s commitment to the idyllic method of presentation for this type of film, but I’d wager to bet that it’s near impossible to do well on such a small amount of money. The only reason something like Tarantino’s “Death Proof” truly works is because there’s a lot of money behind it (among other things). There’s a handful of extreme close ups in The Dirty Sanchez that look pretty rough and almost every shot in the 24 minute run time stays on for too long. Some background noise during exterior shots is to be expected when filming where you can’t control your surroundings. The film’s audio track suffers simply because the majority of the film takes place outside. A rape victims scream is so high-pitched that at one stage the microphone actually peaks out. Another aspect disadvantaged by the exterior setting is the lighting. It’s not consistent and often people’s faces are completely shielded because of shadows. I didn’t really enjoy the music in Cooney’s previous short and unfortunately it wasn’t any better here. It’s inconsistent in the mix, cuts off abruptly multiple times before scenes have ended and there’s a section of synth that drones on in the background for ever and a day.

When it comes to what plot there is in The Dirty Sanchez things don’t get a whole lot better. Henry (Schmid) is trimming some edges and doing work in Emily’s yard (Anita Nicole Brown) at the beginning of the film, now the weather seems nice, the guy’s got a job, life can’t be that bad for this throw away character, right? (haha). Wrong. The guy proceeds to dribble about how he hates the home owner and what he plans to do about it, using every expletive you can pretty much think of. It seems really out of left field considering it’s the beginning and we haven’t seen anything that supports this “victim” mentality, nor do we in what follows. Why is he so pissed off? Why does Sanchez eat dog food in a carpark? Is that his quirky thing? A character trait? I don’t know, is the simple answer. I found most of the dialogue uneventful or crass (I get the latter to an extent given the type of film this is) and if you are choosing to include a rape sequence, it’s got to be better presented as far as the lighting and camera work go. The acting is about what you’d expect from a fairly inexperienced group of players, stiff and scripted, minus Lamour. I had seen her previously in an effective little Giallo short called “Slit”, where she impressed. There are a couple of kills in this one but they’re rather uninspired, although you can’t expect much more due to the budget.

The Dirty Sanchez is only Cooney’s second short film but I think perhaps he’s taken a little backwards step with this one. As previously mentioned, I’m a harsh critic when it comes to this sub-genre and most of what’s out there isn’t all that memorable. I think it’s a difficult undertaking at the best of times, but when you’re working on little to no money it’s almost impossible to make a high quality product. By Anthony’s own admission, Dirty Sanchez is a love letter to something like “Nail Gun Massacre” (which I’m yet to actually see). With that in mind, I could only draw comparisons to films like Tim Ritter’s “Killing Spree” and Romano Scavolini’s “Nightmare” from 81′, neither of which were very good films. Parts of the music were alright and there was the use of practical blood, albeit a limited dose and Lillian Lamour does have quite the booty on her (for all you looking at the eye candy). I love that Cooney’s first and foremost a fan (like me). His heart is clearly in the right place but unfortunately the bank account and polish wasn’t, hence everything from a technical standpoint ends up letting the film down. Character specifics rarely make sense, the dialogue is sloppy and there’s very little actual killing. So all that said, I simply can’t recommend this one unless you’re a hardcore fan of the sub-genre and then you might find something in it that I couldn’t. Budget and experience are a huge part of any film and the film making process, so I still like to acknowledge the time and effort that goes into independent projects regardless of their quality. I’m looking forward to Cooney’s sequel to “The Leaf Blower Massacre” which will be a lot of fun.

My rating for “The Dirty Sanchez” is 2.5/10

Advertisements