Hoppin’ Ho-Teps: A Coaxial News special event! A few words from my Butt-Numb-A-Thon 3 seatmate (once removed), the dastard Capone:
Hey, Harry. Capone in Chicago here. Like most of the regular writers for this site, I get a lot of videotapes in the mail from indie filmmakers just wanting to get a quote from Ain’t It Cool News on their poster--or more than likely their direct-to-video case. I’m not usually obliging, which may be decidedly uncool, but there are only so many hours in a day. I’ll always try and watch whatever these dudes send me, but unless something about the film really moves me...well, no review is probably better than the one I’d give a lot of these films. But circumstances sometimes dictate whether I’ll submit a review for a zero-budget film or not. Case in point: at a recent horror/sci-fi convention I attended, an acquaintance of mine from Anchor Bay Entertainment handed me a copy of a film called HATRED OF A MINUTE and asked me to take a look at it. Unless you’re from certain parts of Michigan or keep very close tabs on Anchor Bay’s release schedule, you probably have never heard of this film. So why would such a prestigious outfit like Anchor Bay put out a film that virtually no one has heard of and market it heavy at geek-filled conventions? Why would they load up said DVD with two commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes, extended scenes, a documentary, talent bios, and still galleries? Two words: Bruce Campbell.
HATRED OF A MINUTE is clearly a favor to producer Campbell who, according to legend, was approached by the film’s Michigan-based writer-director-star Michael Kallio for help on getting his first feature off the ground. That was something like 10 years ago. Campbell doesn’t officially appear in the film, but his mark (and voice) is easy to spot here. Campbell completists will probably get a kick out of some of the behind-the-scenes footage featuring Campbell on set and at the film’s World Premiere in Michigan. Better still is his commentary track with Kallio that features the Bruce we’ve all grown so fond of over the years, especially through his EVIL DEAD trilogy DVD commentaries. As a huge Campbell fan, I’ll admit to being very excited to see and hear these features on HATRED OF A MINUTE, even I wasnÃ¢€™t a huge fan of the film.
With very rare exceptions (Woody Allen being one), no first-time writer-director should ever star in his own film. Any budding talent that Mike Kallio displays behind the camera is overwhelmed by his devastatingly bad acting in front of it. It’s so clear to me watching this film that he thinks his performance is dark and menacing, but he just looks ridiculous, taking wide strides through every scene, swinging his arms like a man in a rage, somehow managing to keep his head down, eyes up while carrying his shoulders back. His long hair hides the cartoonish evil look on his face. Dressing in black doesn’t always make us see how evil you are, Mike. Kallio plays Eric, a transcriber of autopsy tapes (voiced by Mr. Campbell) who really wants to be a screenwriter (very original). He’s engaged to a pretty lady, but more importantly, he comes from a disturbed childhood where he frequently saw his mother beaten by his stepfather (admirably played by TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE’s Gunnar Hansen). All of the standard-issue ingredients to making....a raging serial killer!!! Okay, maybe not so raging in the case of HATRED OF A MINUTE, but he sure does stomp around a lot looking SCAAAARY!!!
For no conceivable reason, Eric tells his tale of growing up, being abused, and learning to like killing to a woman tied up in the back of his car, so large portion of the movie is told in flashback (again, for no identifiable reason other than it can be). In other words, Kallio throws in every serial killer cliche in the book.
But HATRED OF A MINUTE isn’t a total loss, I did like the device of having Eric’s good and evil sides represented by actual characters who visit him at crucial times before a murder is committed (kind of like a little devil and little angel on his shoulders, only not on his shoulders). The good side is played by a character named Michael (Jeffery Steiger). We’re not clear at first that heÃ¢€™s only a figment of EricÃ¢€™s torment, and it genuinely surprised me when this became clear. The Demon character (played with excellent menace by Michael Robert Brandon), on the other hand, is obviously something that lurks in the background of Eric’s mind, almost constantly urging him to kill. Without uttering a word, this character was the only thing in this film that gave me chills every time heÃ¢€™s on screen. Kallio and his lighting guy are to be congratulated for creating a great atmosphere whenever Eric hallucinates the Demon.
I realize this was a small-budget production and I hate to harp on this, but Kallio would have been best suited and would have made, I believe, a much better film had he not wrecked HATRED with his acting. The acting in any indie production is questionable under the best of circumstances, but you can tell just from Kallio's endless liner notes in the DVD booklet of this film, that he fell in love with the process of having his hands on every aspect of this film. A little distance from in front of the camera would probably have cleared his head and not be so totally indulgent. When Kallio is trying to express Eric’s mental anguish, he looks more like a guy that desperately needs a bathroom before he craps his pants.
The truth of the matter is I wanted to like this film, wanted to be scared by HATRED OF A MINUTE, and I hate bashing a guy who has spent years putting a film together and getting it out. It would be like bashing Mark Borchardt of AMERICAN MOVIE fame. But the blood and gore in this film barely qualifies as graphic or shocking. The killings are your run-of-the-mill slasher stuff from 20 years ago. And with only the excellent Demon character to creep me out, I’m afraid that’s not enough to recommend seeing this film. In the cover of the DVD is a photo of Eric walking along some train tracks with the tag line “Don’t let your past ruin your future.” This may be a lesson Michael Kallio is about to learn. Or better yet, learn the lesson that so many filmmakers/actors before you have learned: Ignore the critics and keep plugging away. Good luck, dude.