Reviewbr> "Tick tock, almost dawn, Mama Skate will be reborn" - The Janitor
Cherry Skye is a member of the Alamos roller derby team and she has just caught the eye of Brad, a sort of nerd hanger on at the circuit. Anyways Brad gives Cherry a pendant he brought on eBay, much to the ire of Hell Grazer, leader of another team and Brad's former girlfriend. One thing leads to another and it's suddenly all bitchkrieg and Ms Grazer is making the rules. Unfortunately the whole dysfunctional love triangle has an unexpected result, it raises a revenant monster from actual Hell who is after souls, especially Cherrys'.
With a rising death toll, not that we are totally broken hearted over some of the victims, a mystical Janitor warns Cherry she'll have to throw her pendant into a portal to hell at the Murderdrome to stop the evil incarnate Mamma Skate! Seems Ms Skate was the victim of a rival gang who did the whole Candyman thing, and now she's back for her revenge. Can a foul mouth group of roller derby players defeat ultimate evil or will they be penalised out of life in the supernatural arena that is Murderdrome?
First cab off the rank in our 2014 Aussie Horror week is the independent and outrageously hip Murderdrome. For anyone who hasn't caught up with the awesomeness that is this movie it's being described as the first ever Grindhouse roller derby exploitation slasher! Someone get Tarantino on the phone, the dude's going to be running around L.A streets butt naked screaming out his love for this flick. Monster Pictures have certainly come to the party with a Grindhouse looking DVD release that is chock full of extras, but hey let's get to grips with the actual movie.
We're talking a low budget movie that is proud to wear that tag on its sleeve, so don't expect a polished Hollywood production you'll forget in a week's time, Director Daniel Armstrong is putting you right in the grunge. The movie is fill of outrageous special effects, that work due to being obviously plonked in post production, enough splatter to have a pack of gorehounds snarling and snapping at each other, and I got to say a pretty decent plot. Helping out immensely is the cast, many of whom are actual roller derby athletes, though on occasion some of the acting might be a tad on the wooden side of the script. But then what are you expecting, this is Grindhouse, if we didn't get some ham on the side then we'd be wanting our money back. Does Director Armstrong run with the whole Grindhouse thing, you betcha, he's all over that like white on rice.
Guess the exploitation comes in the form of a bunch of skimpily clad young ladies, that's our teen make audience gone - they are already rushing JB for a copy of the movie, but, and I would emphasis this, Armstrong isn't simply throwing on some T&A to keep everyone happy with life, there's a purpose to the whole approach. Roller derby is a legitimate sport, apparently the faster growing sport across the Tasman, and uniforms are on the less is more side of the equation. Since the movie is set in the roller derby world, it's pretty realistic. Anyway Armstrong could have gone with women's beach volleyball or lingerie football if he really wanted to up the T&A requirements. So yeah we're talking an exploitation flick in name at least, but I would be surprised if anyone found it offensive to be honest.
Like all good slashers, yes I said good so sue me, Murderdrome helpfully sets up a cast of characters, gets you introduced to them, and then begins slaughtering them one by one, usually via the use of sharp objects. I'm not about to provide any spoilers but our antagonist for the evening is a bit of a ripper and comes directly from the Mad Max wasteland sagas. If you like your masked psycho wielding interesting weapons then you are in the right place. Plus our psycho is on roller skates for added coolness. I was rocking out to our masked killer in Murderdrome, who Armstrong makes no bones about being from the supernatural side of the killer spectrum.
We may be talking by and largely amateurs in front of the camera, but Director Armstrong sure is getting some decent performances out of his lively and energetic cast. Okay there's a bit of wood going down but each character is recognisable and distinct. That's not as common as we would like in the slasher genre where the victims can become pretty indistinguishable from each other, probably simply labelled as cannon fodder by Directors who are only interested in throwing the next death scene onto the screen.
If there is one aspect of the movie I found fault with, and remembering this site covers a lot of Indie and bare bones productions without getting overly pedantic on their reason for being, it would be the conclusion seemed slightly too easy. The demonic/revenant Mama Skate is dealt with fair too easily for my liking, but then again Daniel Armstrong isn't aiming at doing Murderdrome 2 anytime soon. Suffice it to say we get a decent protagonist with a background reason for her murder spree, always a requirement, but the resolution isn't going to give you any warm and fuzzies.
No doubt I am really running out of words here so a quick note on the music, there's plenty of it and it should work for anyone who is beyond Bieber Fever. We get us some punk rock, some rockabilly, some pub rock, you getting the common element here? If they release the soundtrack I'm first in line to grab a copy, the tunes freaking rock in this movie!
So clearly I had a most excellent time with this movie, and the consensus in the SMinds viewing room was cult classic, with a second viewing immediately embarked upon. It's how we roll. Murderdome is energetic verging on kinetic with Daniel Armstrong keeping the pacing rocking along as things gradually spiral out of control. If after an Oscar nominee then you are in the wrong place, if however you are after something slightly left field then dial on in. I've got no problems recommending this bad girl, however be warned the movie isn't polished to within an inch of its life. Ozploitation alive and well, thank God for that!