Seems I've been following the development of this movie for a number of years as Directors Turner and Edmonds fought to get the film shot at night and over weekends, find a distributor, and get it out to the great unwashed. With a premise about a serial killing cricketer who looks like an elongated David Boon what's not to anticipate! Unfortunately the end product was a mixture of deliveries for yours truly. While the basic premise is one of the more interesting ideas I've come across in quite a few years and the script is at times absolutely brilliant, there is a fair amount of pandering to the lowest common denominator. End of day Turner and Edmonds look like they have been talking to the wrong people and have made a movie with limited appeal to either mainstream audiences or core horror fandom. How Many Runs will appeal to the gorehounds however.
Talk us through itbr> A serial killer is ripping through the members of a former cricket team in revenge for an act of bullying that got out of control twenty years previously. Detective Gary Chance makes the connection, and with Scotland Yard's Detective Inspector Kim Reynolds is tasked with keeping the remainder of the batting line up intact at a safe house called Joadja in the NSW hinterland. As day follows night a Psycho will follow his intended victims, leaving us to wonder who you can trust. All we know is that 20 years ago Greg Taylor was expelled from school and his victim was left in hospital.
With a steadily mounting body count Gary Chance will need to march out to the crease to save what's left of the home team. Can he hook one over the boundary rope or will he be caught out by one hell of twist ending?
Pad ups folks we're going out to the middle!
Reviewbr> "That is so fucking un-Australian" - Jonathan
Must be my weekend for revisiting reviews and fixing a few things here and there. I've upped the rating on How Many Runs due to one of the Directors, Doug Turner, taking time out of his busy scheduled to point out a few things. In a couple of places where I had questioned the logic of the film it becomes apparent this is due to the actual Distributor's print quality rather than Turner and Edmonds' finished movie. In at least one development, the dude being killed in the parked car, there's a completely different thing going down to what the DVD leads us to believe, that would be the print quality right there. Given that, the movie takes on a completely different and superior quality.
Firstly, and to save some time for people who only dig major Hollywood horror flicks, How Many Runs is an Independent low budget Aussie film that is attempting to pay homage to both the 1980s slasher and the whole ozploitation concept. If this doesn't appeal to you then click out and go read one of the other reviews, you wont be given out on a bad decision, the horror mansion has plenty of space for all sorts of tastes.
Turner and Edmonds handle dual themes pretty well during the course of How Many Runs while layering on a sort of clichéd 1970s cop show feeling. I was actually reminded of the Later Show's Bargearse in one of those weird association things that have no explicit logic to it. Anyways if you have ever watched a TV show or movie featuring a maverick cop with a straight laced partner then you'll get the general idea.
You can almost hear the sound of willow hitting leather in the movie, given the title and premise it was a prerequisite, as How Many Runs is steeped in Aussie cricket. During the opening scene, now that's an on drive, what sounds like an Australia versus New Zealand test match is playing in the background, much dialogue references cricket "five for", and the psycho killer is pretty versed in sharpening up the cricket gear and making things more lethal than a West Indian quick. You don't want to get stumped if you are a character in this movie. The Directors keep their line and rhythm with this aspect of the movie, and how refreshing it is to see the staid institution of cricket given a bit of a touch up. I've already emailed a pitch to the Fox network for "Extreme Cricket", think this could be the game of the future.
Not content with sending a possible wave of heart attacks through the corridors of Lords, Turner and Edmonds are referencing their bums off when it comes to the slasher aspects of the movie. I picked up on a nod towards John Carpenter's original Halloween, when the religious dude is lighting up a joint we have the classic moment when the Psycho is gradually illuminated from directly behind him, excellent use of light and dark to get a fade in going down. Clearly the demented Freddy Krueger circa A Nightmare on Elm Street is getting selected, the whole bladed glove thing. And a whole slew of slashers have the slow walking but determined Psycho catching up to his fast moving victim, S&M boy doesn't avoid a lethal bouncer. I didn't note any overt reference to Jason Voorhees, perhaps if the movie had of involved a hockey team? Oh dear god in heaven I've just given Sam Raimi's production house a concept for a movie, to the self punishment room stat!
Turner and Edmonds have a good script and a pretty good concept happening but are let down by the Distributor not printing a better quality release.
In amongst our romp through the oval appreciating the slasher blooms there has to be a movie happening of course. You get one, albeit as stated previously in a sort of out of date cop show format, and there are some good elements being bowled line and length. I didn't see the major plot twist coming, Turner and Edmonds hid the bouncer there effectively with some red herring dished up, and it all fitted into the overall plot without any left field developments. As opposed to traditional slasher material the victims are all dudes in their twenties or early thirties without a bus load of teens in the vicinity.
Technical How Many Runs is of course hampered by the budget though the Directors are trying their best to get at least some interest going down. The film was shot with two camera, one for close-ups and one for medium range. This counts out panoramic shots, you need long distance wide angle to really nail that bad boy, but should not have stop the use of either some track or dolly for effective. On the bright side of the coin toss Turner and Edmonds have some excellent angles working for them and are getting the best use out of variable height shots. At no time do the Directors fall into the amateur trap of "point and shot". Maybe the chief technical issue is that at stages the film stock is over exposed adding slightly too much glare to some frames. Once again this is a budget issue, though other first time Independent Directors have managed to stretch things to a lighting crew.
Thus far I've had some good things to say about How Many Runs, so why an average rating? To be brutally honest, Turner and Edmonds have been talking to the wrong people and have served up a movie for the fan boys rather than the regular horror audience who will either make or break a dark genre movie. We get lashings of gore, putting most slashers to shame, but the budget counts out the realism factor leaving the audience perplexed as to why the shoddy effects were left in the movie. Sorry the "gnarly kill" is pretty blasé by now and the shock value is no longer all that shocking. I was actually quite bored with that aspect of the movie as Turner and Edmonds completely failed to add the important element they are reaching for. Personally I'm not a big fan of gorenography at the best of times and simply see it as film makers covering up inadequate movies. If you have a low budget then hit the psychological tarot card rather than being yorked by a technique very few Directors can get working for them.
In defense of the Directors, the Distributor's print I viewed reduced the visual quality rendering, slight pun, the effects not as effective as they may have been in the finished movie. Hopefully a "Directors" print may be released sometime in the future.
Uwe Boll, strangely I'm bring up the problematic German film maker, has been attacked in the past for inserting T&A for no apparent reason and adding it directly against the flow of his movies. Guess what the Directors do in How Many Runs? We get a full frontal show scene that not only borders on pornography but crosses the line into that exploitative genre. Okay think I might have just lost my teen readership and a number of DVD shops are going to be doing brisk business shortly. While I'm not opposed to boobs being on show I do draw the line at Directors trying to palm off centre page porn magazine spreads behind the bike sheds. The whole scene once again reeks of the Directors trying to shock the audience in the most naïve fashion rather than putting their efforts into making a solid film that lives or dies, no pun intended, on it's own cinematic merits. The Directors are again pandering to a minor market and are apt to lose most true horror fans in the process. The shower scene was woefully handled, clearly involved a body double, and did nothing for the plot or movie flow.
As one would expect with a shock rock movie there are numerous plot holes that no amount of showering is going to plaster over. For example, how did our antagonist get in the back of the car to grab a victim after a suburban cricket game? Three thoughts on that development; a) the car was locked prior to the victim making it's apparent safety, b) the antagonist was chasing the victim, ergo was never in front in the race for line honours, c) we would have heard a car door opening. The Directors could of course have been trying for that patented Jason Voorhees supernatural voodoo, but I never subscribed to the teleportation plot device later Friday the 13th franchise movies simply used in the absence of thought out plotting. Find your own plot holes, there's plenty to choose from, though in How Many Runs defence it doesn't reach the Swiz cheese consistency of some efforts.
Once again the plot hole highlighted above is due to the print quality of the DVD rather than Turner and Edmonds' script and finished movie. There's a perfectly logical reason for car scene, think second person, but I'm going to keep that under my hat rather than drop spoilers into this review.
Highlights for mine, trying not to flog a dead equine here lets just say the movie has some issues, included the crucifixion image of the religious dude with "Howzat" painted above him, the spot lightening of our rather ineffectual looking Psycho (I burst into laughter during that one), and a safe house manned by the most incompetent police members the great state of New South Wales could muster at short notice. Yes if you don't go in with a totally seriously outlook then the movie does work as a comedy, though can film makers get past the whole "gay hairdresser" thing, it's looking worse for wear then a ball in the 78th over. Actually the movie is almost worth the price of admission just for Craig's declaration that the Book of Revelations foretold the 12th man and preordained the team's fate. Jesus H Christ is there anything in there about an upcoming ashes series!
Jai Koutrae (Gary Chance) gets top billing and sort of grows on you during the course of the movie. Not entirely sure his character was meant to be a complete tool, but that's how Koutrae is portraying things. Wrong casting choice for a maverick cop role for mine. Stacey Edmonds (Kim Reynolds) surprisingly works well, all in the eyes folks. And Az Jackson (Shane Scott) is adequate as the quiet "by the book" Detective with a still waters thing going down.
Yes there's a big slice of T&A coming at you in the form of Arianna Starr letting it all hang out for no apparent reason. For those who simply can't believe the scene was in the movie there's an extended version in the bonus features. A standing ovation for the wonders of silicon technology folks, I miss the 1980s to be honest. Ladies don't miss out with a number of gym improved bodies on display from time to time.
Dallas Johnson delivered a pretty schizophrenic score that had me nodding my head in approval. From the emotive piano used in parts, to some urban funk, and onto classic horror themes Johnson has the visuals covered. We also get a whole bunch of rock numbers from bands like Mortal Sin and Hell City Glamours.
Summary Executionbr> End of day I guess I was disappointed in I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer after a prolonged wait for the movie. I didn't get the film I was expecting and was left with the feeling that Turner and Edmonds had played down to the level of the lowest common denominator and missed the chance of hoisting a classic on us. It actually took me a couple of attempts to get through the movie, on the first viewing, late Saturday night, the split screen used in the drive to Joadja had me thinking "welcome to Rob Zombie world" hence I kicked it in the guts and went to bed. I managed to get through the movie early Sunday morning but in hindsight would have been much better off having a sleep in. Wonder if the psychiatric hospital named early in the film is a reference to a certain individual in England? Anyways not the best movie I've seen this year, but no where near the worse. I should add the print quality, mentioned in the review above, was the real culprit and not the actual movie.
How Many Runs is currently available Down Under via rental with a full release being promised sometime in August. I bitched, whinged, and moaned (it wasn't pretty) till my local rental place got a copy in, then of course I got caught up renovating an office and didn't check the new releases for a couple of weeks. Thanks to Ron for getting it in for me, cheers Bro, sorry only one other person has rented it thus far. As Rob Hood points it, local horror is a hard sell to the great unwashed who prefer the sanitised pretend horror of Boredwood.
Having whinged quite a bit during this review I'm still going to give I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer a recommendation. There's a slight feeling that the Directors are pandering to the lowest common denominator here, but over shadowing this is a return to the slasher movie without the Hollywood polish that has ruined recent yank efforts. Slashers should be raw and ruggard in my opinion, and Turner and Edmonds have hit that requirement for six. If they want to do a sequel to last year's Friday the 13th they should give the Directors of I Know How Many Runs a call as Turner and Edmonds are going to do a hell of a lot better than your average Boredwood hack. Go grab a copy of I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer, at the very worse you are going to get a nostalgic trip back to when slashers were first being made. We now cross to Norm Maxwell at the Gabba.
ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...br> br> Solid slasher flick marred by poor print quality. The people of Australia demand a Director's Cut, and we want it now!