Let’s go back in time for a moment. Back to a simpler time when genre movies were gritty with basic plots and fun, borderline psychotic characters ruled the cinematic landscape. I’m of course referring to the age of the Grindhouse/42nd Street/exploitation flick of the 1970’s. These films always offered the audience something they couldn’t get from mainstream films, whether it be graphic violence and gore, explicit nudity, or a combination of the two. Exploitation films all had practical effects and they all had various elements in them to keep them entertaining. The golden age of the exploitation film is long over but once in a while we get a glimpse of how amazing the good ‘ole days were. In 2003 Rick Popko and Dan West gave us MONSTURD; in 2008 Frank Henenlotter gave us BAD BIOLOGY; and in 2010 Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson gave us THE TAINT. These are but a few of the talented directors who still appreciate and respect what it takes to make a solid exploitation film.
This, finally, brings us to THE SUPER. Writer-directors Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver understand the elements that go into making a fun and hardcore exploitation flick and they manage to even give THE SUPER the feel and look of a good ‘ole grindhouse film. Unfortunately their film takes so long getting started that less patient viewers may get bored before the fun stuff begins. And that would be a shame because there’s a lot of fun to be had here!!
THE SUPER is the tale of a superintendent of a Queens, NY apartment building who’s fighting to keep his s**t together in a world that he suddenly finds has changed and which he doesn’t understand anymore. The Super George (Demetri Kallas) is a Vietnam war vet who lives in the basement of the building with his wife Maureen (Lynn Lowry) and their young daughter (who’s face we never see). George is a friendly enough guy who is more than glad to lend a helpful hand to his tenants and help them move in, give them a grace period on late rent, and even offer to buy some of them Christmas trees when he notices they don’t have one. But George is also on his last nut (mentally). His wheelchair-bound wife is constantly hen-pecking him to spend more time at home, he’s starting to feel like his tenants are taking advantage of him, and one of the last straws is when the new couple who moves in, Karen and Andre (Ruby Larocca and Edgar Moye) tell him they don’t celebrate Xmas and refuse his Xmas tree gift.
As mentioned above THE SUPER has the look and feel of an authentic exploitation/grindhouse flick from the 70’s. Makrogiannis and Weaver nailed this aspect. The film has a gritty look to it accomplished through “scratches” on the film and by giving every scene a yellowish hue. They did a great job setting up the tone and feel of the film. But the biggest downfall here is with the pacing. There was too much time early on in the film where nothing happens. As the directors set the plot in motion and establish the characters, they forgot, it seems, they were making an exploitation movie. The first 37 minutes of the film really drag on and test your patience. We get a lot of speeches by George about how the good old days were better, about how he loves his country and fought for it in Vietnam, and about how the values of today’s younger generation sucks. It’s a pretty tame film in the beginning.
It’s not until he has a run-in with one of his deadbeat tenants, an older Russian woman, Olga (Manoush; yup, that’s her real name), that things finally start picking up. Around the time he starts befriending Olga is about the same time he starts to really lose it. He goes too far in one scene and accidentally kills one of his tenants. Olga finds out and tells him everything will be alright. It seems one of Olga’s old past times was making snuff films for the Russian mob and she still has connections. Olga still knows people who can dispose of bodies so no one will ever find them. This sets off a chain of events which drags George deeper and deeper into his own violent vortex. This is when the film finally picks up. We get George entering into various tenants apartments (he does have the master key after all) and jerking off into their food; him forcing his transvestite friend to f**k one of the dead and decaying bodies he killed earlier; and George making a snuff film with one of his tenants as the “stars” and Olga as the filmmaker. These are just a few of the sleazy elements in this film … and I loved ‘em!! It’s just a shame it takes so long to get to them.
There’s a character who comes on the scene in the final two acts, Det. Sardusky (Ron Braunstein) who is willing to dispose of George’s bodies for a high price tag. Sardusky is a crooked cop who has some of the best lines in the film. He’s one of those characters that can make or break a film and Braunstein does a fantastic job with the character. I only wish he was in the film longer.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in THE SUPER. It’s sleazy, demented, has a very twisted sense of humor, and will have you laughing uncomfortably and cringing at some of the images on screen. It’s just a shame it took so long getting there!! THE SUPER would’ve benefitted from having about two more go’s through the editing process and tightening everything up (especially the first 40 minutes). As the climax of the film draws closer and closer we get a nice little twist in the plot that I, for one, didn’t see coming. It nicely encapsulates just how fucked up George is and, as it stands, always was. Nicely done.
If you’re like me and you love the good old expoitation/grindhouse films of the 70’s (and even early 80’s), then you’ll appreciate and enjoy THE SUPER. Filled with disturbing ideas and peppered liberally with the word “cunt,” THE SUPER will make you nostalgic for such films as William Lustig’s 1980 sleaze opus MANIAC. Made for around a meager $25,000 (IMDb is not accurate on this point), directors Makrogiannis and Weaver do a fantastic job putting their vision up on the screen. Strong performances, good dialogue, and a great ending will have you wanting more. There’s no doubt horror fans will enjoy this one, just be prepared to either be a little bored in the first 40 minutes or to use your fast forward button. This one is worth a watch.
Directors: Evan Makrogiannis & Brian Weaver
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer