Going purely by its title, I was expecting Parts Unknown to be a pornographic film. So, I am a little embarrassed to tell you it is about “lo-fi wrestling demon murder nonsense”. As you might expect, we kick off with a nasty little wrestling match, watched by a handful of cheering people. We are also treated to some jarringly in your face keyboard demo techno music that is far too loud. I get the film is trying to get “in our face” but I wish they would not. Once this cold opening is over, we get a far more successful credit scene, with music and graphics that fit the look the film is going for nicely 1980s future-retro with lovely pink fonts (like Glow).
As Parts Unknown kicks off, we get some ripe acting, where the producer and two disgruntled wrestlers discuss the failing business. Suddenly, someone is out of prison and we are expecting a murder attempt on the producer. Sadly, I did not quite understand what the heck they were saying so I did not quite follow why that was. It is perfectly acceptable to have cheesy, badly read lines when our wrestlers are giving their wrestler character schtick. It does not work when they do this in the scenes when our wrestlers are supposed to be themselves.
The characters we start off with are also dropped at some point early on. Which makes the business of getting to know them rather pointless. The sleazeball producer is quite possibly one of the most miscast and downright poorest performances I have seen. The accent he puts on is up there with Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood impression. Cocker spaniel me old mucker, pip pip on a cobbler.
Before we know what is happening, we have been introduced to an oddball family who looks absolutely nothing alike. And there has quite suddenly been a pointless murder. Everyone is apparently on drugs, which I think is supposed to explain why everyone is acting so “intensely” (read “unbelievably”). The characters are all odious. So it is difficult to feel any sympathy. Or indeed show a flicker of interest in the events as they unfold.
The film seems to default into trying to “shock” the audience with dialog that should be hugely embarrassing to all those involved. As well as over the top violence, and actors yelling while holding in their sausage string guts. Our cast screaming the house down and attacking each other for little to no reason runs alongside an ongoing murder rampage and the simultaneous avenger, sort of returned from the grave. It is a quite simple story, that contrives to make itself unnecessarily confusing. Even before the fantastically silly-looking swamp demon turns up.
Parts Unknown was written and edited by the prolific veteran small-time actor (The Litch), director (Witch Hunter), producer (Zombie Babies) Richard Chandler. The problems with the film are manifold. And it is critically hamstrung by bad acting, a bad script, some poor directing, and terrible technical errors. The direction of the weak cast, the camera shots we get are far too poor and bring the whole production down. The film somehow carries on for an hour and 50 limp minutes of increasingly gonzo, poorly executed exploitation violence. If you think that the razor blade strap on scene is anything but pathetic and embarrassing, I am sorry, we cannot be friends. Bad filmmakers cannot seem to get past the Manson Family murders. And it is difficult to look beyond that talentless wannabe pop star here.
If I make Parts Unknown sound like all this is “so bad it’s good” I can only apologize for giving you a false impression. This is “so bad everyone involved should have a sit-down, in the corner. Facing the wall to think about what they have done, and what they want to do with their lives”. Not yelling slurs about the mentally handicapped on camera might be a start.
Speaking of someone not having any talent… I have always strongly disliked the work of Rob Zombie, who seemed to sympathize with groups of murderers and really think the whole thing was a pretty cool pop video (it’s not). This feels a bit like squeezing out the last, watery dregs of the Rob Zombie discount brand ketchup bottle onto the sausage string BBQ.
Parts Unknown is available from Wild Eye Releasing. You can check out the film’s Facebook page for more information.