Killer Shrimps (Piero Golia, 2004)
[note: review originally published 7Mar2011]
Forty-nine minutes into Killer Shrimps, first-time director Piero Golia’s mockumentary/send-up of the film industry, I sent a rambling status update to Facebook (because that’s how I roll): “Killer Shrimps is a movie based on a damn brilliant idea (if you saw Catfish last year, it runs along the same lines), but I’m not 100% sure about the execution.” Then came minute fifty, and I started giggling like a schoolgirl meeting Desi Arnaz, Jr. Because the first forty-nine minutes are setup for the last twenty-seven, and because it’s remarkable that six years after the movie’s release it’s almost completely spoiler-free on the Internet, I can’t tell you why I started giggling like a schoolgirl. Trust me, all that setup is so worth it if you’re a fan of… this kind of movie. There are visual clues sprinkled throughout to tell you what “this kind of movie” is, but they’re so subtle and well-placed that you’ll probably miss them.
And then come the final two scenes. And this movie, which with the first twist went from “kind of amusing” to “okay, this is really funny”, jumps to “oh my god, this is the best mockumentary since This Is Spinal Tap.” And the worst part… I still can’t tell you why. You have to trust me on this one. But you need to hunt down a copy of this movie pronto.
Plot: Craig (Craig J. McIntyre, normally an effects guy; he worked on Cremaster 3) is directing a movie called Killer Shrimps, an avant-garde western post-apocalyptic zombie thing. Piero Golia, one of the assistant directors, is documenting the filming of the movie (we see a bit of it in the beginning, it’s cheesy as all get-out), and what we are presented is Golia’s footage. As we begin, it looks like any DVD “making-of” extra you’ve ever seen, with Craig talking about how most of the dialogue is ad-libbed intercut with scenes of the dialogue, interviews with the actors, etc. Then the footage starts looking more behind-the-scenes, as we see the pre-filming stuff with Piero blocking shots and everyone who’s going to be interviewed talking. There’s a pizza delivery guy. There’s a cameraman who’s late, and we see repeated phone conversations with him as he drives around in the Hollywood hills trying to find Chuck’s mansion. And then there are the little weirdnesses, bits of animation superimposed over scenes or what have you. It’s suddenly become mock-mockumentary (think American Zombie here). And then everyone starts eating the pizza, and… I can’t do it. I can’t spoil the first big twist for you, even though I want to, because that’s only the first of the big twists. (And in NOT spoiling the first big twist, I run the risk of losing what is, essentially, the movie’s target audience, who will be watching it because of the second half. Just trust me on this. You want to see it.)
But it’s not just the way it all pans out that’s so wonderful about this flick, even though you’ll still get a great deal of enjoyment out of it if you just look at the very, very clever surface. Equally worthy of praise is the way Golia is skewering pieces of the film industry that don’t normally get skewered (as I said, DVD extras take a real lashing here; when you see the first interview bits with Stevie, one of the actors, you’ll see just how good these guys are at parodying this sort of silliness). There’s a great deal more to it than just the DVD extras bits, but we’re getting way into the second half of the movie, so once again, I can’t tell you.
This is a frustrating review to write, to say the least, but it’s one I can’t avoid, because so very few people have seen this movie (it has just ten votes on IMDB as I write this [ed. note: it’s now 15!], and one of them is mine), and so many more should. Without doubt one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year. Hunt it down at your earliest convenience. ****