In case anyone has escaped the unsolicited promotion of Indie artist Christopher Alan Broadstone’s new DVD, 3 Dead Girls, here is yet another run down: 3DG is the newly available compilation of Broadstone’s award winning short films; Scream For Me, My Skin, and Human No More.
Considering this is an entirely independently produced and distributed disc of three obscure horror stories, that is a fucking package and a half. Anchor Bay fails to stock some of its DVDs with even half those features. And the short runtime of each film isn’t a factor either: 11 commentary tracks is impressive no matter how the deck is cut.
I’ve already professed my admiration of Broadstone’s cinematic work (and even his literary offering, to boot), but unless you know the guy (I do not), I don’t think there is any other way to understand just how much of a true artist he really is than to listen to these commentaries. Even more appreciation for his dedication can be gleamed if you’ve either tried to make your own film (guilty and embarrassed) or if you’ve watched scores of other people’s home brew motion picture endeavors. If you’ve seen someone else’s hopes and dreams put to screen on a non-existent budget and zero experience, you know the awkward pain I speak of. The complete lack of style, the atrocious acting, zero set design, pathetic lighting. They’re staples of the field.
Not for Broadstone, however. 3 Dead Girls should now be required viewing for any mind-wanderer even considering picking up a camera.
Case and point, Scream For Me. Broadstone’s solo track reveals more than enough goods to be thankful for. A three month build time for the only set. Shot on 16mm. Actual auditions. Elaborate story boards. A real life pre-production period! I’m sorry if I sound so shocked, but if you’ve seen the sights I have, you’ll know those things aren’t just rare in micro-budget horror, they’re entirely mythological. Listening to Broadstone describe the clearly achieved effect of set design/lighting to create the appearance of being in an oppressive stomach environment is the equivalent to me of seeing the Chupacabra.
This kind of quality is simply not supposed to exist in the wild, untamed gnarls of guerrilla filmmaking. And it doesn’t end at his first short, My Skin and Human No More all feature equally enlightening experiences. A few of the tracks covering My Skin go into the Raimi-esque camera contraptions Broadstone had to devise in order to pull off many of the in-camera effects envisioned in the script. Human No More is revealed to be the least prepared shoot of the three, something one could never tell from the look of the final product.
The co-commentaries with actors are all charming, highlighting a compatibility of crew and cast that one would otherwise imagine as the result of life long friendships, not first meetings. The critic (Eve Blaack) and producer (Christopher Webster of Hellraiser fame) go on to confirm almost all of the writer/director’s intentions. And I’ll be honest, some of said intentions never clicked with me. The acidic din of SFM or many of the post-production effects in HNM, for example. The first time around, both missed their mark with me, however, having now gone in for multiple viewings and listens, I feel like a thin veil of ignorance has been lifted, like finally seeing that damned dolphin in a Magic Eye.
Not that any of the three films are invincible. Faults are admitted to, such as the odd shot of Madman duct-taping the bare chest of his victim, an act which I thought was just supposed to be sexually uncomfortable, but which Broadstone admits was an unsatisfactory attempt at creating breasts for the soon-to-be raped. I still stand by my personal discomfort in being discomforted by Scream For Me, which is simultaneously a backhanded compliment to the director for a mission accomplished and a confession of personal inadequacies. Despite the insightful features, interviews and commentaries, Human No More still doesn’t do much for me.
All in all do not let the needlessly morose cover art and title fool you, 3 Dead Girls warrants attention. Cultural fans who crave every high and low the genre has to offer are going to love the films and DVD features. Aspiring filmmakers can learn more than a few lessons from the commentary tracks. I’ll wager even casual fans are going to find enough sustenance from this set list to counter the poison of ten random no-budgeters (or two or three Sci-Fi channel originals.)
The disc is available only from Black Cab Production’s website, so don’t go looking for it at in a brick and mortar store just yet. Not that it even belongs on the shelves of a Best Buy (though I do wish that kind of success upon the director), but rather a coffee shop alongside the river Styx.