The Sore Losers review by Matt Fuerst


In his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLuhan said the now famous line "The Medium is the Message". At the time I have to imagine that played off like a bit of a head-scratcher, but since then with the growth of the Internet, multiple digital media sources in our homes, Satellite Television, Broadband, Narrowband, 3G and 2.5G cell phone service this idea is a bit easier for us to wrap our minds around. Similarly, filmmaker John Michael McCarthy makes movies that are equal to more than the sum of their parts. Reading a JMM script doesn't give you a clue as to how the film is going to end up, nor the message that JMM is trying to send in his film. Instead, the form and art in which the story is captured plays an equal role as the story itself. Keeping up with these changes while watching the film can be demanding, but on the whole makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

Reading a synopsis of the film, you may find the above statement silly, especially if you simply take the story at its ridiculous face value. In 1955, Blackie (Jack Oblivian) was been sent from the Lo-Fi Frequency (another dimension) to Earth with the mission to kill 12 hippies as he finds them. Blackie isn't familiar with the world he is transported to, so he uses EC Comics he finds as his guide to Earth.
(EC Comics was the very famous comic line that produced sci-fi and horror comics which were far and away the most popular comics in the 50's. Their popularity and the desire of the people in power to judge and control children they deemed "out of control" eventually led Congress to hold Congressional Hearings on the influence comic books had on children. These hearings eventually led to the comics industry creating the ridiculous and restrictive Comics Code Authority which essentially ruined the business of EC Comics. Without a CCA seal on your comic book, it would not be sold on newsstands. The CCA is why we saw Superhero comic books rise to popularity in the 60's since the real demand for science fiction and horror could no longer be fulfilled,).
Blackie kills only 9 and is called back to the Lo-Fi Frequency. The Elders of his world decide to give Blackie another chance, so they send him back to finish the job, kill only three more hippies and he can return to Lo-Fi successfully. Back on Earth, 42 years later, Blackie finds that the Earth has changed considerably from what he remembers and what's in his EC Comics. He soon meets his Mike (Mike Maker) who has a fancy for the illiterate tattooed D'Lana (D'Lana Tunnell). Blackie meets up with Kerine (Kerine Elkins) who has a serious problem with her parents.

Blackie makes a few token kills (including the first on screen death from stuffing an EC Comic down someones throat). Along the way, Kerine kills her parents, which through the laws of the Lo-Fi land, goes against Blackie's tally, so he is now at 13 kills, over his kill allotment. The Elders call Blackie back and tell them they will allow him to live, provided he kills D'Lana. As you can imagine Mike isn't a fan of this idea, and conflict abounds amongst the group of Losers.

At this point, the story almost sounds sensical, so to throw some ridiculous elements in here, we can add the following: Some other plot developments occur, but I think by this point you have a drift of what's going on here and where the film is heading. The story is born straight out of one of the plot elements. The entire movie plays off like a comic book from my generation and before 80's and earlier (well, at least from when comic books were cool and before they became glossy and filled with crap). A person going to a cineplex to check out X2 might think that they saw a comic book movie, and they have, but in spite of X-Men's 30+ year history, the movies of today are really creations of today's perfect, clean, CG enhanced media. X2 was a great movie and I loved it, but there is room for more than just that in film.

Director/Writer/Producer John Michael McCarthy knows full well that the cheapest special effect available are women's breasts, and he is not shy about using them. While neither Kerine Elkins or D'Lana Tunnell are what you would expect to find co-starring with Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding, they are attractive and fit perfectly in their roles and the chaos around them. McCarthy loves to use camera tricks and almost involve the camera in the storytelling. While pans, zooms, colored gels, gonzo cams and the like are all relatively standard fare in a big budget movie, I am tired of seeing a lot of low quality stuff coming out on the independent scene. McCarthy makes a lot happen with his budget and whatever he sees around him. McCarthy is also a student of music, as is obvious from the score. I find it unusual for films on the independent scene to have music so intertwined with the events on screen and McCarthy does and excellent job in this area.

The Sore Losers is available on DVD and there are at least two prints of it floating around. There is a release available on of just the movie, or there is a four pack of DVD's called "Hotter Than Hell" also floating around (the quality of the other films, such as Witchcraft XI is lower than Sore Losers). The DVD's don't have any extras, and are presented as filmed at 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The film stock is constantly switching throughout the film, and the quality is grainy to acceptable, but it adds to the story as opposed to distracts. Put your X-Ray specs on and have a relaxing cocktail, and you may just find yourself entertained.

6 out of 10 Jackasses
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