There are certain films that were made for viewing with excessive amounts of alcohol in large groups. That is unequivocally the case with the 2002 indie gem MIDNIGHT SKATER.

From Speed Freak Productions and Splatter Rampage, our story opens on a nameless college campus and follows a group of friends who band together to uncover the identity of the mysterious Midnight Skater, an elusive figure terrorizing their campus with his late night shenanigans and vandalism. Take the Scooby-Doo gang, subtract the child molester looking van and dog, and have them swill beer and fornicate and you have the right idea of who’s on the case. If only the cartoon would have used that same formula.

The real menace though is a pair of bumbling townie drug dealers, who I am convinced are the reincarnations of Abbott & Costello after a lengthy session of bong rips. The two are plying the campus with the latest craze in narcotics, “Z”. Little does anyone know that this chemical concoction soon begins to turn the student body into the brain munching walking dead. It’s a convincing catalyst for the outbreak and offers the much needed shambling slack jaws our campus crusaders need to slice and dice in order to survive.

Did I mention there’s also a serial killer on the loose? That’s right, a stab your face Eddie Munster looking type psychopath who’s also into necrophilia. Just the kind of guy that’s perfect for dropping into a zombie outbreak with a machete. Tongues are planted firmly in cheek for this patch-worked horror comedy that seems like an inside joke you’ve just been let in on.

The filmmakers, Lucas and Andrew Campbell (now of Compound Pictures) and writer Stacy Silver deliver a stellar story despite their complete lack of trained actors, sets, lighting, and basically all other elements to create a tangible film. Shot with what looks like the world’s last VHS camcorder, the film quality is next in lineage to that of late ‘70s celluloid. What truly drives Midnight Skater is the undying enthusiasm by all involved. Fueled by a punk rock soundtrack and an exaggerated musical score that would make Danny Elfman cry, the pacing is one that is slow enough for those killing brain cells with their viewing, but intriguing enough to tempt the rest of us to figure out how this hot mess is going to end. It’s also pretty damn impressive that this group of college students delivered a viable feature film completely outside of the Hollywood studio system.

Lensed at Kent State University in Ohio, this is guerilla filmmaking at its finest; running around in the dark with a video camera, leaving trails of fake blood and slain zombies. Planted in the center of Kent State’s campus stands a giant stone statue of a brain that practically begs the walking dead to come forth. Being from Ohio myself, it’s nice to see a massacre at Kent State that people can actually enjoy.

The acting is straight out of a hot dog factory; pure ham mixed with other shocking ingredients. The stars have a bond with each other that only a real life friendship can depict on film. Staying up all hours of the night, freezing as you’re caked in red dyed Karo syrup, all this could ruin any relationship if they weren’t having such damn good time doing it all. A listen to the audio commentary of the DVD reveals how bad they realize their acting is, all over the chorus of them cracking beers as the cast revisits their efforts. They also regale in remembrance at the many other jobs they had besides being in front of the camera, from mixing up batches of blood to hauling around equipment in the dead of night. Even Lucas, Andrew, and Stacy pull double duty as cast.

The special effects are rudimentary, yet effective. Face paint and a trip to the butcher shop delivers much of what Hollywood has taught the Campbell brothers to be believable and needed for a successful horror film. Don’t be disheartened, there’s plenty of gag inducing hilarity. Anything that would look fake, from props to actors, becomes caked in blood. The fact that there’s no real lighting for the night exteriors helps hide much of that in the shadows. This flick is definitely for those that value a good laugh over production values.

This low brow, grade-Z movie is chock full of schlock, gore, and buckets of fake blood. The look and feel of Midnight Skater plays as one of the funniest and most kick ass home movies ever. There’s plenty of head scratching moments from severed arms used as sex toys, genital amputation, and inflatable sheep. It’s a blood-splattered, punk rock fueled romp celebrating zombies, dick jokes, serial murder, and skate boarding. After the first viewing you’ll be spewing quotes and singing the film’s title song as it’s so damn bad it’s amazing. This DVD will become your new favorite cult classic. Also it makes for an awesome coaster for your favorite 40 oz. of malt liquor for your next viewing party with friends.

Chalk that up as a win-win.

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Born in the steel scrap-yards of Lorain, Ohio, Zach Shildwachter is a VHS Vagabond wandering the Cleveland landscape in search of the perfect Horror movie and Banana flavored snacks in preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse. Until the Dead walk, our Hero remains an Aspiring Filmmaker, Compulsive Writer, Self-taught Artist, and amateur Super-Hero.


  1. […] DON’T LOOK IN THE CELLAR hits the streets everywhere October 5th, 2010, but you can pre-order your copy September 3rd. Coming from Tempe DVD, known for their visceral, unapologetic and in your face horror collection, this flick is poised to leave bloody footprints all over your carpet. These are the same fine folks that stand behind DEADLANDS: THE RISING, PLATOON OF THE DEAD, and MIDNIGHT SKATER.  […]

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