Gimme Skelter (2007)

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Connections: The Manson Family

The (possible) son of Charles Manson chooses Banion Cross, NM (population 67), as the town that is going to die to get Daddy's attention. --IMDb
Kenneth J. Hall
Kenneth J. Hall
Cassandra Bengfort
Cassandra Bengfort
Christal Rael
Christal Rael
Patrick D. Quinn
Patrick D. Quinn
John R.P. Hastings
John R.P. Hastings
Review by Tristan
Added: September 23, 2008
For those of you out there lucky enough to have seen Scott Phillips' first film The Stink of Flesh, you already know the man has an eye for horror. When his newest feature Gimme Skelter showed up in my mail box I was very excited to see it, especially since it featured one of my indie favorites, Billy Garberina. Sadly though, it was amongst an ever increasing stack of movies that has only recently been weeded through. Between that and it being requested on more than one occasion, I figured it was high time I dive into what turned out to be a great indie horror movie.

You all know who Charlie Manson is right? Of course you do. Well did you ever imagine what would happen if his son decided to pick up where dear ol' dad left off? Probably not, but that's alright because in tonight's movie, Mr. Phillips did all the thinking for you and it goes a little something like this:

Todd (Mark Chavez) is tired of the small town life. His girlfriend (Jillian Parry) is obnoxious, his best friend is a bit of a schmuck, and there's just nothing keeping him there. As it turns out, he may get his wish but it won't be exactly what he had in mind. Phil Valentine (Billy Garberina) is a prophet of sorts, who brings his rag tag bunch of followers to Todd's small and desolate town in New Mexico. His plan? To start a record breaking killing spree that will not only wipe out the entire town, but get his name in the history books. So Todd wants to leave town and Phil wants to kill everyone in the town. As you can see, they're both in quite a predicament. Will Todd get himself and his girlfriend the hell out of dodge before Phil and his goons roll through his neck of the woods? You'll just have to pick up the DVD and check it out.

For someone who is supposed to be the main character, Billy Garberina sure didn't receive much screen time. What little time he did have on camera was quite enjoyed by myself, as he once again stole the show in this one. The only problem I found with his character - the character, not the man himself - was his lack of control over his group. Not only do they talk about him behind his back, but they don't listen to his direction or do much else beside satisfy their hunger for murder. This was intentional, to show that Phil had no leadership, but was rather a sad little man who thought he would try and make his mark on society. Garberina has proven time and again that he can pull the weight of a movie if given the chance. It's just too bad so much screen time was given to Joe and Sue Actor, rather than someone with a little on screen persona.

I enjoyed this one, but it started off a little slow for my taste. Nothing much happens until about halfway through, when the group finally descends upon the town when night falls. Then the killing really begins, and at this I was really impressed. Sure it wasn't much more than a series of stabbings and slashings, usually in the dark, but it seemed very realistic. I suppose trying to compare a decent on screen stabbing to a bad on screen stabbing would be difficult to do, but just trust me when I say the kills and deaths were very believable.

Like I mentioned before, Billy Garberina was the only one who managed to pull off a decent leading role. That said, there were plenty of great moments that all came about from the smallest roles in the film. The grocery clerk, the lazy mechanic, even Gunnar Hansen's cameo as the town's "real estate agent" were all hilarious and fit in perfectly to pad out the movie while building a likable character before they met their demise.

This one won't be as hard to find as some of the other indie films I've reviewed. It's available on Netflix, Amazon, all the major players. Some of you may even be able to find it in your local video store. However you usually go about obtaining these movies, I suggest you do so for this one. It's not up for any awards - although I do believe it won a few film festival ones - but it's a very entertaining movie that slides nicely into the grindhouse / slasher genre. This movie could have easily been made 35 years ago and had the exact same feel to it. It's a nice throwback to the old time slashers without being too campy or over the top, which I really enjoyed. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I loved this movie, and I'm pretty sure most of you will too.

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