Back in the day of the original VHS explosion, I and my friends would damn near pick up anything off the shelves for rental. All it had to do was have the promise in its packaging of being remotely entertaining. Considering just how low the bar for entertainment was set for a bunch of high school men, we sat through so much visual garbage that I’m sure I’ve lost count of how many buckets of low-budget blood I’ve seen spilled. Suffice it to say, I like to think I’m a better reviewer for having experienced so very much that my readers will thankfully never have to endure; but that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from attempting to assemble such like-minded fare in the more modern era. The truth is that there will likely always be an audience for bad films, so I suggest everyone involved just buckle up, pop some corn, and always – always – expect the worst.
But even I can be gobsmacked, it would seem, as I just concluded a home screening of a little ‘something something’ that truly broke new ground in the world of cinematic lunacy: 2006’s Lycan Colony looked to be a backwoods potboiler about misplaced teen lust paving the way to a small town’s confrontation with werewolves when – lo and behold – this extremely low-budget Peyton Place morphed into one of the biggest sources of unintended laughter I’ve seen in ages. It’s so bad it gives ‘bad’ a new definition, but that never stops this embarrassment of riches from pushing through its lowest of lows and, minimally, bringing audiences to its big (cough cough) feel good ending.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“Some small towns hold many secrets. Two siblings and a newly settled doctor’s family are about to find out this town’s darkest secret … the hard way. The town folks are good and evil werewolves! And all things are not as they appear.”
Well … that’s a hard line to toe when you’re starting out with something like Lycan Colony.
As a film, it has too many small(ish) storylines going in disparate directions. I suspect that in the mind of its writer/director Rob Roy that maybe it made perfect sense, and – were I to toss back a few beers – I might agree. But on a purely conscious level, I can’t quite make sense of what the filmmaker set out to achieve with something so incredibly low-budget and horrifically performed. While it hints of little more than a small town’s attempt to have its own The Howling, there just isn’t enough intestinal fortitude here of a central thread for this Colony to be more than the sum of its parts.
Because it’s clearly handicapped by the lack of any true financial investment, I don’t believe it’s necessary (nor productive) to point out some of the deficiencies of the props, sets, make-up, creature FX, and more. (I learned long ago – and made peace with the fact – that some productions simply don’t have as much money as others, and that sucks.) But Roy and his merry band do try – in rather elementary fashion – to construct a story here – one that involves werewolves, witches, and the aura of small town society – and I guess (on that same elementary level) they’re deserving of a bit of … erm … praise? I’m just not finding the right words today. Apologies.
I’ve often written about differences between big studio productions and B-Movies, allowing enough wiggle room for the reality that indie productions sometimes introduce a third tier that never quite gets enough recognition. Still, what you have with Lycan Colony is that fourth category – a truly homegrown almost community-theater-style film – that’s not quite schlocky enough to be true schlock. It winds up being little more than a filmed curiosity – one that somehow keeps churning scene after scene in spite of now authentic forward momentum … and I just don’t quite know what to call it.
Yes, yes, and yes: some folks call it sh#t. Some folks call it garbage. Some folks call it inferior. And yet there are still folks like me who’ll watch it and take the occasion to sound of on it because – like any work of art – it’s deserving of some attention, however modest. In that respect, I’ll admit to some confusion mostly because I’m entirely uncertain if I was supposed to take any of this seriously. It’s so obviously flawed here and there – with jarring cuts and musical tracks popping in and out at seemingly random times – that I can’t quite wrap my head around its mildly hallucinogenic appeal (but only mild, folks). Effects inclusions are downright laughable, suggesting that they were more of an afterthought than part of the original premise; and it’s hard to reconcile the constantly shifting tone much less the humble impact of so many uninspired performances.
Lycan Colony (2006) was produced by Wits’-End Entertainment. DVD distribution (for this particular release) has been coordinated by the fine folks at Visual Vengeance. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to both see and hear how poorly all of this was strung together, and I can’t help but wonder if a single film school student couldn’t have improved some of the sights and sounds in editing. This is downright atrocious at times: display ratio keep shifting here and there, the film has color overlays that make zero sense, and the soundtrack is jarringly amateurish to say the least.
But, hey, if you’re looking for special features? Visual Vengeance is definitely emerging as a prominent player in the world of schlock, and they’ve ponied up not one but two commentary tracks for those interested in knowing a bit more. There’s also an interview with Roy; the full RiffTrax version of the production; a blooper reel; a music video; the theatrical trailer; and a good handful of packaging extras including stickers, artwork, and an essay. This is a surprisingly inclusive collection, and hats off (again) to Visual Vengeance for doing their homework. It’s always appreciated!
Sorry, folks, but this one is hard to recommend … unless you’re a connoisseur of just plain bad cinema.
What I did find overwhelmingly disappointing about Lycan Colony (2006) is that about the time something interesting manages to work its way into this increasingly curious failure, it’s almost as if Rob Roy went into overdrive trying to snuff out such goodness, not unlike throwing a sack of puppies off a bridge into a raging river. And, yes, there are a few inspired nuggets in here – some not entirely original, some not entirely sane – but the film just can’t escape its maker’s own worst impulses to throw something bizarre into the mix when it needn’t be there at all. It’s no wonder this one has received the RiffTrax treatment … as maybe there’s never been a more deserving production.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Visual Vengeance provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of Lycan Colony (2006) by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.