This may not be a secret to longtime readers of the site, but over here at Scary-Crayon we love DVDs. More specifically, we love budget DVD movie sets. Whereas very few Hollywood flicks these days are interesting enough to warrant their $15+ price tags upon release (I mean, really, $19.99 for Ultraviolet?!), budget collections provide not one, not two, but three or more unusual flicks for less than half that price. True, the vast majority of the movies in these collections are terrible, but the hilariously bad quality of the movies oftentimes makes them more entertaining and enjoyable than your latest big budget suckfest starring Hugh Jackman or Kiera Knightley. And with multiple titles to a set, you're almost guaranteed to get one that is interesting enough to overcome the budgetary constraints and bad acting that typically hampers these obscure flicks. In either case, the cinematic features packed into a $6 budget collection are practically guaranteed to deliver hours of entertainment.
Then again, there's often that one film in the lot that's just bad -- not hilariously bad, not so bad it's good, but irredeemably bad through and through. Enter Hip Hop Locos, one of six films included in the Serial Psychos set that I picked up for $6.99 from Best Buy the other week. Admittedly, when I read the back of the box, I was kind of intrigued by the description of the film as chronicling the activities of two would-be rappers decided to finance their hip hop career by robbing and murdering local drug dealers. I mean, this certainly doesn't sound like a good film, but if you've seen or even heard of Leprechaun in the Hood you know that over the top caricatures of hip hoppers have hilarious comedic potential in horror films. Moreover, given that much of rap glorifies drug dealing and murder, a film like this could also make for an interesting critique and analysis of certain elements of the hip hop culture. I wasn't exactly expecting the film to take this higher and more interesting road, mind you -- I mainly expected to see exaggerated parodies of rappers executing cocaine dealers while yelling out terrible yet thoroughly amusing rap lyrics along the lines of "YO YO YO I PUT DIS GUN TO HIS HEAD, PULL DA TRIGGER LIKE SO, AND KERPLOWIE HE DEAD" -- but I've been surprised by the depth of low budget offerings before.
Instead, what I got was a despicable feature in which two hip hop hopefuls drive around talking about how they intend to "come up in this rap game," detailing their plans to murder people in rambling and largely pointless dialogues and then performing said murders in incredibly lackluster fashion before returning to their car and discussing the murders in more rambling dialogues. Several scenes feature the characters getting high while talking about the merits of the blunt. Moreover, ostensibly because these guys are supposed to be Latinos, they say "esse" and "holmes" and "ey" ad infinitum and occasionally note their desire to represent la raza (the race, i.e., the Hispanic race), as if doing drugs and killing people is really going to promote a positive image of Latinos among the general public. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised with the content of the film -- I imagine that this is exactly what we'd end up with if two lowlifes drove around filming their degenerate activities -- but it's incredible that anyone thought this movie was good enough to warrant releasing even on a budget DVD collection.
Seriously, the movie is so horrible that it's nearly impossible to convey just how horrible in writing. At one point, after inviting a cocaine dealer into their car to discuss business, one of the principal thugs slips a shoelace around his neck and strangles him while his partner exclaims, "CHOKE THAT MOTHERFUCKER! GET THAT MOTHERFUCKER ESSE! CHOKE THAT MOTHERFUCKER!" until the victim finally stops moving a full three minutes later. For the majority of the utterly reprehensible scene all we can see is the outline of the victim's face in the darkness and the hands of his attacker (above, at left). The other murders are thankfully less drawn-out, but they still feature unnecessary, lingering closeups of the corpses and dialogue in which the characters brag at length about the killings. (In another scene, the murder as we see it looks like little more than a quick shove, yet as he drives away the killer talks about how blood sprayed everywhere as he cut the victim open and watched his guts spill out.) As far as I know, none of the "actors" perished during the making of the movie (the same cannot be said for their integrity) and there's far more talk than action in Hip Hop Locos, but it's still about the closest thing to a snuff film that I've ever had the displeasure of viewing.
The ugliness of the film's content is complemented by its visual style, which looks like something the Blair Witch might shit out after downing a bunch of half-empty forties and sixteen cans of creamed corn at an abandoned campsite in the middle of the woods. Given that they're supposedly filming this with a hidden camera and spend most of their time in fairly dark places like the interiors of various cars and in dimly-lit apartments, the film looks absolutely terrible -- for the vast majority of the 68-minute runtime, all the audience can see is the lower half of the two main characters' faces. Apparently recognizing this, the director (Lorenzo Munoz, Jr., who is also the editor, the writer, the director of photography, the producer, and the executive producer, and yes all of this information is detailed at length in the credits, suggesting that Mr. Munoz is actually proud of this terrible movie) applies various effects to the picture at times. Certain scenes are shot in night vision, some feature the negative of the image or apply various color tints, and others are replayed multiple times. Some are played in slow motion. Sometimes multiple techniques are utilized, but they still don't mask the fact that the film sucks beyond my ability to describe it. If you're curious, however, you can check out the clips below and see for yourself.
Irrefutable proof that Hip Hop Locos is fucking awful.
(These clips are definitely NOT work safe, nor should they be viewed by children
under the age of 17 -- or anyone who doesn't want to see clips from a thoroughly reprehensible movie. You have been warned.)
With the addition of several documentary-style exposition segments, Hip Hop Locos could arguably function as a special interest title for folks interested in seeing what it would be like to spend a night with two murderous, pot-smoking hoodlums (uh, joy?), but it definitely seems out of place in a budget set alongside slasher films and wacky serial killer romps. In fact, I have a hard time seeing who would really find this movie appealing even among hip hop enthusiasts. One of the film's taglines is that it is "a gangsta song brought to life," but the thing about these songs is that they generally have a decent beat to accompany their vile lyrics -- such that I suspect that most of the people dancing to them have virtually no idea what the songs are about. By contrast, whereas certain scenes feature beats and (horrible) freestyle rhymes from rapper Unodoz, they don't help to make this awful film any more watchable. Maybe, like the characters in the movie, one has to be high on drugs to enjoy watching the reprehensible events purportedly recorded on the night of February 20, 2001.
Hip Hop Locos is one of those rare films in which everthing about it contributes to its downfall, combining absolutely abysmal cinematography with the glorification of murder and drug dealing to produce one of the worst movies I've ever seen. The saddest part about the film, however, is the unbelievable truth that Munoz actually thought he was making something worthwhile, as evidenced by the acknowledgements section of the credits in which he thanks his family and even God for enabling him to produce this film. Munoz and crew may have set out to represent la raza, but -- if anything -- they have only succeeded in shamng it. If the other film I've watched thus far is any indication, the titles in the Serial Psychos set may be interesting enough to warrant the price of admission, but I'd literally scratch out the section of the disc housing Hip Hop Locos if I could. Ugh.