Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #641
Number of Views: One
Release Date: July 3, 2007
Sub-Genre: Horror Anthology
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 49 minutes
Director: Christopher Alan Broadstone
Producer: Sebastian Alan
Screenplay: Christopher Alan Broadstone
Cinematography: Stewart M. Eastham, Schwarz Nipfargen
Score: Ugly Mus-Tard, Brian Sussman
Editing: Christopher Alan Broadstone
Studio: Black Cab Productions
Distributor: Black Cab Productions
Stars: Tony Simmons, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Gabriel Sigal, Lisa Montague, Rick Wildridge, Green Whittaker, Cole Adam Buisson
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 LCD Soundsystem “Someone Great”
 Cutting Crew “(I Just) Died In Your Arms”
I’m never happier than when spotting fresh undiscovered talent. Raw meat, as it were. Nothing tickles my quill more than signposting my readership towards those whose work warrants recognition but perhaps haven’t yet achieved such. It was so much different thirty years ago. Back then, nigh-on any new horror movie that materialized found a way of accessing our radars but nowadays it’s a whole different kettle of fish heads. Technology has advanced massively during the interim and, with the worldwide web at your disposal, anyone with a little bit of capital, some bog-standard camera equipment, a few close friends to pitch in where necessary and the seed of a good idea, can make that shit happen.
Sounds like a doddle right? If only it were that easy. You see, it’s one thing shooting your movie, but entirely another knowing what the hell to do with your end product on completion. Submit it to festivals and, should your film be deemed up to snuff, then you’ll likely be compensated by way of midnight screenings. Go one better, knock their socks off and massage those bunions, and you may even earn yourselves some accolades along the way. But unless a potential investor happens across your work, the chances of anyone taking a punt on you are slim to bloody nothing. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into something, never more so than when the end product is so promising.
Christopher Alan Broadstone’s 3 Dead Girls! is one such diamond in the rough. Released in 2007, it did the rounds at festivals and created quite the buzz before dropping off our radars entirely and winding up in perpetual limbo. Comprising three short films that Broadstone shot years earlier, Scream For Me, My Skin! and Human No More, it offers an ideal showcase of this man’s talent, not to mention a staggering three-pronged performance by an actor more than deserving of a bright future, Tony Simmons. Each of the trio of shorts is unique and though we aren’t presented a wraparound to tie things together, they do have one thing in common in that they all showcase Broadstone’s ability as a storyteller decidedly well.
We kick off with Scream For Me and it wastes no time whatsoever in getting to the meat and potatoes. We start with a murder scene as a troubled young man (Gabriel Sigel) chokes the life out of his latest victim (Lora Cunningham). He is desperate to hear her scream and none too happy when she fails to deliver such chorus. However, things are about to take an unforeseen turn as it turns out that his visitation rights are not exclusive. Enter the appropriately named Madman (Simmons), a raging nutbag who resembles one of the Village People and has come here for “some fucking”. With the girl swiftly dropping below room temperature and his competition restrained, it’s not looking at all good for the compromised psycho killer.
Simmons is superb here, demanding our full undivided as he goes about his foul work in a manner as unsettling as it is playful. In addition, Broadstone’s direction is off the chain, using the reflection from Madman’s mirrored shades to capture the blind terror of his quarry as the realization sinks in that it’s his tonsils about to be provided a run-out. Of the three short films, this is the one most suited to being elaborated upon for a full-length feature as Simmons’ knife-edge performance as our inhospitable intruder calls to mind the very best in cinematic sickos. Scream For Me may be a simple tale at heart, but its true strength lies in the execution.
Next up is the shortest of the three, My Skin!, and has a genuine feel of Edgar Allan Poe about it. This time the dirty deed has already been carried out and our killer has long since fled the scene. However, if George suspects that he’s gotten away with his treachery, then he’s got another thing coming as The Grim Reaper (Simmons) has come to collect the girl’s soul and isn’t best pleased that it has been wrenched free before her natural time. Someone has to pay for this act of insolence and Death has just the punishment in mind to fit the crime.
Again, Simmons is on irresistible form here, and this role enables him to show his versatility as an actor as he strikes a fine balance between kooky and downright spooky, informing his increasingly distressed opposite number of his grand plans for retribution. My Skin! clocks in at just around the thirteen minute mark and fills that slot more than ably, once again highlighting Broadstone’s God-given ability as a cinematic narrator.
Rounding things off is Human No More, by far the most experimental of the three and with a noir flavor that serves it remarkably well. It may not be as instantly accessible as its stablemates but, make no mistake, every last shot is relevant and there’s a nightmarish feel to proceedings that is hard to shake once it bows out. This time our sole focus is a detective (Simmons) who appears to have reached the very end of his tether. His wife and son have been recently murdered, leaving him despairing and utterly bereft of faith. With neither heaven or hell throwing him a bone, it is left for this exasperated flatfoot to forge his own path.
The grungy basement interior lends itself perfectly to the tone, while Broadstone adopts a voyeuristic approach to framing his antagonist, hanging back amongst the rafters before swooping in for dizzying close-ups of religious imagery that encapsulate the detective’s fast slackening grasp on reality exquisitely. Simmons delivers a lengthy monologue to highlight where he’s at as he deduces that blind faith isn’t working out for him and prepares to reject both beliefs. Human No More is perfectly placed at the tail-end of our triage as it leaves its addressee much to ponder after the credits have rolled.
3 Dead Girls! is a curious little number as it is effectively three unrelated shorts with the flimsiest of tethers threading them together. That said, Broadstone has such an assured grasp on the stories he’s telling and, in Simmons, has a real rough diamond who manages to locate the core of each character he portrays and milk them for all they’re worth. Considering this was shot on a meager budget in single room locations and with such a miniscule cast, what it achieves is nothing short of astounding. Alas, a decade has now passed and there are no clear signs that Broadstone’s talent is about to be snapped up any time soon. This saddens me as he evidently has a unique voice and one that the entire world deserves to hear. If nothing else, his efforts provide bona fide proof of just what can be achieved with a healthy dose of passion and its equivalent in know how. You see, there’s hope for us all yet.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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