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Big Junior - Evil Flix Print E-mail
User Rating: / 7
Written by Ray Casta   
Friday, 07 January 2011

Directed by: Scott Swan
Written by: Scott Swan
Produced by: Wayne Burgess & Ignaco J Couce
Cinematography by: Wayne Burgess
Music by: Scott Putesky
Cast: Hans Bruno, Lilah, Matt Von Hornsleth and Richard Ramos
Year: 2010
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 21 min

Studio: Evil Flix

From his scripted "Masters of Horror" episodes -- "Cigarette Burns" and "Pro-Life", both directed by the great John Carpenter -- to Toetag Inc's "Maskhead," Scott Swan has displayed a natural ability to tell us creepy, entertaining horror tales.  He continues that tradition with a movie that he directed under the radar, within an extraordinarily short time span and without any type of budget.  His first feature length work, "Big Junior" is exactly the type of flick you'd find at the bottom of the dusty bargain bin of your local mom and pop videostore.  And I mean that as a good thing!

The film's titular character, Big Junior (Hans Bruno) arrives in Los Angeles from Texas with a ton of heroin he wants to unload.  Along with a big .357 Magnum, he arranges a meeting with local drug dealer and degenerate, Skip Fawn (Matt Vonhornsleth).  Skip brings along his prostitute girlfriend Lainey (Lilah) to the seedy downtown motel room where the exchange will take place.  They hit it off at first and everything looks as if it will turn out well for both parties involved.  As time passes and the evening grows restless, things intensely spiral out of control -- and all that Big Junior can think about is "revenge."  The film chronicles the atrocities that blossom from the moment where Big Junior is crossed.  It was a mistake the other characters will soon regret.  As the story accounts the deadly day and night in the life of these vile characters, "Big Junior" is a deranged crime story told with gross perversity and a sick sense of humor.

There has been little hype surrounding the film.  Leading up to its December 1st DVD release, the filmmaker's website blog advertised a few one-sheet character posters, a fairly brief plot description, a page from the shooting script, and a photograph with the cast.  Not too much info was given, but most surprisingly a trailer was not even made for the film.  Not even a single frame from the film was seen, as many genre fans purchased the DVD blind.  "Big Junior" was all but a mystery.  Taking a page from Toetag Inc's marketing strategy, the first 250 DVD's ordered would include a rare 4 x 6 photograph taken on set and 5 random DVD's would ship with a prop from the shoot.  According to the director, it is available to a limited 1000 copies.  Once these copies are sold, this particular version will supposedly never be available again.  The version will be retired by the director, eventually altered and re-cut.  As a result, this rare and unusual version of "Big Junior" is a one of a kind viewing experience.

Scott Swan's screenplay is best described as coked-up Quentin Tarantino with David Mamet-sharp wit and John Waters vulgarity.  He uses the type of politically incorrect monologues that are bound to raise some eyebrows along the way.  The dialogue goes from talk about Lee Marvin to sexual innuendo.  In his work, sexuality can be a strong theme.  Skip offends Big Junior by insinuating he is "gay."  This immediately brings a sense of irony to his "punishment," and it leaves its viewers uneasy and on unquestionable edge.  This sequence is dead serious, but there are times when the script has its fun.  Such as the song Big Junior sings to Lainey: A song about "niggers," which he believes is the sweetest word in the world.  I can even picture Tarantino shaking his head with that one.  We are not supposed to laugh at some of these moments, but the movie unfolds in such an unconventional way, we cannot help but laugh at times.  Although "Big Junior" feels very much like a play with its single setting, its script often makes the viewer to forget.

When you work with only four actors, the small cast is looked at closely to dial in performances that carry the story.  The film firmly rests on the shoulders of Bruno Hans, who plays Big Junior with the kind of mean-spirited wit that would make David Hess proud.  He has a devilish smirk, a wide-eyed intensity and a morbid sense of humor.  All of his facial expressions, tics, and quirks give the character of Big Junior a trademark originality.  Richard Ramos plays his Mexican friend, Angel, whom he invites to the motel room to keep Laney company.  Ramos does a fairly terrific job.  He is a wild card, since we never really know what he is capable of.  Lilah gives a spot-on authenticity to the role of the hooker, as she gets in way over her head and crosses the wrong person.  As Skip, Matt Von Hornsleth is solid.  He does different roles throughout -- he plays a happy-go-lucky drug dealer who thinks he runs the town, then he is scared shitless when his plan backfires.  It is in these performances, which hit different notes throughout, where the movie finds a balance between shocking horror and dark comedy.

To the untrained viewer of extreme horror, "Big Junior" is sure to offend and shock.  Many of us have seen it all.  The majority of us fans have a strong tolerance for violence and gore -- which makes it extremely tough to shock us.  If you are watching for sheer shock value, the film will more than likely come as a disappointment.  Advertised as "beyond a normal concept of extreme," the finished product is not as shocking as the selling endorsement would suggest.  Sadly enough, the film lacks a gore factor.  With some strong trademark gore effects by Toetag Inc., I think this problem would have been easily alleviated.  Due to the lack of budget, its lack of gore is understandable.  There is a scene later in the movie where there realistically should've been far more blood than what was actually shed.  The fact the movie was filmed in Los Angeles, any helping hands in this department were regrettably out of reach.  While "Big Junior" may not fulfill the most fiendish imaginations of the most hardcore exploitation fans, there is absolutely no denying its mean streak.  Shot in one location throughout, the fly-on-the-wall approach makes its viewers feel like voyeurs.

This is a mean, twisted little bastard child of underground filmmaking.  With no budget whatsoever -- quite possibly, this is the cheapest movie ever made -- everyone involved in the production pitched in and made due with what they had available.  For Scott Swan's directorial debut, it is a labor of love from all.  It shows you how you do not need millions of dollars to tell a story, or to entertain viewers.  If this movie actually had a budget, I am sure the gore effects would fill a void here.  "Big Junior" does not fail because of its lack of gore or shocking violence that pushes the envelope.  It works as a slice of life.  Don't expect a gorefest.  Don't expect an exploitation film that will break any new ground and reinvent the wheel.  Expectations of such things would lead to a possible disappointment.  "Big Junior" is not a perfect film by any means.  It's not totally hampered by the budget, but there is a significant moment that truly begged for a bigger effect.  Despite financial woes, "Big Junior" is a filthy, confrontational horror film wrapped in modern film noir.

Available through, "Big Junior" is presented in a limited DVD edition by Scott Swan.  The disc features a creepy, nightmarish short film by Scott Swan known as, "Ghost of the Woman."  There is an interesting featurette, showing us a brief behind the scenes look at the shoot and it reveals how they made feces for a scene in the movie.  No trailer is on the disc, as it was not made at the time of the release.  This only version of the movie, limited to 1000 copies, will never be available again.  "Big Junior" is a fun, nasty flick that deserves to be discovered for many years to come!



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 Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Widescreen
 Region: NTSC 0
 Audio: English 5.1

 - Behind The Scenes Featurette
 - Short Film by Scott Swan: "Ghost of the Woman"

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