Wednesday, January 21, 2015

$kumbagz: Sleazy Ghetto Action

Director: John Miller 

Cast: Joe Makowski, Krystal Pixie Adams, John Miller, Jules Sceiro, Bob Glazier, David Jackson, Ricky Thompson, George Tgzeey Streets, Niecy Nice, Herb Kowalski

The Sleaze Box / Region 1 / Unrated / 16x9 widescreen / Stereo / 72 minutes

EXTRAS: Commentary with John Miller and Chris Woods / Sleazebox Trailers



Until a few years ago, there really wasn't a local horror scene in Central Florida. There still isn't here in Orlando but about an hour and a half away, over in the Tampa/St.Petersburg/Clearwater area, shit is poppin' off. There are now at least three indie horror production companies in the Bay Area; Cult Movie Mania, Unearthed Films and now The Sleaze Box. The Sleaze Box started a couple of years ago as a Youtube show dedicated to talking about exploitation film and it wasn't long before founders John Miller and Chris Woods were making movie shorts to add content to their channel. So the next natural step was feature production and that they did in 2013 with the incendiary Amerikan Holocaust, a movie that really put them on the map and, to this day, is their most popular title. They followed that up with the much milder Make Them Die Sleazy last year, as well as the Cinesploitation Approved, get-your-tissues-ready, stream of consciousness sex-fest, Naughty, Dirty, Nasty. Up to that point, Chris was doing the lion's share of the directing (as well as co-writing) while John was mostly writing.

That changed last year when they decided to start production on a script that John had started in 2008, during the worst parts of the Great Recession called Skumbagz (stylized as $kumbagz) with John behind the camera. $kumbagz is the story of young Stephanie (Krystal "Pixie" Adams) who has no direction in her life, still lives with her parents and has just lost her low-paying shit job after she wouldn't blow her sleazy boss. While living on the streets, she is picked up by Reo (Joe Makowski) who she thinks wants to help her but he ends up raping her, then pimping her out to the dregs of humanity so he can get money to buy crack from "6'9", the drug dealer next door (John Miller). After a Reservoir Dogs-style shootout, Steph escapes and meets up with 6'9 who takes her in and promises her that she can make a lot more money as an internet escort. At first, life begins to turn for the better, then a gang of thugs, led by Quincy (David Jackson), want their cut of the action and that's when things get violent and bloody.

Eating pussy like it ain't no thang.
$kumbagz is not horror but more a throwback to the sleazy drug and gangster movies from the Blaxploitation heyday. It was made on close-to-no budget and oozes a filthy ghetto vibe in both execution and production values. They shot where they could, used friends and acquaintances (like yours truly as the "blow-job john") in the cast, cut corners when they needed to and ended up with the type of movie that doesn't give a fuck if anyone outside of its target audience likes it or not. That audience would be the underground, indie exploitation scene that hopefully will go in with a healthy appetite for offensive, violent and pretty fucking graphic filmmaking. In a lesbian scene with "Stephanie" and a bangin' black chick (Niecy Nice), Miller just let the camera roll and ends up getting some very real action that made it into the final edit.

Obviously $kumbagz isn't for everyone, especially if you are looking for some slick-looking, vanilla bullshit that has pipe dreams of getting picked up by some bigger "mainstream" distribution company. And it does suffer from some shortcomings in its effort to appall, like the overuse of rape and sexual abuse. How many times can you show "Stephanie" getting roughed up before it loses its shock value and emotional effectiveness? I would say after the second or third time, maybe. But that can easily be overlooked when you get stuff like footage of a couple hot black strippers makin' that ass shake in a trap house over a ghetto-as-fuck hip-hop soundtrack (one that includes Orlando native Eigh8t The Chosen One, star of American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore) and a baby-stomping abortion. Yeah, this shit ain't pretty but it's not supposed to be. This shit is sleazy, graphic, bloody and dirty.

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