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Review: The Meat Puppet (2012)

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Although The Meat Puppet was filmed in 2012, it just secured a distribution deal and was released by Girls and Corpses three months ago. I originally became aware of this title because my friend, Randy Memoli, had a small part in it and it was filmed mostly within thirty minutes of my house. I had to check out a horror film from a fellow New Jersey-ian and here are my thoughts.

The Meat Puppet is written by Billy & Joseph Pepitone and directed by Joe Valenti. Starring cast members include Keith Collins, Daniela Rivera, Gregg Valentino, Brandon Ruckdashel, Ron Thal, Theresa Galeani, Doug Bollinger, Cindy Fox, Faith Stanek, Chris Wilkes and Jessica Tar. The film also includes performances from Geri Reischl (“The Brady Bunch Variety Hour”), Jamie Kovac (“American Gladiators”), April Hunter (WCW, TNA Wrestling), Ron ‘Bumblefoot Thal (Guns N’ Roses’ Guitarist), Gary Garver (“Howard Stern: On Demand”), Billy Garcia (“Survivor”), Gervase Peterson (“Survivor”), Erik Chopin (“The Biggest Loser”), Anastasia Smith (“Lingerie Football League”), Emilio Masella (“Jersey Shore”), Skeery Jones (Radio’s Z100) and Billy Sample (former NY Yankee).

“Andrew “Drew” Shelton has it all – looks, money, women and an insatiable taste for human flesh. His vanity is only surpassed by his obsession with finding the perfect tasting meal and it has fueled his appetite for killing, preparing and cooking beautiful women. He throws lavish dinner parties and serves his guests his latest victim and one unlucky guest becomes the main course of his next get together. When a no-nonsense detective starts putting the pieces together, it leads to a game of cat and mouse that only increases the stakes. But is Drew the soul-less, cold-blooded killer that he appears to be? Or is he just the Meat Puppet for a more sadistic mind?” – IMDB

Well, the first thing I’d like say is that… obviously a modest budget was put in place to produce The Meat Puppet. I mean, just look at all of those featured performances from name pop culture celebrities. The only problem with this, though, is I feel that all of the budget and the emphasis of its effort was put into getting names attached to this feature in order to build hype. Looking at it from the standpoint as a producer myself, I think it would have been better to cut the cameos in half and put the extra money towards sprucing up other areas of the film. This was not a dreadful production in the least in terms of quality, however, I feel like if more money/effort was put into the gore or building suspense, this could have been a much bigger beast. This screams poor decision making that didn’t pan out and it left me wondering, “what if this happened instead?”

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My next review point has to do with this title’s classification in terms of genre. Judging by the DVD cover, it looks like Girls and Corpses tried to market The Meat Puppet as a horror title and this is just not the case. Again, the film contains its fair share of gore and brutal kills, but I’m not so sure it should be filed under out favorite type of film. The Meat Puppet is more-so a crime-thriller mixed with a dark-drama mixed with horror and cannibalism. It’s an interesting breed of film, but not one I would consider to-the-bone horror. It slowly builds to a climax much in the same way old 80’s thrillers like The Hitcher would. Speaking of “climax,” The Meat Puppet is… sexy. The film features a lot of attractive women and viewers will get to see a couple sets of boobs. Hell, even the lead – Keith Collins – is a stud. No one tries to be overly raunchy and promiscuous, and that makes this title have a layer of sensuality to it.

Being that this was an independent production, I have to say that it was filmed quite well. Audio levels are good. Camera work is good, but the quality of a film is a bit low. All of the lead actors can actually act and they’re able to perform well thanks to an interesting script that blends genres. The only real critique I have when looking at this from the angle of production is, if I was in the editing chair, I would have removed about ten minutes of dialogue. The Meat Puppet was just a little too long. If that’s my only complaint, then you know this is a decent movie from a quality director. I hope Joe Valenti takes this as a good learning experience and comes back better than ever with his next feature. I’ll be waiting.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)