Director – Scott Schirmer (Found, Harvest Lake)
Starring – Ellie Church (Space Babes from Outer Space, Headless), Arthur Cullipher (The Legend of Wasco, A Christmas Scream), and Jason Crowe (Hooker with a Chainsaw, Cannibal Cop)
Release Date – 2018
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “How long can you hold on to your humanity”
After taking a trip down Vinegar Syndrome’s catalogue I decided it was time to finish the Ellie Church movies I’ve collected them over the years. I started this by checking out Harvest Lake, Plank Face, and Space Babes from Outer Space. They were all solid films but had room for improvement.
The next up was The Bad Man from 2018 and directed by Scott Schirmer. I’ll be honest with you here. This is the one film I was not looking forward to. The trailer was this one painted a boring experience that teetered on psychological torture which is something I tend to avoid. I bought a copy because I support Ellie and Brian along with wanting it for my collection but I did not expect much from it. I was wrong…
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows young couple Mary (Church) and PJ (Crowe) who are staying her grandmother’s home that had recently passed away. Before her death she had turned the home into a bed and breakfast. A polite gentleman arrives to stay in one of the rooms and they allow him because he is extremely charming. However, that night things take a bizarre turn when they are relaxing in the bath. Mary sees a clown in the door but PJ comforts her and warns her that she has been drinking. The next morning She is confronted by her house guest now donning clown paint and he has PJ unconscious. She panics and quickly finds herself in a similar situation as PJ.
When she awakens she discovers that the clown, Lawrence (Cullipher), is a flesh peddler that kidnaps people and breaks them into being obedient slaves each with a different task and service. His plans are to turn PJ into a loyal dog and Mary a living doll. He breaks them mentally and physically before taking them to auction where they are sold with Lawrence buying Mary after falling in love with her. Lawrence lets his guard down and Mary is able to strangle him with her legs and his man servant (Dave Parker) injects him with a drug to render him unconscious so they can escape. They rescue PJ but the servant is shot soon after by Lawrence. PJ is able to stop him from killing Mary and Mary kills him. **Spoiler Alert**
I was expecting this one to be the worst movie out of the stack that I was reviewing and I was way off. This is a movie that I’m still thinking about days later. I started out disliking the film and the way the story progressed but as we approached the middle of the film I found myself really enjoying it. The trailer for this one does not do it justice.
The acting in this one is god damn fantastic. Ellie Church, Jason Crowe, and Dave Parker are all great in their roles. They each go above and beyond in their performances to deliver something truly unforgettable. However, fucking Arthur Cullipher is the fucking star of the show. That’s right, the director of Headless delivers an unforgettable performance. There was a few times you could hear him channel his inner Heath Ledger but for the most part he was absolutely brilliant. When it was all said and done I was fucking shocked by how fantastic he was in his role.
The story for this one starts out on the wrong foot for me. When the clown is trying to break the two mentally and physically I found myself becoming extremely bored with the film. It fits with the story but it was just not as appealing on screen to watch. Blame years of torture porn for desensitizing me. That changes once the movie changes settings and we move to the auction and so forth. The movie really opened up from there and I was pulled in. When I posted on Instagram that I was watching this film I was met with similar opinions.
Finally, this is not a gory one but it doesn’t shy away from blood. We get some solid practical effects but the movie is more story driven rather than gore focused. It works for what it is. Overall, The Bad Man may not be for everyone but this is one of the few indie horror flicks that I’ve watched recently that left me thinking about it days later. The film tries to be something it’s not but in the end brings it around to something memorable. Check it out.