Director – Steve Rudzinski (CarousHELL, A Meowy Halloween)
Starring – Ben Dietels (The Barn Part II, Amityville Christmas Vacation), Jessa Flux (Deadly Dealings, Space Babes from Outer Space), and Steve Rudzinski
Release Date – 2023
Rating – 4/5
I’ve met dozens, if not hundreds, of filmmakers over the decade I’ve been working with Horror Society. A few of them were in the game a few years before the stress and financial strain got the best of them and they moved on but a select few are still growing and thriving. I first befriended Steve Rudzinski years ago on Facebook and since then he’s become a close friend of mine. It’s obvious he grew up watching the same films that I did and our tastes in movies is why I often go out of my way to watch anything he’s released. Sometime back I was informed that Steve was brought on to direct Shingles: The Movie.
I knew nothing of this aside from Steve was directing and Jessa Flux was cast. I shared a few bits of news about it as it became available since then but I still didn’t realize it was based on a series of book until I was sent the trailer to post. I then realized that Shingles is a book series that is almost a parody/tribute to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. I’m a huge fan of Goosebumps and this revelation truly excited me for the film. A few weeks back Steve hit me up to review the film and I quickly worked it into my schedule but with work, the kid’s baseball schedule, and illness, I wasn’t able to review it as quickly as I would have liked. Thanks Steve for sending this one over!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of youths/Twenty-somethings who are sitting around a campfire telling stories that are supposedly true but are clearly made up or embellished by the story teller. The first story follows a young man who finds himself gripped with a zombie invasion. His parents are oblivious to the fact and soon find themselves on the business end of a zombie bite forcing him to step up to fight for his own life. The second story follows an aspiring comedian who lacks a funny bone. He dad gives him his grandfather ventriloquist dummy help spice up his act. What he doesn’t know is that the doll is alive and plans on using him to get back in the limelight. The third story follows one of them who visits his brother in college as they prepare for a house party. That same night visitors from out of this world arrive and havoc ensues. The third story follows the young girl who finds herself slinging drugs due to a ruse from her racist father. She soon finds herself in possession of a coke farting gnome. The film then ends when the leader of the campfire finally arrives and brings with him two zombie strippers forcing them all to fight or flee. **Spoiler Alert**
I know nothing about the source material but I have added a few of the audio books to my reading queue for the future but for those of you reading this in hopes of determining how close to the books the film is will be very disappointed. However, if you are reading this because you are on the fence about checking it out then allow me to help persuade you. This is easily my favorite film from Steve. I know this is film was produced by the authors of the series and financed by them but it has all those noticeable traits that makes Steve’s movies so enjoyable.
The acting in this one is a bit complex in regards to indie horror. I absolutely loved the cast and their performances. The characters are so much fun and I love the energy everyone brought to their scenes. I was laughing through most of the scenes and found myself checking most, if not all, of the cast’s imdb pages. With that being said, there was a few awkward scenes and some of the dialogue delivery at random times was a bit forced. It didn’t take away from the overall film but there was a few instances that reminded you this was an indie production.
The stories for this anthology was a humorous tribute to some of the classic Goosebumps tales that are aimed toward adults. We have an exploitative tribute to Slappy, a pretty solid zombie tale, another Goosebumps tribute with the gnome, and an out of place but very enjoyable alien invasion segment. Honestly, this feels like it was written by someone that grew up on Ernest Scared Stupid and Goosebumps like Steve was and I’m all for it.
Finally, I loved the attention to the practical effects and sets that we get. I loved the locations for the stories and the practical effects look great. It’s not that gory but the blood looks great and the deaths fit the film perfectly. I would have loved a bit more memorable deaths but it’s still a lot of fun as it is. Overall, Shingles: The Movie is an absolute blast for us horror fans that grew up on Goosebumps and Shivers. It’s a loving tribute made by those that clearly grew up enjoying the books and show. It’s funny, bloody, and highly enjoyable. I cannot recommend this film enough.