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Dr. Chopper

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Directed by: 
Lewis Schoenbrun
Costas Mandylor
Ed Brigadier
Chelsey Crisp
Robert Adamson
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The title may suggest  an E.R. themed porn movie, but unfortunately the contents of this  by-the-numbers, straight-to-DVD flick turn out to be nowhere near as  stimulating. This is a low budget slasher with a willfully outlandish premise that seems to hint that the makers were  intending some kind of outrageous comedy-horror vehicle. The DVD cover designers have certainly earned their money with this one, going all out to  make this egregiously mishandled effort sound like an entertaining  prospect, and using the involvement of an actor -- Costas Mandylor  -- who has previously appeared in a couple of the "SAW" franchise entries,  as the basis of a comparison between that film's enduring serial killing maniac,  Jigsaw, and the bemusingly feeble antagonist of this one, the titular Dr.  Chopper. "A sadistic, knife-wielding,motorcycle riding madman" is  the their description, "move over Jigsaw," they say, " - Dr. Chopper  is the master of slaughter", but what we actually get is a paunchy,  wrinkled eighty-seven-year-old codger, clad head-to-toe in biking leathers, revving his engine while straddling the  aforementioned Chopper bike. The guy is DR. Max Fielding: an ex-plastic  surgeon turned killer who, after going on the run with his two nurse  accomplices having been responsible for a series of killings at his  private practice (the trio had been harvesting patients' body parts and  organs in order to preserve their own youthful looks), turns up again twenty  years later at a remote forested resort called Lake Tatonka ("A Friendly Place  for Happy People"), where he and his still devoted nurses (who  have now turned cannibalistic, don't you know) bump off and chop up all  assorted campers or ramblers who wander anywhere in the  vicinity.

Before you can say 'how  many times must we endure this old scenario', a cast of young, overly  good-looking and yet thoroughly unsympathetic college age students also  turn up to take a holiday in a remote log cabin, set deep in the woods at  the edge of the lake — the deeds to the place having been left to one  of them in his mother's will. After collecting together this dispiriting bunch of anonymously glossy-haired jock and cheerleading types  in one place, ready to provide the film's requisite kill fodder, they're virtually abandoned for half the film's run-time while a whole bunch of  other characters are introduced only to be immediately bumped off. First, two lesbians in a camper van are attacked before they can get down to  any torrid on-screen lesbian shenanigans (in this film, "hot girls" are always  stripping down to their bras, only to be rudely interrupted by mad cannibal  nurses with frustratingly bad timing); one of them gets chopped up and  consumed by the nurses at the edge of a stream, the other spends the rest  of the film aimlessly stumbling around looking for her lost girlfriend. Next, a  whole bunch more good-looking girls turn up to take part in a sorority  house initiation ceremony that has to involve them wandering around in  the woods minus their tops (but keeping their bras on of course) looking for  plastic skulls which they have to dig up and bring back to base camp. None of  them are ever coming back though.

Meanwhile, Terrell  (Costas Mandylor), an alcoholic park ranger, sits about in his office  sulking and doing nothing about this obvious trouble spot ("People have been  disappearing," he tells his rookie sidekick. "Body parts have been found.")  Strangely enough, the whole place is completely plastered in 'Missing'  posters, but that doesn't ever seem to deter anyone from wandering about  the area on their own, no matter how many disarticulated arms and  legs have apparently been cropping up. Terrell blames himself for the death of his wife and has deliberately put himself in harm's way, hoping to track down and eventually confront the killer(s) without  any help  or aid from anyone else, thus atoning for his inability to save his spouse.After all this aimless meandering, the final half-hour mainly consists of the college pals back at the cabin being attacked and besieged by the  bike-riding pensioner and his accomplices, and winds up with the predictable  'final girl' sequence: the lone survivor of the group being hunted through  the backstage area of a theatre (which unaccountably seems to be situated in the middle of nowhere) before she finally manages to defeat him with a well-aimed kick to the goolies. (Straight up!)

This film tries  very hard but somehow still gets everything wrong. Despite the clichéd  comic book scenario at the heart of it all (mad Professor tries to find the  secret of eternal youth by dabbling in the blood and body parts of assorted  handsome kids), the comedy element you would expect to be prominent in the  screenplay never seems to get off the ground. Any laughs the film might get are  strictly unintentional and are likely to be derived from the amateurish script which has characters' personalities alter from scene to scene at the  drop of a hat, for no reason. Plus there are several ridiculous,  melodramatic scenes where they soliloquise to themselves in an overtly  theatrical manner (Terrell in his office recalling his dead wife, sobs, "Why, oh  why? ... OH, FUCKING WHY?!"), which are played straight but induce the only  convulsive chortling of the entire film.

Ed Brigadier who plays  Dr. Chopper is virtually absent for most of the film, handing  over proceedings to the two big-haired nurses who run around grimacing  and stabbing at people with their plastic knifes in a never-ending catalogue of  poorly staged kill sequences. When he eventually takes centre stage in the  climactic chase and confrontation, Brigadier hams it up nicely, in the only  suitable way, like a comic book villain. But by then it's too late to save  this messy nonentity of a movie. Even the gore is curiously muted, mainly,  one suspects, because it isn't very good; rubber arms and legs and a few stringy  entrails are highlighted, but they look like they could have been thrown  together in five minutes by anyone. The pace of the film lags atrociously  and only really picks up in the final ten minutes.

For a low budget offering  though, it actually looks pretty decent, but the sound quality is oddly poor, with lots of off-screen noise (camera noise?) which occasionally almost  drowns out the dialogue. MVM's basic DVD has only a trailer (for this film and  another of their low budget offerings) while the film itself is presented in  1.33:1, which seems to be the correct aspect ratio. It's really hard to  recommend this film to anyone since it doesn't really hit its stride  on any level, and there are ten-a-penny other b-movie flicks of its ilk which do  the same job a great deal more effectively. This, unfortunately, is one  only for the film making students who need alesson in how not to do it.

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