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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Horror fans looking for something different - really different – will want to take notice of Botched, arriving on DVD May 13 from Warner Home Video. This indie film mixes comedy and horror in an unexpected way, making it a potential candidate for cult classic status. While not as innovative as the brilliant Shawn of the Dead or the original Scream, the film does have the same sort of off-the-wall mentality that has won Frankenhooker and Bubba Ho-Tep a sizable number of hardcore fans.

Stephen Dorff plays Richie Donovan, an American thief ordered by his mobster boss to journey to Moscow, where he must steal a valuable golden cross. Richie and his two cohorts do the job, but as they try to escape the building, the elevator becomes stuck on the mysterious 13th floor. They – along with the lift’s other passengers – are stuck in a seemingly deserted, run-down section of the high-rise. However, this being a horror movie, the group is not alone. A modern-day Ivan the Terrible and his deranged wife are roaming the halls, taking everyone out in one grisly manner after another.

Richie tries to survive the increasingly bloody goings-on, as do the other hostages: a prototypical sex symbol whom Richie has eyes for, a requisite dweeb, and the most hilarious character, a self-professed “manly man” whose acts of machismo are decidedly unimpressive. Every time this guy formulates a plan to overtake the killers, it goes wildly wrong.

Botched gets two things very right: the humor and the gore. Horror fans seeking some serious bloodletting will delight in the movie’s Fangoria-ready images. The nastiest, for me, involved one character getting speared through the ear and…well, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. The gore ramps up in intensity as the story goes along. I'm not a fan of gratuitous violence, but in a picture like this, it's part of what you're paying for. On that level, it does not disappoint. The killings are creative and, while graphic, done in the kind of tongue-in-cheek spirit that I cherish in splatterfests.

The humor is even more effective. Botched has a really oddball style of comedy that caught me off guard and made me laugh out loud. Some of it is borderline slapstick while other parts are slyer. For example, I love one of the movie's unspoken central jokes: although it takes place in Russia, the Russian characters all speak in broken English. (Sample line of dialogue: "Kick him in head!") Some of the antics between the killers are rather amusing too.

While there's a lot of good stuff here, there are some flaws as well. The film's low budget is betrayed by some rather cheap-looking sets. The story would have been better served with a more charismatic and compelling actor than Stephen Dorff in the lead role. And, although gory and funny, the film is never really scary. Its humor occasionally undercuts the horror.

I probably would have stopped short of recommending Botched theatrically, but on DVD it's definitely worth a look. In fact, this is the kind of movie that really plays better on disc than it would have in a theater anyway. Let's be honest: sometimes it's fun to gather a bunch of your gorehound buddies together in front of the tube to laugh and geek out on the bloodshed. If that's what you’re in the mood for, Botched will meet your needs quite nicely.

( 1/2 out of four)

Check out the official website: Botched

Or purchase it online here

Botched - Own it on DVD May 13

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