Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Heckle

My notes on Heckle

Joe Johnson (Guy Combes), a British stand-up comedian who could either be described as having a lot of issues or being a gigantic asshole, has been cast in a biopic of his comic idol, Ray Kelly (Steve Guttenberg), who seems to be what you’d get if Andrew Dice Clay circa Ford Fairlane and Harvey Keitel circa Bad Lieutenant were scrambled in a telepod.  In the meantime, it’s Halloween and Joe and his entourage of people who unaccountably put up with him head for an ‘80s party (no phones!) in an isolated house.  Joe has been heckled by a sinister figure (Clark Gable III) and now thinks the clown-masked, venomous stalker is after him … which does seem to be the case since a speech about who would be who if this were an ’80s slasher movie does presage a middle act in which an array of horrid people in ‘80s get-ups are axed or stabbed, but after a big reveal an hour or so in, we get a lengthy flashback which explains why Guttenberg gets such prominent billing for what had seemed to be a small role and goes some way towards explaining why Joe and his circle are in such a state now.

For a horror film with a comedy theme and a comic attack, Heckle goes into some dark places – Combes’ stand-up is such an all-round ghastly human being it’s hard to get too worried about what happens to him, and he’s not really credible as a superstar on the few glimpses we get of his act … but this does cram in quite a lot of material, working vicious showbiz caricatures around the standard stalk-and-slash stuff.  The cast is gossip-column friendly – with bits for Dani Dyer, Toyah Willcox (who does a song) and Nicholas Burman-Vince.  It’s choppy and hectoring, but some of the performances click – especially Madison Clare as the sort-of final girl and Stephanie Leigh Rose as the bitchy manager who dresses up as Joan Collins in Dynasty – and it does at least have some demented glee going for it.  Not too many actual laughs though.  Scripted by Airell Hayles (director of They’re Outside); directed by Martyn Pick (Evil Never Dies).



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