June 7, 2021
$27.97 DVD, $28.96 Blu-ray;
Stars Emily Alatalo, Michelle Argyris, Kiriana Stanton, Chelsea Muirhead, Jason Rouse, Ryan Allen, Katheryn Kohut, Erin Noble, Julian Richings.
Stylistically daring, unabashedly gory and loaded with action, Spare Parts offers a bloody good time for fans of old-fashioned grindhouse cinema.
Energetically directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt to make the most of practical effects and a minimal budget, the film follows the fortunes of a quartet of girl punk rockers after they inspire a brawl at a biker bar in some backwater part of the country.
Grousing over their meager circumstances, the band heads for the next town, only to be run off the road by a seemingly over-excited groupie. It turns out to be a rouse to get them to a creepy junkyard, where they are captured by an insane cult dedicated to purifying existence through ritual combat in a hellish arena fashioned from junk cars.
The girls’ arms are hacked off and replaced with brutal weapons so they can fight for their lives for the amusement of the cult members and their leader, who calls himself the Emperor (Julian Richings).
His son (Jason Rouse) is the one who captured the girls after taking a liking to Emma (Emily Alatalo). He hopes to persuade her to accept living with the cult by playing on her jealousy toward her sister, Amy (Michelle Argyris), the band’s lead singer and most popular member.
Amy, meanwhile, takes a liking to the cult’s Shaq-lookalike drill instructor (Ryan Allen), training for combat to bide her time until she can work out an escape plan.
“Mad Max” meets Gladiator as the combatants are outfitted with an array of bizarre weapons, from axes that shoot nails to “Evil Dead”-style chainsaw arms. The filmmakers clearly had fun with the special effects, showing everything from flesh being rendered from bone to heads being sliced in half, and blood spewing everywhere. Hunt takes the edge off the visuals by bathing most scenes in bright neon colors, though the violence still comes off as disturbing and not for the squeamish.
Fans of old-school splatterfests, however, should have a metal-mashing good time with the film.
The Blu-ray includes about an hour of bonus featurettes, about half being promotional interviews and half being behind-the-scenes footage.
Two of the featurettes center on the Butcher Shop FX studio and how they created life-like bodies to hack up. Another featurette offers 12 minutes of raw footage from fight-scene rehearsals.
Of the interviews, one is an 11-minute EPK piece with Hunt, Alatalo and Argyris in separate junket-style conversations. The other is a 16-minute Q&A conducted via Zoom by CineFest with Hunt and Alatalo.
There’s also a gallery showcasing 14 behind-the-scenes photos.
Finally, the Blu-ray includes a commentary from Hunt, Alatalo and Argyris in which they recount how much fun they had making the movie, but lament about all the worldwide film festival locations they couldn’t visit due to the pandemic.