Title: Melvin
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Starring: Patrick O'Driscoll, Leif Fuller, Lilly Maher
Director: Hank Weintraub
Duration: 62 min

Melvin Purvis is a nerd at Delta University that is picked on constantly by punk rockers and his sister's boyfriend. One day, the punks pull a prank on poor Melvin resulting in his death. The punks make it look like Melvin was raped and murdered and abandons him. Flash forward two years and we have nerd Norton Pincus, a friend of Melvin's sister Wendy, being bullied by the same 3 punks and boyfriend. After a stroll in the graveyard, Melvin appears to Norton as a zombie and curses him with the task of seeking revenge on these misfits who killed him, as well as every other cretin in town (pimps, strippers, hookers, adultresses, etc), indirectly, by unleashing a small scale zombie plague.

Melvin is a good example of a truly independent film. With a budget of $3500, the filmmakers have accomplished a surprisingly professional looking movie. Or, at least, MORE professional looking than your average no-budget horror feature. The special make-up effects are top-notch and nearly perfect, not to mention pretty gory at times. The shovel-thru-neck effect should have maestro Tom Savini worried. The acting is rather good for unknowns, despite the entire film being looped (dubbed). The nerds and punks of the film give off very contrasting, yet equally fun, humor. The soundtrack is comprised of various artists and fits well with the punk scenes, but is a little too lo-fi to compliment the slick picture quality. The photography is uniquely bright and captures everything perfectly, no too-dark-to-see-what's-going-on scenes here, folks. Lastly, the directing is nothing special. You know from the start this is a small time, still learning filmmaker, but it gets done everything that needs to.

Fans of American cult classics will have a heck of a time with Melvin, especially fans of Troma films. It has such a Troma quality throughout, not to mention many nods, that I'm surprised Troma didn't offer to distribute (instead it was released by relatively new company 531 Productions). Even Troma founder and president Lloyd Kaufman makes an appearance as the killer in the movie-within-the-movie "Night of the Driller." For me, Melvin brings to mind cult classics such as The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High, and Slime City (The Toxic Avenger most likely this film's namesake). In just a mere hour, Melvin serves us everything we could want from this legendary Hell's Kitchen film company: sympathetic antihero, hateful villains, head crushings, strong violence, hard drugs, sleazy nudity, and... well, Lloyd Kaufman.

Weintraub's picture is DIY filmmaking, plain and simple. He eeks by with a production budget of almost zilch and ends up making a very entertaining movie. By no means is Melvin flawless since almost everyone involved is only slightly more established than an amateur (and it shows here and there). However, we can see that there is definite potential for great genre filmmaking in Weintraub's future. Until then, we are left to have a fun time with the story of Norton and Melvin, who give new meaning to the phrase "revenge of the nerds."



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