In another Dimension with Nihilistic Intentions
Well Secluded, Artie Saves All!
Just recently, Ed contacted me again to announce his new film, set in the same universe as Artie Saves the Hood and set to premiere almost exactly three years after his previous film. Coldspot, as it's called, is not another short, but a full-length feature and it's an interdimensional leap beyond (the admittedly quite cool) Artie Saves the Hood in more ways than one. Yes, folks, let me admit this as openly as a half-shell Oyster... I may have thought I knew Ed Radmanich III, but it's a fact that I seriously underestimated Ed Radmanich III! Read the review for Artie Saves the Hood and you'll see why that's a bold statement.
Coldspot is a much more serious film than its prequel and is much heavier on the special effects (which are amazing considering the budget DCG Films had to work with). That said, even at its most stunning and dramatic, Coldspot wisely never quite loses its B-Movie sensibility. There is a playful sort of Cheesy "Ray-Gun" Sci-Fi here that is cool to enjoy. On the other hand there is an almost Giallo-level of blood, gore and violence. For better or for worse, the kids who rode around in makeshift cardboard fighters in Artie Saves the Hood are all grown up now!
Coldspot sets the mood early on with some fantastic nudity from a very lovely lady named Monica Higdon. Then it pulls the rug out from under us as we see something horrible cross over from "the Place You've Never Heard Of", into her room. Needless to say, some truly terrifying things take place... all before the opening credits.
From here, Radmanich (who both wrote and directed the film) trusts the audience to pick up on the mythology he's building with mainly subtle cues and occasional on-screen text meant for our menacing Killer.
Things don't get too much brighter for the denizens of "The Hood" either (don't miss Kai Kekai, still a neighbor). An apparent suicide is the next jolt, while the threat of a blind-date gone stalker experiment leads to some subtle domestic-style chills. It's around this time that we meet our sexy leading lady named Sam (Michal Alida Humer) whose biggest problem up until now has been finding "Mr. Right". While the idea of someone as cute as Alida Humer having trouble finding a man does seem like a stretch, I deflected such thoughts by reminding myself that this was, in fact, Science Fiction. Though Sam's date with some jerk named Jerry (Gage Truscott) went about as well as efforts for a second season of Manimal, Sam's roommate Amy (Melissa Melancon, also quite alluring) is enjoying her "six month anniversary" with her beau Allen Crown (Kyle Brady).
This, of course, brings us to just what our slacker heroes Mason Crown (Jason Brown) and Artie Guy (ER3 himself) have been doing with themselves since we last saw them. Mason (in case you haven't figured it out yet, Mason is Allen's brother) is nowhere to be found, only sparse clues lead to his whereabouts. Artie on the other hand, we see up close and personal. Unfortunately, he's trapped in another dimension, still fighting Clonebots, now with some strange mutations that grant him super-powers (enough to stay alive, at least). Yes, it's safe to say that our Slacker Heroes are not slackers anymore!
Things go from weird to psychotic when the varied players in this strange saga collide into one surreal plot, signaled by the odd occurrence of Sam hearing distorted voices coming from her laptop. It only gets crazier when she answers back. But what has this to do with Mason's disappearance, Artie's exile and (lest we forget) the lumbering Killer still stalking the area with a serious bloodlust?
Needless to say, this film is a hell of a ride, but it's not without its flaws. While Ed Radmanich III has toned-down some of the comedy in this film for a darker tale, this both helps the film to tell its story and hinders (just a bit) with its telling. In Artie Saves the Hood any acting flubs or wacky lines could be chalked up to an intentional shot at absurd comedy. In Coldspot those same acting issues and the (occasionally) clunky dialogue doesn't have such a farcical mask to hide behind. When the humor does pop up, more often than not it does blend well with the more serious moments around it (if the fact that there's a couple here named Brad and Janet means anything to you, you have to know there's at least a little bit of tongue-in-cheek comedy here).
This is, of course, a credit to Radmanich himself, as are a lot of the successful parts of Coldspot. As a director, Ed holds this film together and keeps it interesting and pleasurable to watch. As a writer, Ed has constructed a story that is obscure, but rewarding. At every step I wanted to know what was next and I trusted that the film would indeed answer my questions and tie up its loose ends by the time the credits rolled.
As an actor, Ed steals the show here (and considering the beauty his actresses share, that's no small feat). Ed's scenes as Artie feel natural and relaxed, but still packed with the surreal drama of Coldspot and the absurd comedy of Artie Saves the Hood. It's clear that Ed is having a good time playing his self-created game, complete with sci-fi toys and lots of his good friends, masked and ready to fight. At the same time, however, none of this comes off as egotistical or self-serving. After all, he's working hard on telling a great story while inviting the audience to buy into this same strange dimension! In some ways seeing Artie at his tricks again is like visiting an old friend. Of course, many of you may not have seen Artie Saves the Hood yet, but that's the thing... Radmanich is so damned affable as Artie that you might not have to. As unapologetically nerdy (in a hipster kind of way) as Artie may be, it's hard not to like him and laugh along with the guy.
Although some of the gore effects here are effective because of their low-rent, splatter nature, they are effective nonetheless. On the other hand I'm hard pressed to find any viable criticisms about the makeup effects here. Cheers to Fawn Sutherland on that. The makeup in Coldspot is truly top-notch and helps to make a menacing bad guy truly frightening. The CGI special effects are even more amazing. Radmanich and FX artist Phil Mohr (also credited as "Key Makeup Artist") often use their computer effects sparingly to enhance a scene in a subtle way. Other times the entire desert sky is fully computer generated, like something out of The Matrix. There are trippy lighting effects, convincing teleportation shots and all kinds of surprising uses of CGI. While most of the time Coldspot does look like an Independent Film with lighting and color issues, the Special Effects are beautiful. More beautiful than any Independent Film has any right to be.
Speaking of beauty, although that opening scene is our only glimpse at nudity (and she's lovely), it's a credit to the cast that every actress in the film is also lovely, either way. This is a group of very prettty ladies. In addition to Monica Higdon, Alida Humer and Melissa Melancon, I'd like to salute Laura Stahl, Sandi Leeper, Renee Lobo, Eliana Roux and Katherine Weber as well. Apparently part of the surreal nature of this other dimension is that it makes the ladies in Sacramento even hotter.
Even so, Coldspot is a truly impressive independent film, packed with Special Effects that are better than could be expected, Music (also by Mohr) that works almost as well as the effects and an interesting, fun story that manages to keep its almost two-hour run time interesting from beginning to end. There are some tell-tale acting, lighting, editing and occasionally sound issues that distract from the overall awesome movie. Still, taken for all with all, Coldspot most definitely earns its Three and One Half Stars out of Five! It's playful fun that demands to be taken seriously; it can be hot and it can be disturbing! What's more, although Coldspot is a very different kind of movie than Artie Saves the Hood, it also makes the viewer want to watch (or re-watch) Artie Saves the Hood! Which is what I'm about to do now. Then... I think I might make a trip to Sacramento... Hopefully I'll stay in this Dimension. But, in any dimension... I'll see you in the next reel!
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