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The Last Laugh
Killing Joke

USA 2020
produced by
Matt Medisch, Jeremy Berg, Chris Joseph Taylor, Jason Dreyer, David Moscow, Todd Remis, John Portanova (executive) for The October People, Adventus Films, Cool Productions, Salem Street Entertainment, UnLTD Productions
directed by Jeremy Berg
starring Steve Vanderzee, Eric Stone, Lowell Deo, Angela DiMarco, Meranda Long, Marcus Leppard, Brad Jessernig, Nick Sage Palmieri, Tonya M. Skoog, Luke Schuck, Jeffrey Arrington, Scott C. Brown, Taylor Johnson-Heath, Mark Rahner
written by Jeremy Berg, practical effects and makeup by Lisa van Dam-Bates, visual effects by David Phillips

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Myles (Steve Vanderzee) has once been a very funny stand-up comedian - but has lost his edge ever since he has lost his wife (Taylor Johnson-Heath), something he has never come to terms with, which is why he's on prescription drugs. However, his manager and friend Nelson (Eric Stone) still believes in him, which is why he has booked him a big gig opening for Reggie Ray (Lowell Deo), once a star comedian yearning for a comeback, and Nelson has even invited top comedy promoter Isabella (Tonya M. Skoog) just to see him. Now all Myles has to do is deliver the goods - and it really seems everything's working in his favour, the show's venue is not yet another small club with an unreceptive audience but a big theatre with its own stage manager (Marcus Leppard), sound guy (Brad Jessernig), costumer (Tonya M. Skoog) and other staff, who prove to be very helpful, he has his own dressing room, and manages to strike a friendship with the usually cold theatre director (Angela DiMarco). Thing is, he has somehow misplaced his medication, and he starts seeing blood dripping down the walls first, and dead bodies later - but every time he tries to tell someone, the respective bodies are gone, and everybody just blames it on Myles' nerves. Thing is, a masked killer is actually roaming the backstage area of the theatre, killing staff pretty much left and right, but keeping the dead bodies out of sight for anyone to notice until it's too late. And this killer seems to be hell-bent on making Myles' murder his crowning achievement ...

 

In many a way, this film is somewhat reminiscent of gialli of old, what with the masked killer, gruesome killings, and psychological undercurrents, and due to the theatre setting, Michele Soavi's Stage Fright (1987) most readily springs to mind - but that's to say, The Last Laugh is actually anything but a carbon copy of the giallo formula, as it's less fixated on the murders (both visually and narratively) and is actually much more of a character study of a man trying to not break up when keeping it together means the most - and Steve Vanderzee does a wonderful job bringing this to life. Thus the direction is very subtle throughout and mostly relies on character work rather than setpieces to create tension and suspense, and at the same time it does a wonderful job keeping the audience guessing how much is actually happening, how much is in Myles' head, up to the point where one can't be sure whether the killer might actually be himself. And even if this might be a very unusual thriller due to its focus on its lead's (unrelated) mental problems, it's very cool genre entertainment all the same.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD