Review by Robert Long II ©2012 – 2014
Richard Cutting as Owen
Danielle Lozeau as Maria
John C. Bailey at Tom
Beau Peregino as Geoffrey
Carl Stevens as Leon
Andrew C. Ely as The Servant
Robert Haag as Grant
Manuel Poblete as Oscar
Daniel Ross as The Gambler
Paul R. Sieber as Allen
Judy Furlow Grannas
Vanessa Rae Bent
Written and Produced by Kevin Kangas and Luke Theriault
Director of Photography: Jarod Noe
Music by Chad Seiter
Directed by Kevin Kangas
Synopsis: Owen, a police detective wakes up in a bedroom with a dead body. Taking photos of the corpse with his cell phone, he proceeds to leave the room – finding himself in a very strange mansion filled with people steeped in hedonism and debauchery. All too quickly Owen finds that he – and the inhabitants – are cut off from the rest of the world, and that the body count in the manor is rising. He takes it upon himself to solve who is behind the murders before another body drops.
The GARDEN OF HEDON Blu ray has been available for a couple of months, and I am only getting to the review of it now. Sorry about that. Let’s look into it shall we?
At the time, I saw the premiere of this movie on April 26th, 2012 to a packed house at the Landmark Theater (Baltimore). I got a few interviews and hope to have some clips up soon on a segment of Smash or Trash TV. The who’s who of the Maryland film scene were all on hand. It was great to know that Mitch Klein, Leanna Chamish, Les Bradley and Judy Furlow Grannas (all Smash or Trashers) were in attendance as well.
I had been on the set a couple of days, so being a know-it-all I thought I had the story all figured out. Boy was I wrong! The film that unfolded upon the screen was nothing like my pre-conceptions of the movie. This is a good thing – Kevin Kangas had once again surprised me! I was wrong, wrong, wrong about everything I thought was going to happen. Of course – I cannot say too much as that would be spoiling the suprises of the movie. I will say this much; this film crosses several genres – including horror, science fiction, giallo, and murder mystery. I found out that this was maybe going to be a web series, but am glad it did not go that route. I am still unsure how one makes money from web series so I am hoping that Kangas Kahn Films make their money back via the blu ray sales. I’m not sure how nudity and violence are handled in web series – do they have to get certifications of some sort? I don’t know. I am fairly happy to see this as a full length motion picture. The one thing I took away from this is that after three viewings, I really got it. This is not a film that you can watch one time and get all the details. By watching it a few times, I was able to pick up more of this densely packed story and I appreciated it much better for it. So while Kangas and Theriault – the writers of this screenplay – probably wish they had done one more rewrite to the script, in the end the story works deviously well.
There are a variety of hedonisms on display in this movie – including bondage, drinking, eating, drugs, gambling – and sex. I was a little surprised at how little nudity there was in the film; oh there are some scenes with nakedness, and cleavage and a few buns shots abound, but considering the subject matter it feels there should have been much more. Part of the trials of doing an independent film is finding people willing to take off their clothes is my best guess.
The acting is top-notch across the board. Richard Cutting portrays Owen, the police detective that wakes up in the bizarre manor. John C. Bailey portrays Tom, the ever helpful gent that roams the corridors. Carl Stevens plays Father Leon, the priest of the grounds. Danielle Lozeau plays the mysterious chocolate craver. Andrew C. Ely plays the all powerful, almost mute Servant. There are no clunkers among the main cast and the performances keep you riveted to the screen.
And boy does Owen have a bevy of suspects to work through to find the killer! Manuel Poblete portrays Oscar the lawyer, Beau Peregino is Geoffrey the gambler, Robert Haag as Grant the liar, and so on. This house of hedonism is chock full of bizarre, interesting characters – anyone of them could be the murderer.
Do you like indie film cameos? Well there are a ton of them in this feature. Such talented actors and filmmakers as George Stover, Leanna Chamish, Joe Ripple, Judy Furlow Grannas, Mitch Klein, Eric Thornett and many others make the scene and it is fun to see them in the film.
A lot can be said about the production values of the movie. First up – the locations and sets are absolutely stunning. Kangas and crew filmed at a castle and other various settings to make the halls of this Hedonistic Haunts seem endless. It is plush and rich with atmosphere. The camera work was done by veteran cinematographer Jared Noe on a RED, and the picture quality is mind-blowing. The incredible musical score was done by Chad Seiter (of LOST fame). Seiter’s score is a home run, and adds 100% to the action happening on the screen. Every note is scored perfectly, and Kangas and crew need to thank their lucky stars that this Hollywood composer has been on board to produce the music since FEAR OF CLOWNS 1. The story, editing and mature themes the film tackles will not leave lovers of kink and violence disappointed. All combine to give this movie and incredibly professional sheen.
The Blu ray extras are cool… for the most part. Beautiful menu to start off with. There are three Easter Eggs that are a lot of fun, the best (as far as I am concerned) is the photo gallery. So let’s see – there is a director’s commentary, 10 making of videos, and trailers to go along with the Easter Eggs. The viewer’s mileage will vary on some of these extras. I say that because… let me put it this way. My favorite commentaries that Kangas and company have been involved with include His commentary with Frank Lama on the FEAR OF CLOWNS 2 Blu ray, and Kangas’ commentary with Rick Ganz for HUNTING HUMANS.
The commentary for GARDEN OF HEDON is packed with tension. The audio speak between the three people (Kevin Kangas, Luke Theriault, and Robert Zeigler) on this track make it obvious that this was an incredibly tough shoot. While done mostly in a joking manner, there are plenty of cutting, biting remarks and arguing going on. It does make me wish that these gents had distanced themselves a little more from the pain of the shoot before doing the commentary, or that some editing would have been done to the track. However, I know there are people that really, really dig listening to all the heated hells of what happened on set, so those people will love this.
So the end result? A great film brought to the viewer from the team of Kangas and Theriault. I would give the Blu ray 9.5 out of 10 stars. Once again Kangas Kahn Films shows that they are ever going up the ladder of quality and success, not descending it. Go out and buy this already! you will enjoy it as much as I did.
To find out more about Garden of Hedon and Kangas Kahn Films, LLC click on the link below: