• Mr. Bricks - A Heavy Metal Murder Musical



    Released by: Troma
    Released on: December 11, 2012.
    Director: Travis Campbell
    Cast: Tim Dax, Vito Trigo, Nicola Fiore, Shawn C. Phillips
    Year: 2011
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    The Movie:

    Described as ‘A Heavy Metal Murder Musical’ Travis Campbell’s low budget film Mr. Bricks introduces us to the lead character of the same name played by Tim Dax. A hulking, ridiculously muscular dude who has most of his face covered in black tattoo ink, Mr. Bricks is an ex-con who, when we meet him, has been left for dead in the basement of a warehouse in Queens. His girlfriend, Scarlet (Nicole Fiore), is missing – all that’s left are her red shoes. Understandably upset by this, Bricks… breaks into song.

    Two armed men show up shortly afterwards, it turns out their cops. This doesn’t stop Bricks from kicking their collective asses and heading out into the streets to try to figure out just what exactly happened to Scarlet and why he’s being plagued by insane headaches. Well, he figures that part out easily enough when he realizes he’s got a bullet stuck in his head, but Scarlet’s case is a little harder to crack. As he tries to figure all of this out his memories start coming back to him in violent flashbacks that explain his past, his connection to Scarlet and to her father but the presence of a crooked NYPD officer named Carmine Dukes (Vito Trigo) turns out to be a catalyst for revenge.

    This one is… bizarre. Lots of fire, lots of yelling and screaming and some seriously hyper active editing tactics make it more than just a little bit erratic but at the same time the idea is so odd and Dax’s screen presence and acting so larger than life that you have to appreciate the effort here, even if it doesn’t always work. There are a lot of aspects of this movie that are legitimately bad – there’s overacting, underacting, scenery chewing, bad effects and way, way, way too much post production picture tweaking but even when certain aspects of the picture fall apart, there’s something about it that keeps it all watchable.

    The storyline isn’t particularly complicated but it does go in some unexpected directions that you probably won’t see coming in terms of how it explains the different character relationships. We don’t get much background information on Bricks at all and this is a flaw in the character, he’s weird enough that we want to know more about him but it doesn’t really happen. The story fleshes out his relationship to Scarlet fairly well, which is what is at the core of the story, but outside of that, he’s just a big guy with crazy tattoos who sings at inopportune times and yells a lot.

    So yeah, Tim Dax. So much of this movie revolves around him that obviously we can’t close out the review without talking about him. He doesn’t do the actual vocals on the Noo Yawk Hawdcoah style musical numbers that populate the movie but the picture is edited in such a way that you won’t notice. To be blunt, he overacts throughout the whole movie BUT it works. This guy throws so much of himself into the role, thrashing around and posing during the musical numbers and delivering his dialogue with complete and utter conviction, that he’s completely watchable. His acting style is unorthodox to say the least but there’s not one second in this movie where you doubt the man’s commitment to the role. That counts for something even when you wonder just exactly what the filmmakers were thinking.

    Ultimately, the low budget here is obvious. The flaws in the film are easy to spot. The production has more than its fair share of problems and parts of it are ridiculously overdone. At the same time, it’s rare that you see a micro-budget production like this (and let’s face it, they’re a dime a dozen) made with such obvious dedication and passion. The guys who made this movie mean it. This is exactly what they wanted to do and even when it misfires, which is often, that comes through in the finished product. It results in a fairly crazy film, one which you’re not necessarily sure if you should be laughing at or rejoicing in, but one which is fairly fascinating in its own completely bizarre way.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Mr. Bricks arrives on DVD in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen in a transfer that probably looks about as good as the original elements will allow for. Obviously shot on low end digital video the movie is noisy looking and sometimes suffers from bad lighting. Minor compression artifacts are noticeable throughout and the whole thing has a fairly murky look to it.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and it’s actually of pretty solid quality. The musical numbers sound alright and the levels are properly balanced throughout. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion of note.

    The disc includes two audio commentaries, the first with director Travis Campbell and producer Justin Martell and the second with Campbell and Tony Enz, the guy who did the vocals in the musical numbers for the Mr. Bricks character. Campbell has the most to say in both tracks, this was obviously a pretty personal project for him. As the two tracks play out we learn about locations, budgets, effects, casting and of course, working with Dax. If you want to learn more about the movie, these tracks are the way to do it.

    Also included is a behind the scenes documentary on here entitled Brick By Brick that takes us through some of the history of the movie. It’s a lengthy fifty-eighty minutes long and it shows us various crew members hanging out in a kitchen drinking Budweiser and arguing about editing choices, make up work, various scenes being shot, rehearsal footage clips and more.

    Rounding out the extras are five deleted scenes, some outtakes, a couple of music videos and some bloopers and rehearsal clips. Aside from that, we get a trailer, some teasers and a promo spot for the feature, a quick introduction to the movie by Tim Dax, the usual assortment of Tromatic Extras including trailers for other Troma releases and the Radiation March short, menus and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    With Mr. Bricks, Travis Campbell has made a legitimately weird film. Nothing if not original it wears its low budget plainly on its sleeve but manages to overcome some of those budgetary restraints with fierce creativity. This isn’t a movie that a lot of people are going to necessarily seek out but it’s definitely entertaining and if that’s occasionally for the wrong reasons, so be it. Troma’s DVD is pretty loaded with extras and presents the movie looking about as good as it probably can. Check out the trailer, a rare case of truth in advertising… if it looks like your bag it probably is.