Today, we talk about another find thanks to the Roku channel Bizarre TV.
From director Brett Piper, whose website says he’s been “makin’ movies since the early 80s” (literally, it says “makin'”), comes a little film called Drainiac. What is kinda nice about this movie, and some other things that Piper’s website talks about, is that this does seem to capture a feel of a bygone age of B-Movies. In some ways, I suppose it does have some of the feel of the drive-in horror movies that were around before my time and in my youth of the early 80s. In other ways, it resembles that “regional” film making appeal that was used often in the 70s – this would have been when small, independent movies, usually starring no one of consequence, would get made in a state or region of the country for the sole purpose of only ever playing in the local theaters or drive-ins.
(As a side note, Piper is the director of one of the movies I would love to get a copy of – They Bite about a fish monster plaguing a porno movie set.)
Sometimes it’s a bit of a blessing to find these little movies like this that has more elbow grease and care given to it than a budget to provide spectacular CGI effects or slick production value. Sometimes it’s not so fun either. However, I will digress and refer to the back of my DVD box to give you a synopsis of Drainiac:
“When Julie Ashbrook helps her father fix up a helplessly run-down house, she is clearly unaware of the horrors that are about to follow. As her father leaves for other business in town, she is plagued by bizarre phenomena. She calls up three of her friends to keep her company in the odd run-down house. Supernatural occurrences begin to haunt the friends and the situation becomes even more haunting when Julie’s father returns from town, only to be killed by a mysterious explosion in his car. Fearing for their lives and unsure what to do next, the friends are joined by Mr. Plummer. He explains to them that the occurrences are due to a demonic haunting that he will try to exorcise.”
Let’s get this movie going and swim through the muck of Drainiac!
The movie opens on Christmas Eve “a few years ago”. A couple homeless guys are huddled around a tiny fire. The angrier homeless guy is making a couple timely jokes about Bill Clinton getting a blowjob and then a gay joke when the other guy jokes about finding mistletoe when he was out gathering a few pieces of wood for their fire. When the lesser angry of the two guys holds out some booze from the other, they begin fighting. They find a run-down house and sneak into the basement hoping to find a warm and dry place to stay. Once inside the basement, they find a pipe dripping a green goo. When one of the guys touches it, it spreads over him and ultimately melts his face. The other guy is able to escapes.
Post credits, we are now in the present where Julie (Georgia Hatzis) gets shit from her dad about coming back late from a night out, and they need to get started early in the morning. She is unable to sleep and tosses and turns all night – thankfully we get to see her kick off her covers to show off her t-shirt and underwear sleep attire. She does have a nightmare featuring a worm like monster thing latching onto her neck. She wakes up and gets yelled at by her dad. By the way, if it isn’t exactly well pointed out yet, Julie and her dad don’t get along all that well. Her mother died and her dad’s just a jerk.
The following morning, Julie goes out for a slow motion run through this scenic New England town. Julie happens to stop near her mom’s tombstone and takes a few minutes to chat with her mom and reflect on some stuff. She runs home to where her dad, who happens to look like Bruce Jenner, is waiting for her to go to a house he is flipping. He bitches her out for going on her run and not helping him load up the cleaning stuff. As they back out of the driveway, Julie’s friends, Lisa, Jake, and Tanya, block their path and ask what she’s up to. Julie asks them to come with her to keep her company but they decline. On the way to the house Bruce grills Kylie about the noises he heard during the night while she was having her nightmare about the worm Kim.
So Julie’s dad thinks she should go see a shrink about her nightmares. It’s not like ol’ daddy dearest will pay for that because A) he’s an asshole and B) he’s a house flipper (before that trend became really popular mind you – this movie’s kind of an innovator) who is trying to get rich quick. He’s not exactly great with money.
They get to the house and Julie immediately shows her support for her dumb dad’s get rich quick scheme by saying he bought the worse house yet – one not even “Freddy Kruger would live in”. They go into the kitchen to get some water and it comes out like my shit after a run to Taco Bell. When she complains about the smell of the water, he calls her a bitch and then tells her a few minutes later that she’s useless. So Julie’s sweet dad is a real fucknugget. He takes off to run some more errands leaving Julie by herself to clean the house.
At a local diner, Julie’s friends help us out with some backstory about Julie and her dad. Now, real quick, let me explain something. This movie is copyright 1999, but released in 2000. However, Julie’s mom’s tombstone reads she died in 1996. Her pals say that she’s been dead for about a year, dating the events of this movie in 1997. That would explain three things – 1) Julie being late 90s hot 2) her friend wearing a drab green long sleeve shirt and 3) this shitty local sub diner (that I’m sure is amazing) as opposed to them being at one of the millions of Subways that would have long since put this place out of business by 2000.
They discuss how Julie’s been acting weird for the last year because her mom died. No shit, dummies. Then they talk about her dad. The guy, Jake, knows he’s a prick. But Tanya thinks that he seems nice whenever she’s been around him. Lisa explains that it’s all a show in public. It’s actually horrible when it’s just Julie and her dad by themselves. Also, the girl who is playing Lisa, Alexandra Boylan, has a super scratchy voice which makes me want to clear my throat whenever she talks. I let it slide because she is also 1997 hot in that sexy ass drab green long sleeve shirt. Oh yeah… Let’s go listen to some Smashing Pumpkins together, baby…
Now we meet Wade – the local prick. He keeps hitting on, and ultimately harasses Tanya. He also talks like a Boston dirtbag too, so I’m looking forward to this asshole ultimately dying horribly. To get away from Wade, they say they are going to go help Julie. He still follows them anyway.
Back at the house, strange shit starts to happen to Julie. She spills a bucket of water and it runs and rolls away from her leaving the floor completely dry. When she tries to get more water, nothing comes out of the sink. She’s able to upstairs and gets water from the tub. When she leaves the bathroom, a mouse running along the sink is grabbed by a tentacle from the drain. In another room, she finds a book that has an old timey picture of a lady that looks like Julie’s mom. She hears her name being called by what seems to be a ghostly lady but it’s her friends outside calling for her. Her friends come in and deliver the lunch. When Tanya tries to wash her hands in the kitchen, the faucet explodes water all over her leading to Julie saying, sorta offhanded, that the place is haunted.
Wade, the jerkoff, uses a super scary mask to try to scare Julie getting dirt and crud all over her. She tells everyone she needs a moment to clean up and this leads to my favorite scene. Guess what it involves? Julie getting into a nice clean bath… Nude. Without any stupid bubbles getting in the way. Now, it’s kinda awesome that this is a totally gratuitous scene that Georgia Hatzis was willing to go all in for because she just lets those boobs fly. Plus, I am going to have to assume this took a while to shoot because of the number of pans and loving shots of pretty much everything from her bellybutton ring up to the top of the head, back down to her feet and legs propped up on the other end of the tub, back to her stomach and tits, and so on. She she wasn’t just going for it, she was GOING FOR IT. I applaud you Ms. Hatzis – welcome to the B-Movie Enema Hall of Hottie Fame.
It also is kind of weird. She shouldn’t be so accepting of this lovely bath. Last she saw this tub, it was a wreck. Now it’s all kinds of clean and inviting. Oh well, fuck it… It’s real nice now because we needed some tits and the house is haunted and it’s messing with her…? Yeah, that’s what’s happening. The house is haunted and it’s playing with her head like the Amityville Horror house did. Sure. (But whatever… Yay tits!)
So things start to slide downhill from here for Julie, her friends, and our two jerks of the movie. Julie’s bath fills with blood and when a tentacle monster comes up out of the drain she is nearly pulled under and killed, but she wakes from a dream to realize she was never taking a bath at all. Julie, already in a fragile state of mind, starts to break down a little bit. Her friends are trying to deal with Wade who ultimately physically assaults Tanya by tickling and spanking her. Wade still tries to hit on Tanya by grabbing her, saying really creepy shit, and tackling her and kissing her neck while holding his hand over her mouth. When Lisa and Jake go to help her, Jake gets punched out by Wade. So Wade goes inside to take a leak before leaving, and a tentacle monster pulls him into the toilet, presumably by the dick.
Julie, Lisa, Jake, and Tanya go back inside to deal with Wade, but don’t realize Drainiac has already taken care of him for them. Julie tells her pals to leave and when they leave, Jake’s car gets stuck in some smoky mud and the car sinks kinda trapping them. Julie now is able to convince them to stay to help clean up the house so that could possibly help to barter with Julie’s shit dad to get a ride home. Despite her dad saying he has important business in town to do, he’s actually at the bar with his Boston dirtbag friends getting blitzed and complaining about Julie. When he heads back to the house, his van starts to have problems. As he tries to check the engine, Drainiac is in there too and melts him!
When a strange old guy comes along to find Julie’s dad’s melty head on his car engine, he mentions something does seem interesting. No shit, old guy. Yeah, finding a dead guy with a melted fucking face just out in the middle of the street, yeah, you could say that’s “interesting”.
Back at the house, Jake goes to check out the pipes in the cellar, he gets attacked by water. He gets locked in the cellar where Drainiac is more than happy to simply drown the poor guy instead of sending a tentacle monster after him. Outside, weird old guy comes to the house and claims his name is Plummer and he’s here to help the kids. His plan isn’t to help them with the pipes, but he’s going to exorcise the ghost and/or demon and/or water spirit that is haunting the house. Tanya and Lisa aren’t so sure about Plummer doing his thing, but Julie and Jake are like, “Cool, bro. Do your thing.”
They wait around for midnight since Plummer says that will be the best time to deal with the monster. Plummer also talks about all the different places he studied ghosts and spooks and ghouls. He also tells them that Julie’s dad is dead. Jake goes to talk to her to see if she’s alright. She said she’s going to be 18 in a couple months so she can get out of the house. She also says she’ll live and that’s more than she can say for her father. They have a good laugh (seriously, they crack up over her dad’s death) before Plummer calls them in for the ceremony.
Wait a minute.
Julie said she’s going to be 18 in a couple months. She’s only 17. We watched a 17 year old girl take a bath completely nude. About 40% of me is weirded out by that.
The rest of me is still giving the thumbs up.
So Plummer and the kids start the ceremony to rid the house of the Drainiac. Green goop starts to seep through the floorboards. A winged creature of some sort flies around, a naked woman dances around and rips off her face, some bitchin’ stop motion spiders crawl around, Julie’s dad shows up with half a face, and a bunch of Evil Dead like effects start to swirl around. Plummer says a bunch of crazy ass shit like calling the monster a “sorry ass bitch” and “cocksucker”. But it doesn’t work and the monster doesn’t go away. In fact, it crams a tentacle down his throat and fills his body up with water until he completely explodes. Apparently, Plummer isn’t the badass he claimed to be.
When the walls turn into faces and start saying that Julie is damned, making it seem as though things are not going to work out well with her, the ghost of her mom comes and helps her and her friends escape. They get out of the house and vines and roots come up from underground and wraps around the house until it is pulled into the ground and into Hell.
So that’s basically it, a happy ending and everyone survives. Well, except the dickhead rapist, the dickhead dad, and the lunatic dickhead monster hunter (who ultimately serves no purpose because it was Julie’s mom’s ghost that won the movie). The next morning, they get a good look at the giant hole where the house used to be. So there’s nothing left of this place, but poor Jake didn’t get his car back. Julie’s completely orphaned. Some poor old man who defeated all sorts of spooks is completely dead. But it’s cool. The teenagers lived!
This movie was made on a small, $10,000 budget. It seems to be entirely produced and funded by Brett Piper. He probably enjoyed higher budgets on other movies of his, but frankly, he did pretty alright with that small budget. There’s a nice little homegrown feel to it all that reminds you of things like Clerks and Evil Dead. Those movies are far better than Drainiac, don’t get me wrong, but this is certainly a pleasant little movie to watch – if you aren’t too much of a stickler through the viewing.
The four friends are okay. There’s some awkwardly flippant dialog about Julie being crazy since her mom died only one year ago. I’m no expert, but I’d say this is probably normal for her to be acting a little weird with a dead mom and a shitty dad. Julie is utterly batshit crazy but they just explain it away with some more flippant dialog that she still has her sense of humor. There’s casual child abuse from Julie’s dad, and an attempted rape by a chunkhead but that’s okay. That’s shit these people have to deal with. Plummer is introduced in the third act but changes nothing about how the demon is handled. Julie’s dad’s face is melted off, but he’s heard screaming after he’s turned into a skull. Also, Plummer is able to say what color his hair was and how old he appeared to be. I know it was intended to be somewhat comedic like Evil Dead, but the jokes could have used a second pass. Like maybe even a second thought – either go all out for comedy and increase the goofy factor, or you cut it out and make a straight horror movie. So yeah, there’s little shit like all that to keep this movie from being good.
I can’t deny, though, it’s got great props and it’s fun to watch. It feels like the type of movie you and your buddies would go make over the course of a few weekends. You spend months building your melted people and mixing your sloppy goo to have drip from pipes, but then when you cast your local actors or buddies, you meet up over a few weekends and you knock it out and show it to some people to brag about how you made a movie.
Actually, I probably wouldn’t brag too hard. Just say you made a movie on a tighter budget than Clerks and you also had way better melted faces in your movie too.