Mark Savage has taped into the dark and violent splendor of human desire, greed, and violence in Sensitive New Age Killer. Sharing the adrenaline rush and emotional angst of Defenseless and Marauders, this penetrating examination of ambiguous morality and nature of sacrifice is excellently written and undeniably powerful in its examination of violent culture and the archetypal Outsider. Savage is an undeniably unique visionary, capable of merging cosmic issues of self and culture-at-large with the sensational demands of the exploitation picture. As bold in conception as it is in disturbing images of eroticism and viscera, the film is demands the allegiance of both the mind and the senses. Further, it evokes a sense of the untamed yet curiously tender human spirit, able to shed tears along with blood. A painfully realized, elegantly told contemporary fable of greed, disillusionment and perversion Sensitive New Age Killer represents in its crime thriller hybrid format an allegory of deliverance. It's also one hell of an action movie, merging fast-paced thrills with psychological introspection. Re-issued from Subversive Cinema, the film debuts as a single disc originally having appeared in the impressive Savage Cinema collection. Lovers of sexual perversion, roaring gun-play, double-crosses, and outrageous dark comedy and violence will find themselves in heaven.
Lean in delivery, Sensitive New Age Killer exploits Savage's penchant for drama and verve. Its simplistic rawness is equally troublesome and exhilarating, and despite a lack of resources, the inventive placement of the camera and robust compositions suggest a natural storyteller at work. An amoral story of revenge, personal vendettas, and sacrifice, the film is a paradoxical celebration of, and warning against, a violent lifestyle. Holy shit, this is 'Gutter Shakespeare!' Director Savage sends us to Hell without ever asking us to leave the realm of possibility. Little Paul (Tyson Stein) is playing with his 'girl' Helen (Nicole Lambert) when Arthur Serevetas and his associate Little Pete (Paul Beitans) manhandle the local hooker. This ends when "The Snake" (Frank Bren) emerges from the darkness and murders Little Pete, saving the hooker, and changing Paul's life forever. No loner idealizing artists, he know wants to be a man of violence. Years later, an adult, Paul (Paul Moder) has married Helen (Helen Hopkins), having fathered Emma (Emma-Rose Hillary), a little girl. Trying to make it as an amateur Hitman, killing only those who 'deserve it,' he messes up an important job and is caught by Officer McKlean (Carolyn Bock), a female cop who, instead of turning him in, blackmails him for kinky sado-masochistic sex (where the hell are all those kind of cops when I'm pulled over?). Psychopathic betrayals ensue as George, Paul's best friend, extorts his wife Beth to have sex with him, having recorded her own sexual infidelity. Together they play out George's sick mother fantasies. When this is no longer captivating enough for his twisted little libido, he plans on killing Paul (not so difficult, considering he accompanies Paul his jobs!). Meanwhile Paul decides to kill a drug dealer coming to down, agreeing to split the profits with his dominatrix lover, and discovers that "the Snake" plans to do likewise. Since Paul can't afford NOT to do this job, he prepares for the worst, discovering that his childhood idol is a corrupt scumwhore. Thus begins a downward spiral into tragedy that will stay with you for a very long time.
Sensitive New Age Killer is a painfully adroit comment on the inhuman condition of the human animal, stripped of all its flimsy disguises of grace, civility, or morality. As such it pulls the polite masks off our fears and makes us take an uncomfortably close look. Savage reveals the terrors of relationships and perception with gusto, yet he can be equally suggestive when the plot demands. After making us cringe in disgust, he entices us with the freedom of carnality, challenging the audience to grudgingly 'like' characters whose brutality we would usually condemn. If the plot is somewhat lean, and not milked for all the dramatic tension that could have been mined by closer attention to detail, it is certainly more compelling and thoughtful than your average revenge/action movie. The story, the people who inhabit his depressing world, the darkly authentic settings -- everything is this film is coated in a grime sheen of sweat, semen, and blood. Somehow images of sleaze and brutality evoke a dark beauty, as do the philosophical/moral themes. Pleasure and pain, right and wrong are played against the other as Savage stresses contradictory emotional extremes. Savage is a subversive poet, nihilistic one moment, oddly romantic the other. His loves, revealed in this film, are the souls of the wild, dark, untamed places -- in both the physical realm of flesh and the ethereal shadow lands of philosophy. Serious study of this picture reveals layers of possible meaning and metaphor.
Sensitive New Age Killer is presented in a 16X9 image, and the transfer quality for such a small budgeted independent film is nothing less than amazing. While some speckling and grain is unavoidable, and the budget itself cannot be disguised, for the most part the imagery is clean and full, revelling in clean colors, realistic skin tones, and solid depth presentation. Audio is in English Dolby Digital, full and robust, without any background distortions to speak of.
Extras encourage a better appreciation of the film's social and aesthetic context. The obligatory Bios for the cast and crew begin the fun, followed by a Stills Gallery, and, most substantial, a 40 minute documentary which features Mark Savage, Paul Moder, Carolyn Bock, Kevin Hopkins, Helen Hopkins, Colin Savage, etc. All of these people have great stories to recall, and they do so with a lively sense of humor and dedication to the material and each other. There are no egos here, everyone seeming to respect one another. An Audio Commentary is next, starring Mark Savage, Paul Moder, Carolyn Bock, and others. While this talk repeats some of what is mentioned in the documentary, enough fresh perspectives are engaged to make it worthwhile. Trailers and Production Diary Booklets are again included, covering technical and personal problems of the production that could only be gleaned from the source. Savage is a potent force in low budget filmmaking, and Subversive knows how to treat his visions of rage.
Review by William P. Simmons
|Released by Subversive Cinema|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|