With the genre community already in a buzz about crime films thanks to Grindhouse Releasings’ Duke Mitchell one-two punch with MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE and GONE WITH THE POPE, then they should really enjoy the latest creation from Kamal Ahmed (JERKY BOYS), LAUGH KILLER LAUGH.
With a writer/director with a solid comedy background, and with a cameo by Artie Lange, I was going into this expecting something goofy. Instead, I got a darkly humorous look at a tormented soul, with a heavy heaping of revenge. But that difference from my expectations woke me up, and I was able to truly enjoy the tale laid out before me.
Following the story of Frank Stone (William Forsythe, RAISING ARIZONA, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS), a jewel thief that is cold and calculating, yet has his own moral code. You step out of that code, you’ll pay, usually with your life. Frank doesn’t interact with many people, beside the mob street boss Tough Tony and his crew. Even with them, they try to get a rise out of Frank, but he just lets everything slide over him, like a boulder in a raging rapid. Part of the tension from the film brews and bubbles as you keep wanting to see that boulder give way and cause massive havoc.
An orphan, with simple wants, Frank lives alone, with only his transistor radio that doesn’t play Top 40 tunes, but the rants and ravings of what originally seems to be an odd talk radio show, but turns out to be the voice of the orphanage headmaster (Tom Sizemore) that brutalized Frank’s young life. Between the radio rants and occasional flashback scenes from the young Frank’s POV, we see Sizemore at his most disturbing. As someone that was in charge of children, he felt it was his duty to “teach” them about the world, supplying them with alcohol, physical and verbal abuse, as well as molestation. And rather than being ashamed of it, his character boasts about it, as he feels that he is doing society a favor for the deplorable acts he puts the poor children through.
Due to his past, Frank is humorless. He understands jokes, but he isn’t impacted by them. He doesn’t speak much, so when he acts, his actions are like a violent tirade, trading words for bullets. After being mistaken for a classmate for a creative writing class by Jackie (Bianca Hunter, BAD LIEUTENANT), he sits in, and realizes that he needs a creative outlet. Taking to the typewriter and an assumed name in class, he begins to tell the tale of Frank Stone as he’s working for Tough Tony. Probably not the wisest idea to use real names in his stories, but it was a way for him to vent. Until things get out of hand.
Ahmed, after writing and co-starring in the JERKY BOYS films, has gone on to write a few other smaller crime movies as well, and his work has allowed his writing chops to really grow. His direction was also solid throughout, minus a few odd choices at the beginning of the film and one awkward scene midway. But besides those hiccups, he made a twisted tale that I didn’t just want to see completely, but I NEEDED to see it through. And with Damien Leone (writer/director/effects for FRANKENSTEIN VS THE MUMMY) working the effects, you know that you are in for a bloody good time.
Forsythe does a wonderful job playing Frank Stone, allowing us to slowly see the different layers of the character, and making it all the more captivating as he snaps psychologically. Sizemore is extremely unlikable as the headmaster, but his charisma shines through, making him both repellent and captivating at the same time.
If you are in the mood for a unique take on crime dramas, with a dark sense of humor, then you really can’t go wrong with LAUGH KILLER LAUGH. It is available in select theaters and on VOD from ITN Distribution April 24th, 2015.