Slink (2013) – By Roger Carpenter

In the small, rural village of Wickenhaven, a town where everyone knows everybody else, there is a prominent family that runs the local tanning salon as well as a high end, world-renowned purse shop. These purses are of the highest quality leather, famous for their softness and suppleness, and very expensive. But, as with many small towns, this hamlet harbors a dark secret; a secret that most of the locals know well, and a secret that the town guards jealously.

Dale (Art Roberts) and Joan (Dawna Lee Heising) are the quirky couple. Dale runs the local tanning salon, taping all the nubile young girls as they strip before getting into the tanning bed. He videos each girl and keeps his collection of videos in alphabetical order. Meanwhile his wife Joan is busy designing and producing her popular bags, which are all the rage and very hard to come by. But exactly how these two manage to get such soft, supple leather is a source of mystery for Joan’s loyal buyers, and a secret Dale and Joan want to continue to keep.

Enter the Nunez family. The two oldest daughters breeze into town after their weird uncle passes away, sent by their father to see if they can find his prized golf clubs and perhaps find a few baubles of value in the creepy old house their uncle called home. But when the girls arrive they are surprised to find the house already occupied by a lady claiming to be their long-lost Aunt May. While things don’t seem quite right—and the girls can’t remember an Aunt May ever being in the family—they decide to make the best of the trip and try to get to know Aunt May before the weekend is up. Meanwhile, girls keep disappearing while the handbags continue to be hot sellers.

Slink (hint: look the word up in the dictionary—it’s a noun!) is an ultra-low budget, DIY horror film from Frolic Pictures (frolicpictures.com) out of Hollywood, California. They are the makers of no-budget cheese-and-sleaze fests, splitting their time fairly equally between horror, comedy, and sexploitation flicks. While the story is not very original—it reminded me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s chile cookoff—I still found the film reasonably entertaining.

I have to give props to director Jared Masters for managing to make a fairly entertaining little shocker with nearly no money at all. While some viewers will totally dismiss the film (it has a 2.7 IMDb rating), there is more to Slink than meets the eye. Yes, the acting ranges from only bad to average. Most of the actors and actresses are relative newcomers, with the few seasoned veterans working in independent film making shorts, low budget features, uncredited appearances in big Hollywood films, and TV series you’ve never heard of (although I was impressed with Heising’s list of credits). Yes, there is nearly zero production (the slaughterhouse is merely a building draped in plastic and garbage bags). Yes, there is a cheesy electronic score. And as already mentioned, the story is more than a little derivative. But these folks give it their all, and their all ain’t that bad. It helps that nearly every girl in the film is quite attractive and many of them spend considerable time in some state of undress. These folks are clearly having fun and loving what they’re doing, and they make the picture fun.

As with many no-budget films there are inadvertent laughs. The few fight scenes are hokey and clearly staged. They are all unrealistic and pretty funny. Witness Joan offing the first tanning salon victim with a hammer blow to the head: it’s pretty clear she’s never wielded anything heavier than a mascara brush. And with very little money there wasn’t enough cash to invest in a fake hammer so Masters has to resort to making a quick edit at the point of the blow. Another example of pretty bad choreography is when a victim takes a swipe at her potential killer with a crowbar. Again, it’s pretty clear the crowbar is real and the crew doesn’t want to take a chance of someone getting hurt, so the swipe is so far away from the killer’s head that it’s funny when the killer reacts to try and dodge what is clearly a non-lethal swing. I won’t even attempt to describe the karate kicks while wearing a thong. It’s all tremendously cheesy but definitely fun.

The special effects are minimal and there’s definitely more flesh on display than there is blood. Perhaps the scariest scenes in the film are when Dawna Lee Heising, as Joan, is on screen. The woman literally never blinks. It’s just unnatural.

At 80 minutes the film is fairly short; that running time is helped by one of the quickest what-just-happened? endings ever filmed. And though the ending comes out of nowhere, it’s somehow okay as it leaves the story open. We aren’t sure if the last remaining survivors of what is sure to eventually be known as the Wickenhaven Massacre make it out alive or not. And I’m just fine with that ending.

Look, if you want to continue to give bland, heartless Hollywood horror a try, then go see Devil’s Due, Paranormal Activity 15, or the latest Texas Chainsaw reboot (what are they on, remake number three??). But if you want to see people who still love the process of making movies, even if it isn’t perfect and slick, then check out Slink, or any of the other features from Frolic Pictures. They may not have much money, but they sure do have a lot of fun. And that translates to an entertaining, if imperfect, film for the viewer.

Slink also comes with plenty of special features, interviews, and trailers. More information for Slink can be found at frolicpictures.com or it can be bought on DVD or digital download from Amazon.