Dr Chopper comes to DVD

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 08:41

“Dr Chopper” features a crazy plastic surgeon turned masked serial killer (Ed Brigadier) who, having spent his career keeping his clients looking ever-young, becomes obsessed with his own bid for eternal life.

To fend off death itself, the doctor is driven to pursue the ghoulish harvesting of body parts and organs. Enter stage left our heroes, five young college students staying in a remote cabin on the edge of Lake Tatonka. As is always the way, their relaxing holiday break is cut short by the disturbing appearance of the doctor on his Chopper motorbike, accompanied by three equally freakish nurse companions.

Dr Chopper on DVDAs the students fight for survival, the local Park Ranger, Terrell (Costas Mandylor – “Saw IV” and “Saw V”) and his wet-behind-the-ears junior get thrown into the mix. Will Terrell, a broken and guilt-stricken man following the tragic death of a lover five years ago, find the courage and conviction to hunt Dr Chopper down and put a stop to his killing spree before a host of new names goes up on the local “Missing Persons” noticeboard?

Director Lewis Schoenbrun (“The Golem”) has all the ingredients for a successful if derivative slasher film at his disposal, but somehow the end result is sadly underwhelming. Central to this failure is the supposedly central character of Dr Chopper himself. When the film opens, twenty years prior to bulk of the film’s events, we witness a regular plastic surgeon and his associates suddenly turning horribly evil and twisted. This brief scene sends a shiver down the spine, fading out with the doctor’s face contorted in an expression of terrifying lunacy.

Cut to the future, and Dr Chopper has virtually become a different person; covered from head to toe in biker leathers and a goggled helmet, he closely resembles Scorpius from Farscape. However, where Scorpius oozed charismatic malevolence, Dr Chopper fails to conjure up any feelings at all. In all his leather get-up he looks slightly plump and waddles around, delivering his lines in a slightly effeminate and eloquent manner. On the DVD sleeve he is captured in a snaggly-toothed snarl, like a ferocious, feral rat. In the movie his teeth are perfectly normal and not once does he manage to convey the rage or bloodlust associated with that image. It is a real shame, as the flash of brilliance seen at the start of the movie promises something truly exciting.

The other key failing of the film is that the doctor does not get very much screen time – time that could have been spent establishing his personality - and does very little killing of his own. Most of the time he sends his scatty, witch-like nurses off to do his bidding. Ironically, they are more effective in their shock value, and serve to make him look even limper by comparison. The tension would benefit from some of the victims putting up more than a cursory fight, too. Hardly anyone bothers to defend or arm themselves or run away without tripping up five seconds later! It is like “Scream” never happened.

On a more positive note, the bickering students are fairly likable. Standouts are Chelsey Crisp as the gutsy Jessica, Chase Hoyt as ultra-jock Reese, and Butch Hansen as tag-along Jimmy, the embarrassed odd one out amongst the other two lovey-dovey couples. Ranger Terrell feels a little out of place in this flimsy film; his character’s dark and depressing back-story and Mandylor’s adequate acting skills serve to raise him up above everyone else. The reputation of the heavily-milked “Saw” franchise might be on the slide, but he will be glad there is little chance of this movie spawning a sequel!

Back to the film’s stronger points, though, and there is gore aplenty. The body count is high (as countless other holiday-makers stumble obliviously into the Chopper gang’s radar), and barely five minutes pass before the next victim is unceremoniously hacked up for corporeal spares. Lastly, the light rock soundtrack is quite evocative and helps to set the scene.

“Dr Chopper” is released on 28 September, priced £12.99. The DVD has no special features other than a handful of trailers.

You could have had a chance to win one of three copies of the "Dr Chopper" and stablemate "Mr Halloween" DVDs, courtesy of MVM Entertainment. All you had to do was answer the following question: Which town in New York features in “Mr Halloween”? The answer was Sauquoit and the lucky winners were Mark Nolan of Epsom, John Tingay of Sheffield, and Julie A Taylor of Leicester - well done all!

 

Movie Review: "Dr Chopper" (2005, Certificate “18”)

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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