Local Film Review: SIX PACK SAM

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By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

In recent years, some independent film marketers and filmmakers have reached out to me to review their movies, as they are in much need of help with publicity and promotion.  It makes me happy to help good independent films get the attention they deserve, because they are often overshadowed by the big budget productions of the major studios.  Last month, I was given the opportunity to attend the local premiere of Six Pack Sam, a micro-budgeted Austin production whose filmmakers are trying to find more audiences.  This pulpy, cross-genre mystery-thriller definitely deserves to reach more people, as it is a highly entertaining modern grindhouse flick.

In Austin, Texas, the notorious serial killer, “Six Pack Sam,” (Leviticus Wolfe) has baffled police for some time and hits even closer to home when he abducts Detective Gibson’s daughter Jessa (Darcel Danielle).  Jessa manages to escape, but sustains injuries which put her in a coma.  When she awakens from her coma, she is told by police that her father committed suicide, which is completely out of character.   In utter disbelief that her strong, level-headed father would do such a thing, Jessa seeks the help of her father’s former colleague Sergio (Ford Austin), and the two discover that corporate conspiracy might be behind these startling developments.

Written and directed by Joe McReynolds, Six Pack Sam is a fun movie that blends elements from slasher horror and murder conspiracy thrillers, but adds color with a slightly campy style and a witty sense of humor.  Though the story has its dark aspects and deals with some grave matters, McReynolds never wants his audiences to take it all too seriously.  The conspiracy in the story is a bit absurd, but purposely so.  Even though some of the main characters feel like real, flesh and blood people, some of the villains come across as caricatures, but in delightfully entertaining ways.  The movie has a few surprises that come across somewhat ridiculously, but the absurdity of it all makes this somewhat forgivable.  The purpose of this sometimes bloody and violent brouhaha is to provide a deliciously subversive good time full of shock, awe and plenty of laughs.

The film features an awesome assortment of characters with some great performances by most of the cast.  I was surprised to discover that Leviticus Wolfe is making his film debut with Six Pack Sam, because the first-time actor delivers a stellar performance as the title serial killer.  Darcel Danielle also performs exceptionally as lead protagonist Jessa Dixon.  Actress Diana Rose offers a delectably wicked turn as villainess Dr. Campbell.  The scene stealer of the movie, though, is the wonderful Ford Austin, who is an absolute riot as Sergio a lovable loser whose disarming personality and comic timing make him the most likable character of the movie. The movie also features some rather amusing performances by Karl Anderson (Detective Raymond Nash), Joe Howes (Police Chief Delaney), and Javier Garcia (Andre Juarez).  Garcia not only acted in the movie, but was also the cinematographer and one of the producers in the film.

I had the pleasure of casually speaking with Javier at the post-screening mixer.  The gracious filmmaker spoke about some of the problems and issues encountered during the production and promotion of the film.  This film is a true independent film conceived and made in Austin with no major distribution currently backing it.  Javier Garcia and the rest of the great folks behind this movie wish to reach more audiences.  They’ve already had a premiere screening and have another one planned for Saturday, June 10, 4:00 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin.  If in the Austin area on that day, and love an entertaining grindhouse movie, be sure to check it out.  Go to sixpacksam.com for more information on the film and how to buy tickets for the screening.

Actor Leviticus Wolfe (Six Pack Sam) gets interviewed on the red carpet at the film's premiere.

Actor Leviticus Wolfe (Six Pack Sam) gets interviewed on the red carpet by Tate Allyn at the film’s premiere.

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