Color, 2011, 75m
Directed by Travis Campbell
Starring Tim Dax, Nicola Fiore, Vito Trigo, Sharmeen Azmudeh, Richard Barone
Troma (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD2.0
Hey, who's up for a film noir / horror / metalcore-ish musical? Even that description doesn't quite capture the disorienting experience of Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical, a short, bizarre excursion from Troma vet Travis Campbell and designed as sort of a starring vehicle for Tim Dax, an imposing muscleman with a black ink helmet tattooed on his skull. By any objective standard it's not much of a movie; the production values are about on the same level as your average family reunion, the acting veers all over the road, and the music ranges from not-bad aggressive hardcore to, well, whatever it is the female lead does in the third act. However, the sheer ferocity of Dax's presence should be enough to earn this a few cultists, and hey, you get to see a lot of people get smacked bloody with bricks.
Our tale begins with the titular Mr. Bricks (Dax) coming to in a seedy warehouse where he discovers his orientation has been caused by a bullet in his head. Even worse, he's stuck on a girl named Scarlet (Fiore) who's left only a pair of heels behind. A couple of guys show up to sweep the scene of the crime but run afoul of our antihero's brick-bashing abilities on their hands and skulls, and thanks to a few handy flashbacks, he pieces together that a crooked New York cop (Trigo) is behind it all. As he speeds off into the city streets and keeps singing every thought that pops into his head straight at the camera, he has a date with destiny and a woman with a few surprises of her own.
Right from the start, this clearly isn't your average Troma film as the pierced, muscle-bound Dax gets to veer around the streets of New York (or close enough to it in Jersey) on his motorcycle singing "Sunday Suicide!" and delivering a musical soliloquy about going to hell for committing murder. It's certainly not a film that wants to be warm and cuddly; it looks cheap and ugly, like a digital movie projected onto a dirty burlap sack. You've got to give it points for ambition though, with every main character launching into song at one point or another (with Trigo probably getting the best moment) until we get to the bloody, fatalistic finale. This was a clearly a labor of love for all involved, and if it sounds like this might be up your alley, then it probably is. This certainly isn't the first gore musical around the block, but perhaps apart from Repo! The Genetic Opera, it just might be the strangest. And on a completely unrelated note, if you stay tuned through the credits, there's a promised sequel: Mr. Chains vs. Mr. Bricks.
Even by Troma standards, their DVD release of Mr. Bricks is ridiculously loaded with extras ranging from insightful contributions to ridiculous padding. Campbell pitches in with two audio commentaries, one with producer Justin Martell and another with Tony Enz, who supplied Bricks' singing voice. Topics include raising money from family members, finding covert locations on the street in Jersey City, mounting fast-edited songs in post, placing an unusually high number of scenes in the bathroom, and shooting in the Troma basement. You also get a couple of teasers, a promo spot, the regular trailer, a "Brick by Brick" music video, a making-of featurette of the same name (running a whopping 58 minutes and kicking off with the last day of shooting in 2010, then covering what seems like virtually every aspect of the production including Lloyd Kaufman's obligatory cameo), outtakes, rehearsal footage, a behind-the-scenes gallery, a blooper reel, five deleted scenes (none essential, though the alternate end showing the meeting of Bricks and Scarlet is interesting), and the usual sampling of Tromatic extras like bonus trailers (The Taint, Father's Day, The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High) and that Lloyd refrigerator box video again. On the technical side, the DVD is probably about as accurate as you can get given the intentions of the film, which sounds pretty solid in the music department but deliberately looks like it crawled out of the gutter.
Reviewed on January 17, 2013.