Colour, 2003, 98m. / Directed by JimmyO Burril / Starring Justin Alvarez, David Calhoun / Planet X (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) / DD5.1

If you thought the opening "Science Fiction Double Feature" number from Rocky Horror wasn't in-jokey enough, take a gander at Silver Scream, a Maryland-lensed send-up of horror movies from the silent age through the 1980s. Ah yes, and it's also a musical.

The venerable Saenger Theater is about to be closed down, and its most devoted patrons have gathered for a final midnight movie show. Two doofuses, Tobe (Wentsel) and George (Alvarez), are in attendance with Tobe's busty, blonde sister, Shelley (Kristen Hudson), and soon the threesome find themselves trapped in a world of real-life horror movie madness generated by the theater itself. Also along for the ride is the wicked owner, Mr. Friedkin (David Calhoun), though the boys find an ally in the form of the Count (director Burril), who appears for a song and dance number with his vampire brides. From there the characters are thrust from one cinema-inspired skit to another, with Shelly nearly falling prey over and over again to a number of movie monsters and psychos. Along the way they burst into song with recreations of Nosferatu, Bride of Frankenstein, Plan 9 from Outer Space, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary's Baby, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Wolf Man, a wild duet version of the shower scene from Psycho, and for the grand finale, a jaw-dropping, gore-soaked, all-singing homage to Carrie and Dawn of the Dead.

Though the opening "real life" segment of this shot-on-video project doesn't look promising, with shaky camerawork and fuzzy picture quality, the body of the film itself is quite impressive. The first hour (prologue excluded) unfolds in skillful black and white, with some Mac-assisted scratches and scuffs added for vintage flavor. The switch to color (with a go-go dancer/Blood Feast number) doesn't cause much of a drop in quality either; the clever manipulation of lighting and color gels results in some delightful surprises for seasoned horror fans. The music ranges from serviceable to catchy (the beach blanket "Black Lagoon" bit is especially memorable), though the Bride of Frankenstein solo number overstays its welcome by a few minutes. Adapted from a local stage production (billed here as "The movie of the musical about other movies"), the tunes are mostly in the vein of '80s alternative pop like Lene Lovich, Book of Love, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and so on; the stripped down electronic arrangements and earthly voices are definitely not your standard musical fare.

The modest but diverting DVD features a fairly splashy transfer, though contrary to the packaging, it's flat widescreen, not anamorphic. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounds very forced and artificial for the most part; when switched over to 2.0 surround playback or run through a TV monitor, it sounds much more agreeable. Extras include a trailer and an inexlicable video feature with "Chainsaw Sally," who stars in the same company's next production.

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