Review Part III: Crackerbox Palace.
It was around four years ago when several minutes of a Shattered Hopes Dress Rehearsal were posted online. A theatre was hired. All the actors seemed to be there. The production looked huge.
It was a different picture when it came to the actual filming - with a sparse crew multi-tasking important jobs.
Now, if I was a pro (or even semi-pro) actor, I’d be quite taken aback to find no sound or cameraman onset because the director has taken on these duties himself. Why was this? A) Did the $200,000 budget not stretch to hire them? Or b) did the first-time director think he wouldn’t need them? (But later gets annoyed when the Mastering Company kept bugging him about quality-control!)
Plus I’d find my performance had ended up behind a layer a Grindhouse effect!
Which makes me wonder how the footage looked after Ryan farmed Part I out to a professional mastering company, only to ditch the results, and smear dirt and scratches to the 70’s footage himself.
Did the the acting look too corny? Did it not look authentic to the decade? Who was to blame for this? The Production or the Mastering Company?
The big acting set-piece near the end comes when it all kicks-off at 112 with Louise phoning Butch at Geraldine’s house. (In the book, he’s not back from work, but in SH he’s sitting down having a family meal!) which leads to -
TNTDD wrote:After returning home, Butch raced in the doorway and was greeted with the ghastly sight of his little brother, John DeFeo, sprawled out on the marble tile of the foyer.
We see this around 1:44:55 in Shat Hopes, as Butch arrives home to “utter chaos
” – or rather, he arrives to hear some actors screaming expletives off-camera as he looks a little miffed.
And when he does look to the floor, the camera cuts away to Ric Osuna, who verbally describes
him finding John, as both child actors portraying Marc and John are now missing. I think Ryan gave an excuse of it being a too violent environment for them to be in. Although it’s unclear if their scenes were shot or not.
But at least he now avoids this classic error from Ric –
TNTDD wrote:The performance was over. Butch proceeded down to the cellar to answer the ringing phone.
His father, down but not out, yelled at his son, reminding him it was his phone, and he was going to chop the lines because he paid for it.
Ignoring his father’s warning, Butch said, “On the phone was Bobby Kelske. He presumed I was high on some good :) flower :) because I was laughing so hard. So he said he’d be right over to join in. Kelske got there in greased-lightning time because he thought he was going to get some good dope. He didn’t even comb his hair.”
Kelske, finally realizing his friend was not in the cellar getting high, asked Butch, “What the :) love :) went on here? John Matt is rolling around the hallway, screaming.”
Realizing he had forgotten all about his injured little brother...
How could he miss his brother on the way down the stairs to the cellar?
Now... Ric’s version of the night IS preposterous, but at least it has some life
to it --
Butch raced in the doorway
John DeFeo, sprawled out on the marble tile of the foyer
Butch took the stairs two at a time to reach his parents, who
were arguing upstairs.
Butch raced down the stairs toward the cellar
In Shattered Hopes, however, things are pretty static and lethargic–
“Butch runs upstairs
” SAYS Ric in interview, seemingly because the director is incapable of filming such excitement.
TNTDD wrote:Taking a moment to let the scene sink in, Butch placed his hand to his head and thought, “I am in a crackerbox palace.”
In SH, when Butch says “I am in a house of maniacs
” at 1:45:25 it now happens before he’s even seen what’s going on upstairs, and relayed with complete inertia.
TNTDD wrote:Since his sister would not give up, Butch tossed her his car keys and told her, “Get lost for
awhile. Blow off some steam, but just make sure you don’t get killed.”
In SH she only goes upstairs to “cool off”. Not sure why this was changed, or which version we are meant to take as the “real” version?
Also missing on screen are these “gems”
Butch reached his parents’ doorway and saw that his mother’s blouse had been torn, partially exposing her breasts. Before Butch could say anything, Big Ronnie slapped Louise and then punched her breast.
Suddenly, Dawn broke into the Bristol Stomp dance, saying, “Butch, this will take off some of my weight.”Butch insisted, “I swear on my mother’s soul, may she turn in her grave, with all that was happening, Dawn started dancing the Bristol Stomp. I realized then we were a house of maniacs.”
Wondering what the commotion was, little John DeFeo came out of his bedroom to investigate. Showing no mercy, Big Ronnie punched the little boy and told him, “You’re a wimp and a little bastard.” John, on his knees and holding his bruised face, was then kicked by his father into the railing.
Outside Allison’s room, Butch heard Bobby Kelske and Dawn upstairs fighting. Bobby wanted Dawn to hand over some blue Valiums that her black friend had brought back from Mexico.
The best bit in the film is the final shot
(no, not being sarcastic here!). After a build-up of gunshots, Rock Music and Gerri reciting her :) silly dilly :) song lyrics “and all the DeFeo’s were dead
…” it CUTS to the cemetery, in silence, except for the chilling sound of a crow… But - before we have time for the enormity of the tragedy to sink it - the image flares to white far too quickly.
No time for any emotional impact before the credits roll. You feel cheated!
Which doesn’t bode well for Part II in which “the pace is phenomenal
Overall Shattered Hopes feels like a black hole – “why the hell did that take 2 hours?” And it’s a shame Gerri isn’t given the scrutiny they promised. Maybe that’s coming in Part III, where Mr Nonnewitz will say “I don’t remember this woman” But this would be very deceitful, and by then the damage is done.
Now comes the odd decision of selling Part II strictly through the website. Strange they allow the director/soundman to do this when his partners were hoping for a theatrical release just a year ago.
The scope of success keeps diminishing and only one man is to blame. No cinema, no TV sale, no Amazon sales… and all because he has control-issues?
It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone involved when they’ve been constantly told they are telling a fake story. They knew full well what they are getting into and surely must expect a few bad reviews. But for the director/writer/Historian/editer/colorist this isn’t good enough, he wants to live in a vacuum where all he hears is praise. And any criticism is passed off as “cyberstalking”.
So what next? Can the hype of a found pistol carry over into sales of a desperately-rushing-to-finish Part II? Will their new improved efficient sales plan really work this time?
But unless Part II ups the ante, the project will be largely forgotten about come next year. It has all the hallmarks of a vanity project, made by someone who needs
to put himself
in the story, and can tick almost every box here http://www.blogthings.com/areyouacontrolfreakquiz/
So far, I’ve seen nothing that will change the publics perception of this case, just as no-one quoted Ric’s book as a reliable source.
Part I is designed to uphold the words of Geraldine “DeFeo”, while the real people “who were there” are offered only side-show cameos.
The screen-time the director gives himself to tell a story we are hoping to hear from others, his incessant need to delete/trash/attempt-to-sue
dissenting voices, plus his general inserting-himself-into-the-story hey-look-at-me-I-found-a-gun ego-trippery is ultimately why this was made, and not because of some injustice commited almost 40 years ago.
Shattered Hopes has nothing to say, but wants to make heroes of those who say it.