How do I describe "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas?"
How DO I describe it?
Calling the film a B-movie feels inadequate.
Calling "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" campy doesn't come near to summing up the cinematic experience.
"Monsters, Marriage and Murder in ManchVegas" certainly isn't an awful film, by any means. However, there's no denying I've viewed and reviewed far better films made on even less than the film's incredibly modest budget.
I've seen far worse, however.
If Happy Madison, Adam Sandler's production company, were to put out a $30,000 film, I have a feeling it would look and feel an awful lot like "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas."
If Lloyd Kaufman and the folks at Troma were to put together a sort of throwback, 50's flavored campfest with an icky gooey sweet-filled center, my gut tells me it would closely resemble "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas."
MAYBE "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" can best be described as "Mister Rogers" with an attitude.
Heck. Gee whiz. I have no idea how to describe "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas." What I CAN say about the film is that, despite occasional fits of godawful acting, a script that frequently resembles the best and worst of "Saturday Night Live" and tech credits that can be best described as hit and miss, there's something about "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" that just plain clicks.
Existing within a cinematic landscape with films such as "The Benchwarmers" and "Hot Rod," "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" presents three oddly adorable characters united as M.O.S., the Manchvegas Outlaw Society. Marshall (Matt Farley), Jenny (Marie Dellicker) and All-Star Pete (Tom Scalzo) spend their days as pseudo entrepreneurs. In other words, the three are young adults who refuse to go up and spend their days delivering paper routes, selling lemonade, writing strange little pop ditties and, yet, generally getting by and making friends with just about everyone except their arch enemy, Southcott (Bryan Fortin) and, for Marshall, any guy who tries to date Jenny.
Throw into the mix a secondary storyline involving an alleged vicious serial killer who's running loose in Manchvegas killing brides to be, and "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" turns into a goofy teen comedy/romance/horror/mystery and the list goes on and on. When Melinda (Sharon Scalzo) comes up missing while on a date with bad boy Vince (Kyle Kochan), her father (Kevin McGee) immediately suspects Vince despite the resistance of local police chief Delvecchio (James McHugh) and enlists the support of M.O.S. and a local reporter (Elizabeth Peterson) in solving the crime.
Rest assured, however, at no point does "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" actually get serious.
There are moments in "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" between Marshall and Jenny that are truly sublime, both in terms of humor and genuine affection for one another. Bringing to mind the offbeat chemistry between Andy Samberg and Isla Fisher in "Hot Rod," the relationship between Marshall and Jenny is such a wondrous, sweet and innocent throwback to 50's and 60's films that one almost wishes that director Charles Roxburgh and his co-writer Matt Farley had created a film simply for Marshall and Jenny. It's likely no coincidence that Farley and Marie Dellicker offer the film's strongest performances as the two leads, acting both deliriously immature and invitingly endearing in their scenes together.
One of the few indie flicks I've seen recently to not be shot digitally, "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" may be hindered by its reported $30,000 budget but Roxburgh and crew seem to rather celebrate their limitations by deliberately camping up scenes involving Gospercaps, "beast" like legends of local folklore that sort of resemble Bigfoot in drag. The film is aided, as well, by the genuinely contagious pop ditties that M.O.S. creates.
Oh, and I almost forgot, "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" has a bunch of hot chicks, too.
Filmed on location in Manchester, New Hampshire (Hence, the "Manchvegas" inside joke), "Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas" is, indeed, plagued by everything that always plagues a low-budget indie flick, especially one filmed using actual film on a low-budget with most scenes being completed in one take. Yet, there's something about the film that makes me want to leave this computer, head to my television and watch it again.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic