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I wonder if everyone suffers from burnout. It's easy to see it happening, from a point of view like mine, having worked shit jobs for most of my short and quickly fleeting life. But what about those dream jobs? Could it possibly be the same story for occupations like ice cream taster- if you like ice cream, or waterslide tester-if you like waterslides, politician- if you like… talking about being a politician a lot? Do these things grow weary or do you just reflect on the fact that you could be flipping burgers instead, suck it up and go back eating ice cream, riding water slides or snorting lines of narcotics off of a dead hookers ass? What about the person that just holds the silver reflective thing for lighting in porn films; Do they get sick of shining light on pornstar booties and illuminating dangle units? From what I understand, the experts say they would. The going theory is that burnout is a natural part of life due to repetitive action and a need for validation(etc..), but of course that could just be a lie made to keep us shitty job holders in line. I guess I really can't say. For example: Although being a psychotic, duel-knife wielding, vigilant in a monochrome world of exposition and crime would sound like a pretty sweet gig when first presented, I could see the realization of such a vocation getting to you after awhile. Well, maybe, I may never truly know for sure, but luckily that is the subject of Greg DeLiso’s 2016 film, Hectic Knife.
Meet Hectic Knife (Peter Litvin). He is the lone force of good in his crime ridden city, where he doles out justice using his two knives and a frantic style. Unfortunately, as of late, he has lost his passion for the work, is feeling fatigued and is giving a lackluster performance on the job. To make matters worse, he has fallen behind in his bills and is forced to take a strange,(even for this films reality), roommate named Link(John Munnelly). He only has only his two “best” friends to confide in, Harry(Richard Kohn), a seemingly retired vigilante like himself, and Rockin Ray(...Rockin Ray),a spirited but ineffective undercover cop. They both do their best to get his head back in the game, but nothing seems to work. Hectic's performance continues to decline, until after one particularly uninspired battle with some thugs, who were engaged in some committed but repetitive discussion on “orange pills” (or maybe orange peels?), he finds on their person a card referring to Piggly Doctor(J.J. Brine), a evil “baddie” intent on getting the world addicted to “the drugs”. This starts Hectic down a path that will change everything. A fateful journey which includes reuniting with, then morning, estranged family members, on the fly heart transplants, as well as limb regeneration, toxic relationships and lots of unneeded exposition.
The film is filled with silly black humor that purposely falls flat. The bulk of conversations are characters describing what is going on as your watching it and long dead, running gags. It's a mix of what you may call “tromaesque” and the more currently used irreverent, comedy styles. I can't always hang with some of the internet kids “random” humor, but this steers away from hitting this nerve with a more grimy feel and more classical comedy influences. Lines are dry or misfired and characters under played, but it's perfectly difficult to pick out when it's by design or not. It's probably a fun mix of both. Scenes go on past their purpose, into faux candid moments, where the participants seem to leave character and riff off of each other (mostly unsuccessfully). Sometimes you get the feeling certain gags might be inside jokes, and maybe you are being left out, but thats all part of its style. It's a parody of “hero” flicks but for a post dark night world, in which even Superman is a brooding killer who doesn't know if he's on the right path. Think Sin City in the key of Nacho Libre (2006) with a hint of something like Tom Goes to the Mayor (2004-2006). Where The Toxic Avenger (1984) lampooned the valiant heroes and corny one liners of the Stan Lee (appropriated) era with trash cinema sensibilities, Hectic Knife plays off the disjointed series of emotional moments that make up our current pseudo-poetic Hollywood vigilantes. The story is a self referring, bare bones, allusion to the cliche dark hero drama. Our evil villain forces people to become addicted to “the drug”, the antagonist suffers death and betrayal; it covers all the genre basics, telegraphing every event with cliff notes, just in case you didn't get it. It doesn't have a fourth wall, like..at all. It’s completely self aware. There is less plot then there are references to the lack of plot. It's that kind of flick, and it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the authenticity of its “mistakes” for comedic effect.
The film wears it's low budget as a fashion statement. A black and white filter (almost) throughout, not only serves to give it that Frank Miller feel but is also intentionally an obvious mask for the restraints in resources. Stylized frugal techniques include lots of chocolate syrup blood, which is always fun, and the redressing of sets. There is plenty of goofy gore, bad wigs, and the special effects are the tops when it comes to regaining a limb. The props probably got the most laughs out of me, rubber knives litter the floors, and our hero comes home to a stack of blank envelopes with “Bills” written on them. A Lot of the camera work is exaggerated, plays with position, and at moments has some very inspired cuts. Sometimes the angles blend with the washed out monochrome to remind me of 90s art film. There is no nudity, but there is something extremely attractive about the bad guys sidekick, Porch (played by Traci Ann Wolfe and I'm pretty sure it's the eyepatch). Despite it's willfully unsound style, each scene has a lot of love in every aspect of production and plenty of fun details to pick out of the awkward mess. 
Peter Litvin is our anti hero in the flowing wig and co-writer on the film (with director Greg DeLiso). He is also listed as working on the soundtrack (along with Dale Flood and Ronnie Kalimon), which is definitely one of my favorite aspects of the experiment. It's not hard to find something with music influenced by VHS trash lately (thanks Stranger Things), but they never get it all the way right. They fucking get pretty damn close here in its more synthy moments, and it has a far more authentic feel if only for its cash strapped development. Plus, as a bonus, there is a musical number sung by the odd roommate, complete with more excessive exposition, that I thought was pretty great. Everyone seems to be having a good time making the film and is in on the joke. For stand out performances I have to go with Traci Ann Wolfe as Piggy Doctors right hand woman, not only was the eyepatch extremely hot, but her over-acting was perfect. Bring on Hectic Knife 2 : The Rise of Porch (you don't have to call it that, but I'm glad she lived to fight again).
Hectic Knife is a manic but loving jab at a lot of people, including the audience. It's definitely got some great trashy soul to it, and I enjoyed the fuck out of it, but it's one for “certain” crowds. Probably not the film to use as an intro to these types of things, unless your mainstream homie is a fan of live action adult swim or something. Greg DeLiso has made great use of a budget, with an influenced but unique style. I may never know if water slide tester, porn set shiny- thing- holders or politicians suffer from burnout, but the next time I'm feeling down on my mundane, annoying routine, I can remember how lucky I am not to be the lone good guy in a monochrome world, full of crime, “The Drugs” and constant oversharers. At least my reality is in color.

 Director: Greg DeLiso
Writers: Greg DeLiso, Peter Litvin 


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