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Modus Operandi (2009)
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by Charles Tatum

"True Grindhouse"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: This film is cheesy, grainy, bloody, ethically questionable, badly constructed, poorly acted, and contains enough nudity to fill a weekend of Cinemax After Dark...I couldn't have had a better time!

Former CIA agent Stanley Cashay (Randy Russell) is a drunk bum who passes out on bar bathroom floors and takes a raw egg in his whiskey for breakfast. His wife was murdered a while back, and he drifts around Milwaukee. As he is about to shoot himself, his old spy agency comes a-calling. It seems two briefcases have been stolen from presidential candidate Squire Parks (Michael Sottile), and Cashay is the only who can retrieve them.

What follows is a convoluted plot in which the balding middle aged Cashay gets sober, then calls on his old cronies from the agency (with names like Black Licorice and Casey Thunderbird) to assist him. Cashay does not really get the cases back himself, per se, but soon double crosses pile upon double crosses, and the bodies begin to pile up as well.

As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of grindhouse flicks. Something Weird Video is my favorite video company, and I find a hard "R" flick from thirty years ago more entertaining than internet porn. Writer/director Frankie Latina has taken the exploitation genre and done an incredible job with his own film. The picture has a wonderful grainy quality to it, and often switches from color to black and white stock. Characters are introduced, then hurt or killed off; they seem to have no purpose other than to serve the needs of a gore loving audience. The tortures that Borchardt's character, Dallas Deacon, must endure border on the morbidly hilarious. Danny Trejo has just a few scenes as CIA director Holiday, but he seems to be in on the joke, and it is fun to watch him.

The wonderfully appropriate musical score is credited to six different people, and even features a wailing theme song that sounds like a reject from a 007 spoof. The sound design is excellent, especially for a film of such a, ahem, limited budget. I wasn't sure what was going on once in a while, but Latina keeps building the violence and nudity until a hilariously explosive finale. Also, we get to find out what is actually IN the briefcases, thank you, sir, for not going Tarantino or "Ronin" on us.

"Modus Operandi" is short enough to not wear out its welcome, and it is gory dirty fun. I watched it on a lark, it seems to have been filmed on a lark, and it's fricking great stuff. Like "Grindhouse"? You'll love this!

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18798&reviewer=325
originally posted: 06/18/09 07:56:58
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival For more in the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/31/10 Matthew Weisman Easy to follow 70s cult film sendup should be able to find its own cult. Great! 5 stars
4/22/10 e.j a wonderful project looking for more from f.latina. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  DVD: 14-Feb-2012

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