Things (1989)
By: Paul Ryan on February 7, 2012  | 
DVD
Intervision (USA) | All Regions, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 83 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Andrew Jordan
Starring: Barry J. Gillis, Amber Lynn, Bruce Roach
Screenplay: Barry J. Gillis, Andrew Jordan
Country: Canada
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Regardless of the results, I always have a level of admiration for anyone who can put a film together with no money or experience. It's especially invigorating to see a talented young filmmaker turn out something unique and impressive on the smell of an oily rag, be it Sam Raimi with the original Evil Dead, Peter Jackson with Bad Taste, or Robert Rodriguez with El Mariachi. These stellar examples aside, there's still a ton of amateur-hour crap out there, made by people whose enthusiasm outweighs their competence.

With this in mind, dear reader, allow me to present Things.

Made by a couple of Canadian blokes with a Super 8 camera and $40,000, Things is thoroughly amateurish, horrendously awkward and perversely intriguing. "Plot" is a nebulous concept here, but I'll give it a go. There's this guy (Doug Bunston) who makes a deal with some demon chick – more accurately, a topless woman wearing a Halloween mask – to give his wife a baby. Then a pair of hosers (co-writer/producer Barry J. Gillis and Bruce Roach) show up at his house. They eat his food, drink his crap beer (and water it down at one point), and find a tape player in his freezer. As you do. They talk a lot about not very much, watch some awful horror film on TV – ooh, meta! - while the wife of that guy from the start of the film has some sort of bloody labour and then dies. Then paiper-mache bug things on strings attack people. Maybe. Oh and there's a lot of poorly-recorded garage rock and Casio keyboard bleeps on the soundtrack. Or something.

Dotted throughout the main narrative -*cough*- is a series of clumsy news bulletins, featuring porn star Amber Lynn as a newsreader. With hair and shoulder pads best described as epic, Lynn reports on the disappearance of Don and Fred (eh?) and such non-sequiturs as the copyright status of the original Night of the Living Dead. She also keeps darting her eyes to keep up with the cue cards on her right.

A horror film made by horror fans with no discernable understanding of either filmmaking or horror movies full stop, Things is a brain-baking piece of anti-cinema. Nothing happens for long, long stretches of screen time. Characters barely advance the plot. Concepts of time and space are virtually non-existent. Shot largely without on-set audio, the post-dubbed dialogue is bizarre and inane (sample: "Awwww! The blood in this place! It's unbelievable!"), while the camerawork recalls the worst of Andy Milligan. To its (minimal) credit, there's a tangible atmosphere present. The reddish-pink lighting adds to the strange mood, even though – like everything else in the film – it makes no sense within the space the characters inhabit.

Comparable to such amateur crap classics as Birdemic and "Manos" The Hands of Fate, Things is one of those truly gob-smacking bad movies that makes you marvel at how such a thing ever got made. It is truly painful to sit through, but you won't be able to take your eyes off it as you soldier on to see how much worse it can get.
Video
About as good as a film like this can look, which is to damn it with faint praise. The Super 8 bits look like Super 8, while the video inserts look like video. Bravo!
Audio
The silly post-dubbed dialogue sounds just like it was added in post production, while Amber Lynn's news bites have pronounced spots of hiss and distortion. I doubt any improvements could have been made on the source material.
Extra Features
More extras here than on some good films, starting with two Audio Commentaries. Gillis and Jordan lead the first commentary, aided by co-stars Doug Bunston Jan. W Pachul and Gillis' evidently drunk daughter Victoria, who hasn't seen the film before. The other is from the Los Angeles cult movie enthusiasts The Cinefamily, recorded at the Silent Movie Theater. The participants are appalled to learn that Gillis and Jordan were inspired to make this by the shot-on-video gore film Boardinghouse (1984). We also learn that Amber Lynn was paid $2,500 for one day of work.

Testimonials on Things: Brief, amusing testimonials by Canuxploitaion.com's Paul Corupe, Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener and producer Rob Cotteril (done in a kitchen with pink lighting, in homage to the film), Dan Budnik and Joseph A. Ziemba of Bleeding Skull, and Things mega-fan Joey Izzo. A clip of Gillis showing an extremely polite Tobe Hooper ("I like what I've seen and this is a way cool, far out thing!") the trailer at the 2008 Rue Morgue convention is a particular hoot.

Things 20th Anniversary Reunion: Spectacularly awkward, this piece seems to have been done for community television, but still looks better than the film. Hosted by a ventriloquist and his dummy. Jordan and Gillis don't look much different, though the mullets are gone. A defensive Jordan insists "It's a postmodern film about horror films. It's not really a horror film. People don't really understand that, but that's how it is." Co-presenter Victoria Turnbull declares "I got AIDS just from watching your movie!" Gillis and Jordan are none-too-impressed by the comment. For some reason, a German Shepherd keeps wandering in an out of shot. It's all rather shit, really.

Behind the Scenes with Star Amber Lynn: Footage of Gillis and Jordan working with Amber Lynn on the stupid newsreader scenes. "No, that's okay. That's alright" is the level of direction. All told, Amber is remarkably patient.

Vintage Barry J. Gillis TV Appearances: Interviews with Gillis on regional TV show The Cape Breton Report, and local news show Live at 5 (suggesting a very slow news day). Gillis flubs his way through an awkward explanation of how much the movie cost, and heroically talks the film up. Both from 1987, just after the film was completed.

Evil Island investor reel: Escapees from Alcatraz battling monsters and the same bug things from Things. Shot on 16mm for 200 dollars! Actually asks for a million dollars to invest in the project. Good luck with that.

The original trailer is every bit as amateurish as the film itself, while additional trailers for Intervision titles The Burning Moon, Sledgehammer and Jeffrey Dahmer – The Secret Life are included.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Make no mistake, even connoisseurs of terrible films will struggle with Things. However, as a prime example of how not to construct a movie, it's damn near invaluable. Long unavailable since its original North American VHS release - and I don't think this has ever been released outside of that territory - this DVD edition from Intervision gives the film a far more comprehensive presentation than it deserves.

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