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Duck! The Carbine High Massacre   B-

Factory 2000 / Media Blasters

Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directors: William Hellfire, Joey Smack
Writers: William Hellfire, Joey Smack, Todd Russell, Mick Leo
Cast: William Hellfire, Joey Smack, Misty Mundae, Lilly Tiger, Liz Bathory, Marie Mazur, Chris Perez, Henry Krinkle, Michael Ovum, Ryan Trimmer, Kendall Ward, Michael Lema, Mike Roser, Pamela Anne, Stephen Harris.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

What can I say about this? It's like a really bad traffic accident -- you're horrified and disgusted, but you can't look away. Duck! The Carbine High Massacre takes one of the most controversial American tragedies in recent memory and turns it into a tasteless and offensive satire that's already outraged a number of people.

In fact, William Hellfire and Joey Smack (who wrote, produced, directed, and star in the film) wound up being arrested after police got ahold of a copy of the movie. What were they arrested for? Possession of weapons on school property, of course. There were some exterior shots done at a New Jersey elementary school in which the two of them were carrying shotguns. It was in the middle of summer, no children in sight, and the guns weren't loaded, but they were charged. At the time of this writing, their trial still awaits and they could end up serving some hard jail time.

Okay, so what's the movie like?

Technically, Duck! is pretty damn bad. It's got a muddy shot-on-video look, bad lighting in many scenes, barely competent camera work, and the lowest production values you've probably ever seen. It just screams homemade. But pushing its terrible no-budget production quality aside, let's move on to the story.

Duck! focuses on two high school outcasts: Derwin (William Hellfire) and Derrick (Joey Smack), who wear black trench coats every day just like the Trench Coat Mafia implicated in the real-life incident. Virtually every other character in the movie is a stereotype: there are the bullying jocks, a couple of friendless gothic kids, the Jesus-loving Christian girl, the wheelchair-bound retard, and the I-hate-everyone black kid.

Derwin and Derrick are despised by just about everyone, of course, and Derwin even gets his ass beat by a bunch of students while taking a shortcut through the basketball court one day. When they're through with him, he's a bloody mess. Luckily, the filmmakers don't try to make you sympathize with the two main characters. It's almost all just a sick joke, yet you can't help but see that these two "freaks" are recognizably human. They simply refuse to conform to the ideas of how society and their peers think they should be. You can see how all this leads to such a terrible tragedy.

That's one of the problems with Duck! At times, it seems almost serious. Other times, it's just a sick joke. There's a scene with the bed-ridden Derwin (after getting his ass kicked) talking to Derrick that's played totally straight -- and it's absolutely disturbing in its realism. They talk about how much they hate the expectations that society puts upon them, about how fake all their peers are. This is when they begin to discuss the idea of killing as many of their classmates as possible before blowing their own brains out. And even though you can't possibly agree with what they're planning to do, you still see them as emotionally human. They were driven to this by a society that fears people they don't understand.

That's what the news media failed to see when examining the Columbine massacre. They were quick to blame violent movies and videogames like Doom as the cause of such a disaster. Did they even think for a second of what it's like to be a social outcast in high school? How the high school social structure can back those who aren't "normal" into a corner from which they feel they can't escape? No way. If the media says it's movies, videogames, and Marilyn Manson driving kids to exterminate their classmates, then it must be true!

The performances by Hellfire and Smack (not their real names, of course) are very solid and totally convincing. The rest of the cast is a grab bag ranging from hilariously bad to pretty good, but the two leads truly stand out. And when the violent and gory climax arrives the only thing you can do is watch in shock. You're shocked that it doesn't feel real at all -- it actually seems quite surreal for some reason -- but it's still extremely unsettling in its own sick-joke way. You begin to imagine what it was really like when the two kids walked into the Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 and turned shotguns on their classmates.

I want to condemn this movie and say it's sick and has no social value whatsoever. But I can't. It is sick and it will offend many people, but it has something to say about society. You might not agree with it, but there is truth to be found in this twisted satire. Some of the comedic gags work (like the jock who is ridiculed for his love of Spam), while others just seem wrong. Somehow it feels fake and honest at the same time. I can hardly nail this one down.

After it's over, though, you'll almost surely feel so dirty that you'll have to take a shower just to wash that icky feeling away. It won't do any good, though. This one will stick with you for awhile.

Review published 05.19.2000.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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