Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Return to Sender?


The 2011 short film "Mail Order," based on the Jack Ketchum story of the same title, involves a snuff film aficionado who recognizes a former girlfriend as the torture/murder victim in one of the illicit videos he purchases.  The premise and quasi-cinematic subject matter seem ideal for translation from page to screen, but the short-film adaptation of "Mail Order" sadly fails to deliver.  A stark, static lensing would have been thematically appropriate here, but instead the director opts for frenetically-shaking camera work that proves more irritating than interesting.  Ironically, the film can only hint at the graphic violence that Ketchum's prose depicts so metic-ulously and with such unflinching hand.  A good plot twist in the original tale is regrettably absent from the film (I suspect because it would have necessitated paying another actress).  And the decision to deck out the videotaped sadists in pig masks ("Tricky Dick Nixon masks" in Ketchum's story) makes the short film seem like some
cheap Saw knock-off.

But the video (which can be viewed here, courtesy of Fangoria)
ultimately forms an admirable package, thanks to the interview with Ketchum included in the featurette that follows the short film.  The author provides a terrific anecdote about how his mother and the legendary Robert Bloch worked together to set him on his career path.  Ketchum also discusses his creative process, and recounts the real-life experience that led him to pen "Mail Order."
Essential viewing for true Ketchum fans.  

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