“Yo dawg, I heard you like B-Movies, so here’s a B-Movie about two dudes making B-Movies and then showing their B-Movie ideas.” Thanks Xzibit, I’ll take it from here. (Yes, I spend too much time looking at internet memes.)
While watching a B-Movie full of grindhouse inspired gore and insane ideas always proves to be an interesting experience, I always believed the actual process of making said film is equally as entertaining. Be it monsters ripping the heads off of characters or Nazi zombies eating vacationers on a snowy mountain, you have to remember those ideas were created by a filmmaker. Someone actually sat there and said “You know what would be awesome?! Let’s mix together a shark and an octopus, get Eric Roberts, and have it cause a ton of havoc! Yeah!” – and thus Sharktopus was born.
ZMD: Zombies Of Mass Destruction writer/director Kevin Hamedani embraces this absurdity in his newest film Junk, a story about two aspiring filmmakers who are attending their first film festival to premiere their movie Islamarama 2. Exploring not only the quirky world of independent film festivals, but the personal lives of Kaveh (Hamedani) and Raul (co-writer Ramon Isao), Hamedani’s film introduces us to the unique process of creating and peddling schlock cinema. Coming up from the bottom is anything but glitz and glamor, as you’ll do just about anything to secure your big break – even if it includes Looney Tunes style trickery to get alone in a room with super-producer Yukio Tai (James Hong).
Junk isn’t just about playing the filmmaking game though, as Kaveh and Raul’s journey sees its share of rough patches. Not only dissecting the co-writer relationship that connects the two friends on an entirely separate workplace level, the film dives into the messiness of involving personal matters in your professional life – but also how to do so effectively.
At its core, Junk is a passion project about making passion projects, and this is shown by the current Hollywood commentary Hamedani and Isao work into their own script. The genuine dynamic between both leads builds on these moments, as they wrestle with the notion of writing up a treatment for a classic horror remake as per the advice from Kaveh’s agent, for example. Our duo runs the gamut of filmmaking hurdles though, from pretentious colleagues snootily acting like elitists to the pressures of selling out, exposing the grueling yet rewarding process of watching a project mature from a simple brain fart to distributed film.
While the more personal material for each character provides tragedy and drama, Junk‘s comedic efforts come through the party-hearty/stoner banter between Kaveh and Raul, along with the visual representations of the scripts they are currently creating. Be it their more realistic take on Gremlins, a point-of-view film starring Chucky, or their grindhouse samurai epic, cutting away to dreamland-type interpretations always provided a pretty good laugh – especially with Chucky being played by one of their fellow acting friends. These cuts are hilariously gory, over-the-top, and display the low-buget inspired fun such independent B-Movies are able to generate – oozing laughably cheesy goodness and all.
Showing up are some familiar faces to join Kaveh and Raul, in a pretty neat assortment of recognizable talent. From New Girl‘s Jake Johnson, to Black Dynamite‘s Scott Sanders, to Saw‘s Marcus Dunstan, the cameos throughout this film celebrate independent cinema and the stars that make it work. Just look at the names listed above! You’ve got the creator of the most righteous, slick, groovy, hilarious, blaxploitation spoof comedy in Black Dynamite, Paper Heart actor Jake Johnson, and a winner from Project Greenlight’s third season, Marcus Dunstan (Feast), adding validity to Junk by bringing these now huge names back to their independent roots. These cameos remind us where actors and directors have to start out before becoming national superstars, providing a comparison to those aspiring filmmakers like Kaveh, popping his festival cherry.
Junk is an independent comedy that gets to the nitty gritty of exploitative filmmaking, parodying the low-budget B-Movie work it eventually delves into itself. Don’t let the over-abundance of F-bombs distract you, because Junk‘s presence is entirely more heartfelt and passionate than something as simple as a foul-mouthed film about two movie lovers quoting Gremlins. Sure, it’s rough around the edges, but it’s got heart, and despite the somewhat overbearing focus on relationship drama while Hamedani’s film builds up, everything comes together in a hilarious, bloody, and indulgently satisfying ending, like a gigantic, glowing, bright red exclamation point. B-Movies are filled with passion, love, respect, nostalgia, and a dose of drug-influenced ideas – exactly what Junk is made from itself.
Kevin Hamedani shows that it takes heart, determination, passion, and loads of weed to make a proper B-Movie - exactly the kind of stuff that makes Junk so meaningful.