"Blind and deaf after suffering a terrible fever as a baby, young Helen Keller has spent years unable to communicate, leaving her frustrated and occasionally violent. As a last chance before she is institutionalized, her parents contact a school for the blind, which sends half-blind Annie Sullivan to teach Helen. Helen is initially resistant, but Annie gradually forms a bond with her and shows Helen ways of reaching others." Is what Google says when you look up "The Miracle Worker", the original movie about Helen Keller. This is not that movie in the slightest.
Helen Keller is your typical young woman at the turn of the century. Except for the fact that her town is runder seige by packs of feral night wolves. Despite the townspeople's pleas for action, the lupine menace is left to terrorize the people. After a particularly vicious attack, Helen Keller is left blind, deaf, and dumb. It is in this state that she finds her inner powers, and with the help of some family and new friends, uses them to defeat the Night Wolves once and for all!
"She's a Natural Born Keller" I'm not witty enough for tagline like that
Life of the Party:
It is no secret that the crew here at Tanked Matinee love us some Ross Patterson. In fact, I consider it one of the high points of my time here at TM that I was able to interview the Man-Myth-Legend. Both myself and fellow TM alum Enuncia have reviewed some of his past work: Poolboy 2: Drowning Out the Fury and FDR: American Badass! Once the team found out that Helen Keller Vs Night Wolves was available, we immediately picked it up and readied it for our company retreat the first week of December 2015. It was this movie that inspired me to come back to review writing after a long hiatus. This is for you America.
"Less company retreat, and more our company retreated away from us"
I'm going to give you a rundown of the story so skip ahead to avoid spoilers.
Helen Keller (Jessie Wiseman) lives on the family homestead with her brother William (Jesse Merlin), friend Anne Sullivan (Alanna Ubach), and Parents (Jean St. James, and Robert R. Shafer ). It seems pretty picturesque doesn't it? The simple tranquility of home life is quickly destroyed when the titular villains of the film appear, THE NIGHTWOLVES! I really wanted to say titular today and I did, I feel good about this review already. Ahem… The wolves methodically murderslaughter their way through the Keller family, wounding both Helen and Anne to the point of disability. Exactly as portrayed in "The Miracle Worker"*, Anne Sullivan begins teaching Helen to communicate and navigate her surroundings. Who here thinks that the Keller home is the only one tormented by these demons? Show of hands, NOW!
"Well, you're wrong" - Captain Teneal
The whole town was being hassled by these assholes and said so in the community meeting, conveniently held in a '50's diner with Sheriff Ryan (Richard Riehle) presiding. Of course, no one seems to be able to do a damn thing about the giant wolves eating people, so Helen exclaims that she will find a way to destroy them once and for all.
Now, by this point in the movie, you should already be suffering from excitement overload but hopefully you don't pass out because a heavy hitter is about to enter the game: Barry "Does my cock still work" Bostwick (yeah his character is named Jonathan, but fuck it, he's Barry Bostwick.) A huge departure from his hard-core, ruggedly handsome character in FDR: American Badass, Jonathan is a hard-core, ruggedly handsome character with a beard this go round. Hailing from a nearby town ravaged by the nightwolves, Jonathan pledges his aid to Helen and her brother,
When he isn’t making tables or duck l’orange, Jonathan trains Helen to use her talents to fight. Just like Luke and Yoda, Ralph Macchio and Mr. Miyagi, and every other famous training couple, romance begins to bloom and their love, in its purest form, begins to push the evil back from whence it came.
Wait. No I was completely wrong. That is NOT what happened and I do apologize.
It looks like the Wolves are still around for a final climactic battle!
I thought about looking up the run time of the movie, but it doesn't matter, the movie is exhausting in just about the best way possible. The dialogue is the real “meat” of this movie and boy does it deliver. I’m astounded at how great the gags are and I think Patterson has really honed his ability to write dialogue that intertwines subtle euphemism and blatant punch-you-in-the-gut comedy. There are enough tongue in cheek gags and visual cues that subsequent viewings will still surprise you. It’s like a Where’s Waldo that makes you questions your sexuality.
My favorite part though? The “I got it!” delay. Maybe you call it something different. If so, fuck you, I’m writing this. You go write a review on your sight.
Get it? Sight?! The movie’s about a blind chick.
There were so many moments that just took that one extra second for the weight of the joke to actually hit me. Not that I wouldn’t laugh immediately, but that just a few seconds later I saw just how brilliant the scene was. I wish that I could explain that statement more but I just can’t find the adequate words. You have to see it to really understand it.
Having watched Patterson’s other movies, the style is very reminiscent of FDR and Poolboy 2. Now, I know that the funding for this movie was originally posed as an Indiegogo project that reached $41k of it’s goal of $58k. That being said, I am unsure what the final budget of the movie ended up being, but it certainly seems obvious that there wasn’t quite as much money involved in the production of Helen Keller Vs Nightwolves as the others. Quite frankly, I don’t see that as a detriment. I have enough issues simply keeping my own well-being within the confines of my meekly budget thus cannot fathom what it’s like to try to recreate my vision in film without a truly biblical amount of funds available. One of many reasons I am not a director.
I have never been in the camp of “big budget = good movie” but it is truly heartening to have something like this that I just ENJOY watching. Not to mention I would put money on the fact that these performers had a BLAST making the movie. The computer graphics were cheesy enough to make a Wisconsiner jealous and the one-liners were damn near cringe worthy at times, but it all fit together so well that none of it mattered. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
I’ve sung this tune before and I hated the beat.
People can bash the low budget campiness, or how the humor can be low brow and cheap, but those people are cordially invited to fuck off. You will enjoy this movie if you aren’t a snob about it. Some people fear greatness, I embrace it.
This is a group movie through and through. Grab some munchables and a few drinks and you will have a great evening. I’d be willing to bet that within a few minutes, the group will just start yelling out things that no one else caught just to bring attention to it. I can tell you from experience that the room can get loud with some of the insanity on screen and people throwing in their own commentary, but around here, that is a good sign. It’s the type of movie you can watch multiple times with the same people and still enjoy it a different way.
I guess i forgot to mention that Helen Keller Vs Nigthwolves is out FOR FREE right now for your viewing pleasure. Don't know if I'm full of bull or not? You have the chance to download and watching right now!
You can download your HD copy right HERE
• Drink every time momma Keller spurts blood!
• Drink Every time William Keller Asks " Is it because I'm Gay?!"
• Drink more “Not you Father’s Rootbeer”’s than the movie does.
The Impossible Rule: Drink every time a reference to Ross Patterson's book " At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed" is seen on screen.
*The Miracle Worker was not harmed in the making of this review, All similarities between it and this movie were purely made up to make me giggle"
Ben Marsh is Tanked Matinee's Most Pantless Man. A Veteran of making fun of things, drinking, and having opinions, but still new to this whole "writing" thing, you can follow Ben on twitter ( @bencmarsh) and listen to his inane ramblings almost at will!
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