FANG Keeps Incisor Planted Firmly in Cheek

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Adam R Steigert’s Fang is the latest fun flick from the director of STAR, A Grim Becoming, and Ombis: Alien Invasion.  It’s his first above-the-title credit and fits comfortably among his other ambitious, playful genre works. In previous decades, you could easily imagine this as half of a drive-in double bill.

Fang has the feel of an extended Tales from the Crypt episode, with plenty of humor, gore, and tongue-in-cheek camp. And speaking of makeup FX and gore, those on display here are the most effective and convincing of his films to date. And like the Crypt feature Demon Knight, Fang is grounded by the performance of a strong female lead–here in Chloe, played by promising newcomer Melodie Roehrig.

The narrative serves mainly to bring a very large cast of eccentric, quirky characters together, their paths intersecting at an estate rumored to house a small fortune in silver coins.

Gregory Blair chews the scenery with relish as Harold, the estate’s creepy caretaker who is much more formidable than he initially appears.  In fact, the potential saviors– including a seventies style sheriff (Steve Losey) and an armed-to-the-teeth posse of mercenaries–are readily overmatched.

As with Steigert’s other films, it’s always interesting to see what characters the familiar faces will inhabit, especially in Fang with the Crowleys.  Patrick Mallette who voiced and puppeteered the title character STAR shows a strong commitment to his role as the menacing, mysterious owner of the mansion.  Melantha Blackthorne brings a feral feline intensity to the role of the mysterious “Aunt” Doris.  Both possess a great physicality and excel in colorful character roles.

Jennie Russo handles well one of the film’s most difficult and demanding parts, that of the stranded Shelly, partner to Chris (Jason John Beebe of Ombis).

Despite some dark themes and story elements, rather than frights, humor and a campy good time are the coin of the realm.  And as such, Fang is tonally closer to Bordello of Blood than Demon Knight.  Entertaining montage sequences harken back to the eighties comedy mainstay.

Steigert is joined by collaborator and new wife Kristin, who co-scripted and appears as a doctor.  Cast and crew are obviously hard at work and some pull double/triple duty in multiple capacities, such as Kristin and Mallette.

The most disturbing gross-out moments ironically involve scenes of eating.  And it’s always nice to have a practical (as opposed to CGI) werewolf.

The film is a brisk hour and fifteen minutes (including credits) and inhabits the common universe that Steigert has created.  There are visual in-joke references to his other films and the end of Fang serves to set up the upcoming THEM (The Horrific Evil Monsters).

@Cory Graham, 9/13/2018.

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