Thursday, November 24, 2016

Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim VanBebber

Director - Victor Bonacore (Ice Cream Sunday, Eat Me)
Starring - Jim VanBebber (The Manson Family, Deadbeat at Dawn), Vic Noto (Daredevil, The Haunting of), and Richard Kern (Zombie Hunger 2, Worm Movie)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Exploitation/Horror
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was growing up my horror knowledge was limited.  I loved all genres of film but when I was in the fourth grade my mind became very horror-oriented.  Once I became horror obsessed I relied heavily on the local video store for my fix and if they didn't have it then there was no way I was going to watch it.  I lived in the middle of nowhere.  The closest Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Magic Mart, and mall was well over an hour away so this video store was my only hope for horror.  So I indulged myself in George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and any VHS that caught my eye.  When I was older and I got my first computer and I joined several horror forums whered my mind was opened to even more horror and exploitation filmmakers.  This was when I first heard of Jim VanBebber.  So many people I met on these forums told me to check out Deadbeat at Dawn.  I wish I would have because now that movie is nowhere to be found.  Anyway, sometime back Victor Bonacore directed the documentary Diary of a Deadbeat which is about the life of Jim VanBebber.  I spoke with Victor about it some and actually met him just last month at Cinema Wasteland.  I bought a copy from him at the Massacre Video table and promised to review it for him.  It may be late but I'll never break my promise.
     The documentary begins with a look back at the early works and childhood of Jim VanBebber before we move on to college and what it was like for him as an outsider.  We then take a look at what it was like for him and his crew when they went from making short to feature length films.   We move from Deadbeat at Dawn, to Roadkill, The Manson Family, before hitting VanBebber today and how he struggles as an outsider trying to make movies independently.
     I have only heard good things about Deadbeat at Dawn and The Manson Family.  Both films come highly regarded from fans of horror and exploitation cinema.  I kick myself everyday for not buying both films when I had the chance.  Watching Diary of a Deadbeat has only made my desire to see these two films only stronger.  The interviews in this one is pretty solid.  We get several from the man himself ranging from 2010 to 2015 along with some interviews from different points in his career.  I love when a documentary follows a certain person and we get interviews ranging decades.  We see a young Jim VanBebber in 1992 talking about his living arrangements and what it was like to fund his own films.  We then move forward and see him on a local cable access show, or possible online video series, where he is talking about the changing industry and how difficult it is for indie filmmakers.  We then following him within the last 5 years and how he looks back on it all, as well as, his future.  We then jump through some others who are interviewed.  We speak with fans, colleagues, former cast members, and some family.  We get several different aspects from Jim's life.  Some are good and, sadly, some are bad experiences.  I enjoy when there is a documentary about one person in particular and the interviews turn up some bad experiences along with the good.  No one is perfect and a good documentary should show that.  Too much praise of one person can make for a boring documentary.  Finally, this documentary is edited together very well and pieced together with some great footage of Jim attending cons and interviews with some great people.  The editing is great and moves everything along at a great pace.  Overall, Diary of a Deadbeat is a fantastic watch about an outlaw in the indie cinema world.  VanBebber is a name everyone who loves counter culture should know and this documentary will bring that name to younger generations.  I own several Massacre releases and this is hands down my favorite one so far.  Check it out.

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