DVD Review: Eyes of the Chameleon

DVD Reviews, Reviews

If the only question running through my head as the credits roll on a film is “why did this movie get released?” then said film must have some serious problems. Unfortunately, Eyes of the Chameleon left me asking exactly that question. There is no artistic merit to be found in any of the film’s 78-minutes, and that isn’t even the worst part of the movie.

Eyes of the Chameleon opens with a random killing that is never really explained – a bit like the other Troma Entertainment release I reviewed recently, Killer Yacht Party – and then introduces our main character: Sara (played by Ann Teal). Sara and her friend are visiting a psychic when Sara is warned of an approaching evil (I think; it was unclear exactly what happened in the psychic’s shop). After that visit, Sara starts acting differently: she becomes more aggressive towards her boyfriend, and others. When the people around her start turning up murdered, Sara’s psychotic break gets worse, and she gets some news that will rock the foundation of her world.

Chameleon is a slasher film at its core, but not only are the slasher elements disappointing, the story as a whole is never fully realized. The killer is never explicitly explained, and the “slasher film twist” that fans have come to expect is so far out of left field that it doesn’t even make sense. When fans pop a slasher film into his or her DVD/BD player, not a lot is expected in terms of acting, story, or plot development, but Chameleon’s attempt at all of these – including the special effects – are laughable.

There is nothing positive to say about Ann Teal’s work as Sara. Her acting is extremely subtle – too subtle – while the rest of the cast tends to overact, making the movie disjointed. Teal is unable to build a realistic character even though she is onscreen the vast majority of the film. The other actors in the film are just as terrible, but for a multitude of different reasons. The tiny budget of the film is blatantly obvious every time another inept actor is introduced.

If Eyes of the Chameleon merely had bad acting, a stupid script, an annoying musical score, and cheesy special effects, I think I could stomach it. The fact that the story is completely nonsensical, however, is unacceptable. The staple of a slasher film is finding out who the killer is; this moment is only implied in Chameleon, and then another killer randomly shows up for some (terribly underdeveloped) reason. All of these factors make the film an unpalatable mess that isn’t even enjoyable to sit through for mocking purposes. Eyes of the Chameleon is a pathetic attempt at a micro-budget slasher film, and every aspect of the movie falls flat on its face.

The video quality for Chameleon is dreadful. There are four black bars around a small picture in the middle, turning my 42″ HDTV into a 20″ TV. The movie is given a 4:3 Letterbox, full screen presentation. The colors usually look awful, and the dark scenes are virtually devoid of any detail. The sound option – 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo – is decent, but there are moments when dialogue gets lost thanks to the actors speaking too quietly for the microphone to pick them up. The ridiculous sound effects and loud background music both come through loud and clear. For a 2011 DVD release, Eyes of the Chameleon is under par, and suffers greatly due to its tiny budget.

Before jumping in to the special features, it’s important to note that the two features listed on the back of the DVD case – an audio commentary by director Ron Atkins, and a slideshow – are not present on the disc I received to review. If I find out anything more about these missing features, I will update my review.

What we do have are two minutes of Deleted Scenes that show a young boy being berated by his uncle. These deleted scenes are as pointless and obnoxious to sit through as the ones kept in the film. The Eyes of the Chameleon Trailer gives away everything about the movie. This is another example where watching the trailer instead of the movie can save a viewer 75 minutes of his or her life.

Troma T & A (2:07) shows a woman messing up her lines for a minute, talking about things she obviously has no idea about, and then takes her shirt off and “plays with [her] ta-tas” at Kaufman’s request.

Exclusive Preview from the Upcoming “Produce Your Own Damn Movie!” Box Set: Have Your Own Damn Base of Power (6:15): Though this title is the same as one of the special features on Killer Yacht Party, this is different. This feature follows Lloyd Kaufman while he is at a horror convention. The feature provides advice on how independent filmmakers can promote his or her films at conventions. Kaufman is always entertaining, and this feature is no different.

Hermaphrodite PSA (1:32): Lemmy from Motörhead hosts a silly PSA that stars Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the South Park creators). It is pro-hermaphrodite, and good for a quick chuckle.

Net Neutrality PSA (3:18): Lloyd Kaufman does his best to convince the viewer that net neutrality is positive, and he spits fire at the government. This is the most serious I’ve seen Mr. Kaufman, but there is still humor thrown in to keep it true to Tromatic fashion.

Radiation March (0:54): A “what the hell did I just watch” anti-pollution commercial featuring dancing kids in yellow jumpsuits, and a load of sunglass-wearing adults, moving their heads to the beat.

Troma Trailers (21:44): Includes trailers for The Toxic Avenger (3:11), Poultrygeist (3:16), Blood Junkie (2:01), There’s Nothing Out There (2:30), Blood Oath (1:48), Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (3:36), Tromeo & Juliet (2:12), and Class of Nuke ‘Em High (3:10).

The Toxic Avenger tells the tale of a dork turned superhero that, despite his grotesque looks, saves his town from the bullies and bad guys that used to kick his ass; Poultrygeist is about a giant killer chicken; Blood Junkie is an ’80s slasher throwback, filmed today, using ’80s costuming; There’s Nothing Out There is an early Scary Movie/mockumentary film that looks hilarious; Blood Oath is another ’80s slasher throwback, but set today; Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. is about a detective who turns Japanese and becomes a superhero; Tromeo & Juliet is a modern, Tromatic take on Willy Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy; Class of Nuke ‘Em High tells the tale of a high school that is slowing turning toxic, both literally and figuratively.

All of the trailers look interesting for different reasons, and are excellent additions to any Troma release.

This Eyes of the Chameleon DVD has nothing going for it: the feature film is a debacle, the special features relating to the movie are completely worthless, and the video quality is terrible. There is no reason to own this DVD, and it should be avoided whenever possible.

Troma Entertainment presents Eyes of the Chameleon. Directed by: Ron Atkins. Starring: Ann Teal. Written by: Ann Green. Running time: 78 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: May 10, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

Branden Chowen is, first and foremost, an actor. He is in his final year of graduate school, where he will (hopefully) soon receive an MFA in acting to compliment his BFA in the art. He spends his free time watching and reviewing movies for Inside Pulse Movies, and We Love Cult. He is also one of the co-hosts for The Drive-In, which is the official podcast of Inside Pulse Movies. He is an avid horror fan, and will spend time watching just about any horror movie that looks interesting. You can contact Branden by email at bchowen[AT]insidepulse[DOT]com, or follow him on Twitter @Psymin1.