Sometimes adventure calls. The great unknown beckons, and when reason, logic and common sense tell you to take the safe path, you have to throw caution to the wind and take the chance. You only live once, right?
In Fangs Out, a crew of young Americans seek budget-friendly plastic surgery in Mexico. They don’t know where the clinic is, and they have no direct contact with the surgeon. Their instructions lead them to a bookshop whose owner provides them with a map and tells them to walk through the desert.
Despite all the glaringly bright red flags, our intrepid heroes continue forth seeking the clinic of the mysterious Dr. Pavor (Samuel Code). Is it possible that the clinic may in fact be run by vampires that sucker in unwitting medical tourists? Or is Dr. Pavor simply a kind-hearted physician, offering low-cost cosmetic surgery for those willing to take the risk? Our heroes don’t care. They take their chances, answering the call to adventure.
Likewise, despite all the equally bright red flags I saw, I too took a chance on this movie and answered my own call to adventure. It turned out just slightly better for me than it did the characters.
The ultra-low-budget movie is an acquired taste to begin with and has to be accepted on its own terms. Traditional film criticism is a fool’s errand. You must expect bad framing, horrific acting and wildly off-kilter pacing. It’s par for the course and part of the charm.
But at the same time, the movie is obligated to know what it is and hold up its end of the bargain. If you can’t be good, you should at least be bloody. If you can’t be bloody, then you’d better be funny. And if you can’t be either, at least get weird. If that bar is too high, then why bother?
Fangs Out just doesn’t make much of an attempt to be any of those things. Not consistently anyway. It occasionally tries to be funny, and sometimes even manages to do so successfully. But more often than not, it just exists. When it does manage to land a joke, it likes to dwell on the punchline way too long, killing whatever humor may have been gaining momentum.
Likewise, it teases us with a potential bloodbath but never follows through. Except for one genuinely brutal sequence about midway through the movie, there’s bafflingly little bloodshed.
If you’re going to go for a ridiculous film, you actually have to go for it. Stupid humor can be great fun, but it needs to be lightning fast. The movie has to be so overloaded with so many puns, sight gags and pratfalls that the human mind can’t keep track of them all upon first viewing.
Likewise, the violence should be excessive and nonstop. Be creative. This kind of movie is not bound by conventional rules of storytelling and has the luxury of being limited only by one’s imagination and the amount of money set aside for fake blood. There’s no reason for Fangs Out to be as boring and bloodless as it is.
It doesn’t even get particularly weird. Dr. Pavor’s medical experiments are wildly perverse and seem to signal a bizarre turn for the story. But the experiments are introduced for only a moment and are barely referenced again for the rest of the film.
The movie refuses to pick a direction and never follows through one way or another. Every time it seems like it’s about to become entertaining in some capacity, it kneecaps itself and opts to stay boring instead. Director Dennis Devine and writer/star Randy Oppenheimer bring some sparks of creativity here and there. Just enough to string you along, hoping for something wild to happen. But it just never does.
I love a schlocky, low-budget mess. There’s nothing better than putting on some bloody, sleazy nonsense and getting lost in a sea of stupidity. Fangs Out brings the low budget and the stupidity but leaves the blood and the sleaze out of the equation. The only thing the movie really has going for it is its flippant sense of humor. But even that can only carry it so far. In the end, Fangs Out just doesn’t have much bite.