Monday, April 13, 2009



Max Newport

You can only imagine the excitement as I removed the distinctive Netflix envelope from the mailbox on Friday knowing that the amazing action flick “Kill Zone” was safely secured inside just waiting for a quick spin on the Toshiba Hi-Def. This soon to be cinematic classic was filmed in Fellsmere and Sebastian in 2003 and finally released last month on DVD. The expectations were not high for a film directed by an 18 year old kid with a 20 thousand dollar budget. The director describes it as a “piece of shit” (sorry Miss Vero, his words not mine) on the DVD commentary track and he wasn’t too far off the mark.

We do like to support movies that were shot in our little part of this world. In the early 1980’s we were treated to “There Goes The Bride” which introduced local boy done good, John Terry, to the silver screen. We also were the home base for “The Last Plane Out”, both featuring a name cast and both box office disasters. If you can find the latter movie, Max is an extra as a Sandinista terrorist storming the Vero Beach Airport. I kind of stand out since I had long blonde hair at the time. Needless to say, John Terry had much more impact with his screen presence than did Max Newport.

I don’t think any of the folks featured in “Kill Zone” have done much in the biz since this action thriller, based upon a quick review of the Internet Movie Database. You don’t have to worry about my spoiling the plot for you since as far as I could tell, there wasn’t one. It is worth seeing only to notice the local landmarks. Some of the action occurs at the Braxton Lodge, since the name of the fictional town is Braxton. It was really the Ferndale Lodge in Sebastian, with the word Braxton pasted over Ferndale, except for a couple of times when it must have blown off.

Local radio legend, Neal Stannard has a pretty good part as an assistant to the motel clerk. It was good to see old Neal on the screen even though his character only had three or four scenes. He had a chance to act his little heart out in his death scene. I think everyone in this movie gets killed maybe because they chose to live in the kill zone. No offense Neal, but I don’t see this movie as your John Terry moment.

I think Neal is wearing the same shirt in the movie that he is wearing in his official IMDB photo. It was disappointing that they spelled Neal’s name wrong in the closing credits. Show business can be ugly. There was only one person in “Kill Zone” that seemed to be a real actor. It was the guy who played the sheriff. We are introduced to the sheriff while he and his deputy are fishing in his back yard. A strange scene simply because there was no water in the sheriff’s back yard. They must have been going for some lawn trout or some other type of land based seafood. Maybe they were going to add the water by computer later and just forgot.

An attempt at exposition is made during a scene where three of the players are sitting at a table in bright daylight explaining the events that brought them together. Inexplicably there is an unlit kerosene lamp on the table that is in front of each character as he is speaking. The globe of the lamp so distorted their mouths as they were talking that I found it hard to pay attention to what they were saying.

There is a seven minute, totally pointless scene shot at Marsh Landing. The director explains in his commentary that the owner of the restaurant gave them two hours max to shoot. It is pretty apparent that the restaurant is closed since all of the chairs are upside down on the tables, except for this one table where the one-eyed priest seems to be enjoying two bowls of soup and pointing a gun at another guy who is pointing a gun at him. They should have filmed this part in a Mexican restaurant.

For me the only reason to watch this movie, other than Neal Stannard’s over the top death scene, is that the final climactic scenes are shot in the Old Fellsmere School. I never attended the school, but have been there a few times to visit. I think the closing shot of “Kill Zone” is a nice wide view of the school before fading to black. I am not going to watch it again to be sure (for the love of God and all things sacred, please don’t ask me to watch it again). The school closed in 1964 and it is part of a historical restoration project. Going into that school will take you back in time. I always think of James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo when I walk into the auditorium, which is featured prominently in “Kill Zone”. There is also a scene where one of the players is sliding down the stairwell banister with a gun in each hand blasting away. You don’t really see who or what he is shooting at, but as far as stuntwork goes, that was it for this blockbuster.

Don’t be fooled by the poster for the movie linked above. The tallest building in the movie is the old school. As far as skyscrapers and explosions, there just aren’t any.

To sum it up, this is really a goofy movie where many things are killed, most notably the time I spent watching it (twice so I could hear the commentary track). Save yourself the agony of this stinker and use the time to check out the Old Fellsmere School instead.

Neal Stannard, by the way, is still doing the afternoon news and announcing on WTTB (where the tropics begin), 1490 on your AM dial.

Have a great week fellow Beach Housers and if you can find a review of this movie, please let me know. If you have seen it, let me hear from you. We can suffer together.



Jason said...

Excellent...I'm looking forward to seeing this....

If ya'll want to check in on the progress of the Old School stop on by....

BlessUrHeart said...

Would get this just to see Neal, a wonderful guy, and his celluloid adventure. I mean, nobody can hold a candle to the suave Mr. Terry -- see him on "Lost" right now -- but this is great, Max, that you bit the bullet [ha] and saw it for us. The old school, Jason, is indeed very cool, as are so many other things in Fellsmere -- which will soon be surrounded by new dense growth, not the great ranches and open space which makes it so cool, but soon drowned in "progress" and wasted. It is SUCH a cool place -- for now.

LDouglas said...

The Kill Zone doesn't sound like my kind of movie even with the local flavor in it. I'm glad you reviewed it saving me from watching it. :-)

One of my favorite movies is "The Edge" with Anthony Hopkins. That's a good one to watch on a big screen. I've seen it several times and at the last viewing it still held my attention.

And hopefully I've seen it enough that I won't die of shame if I'm ever lost in the woods...

CHRIS11111 said...

I produced Kill Zone, and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to watch the film.

I do think that its only fair that you consider that we made this film for next to nothing. I know people don't consider any relevance in that, but personally, I do.

Most people that review movies have never actually made one, nor thought about what goes into it.

This was created by a group of kids just out of high school. It wasn't some Hollywood production suckbuster.

I appreciate your opinions as you're entitled to them, but at least put the film into perspective in terms of how much movies cost.

I'm proud of our young actors, young director and the experience and money we spent in Indian River County. I don't regret it one bit.

I'd rather have the most hated movie in history than a movie that inspires no emotion at all. So keep it up! Thanks to Neal Stannard for his help, and he is a terrific man.

We regret the misspelling of his name and if we had been able to go back and fix it, we would have right away. It was just a slip up that cost more than any of us poor guys had to go back and have it done again.

Thanks again and all best,

Chris Carberg
Kill Zone, 2009

Max Newport said...


I hope you didn't find my article discouraging. We hope you come back to our area and shoot some more movies now that you have this one under your belt and in major distribution.

Sure, I realize that you guys were filming on a very limited budget and I do not know or understand the complexities of putting any kind of film together. So I certainly applaud you and your crew for your effort to make this movie.

On the bright side, quite a few people that I know now want to see "Kill Zone" so I do think my writing helped publicize your film to some degree.

We did see and enjoy "Sydney White". I'm sure Neal will quickly forgive the spelling error.

Once again, come back for your next film. You have to admit that our area is quite unique.

Anonymous said...

My home was homebase for Chris and the crew, who made this film, they were a wonderful group of kids and impressive in their pursuit of a dream, most of us, would not even attempt.
They are richer for having accomplished as much as they did, and I saw the effort it took to pull off, what looked impossible to many.
Chris, I hope you have kept, that amazing drive you have intact and ready for whatever you tackle in the future. Not many, are willing to go there, and congratulations.

Miss Vero said...

Miss Vero would like to add a note of encouragement to Chris and all the wonderful people who have helped him with his project.

Never give up your dreams, sugar, for anyone or anything.



LDouglas said...

I'm glad you didn't take offense by what I said. People killing people just isn't my thing but there are plenty of others who enjoy it.

I do appreciate what it must take to produce a movie, especially on a shoestring and do wish you good luck on other ventures...

CHRIS11111 said...

There is no sin in opinion! :)

The reason I wanted to speak up was because if we had the money to do it completely right, there would have been so many things we would have done differently.

Its funny though, people have described the film as having poor lighting. I think our lighting was based on the Gordon Willis Godfather style lighting and shadows. Its also very based upon film noir.

I appreciate the support greatly guys!