Joe Grisaffi (In a Madman's World, Pirate of the Caribbean) is back in the director's seat with a brand-new horror flick as part of a new Roger Corman-esque approach to elevating the Houston horror film scene.
Conjoined is the story of Siamese twin sisters who move in with a man they meet through an online dating service. Alina (Michelle Ellen Jones) is sweet, kindhearted, and just looking to finally find a man to love her in the form of the shy and awkward Stanley (Tom Long). Her sister Alisa is dark, sarcastic, and quick to anger after suffering years of abuse from society over their condition. Stanley tries his best to make a life with Alina while at the same time seeking a man who can make Alisa happy, but finds himself knee-deep in dead bodies as Alisa murders potential suitors.
"Alisa is the ultimate outcast/freak," said writer Chuck Norfolk via email. "She and Alina have spent their whole lives taking literal and figurative beatings. She thinks she might finally have found a place where she belongs but in the end she is just back to where she started. Outcast."
The strange film, penned by Chuck and Tim Norfolk of Haunted Trailer fame, came about because Bob Willems at Champion Entertainment in Houston is looking to launch a horror subscription service, and was willing to accept horror films across all levels of quality. Intrigued, Grisaffi offered to make one cheap and quick, and took the idea to the Norfolks to see if they could craft a single location script that could be filmed in a few days. Conjoined is the result.
I had a chance to talk to Grisaffi some months back about the Willems idea, and how it was very similar to the approach Roger Corman had originally taken. Corman was famous for trying out new, unproved talent on low-budget genre films, and in doing so launched some of the greatest directors of the last forty years. If Corman hadn't offered Martin Scorsese the opportunity to direct Boxcar Bertha, he might never had a career. The same can be said for Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, and more. All of them got director credits and real, hands-on set experience thanks to Corman's willingness to offer low-budget schlock a forum as long as you could get it in the can.
When viewed through that lens Conjoined is pretty damned good. Sure, it looks kind of dollar store because it is kind of dollar store (It had a $2,000 budget), but somehow that makes the moments of brilliance stand out even more. In a weird way, the flaws make the film.
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