Coons! Night of the Bandits of the Night

Coons! Night of the Bandits of the Night (2005)

  • Straight to Video
  • Director: Travis Irvine
  • Written by: Travis Irvine
  • Running Time: 82 minutes
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Cast: Lehr Beidelschies, Brian Kamerer, Nick Maier, Zach Riedmaier, John Sarvas, Colin Scianamblo, Dan Velez, Travis Irvine, Tom Lyons, Alexander Raghuvir, Kasey Cooper, Lauren Bowman, Marti Babcock, Rachel Edwartoski, Nigel Lyons, Ervin Ross, Patrick Conners, C. Michael Close, Mark Lammers, Briscott Stevenson, Neal Shapiro

Originally premiered at the 2006 TromaDance Film Festival and later given distribution by Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Studios, “Coons! Night of the Bandits of the Night” fits nicely into their catalogue of outrageous, politically incorrect film vomitorium. In fact Ohio filmmaker Travis Irvine’s ambitious student project is easily one of the more offensive, disgusting and hilarious flicks I’ve watched in some time and, to be clear, that’s a very good thing.

While lacking the polish of a Lloyd Kaufman opus, the mindset to offend is the same – something of which is obvious from the title alone. This is an any-means-necessary brand of comedy where nothing is off the table including heaping helpings of vomit and scatological humour, something that must have perked the attention of Troma execs when they saw this film. It’s a prerequisite, don’t you know? Homophobia, necrophilia, animal-fucking and even racism prove interesting marks for comedy, as well, the most blatant of which involves the only black cast member being used as a punch line for the film’s nagging racially insensitvie double enetendre of a title. Oh yeah, they actually go there!

When two college-aged friends, Ty Smallwood (Lehr Beidelschies) and Zach (Colin Scianamblo), decide to head up to Raccoon Creek Campground for a summer of drinking and sex in the sun, little do they realize the danger that awaits them. See, just days earlier a young couple (Rachel Edwartoski and Travis Irvine), out hiking in the woods, were literally ripped to pieces by something that seems to baffle the local area coroner (Zach Riedmaier). Due to the sheer brutality of the killings, he is unable to determine what kind of animal was behind the double slaying. An environmentally conscious, grass-smoking hippy, Jeff Tuck (Briscott Stevenson), apparently tuned into the forest and the animals, is the first to suggest that angry raccoons - prompted by an ancient coon spirit - are gearing up for a full-blown offensive Rambo-style. Quick to dismiss the hippie’s rants as that of a loopy liberal lunatic, the Mayor (Tom Lyons) and the area ranger, named Danger (Brian Kamerer), allow the Grounds to open for the summer. It doesn’t take long before hungry, rabid raccoons are picking off Ty, Zach and the rest of campers in various stomach-churning ways culminating in a wild blood-soaked massacre around a campfire set to a ‘Kum Bay Yah’ punk cover.

Worse yet, whenever the scat from the raccoons gets into the mouth of one of their victims, they turn into violent, flesh-craving zombies (a minor subplot that goes nowhere fast). You know where this is heading as the small off-the-map-town of Independence, USA quickly finds itself overrun with crazed raccoons and teenaged zombies, all looking for something to eat and, apparently, a nice place to poop. Hoping to stave off the raccoon strike, various experts including a reverend (Colin Scianamblo), a world famous hunter (Nick Maier), and a government agent (Dan Velez) are brought in, to no avail. Utilizing a tiny weapons cache including lots of fireworks, it’s up to Ty, Al Jazeera (Alexander Raghuvir), an Arabic-born college drop-out sent to live in the woods by the bigoted redneck locals, and the ‘crazy liberal’ hippy, to save the day. They also stumble upon some intriguing evidence that the US government might have been using Raccoon Creek Campground as a staging ground for a new biological weapon.

"Coons! Night of the Bandits of the Night” will not appeal to everybody, that’s definitely for sure. I’m guessing that this film will end up with more detractors than admirers, but if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the film’s get-up-and-go, especially if your personal get-up-and-go already got up and went two, four or six beers ago. Irvine should be commended for crafting a fast-paced, Benny-Hill-on-crack kind of crazy, slice of sophomore cinema, one that doesn’t shy away from offering its young male target demographic what it wants – lots of blood, guts and silly, inane hilarity. Oh and there’s lots of quotable lines here to be added to the nation’s vernacular, some of which are designed to send up other more serious animal-attacks films of this ilk and the utterly ridiculous dialogue that accompanies them. Irvine even dishes up a song and dance number, ending with the film’s most offensive joke of the film, one that audiences might not see coming even though it’s telegraphed a mile ahead. The sequence where a blindfolded Beidelschies loses his virginity to a woman (Lauren Bowman) only to realize that her screams were not that of joy but of horror, as she was being killed, was hilarious. Later, when asked if he lost his virginity, Beidelschies is left speechless. I have to admit, I laughed so hard that the beer I was drinking nearly came out my nose. Clearly inspired by the Shatner-flick “Kingdom of the Spiders”, a sequence involving a plane being downed by some scat-apult shooting, sarcastic talking-raccoons (remember the subtitled trash eating coons in John Candy’s “The Great Outdoors”?) also left me not wanting to spew the brew.

Across the board, the acting is pretty bad. Lehr Beidelschies as Ty Smallwood, the hero, keeps a straight face throughout, even when he’s diving face first into a huge pile of dung or vomiting, of which he seems to do a lot of. Nick Maier, as Jones, looks and sounds like Canadian funny man Will Arnett and that goes a long way in selling his bad-ass Fu Man Chu-moustached All American hunter character. I couldn’t figure out if he was given the best lines or if he just did the best job of selling them, whichever, he’s hilarious! Maier was also good in his dual role as a stoner jock who doesn't let the death of his two bestfriends get in the way of his partying. Lastly, Nigel Lyons as a grown up version of that hillbilly kid from “Deliverance”, complete with shoulder slung banjo and a penchant for collecting and eating roadkill, offers one of the funnier moments in the film even though his total screen time equals about a half second.

Regarding the production, this is a student film that skimps on just about everything, something of which only seems to make it that much more funnier. When you have no money to work with, why not make that part of the joke? However, I’m guessing that some money was expended as taxidermists were clearly on the payroll judging from the sheer number of stuffed raccoons that appear in the film. This is one of those 1950s era throwbacks whereupon a stagehand is propped behind the stuffed animal and, when the director yells “Action!” it’s their job to either shake or toss said raccoon in an effort to get across the notion that they are mobile.

Typical of indie films, some of the main actors have dual or triple roles here, and terrible fake moustaches are employed to help the audience separate them from each other. Dear god! 

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