The Film (4/5)
In the same deadpan humor style as such films as "Airplane," "Mad Cow" tells the story of a mad scientist and his assistant stealing his own top secret project from the government. The top secret project involves mending body parts together of the world's strongest and fastest athletes to create a super soldier and all the deranged scientist needs is a head to complete the monstrous creation. When his dimwitted assistant grabs a cow's head from a butcher inventory, a man-cow monster is born and that's when any person caught using, eating, or butchering cow products, such as milk, beef, or cheese, faces the murderous wrath of the Mad Cow. Only one tough cop can stop the Mad Cow's rampaging stampede with the help of a beautiful and vegetarian employee of the South African resort where the Mad Cow has staked it's claim.
The 2010 Michael Wright and Michael J. Rix directed horror-comedy appropriately finds itself a home in Tromaville! Aside from a vapid technical standpoint, Troma's DVD of "Mad Cow," in my humble opinion, is one of the best recent films to be a part of and to be distributed from their already outrageous and extensive catalogue. For one, the Wright and Rix co-directed film about a Frankenstein monster-like man-cow, without a doubt, doesn't take itself very seriously, especially when the man-cow creature, wielding a cardboard cut out chainsaw, is structurally composed of a white jumpsuit and a mascot costume cow head. Nor does it pretend to be politically correct when portraying a black actor Andile Mngadi as a skimpy cladded Zulu warrior who uses his spear as a musical string instrument to entertain resort guests.
Secondly, the slapstick humor is surprising and pleasantly on point. Though most of the comedy is juvenile, using unmasked headband cow horns to turn Mad Cow victims into zombie man-cows, but a good chunk of the rest the comedy is pure gut-laughter and refreshingly fresh too as there was hardly a time when the slapstick felt regurgitated from other comedic films of it's archetype. The comedy element dominantly drives the film whereas the story, as well as the horror content, take a welcomed back seat, tagging along for the ride to be solely a compliment. Overall, a modest job well done by Michael Wright who also wrote the script as the dialogue is hilarious and very natural without seeming too forced.
Lastly, shot on location in South Africa, most of the cast is comprised of talented, and obviously South African born, C-list actors and actresses. Lead actress Tanya van Graan plays the vegetarian Charlize, the beautiful waitress and entertainment employee of the resort. Graan's precision on delivering funny lines with a serious expression just adds to the charm of "Mad Cow." Though Graan, who certainly is easy on the eyes, doesn't show off any of her assets like she so generously did in "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, a Graan body double only credited under the name of Lola bares a bit of skin in a soapy-silly montage shower scene. Graan's co-star Gregg Vijoen nails being a witless and suave chief inspector Vince Chopper whose hot on the Mad Cow case. Frankly, Vijoen overshadows many of the other cast members as he's clearly given most of the humorous lines and scenes, but Vijoen steals the show as he's so natural with his deliveries that his bumbling character is awkwardly attractive on screen and you end up wishing their was a series of films starring Vince Chopper (think Leslie Nielsen in the "Naked Gun" films).
While Mad Cow fits as a successful story for Troma on DVD, the picture quality casts a dim shadow over what could have been an all around good viewing experience. Many of the day scenes in the presented 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio are clean and colorful with very little interference aside from slight aliasing during more the active scenes; however, night scenes are different story as posterization creates nearly a blocky washout of the picture. Also, there's quite a bit of digital noise speckling about due to the low-to-poor lighting. There is no damage to the film stock.
The English Mono 2.0 audio mix favors more the ambient and soundtrack tracks, sometimes leaving the dialogue poorly audible. Even when the dialogue tracks go solo, the dialogue slightly becomes muddled and perhaps loses some of the comedic content trying to be conveyed. A few scenes misalign the dialogue with the characters lips and also misalign the more action-packed sound effects with the special effects. Again, there's no damage to the mix either, clean of static or pops.
The extra content includes a girl-on-girl kissing and "Mad Cow" backstory introduction from Tromaville co-founder Lloyd Kaufman. An eleven minute "making of" the film follows a director directed video journey through how "Mad Cow" become possible. Then, there's the usual Troma's featurette which usually relevant to the film's content. A two minute featurette entitled "Sunny Acres Farms" for Peta is directed by Lloyd Kaufman and intends to spread the word in stopping factory farming and go free range!
Overall, "Mad Cow" is "udder" schlock and "milks" the slapstick for all it's worth. Okay, I'll "mooove" on from the puns. Kaufman and his team of Troma-heads made the best decision in distributing the over-the-top horror-comedy, or in this case, the comedy-horror since the comedy is more abundantly in the forefront. A mixture of modest gore with slapped together effects create a type of comedy movie once thought lost since the original "Scary Movie" days. Rix and Wright should be proud of their accomplishment with "Mad Cow" and though I wish Troma did more leg work in properly handling the audio and video portions, I'm satisfied with their pickup from South Africa just for laughs and gaudy story. I recommend "Mad Cow."