ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS: a film as strange as its title implies. Taking a page out of the same ‘How to Not Take Yourself Seriously’ book that the SHARKNADO series reads, ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS (or AOTKD as I’ll abbreviate it to for most of this review) has a lot of the right ingredients for a future cult classic amongst the horror/comedy community. That said, though it’s mostly fun, it’s far from being a perfect film.
Scott Wheeler, one of the visual effect gurus behind classics such as AVALANCHE SHARKS and ZOMBIE HAMLET, directs the film. AOTKD mostly follows Johnny (Justin Ray) and Michelle (Kayla Compton), two young workers at a gross, rundown donut shop. One night while they’re working, Johnny’s maniacal mad scientist Uncle Luthor (Michael Swan) stops by and picks a fight with the shop’s skuzzy owner (Chris De Christopher). While they’re tussling, a vile of green liquid hops from Luthor’s lab jacket, flies unnaturally across the room, and lands directly in the fryer where the donuts are made. Can you guess where the story goes from there? Once the living, flesh-eating donuts are created, they start to run wild, and it’s up to Johnny, Michelle, and third-wheel Howard (Ben Heyman) to stop them.
The story is weird, but it works. It’s ludacris and it’s fun. Ray and Compton have great chemistry as the lead characters and look like they’re having fun for most of it. AOTKD also has a surprisingly decent production value with everything considering. It has a touch of the classic creature feature vibe (remnants of THE BLOB) with just the right amount of Troma. I also dug the film’s catchy theme song by Sun Ghosts — appropriately named ‘Attack of the Killer Donuts’.
Not all is sugar-coated or deliciously cream-filled, though. AOTKD as a whole feels very empty. There’s a couple houses and a donut shop and when characters traverse between these locations, they’re always on a pitch black road with zero surroundings. The small cast of characters that appear at the donut shop are the only ones to also appear on this middle-of-nowhere road. There’s no traffic, no city, no population. This gives the film a bit of a stage play feel and one that became quite distracting. It also led to many pacing/editing problems.
In one instance, Johnny, Michelle, and Howard leave the donut shop where a bunch of bullies are hanging out. They take off and drive down the go-nowhere road. After a while, the bullies leave with a box of donuts. Cut to a few minutes later and the bullies are pulled over on the side of the road, getting their collective butts chewed out (figuratively and literally) by the killer donuts. A few minutes after that, Johnny, Michelle, and Howard drive by the scene. Apparently when the three originally left the donut shop, they went into some kind of black vortex just long enough for the bullies to get ahead of them on the same road. These issues pop up more than once and I was immediately pulled out of the fun that I was experiencing while watching AOTKD.
The final scene of the film involves Johnny and Michelle talking to each other and it goes on forever. If you thought the end of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING kept going, wait until you see this. They just talk and talk and talk. I’m not sure if the filmmakers thought they were hitting some dialogue gold and didn’t want the scene to end, but I was awfully close to fast-forwarding. Better editing would’ve served this film brilliantly.
AOTKD’s actors range all over the place, from good to cringe-worthy. As I said earlier, Ray and Compton are excellent together (I especially imagine a brighter future for Kayla Compton — she was great!). Heyman, Swan, and De Christopher were fine enough in their roles, as were C. Thomas Howell and and Frederick Burns as a tag team of awful police officers. The remaining side characters were pretty poor, though. The most jarring addition to the cast was Kassandra Voyagis — not because she’s a bad actress, but because she was meant to play the mother of Johnny and she looks to only be a few years older. Very odd casting there.
ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS Film Review
If you want to watch a weird CGI donut fest full of blood, gore, and other bodily fluids, give ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS a shot. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but it's just fun enough to semi-enjoy if you like the genre.
ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS released on November 17th, 2017 and is available to rent/buy now through iTunes and most digital providers.