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the bet The Bet
Directed by:
Michael Dunn
Cast: Lou Diamond, Courtney Gardner-Stavros, Walt Turner, Mat Planet
Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

August 24, 2007

The classical horror movies were based on good story telling that played with your imaginations and, at times, gave you nightmares that lasted for weeks to come. 


Then the producers ran out of original ideas and replaced them with blood and gore.  Movies such as Friday the 13th series and Nightmare on Elm Street ushered in a new era of blood letting stories which were more camp than frightening.  The teenagers loved them.   And, they are getting bloodier all the time.  But, as we have observed before, in our Golden Rule Series,  making horror movies is relatively easy and quite cheap.  You do not need famous actors, directors or scriptwriters.  Just buckets of blood, endless screams and some gratuitous sex and if you have a good distributor and publicity agent your are set!

The Bet is a short horror video with no beginning and no end.   The movie opens with shot of a young woman who is tied up and gagged lying flat on her back in what looks like a derelict hallway.

The hallway has two doors. Every few minutes, one door opens and the whimpering woman is dragged out by a man to the room on one side of the hallway.

There are two different men in this story, one on each side of the hallway.  There are subtle differences in the way that the men treat their victim.  One lets her watch television while lying on the floor and the other sits her up and lets her look at the myriads of clocks in his room while he stares out of the window at the rain while mumbling incoherent statements at the same time.  In this room, the time never changes, even though the clocks are running all the time.  The men are apparently both impotent since the woman still has her clothes on and other than being rather filthy does not seem to have been violated.   

The Bet is an extremely dismal movie.  There is incessant rain on the outside and the forecast is for more of the same. Apparently, the two men are cretin psychopaths who are betting on who will kill the victim first.  The winner, the one who does not commit the murder, gets a banknote, which he then turns into an origami and saves as a souvenir!  It is like two serial killers working in tandem.

We do not know who the victims are, how they got there or why those two hobos are committing acts of torture and mayhem.  We do not know the purpose of the exercise either.

The story was written by Michael Dunn based on a recurring dream that, as a teenager, his wife used to have. 

This movie was rather too dark; literally.  It probably would have been better if it was shot entirely in black and white.   The story is rather unusual.  What the movie lacks is acting talent.  Granted that the woman is gagged most of the time and hardly says more than a few words (actually she says four words.)  The men are too lackadaisical.  They act as if they are bored.  Maybe that is what the writer/director Michael Dunn wanted!  Michael Dunn is a real life published author.  As a general rule mainstream authors have much wilder and deeper imagination than Hollywood scriptwriters.

Since this is not a Hollywood movie churned out to make bucket of bucks we had to consider several factors.   Originality was one factor.  The Bet was original enough.  The acting was rather amateurish and so was the set design.  We did not like the cinematography.  It was too static and was shot like a newsreel. 

The direction was rather inexperienced but it still showed glimpses of  burgeoning  superlative talent.  Given a large budget ,  Michael could have made this movie into a feature film with better actors, more scenery and a more dynamic story. 

As this video stands right now,  it would make a nice theatrical play.  We could visualize a theatre stage with a grimy hallway in the middle and  two rooms on each side.  Each room would lit up when  the girl was dragged into it and then would darken when she was returned to the filthy hallway.   Michael Dunn should try pushing it on Broadway. It could be a sensation. 

We will give this movie starstar1/2.   Michael Dunn has talent and will be making longer movies and maybe theatrical plays to be staged in London and New York.

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