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The Horror, the Horror

Shot in Richmond, a new indie film spotlights the dark side of the river.

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On the strength of its title alone, the homegrown feature-length film in progress, “The Taint,” has aroused in me (perhaps a poor word choice) both an excited curiosity and a stubborn jealousy that I didn't think of it first. Alas, it was Drew Bolduc who had the audacity and vision to pluck that shiny, red, poison apple of a title down from the tree of double entendres and graft it onto an appropriately sick screenplay. He also had the common sense to find similarly twisted souls to accompany him on his suicide mission: Dan Nelson is director of photography and partner in crime, Eric Miller makes amazing props, and Jessica Martin designs costumes and does “everything no one else wants to do,” at least according to Nelson.

Bolduc's plot summary has the cigar-chomping studio exec inside me reaching for his proverbial checkbook: “The river is tainted. The Taint poisons the minds of men. It turns them into raging misogynists: monsters who want nothing more than to crush women's heads with rocks (or other objects). When society is transformed into a land of sadistic violence and horrible brutality, it's up to Phil O'Ginny and his hot friend, Misandra, to combat the horrible evil that is ‘The Taint.’ Can they survive a world brimming with castration and endless head crushing?!”

If that's not enough to get horror buffs hooked, Bolduc describes the film as a mash-up of the 1991 Hong Kong cult gorefest, “Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky,” a soap opera, and Sam Raimi's “Evil Dead II.”

Bolduc, a former sculpture major with one film, “The Godening!” already to his credit, and Nelson, a film-school graduate who does freelance video work to pay the bills, are products of the fertile Virginia Commonwealth University creative scene. Introduced at a party, they discovered their shared tastes and established the dynamic of their creative brotherhood. The seemingly egoless Nelson describes the division of labor at Team Taint as such: “Drew wrote the script and is very much the creative mind behind the whole project. I'm just there to make sure that it all happens without too much going wrong.” They split the soul-trying editing duties down the middle while other inglorious tasks have been shared by an extended family of saintly friends who believe in their shared vision.

One star of the film that does no head crushing whatsoever is the city of Richmond. Nelson has high praise for the resources it has to offer an independent filmmaker. “The history and architecture in Richmond is amazing, which makes for great locations,” he says. “We really didn't have to step outside of the city to find what we needed to get the project done, which is important because that means less time traveling and more time filming.”

With 85 percent of the film shot, the makers aim for a late fall or early winter release with a Richmond premiere that will be followed by screenings at Slamdance, Fantastic Fest, South by Southwest, and as many horror festivals as possible. If they fail to find distribution through the festival route, they plan to do Internet distribution through their own Web site (www.taintmovie.com). By any means necessary, “The Taint” intends to embed itself into your consciousness as sure as the Taint found its way into the river. S

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