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In Association with
Kill Keith (2011)
Director: Andy Thompson

review by Paul Higson

Celebrities frequently turn up in movies playing themselves, or versions of themselves. They might become a postmodern action hero like Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD (2008), Tom Jones in Mars Attacks! (1998), or, cripes, even the serial people-offer Merv Griffin in The Man With Two Brains (1983), but rarely does a contemporary and very much alive 'popular' figure play himself in a fictional movie where he or she dies. In Ghostwatch (1992), Sarah Greene is dragged to an uncertain fate in a paranormal post-apocalypse and, more recently, Bill Murray was also accidentally bumped in Zombieland (2008). Last year, most of us learned for the first time of a 1976 Welsh language horror feature Gwynedd Y al Ser (aka: Blood On The Stars) in which two young men kill Welsh celebrities, sporting legends and soap stars, local heroes that agreed to guest cameos dying horribly.

Possibly picking up on the example in Gwynedd Y al Ser comes Andy Thompson's Kill Keith. By the end of this movie Joe Pasquale will have been sliced open by razor blades, Tony Blackburn decapitated, Keith Chegwin blown to smithereens, and Russell Grant does not look like he is going to make it. The celebrity slayings need a backdrop and so this is a story of breakfast television show hosted by Dawn Laymon (Susannah Fielding) and Cliff Godfrey (David Easter). "It's really good to be up at the crack of Dawn," leers Cliff in deliberate double-entendres, a monumental arsehole soon to leave the show and becoming more despicable and hateful by the second.

Studio assistant, Danny (Marc Pickering) is besotted with Dawn and has stolen her cardboard standee from the reception area. The lad has aspirations to be on the couch too one day, breakfast not psychiatric, but his skinny frame, prominent teeth and cumbersome social skills may prevent his career goals coming to fruition. The lovely Dawn has time for him but few others do.

There is media speculation as to who might replace Cliff on the breakfast show but the celebrities named to be in the frame are also vulnerable to the attentions of a lunatic, dubbed the breakfast cereal killer because of the part that porridge oats play in the first killing and a second bowl of get up and go in the second murder; a snap, crackle, and rip, and tear.

Yes, you did read correctly, 'cereal killer'. Unfortunately, the film does not outgrow the painful schoolboy humour and you have to suffer it to the end. The script does not attempt too many actual gags, instead holding a preference for brutal, derogatory name-calling instead. Highlights from Godfrey include "Now fuck off out of my sight, you useless stick of foreskin lubricant." Shockingly, it took three people to script this, Thompson along with Tim Major and Peter Benson, though at least one celebrity is allowed to ad-lib his cussing (in the commentary the makers still titter disbelievingly at Pasquale going off-script and calling someone a 'minge').

If the film has any saving grace it is in some of the casting. Ex-Brookside actor David Easter, whose chiselled good looks were probably too unacceptable for the cinema we were producing in the immediate decade following his soap stint, comes across like a malicious Roger Melly, capturing his breakfast television mannerisms impeccably and delivering his put-downs syllable by cutting syllable. Susannah Fielding is equally successful in bringing to full life a breakfast television persona, though her character's affectations are presented as genuine as opposed to the usual act many of these presenters reluctantly adopt; but as that fake morning smile is covered by the Godfrey character her character needed to be different. The actual celebrities do well too and the more annoying that they commonly are the more that they bring us on side with their own voluntary destruction either in movie death or on-screen reinvention. Tony Blackburn appears as is own celebrity double, the 'real' Tony Blackburn played by Joe Tracini, just to confuse things.

The film also makes a play on one pet hate of mine, flagging up how moronic the producers must believe the breakfast audience to be given the extreme simplification of its multiple-choice telephone competitions. I still recall one that asked who the partner of Ethan Hawke was, offering Uma Thurman, Una Stubbs and Ena Sharples. But they are as likely to ask what colour is an orange. We know the reason for this, to encourage more callers and revenue but the message remains the same, the audience are idiots. Unfortunately, this joke not only has a place in the cliff-hanger ending but is neither played out as funnily as it could, and at the same time played to death.

This film might even make Lesbian Vampire Killers look good. It certainly feels like it comes from the same infantile source, a movie that is certain that having the hero step in dog shit in close-up is the heights of hilarity. The makers may actually think they have been postmodern, but the couple of ideas that are postmodern leaning are botched and it is simply not clever enough to be judged so.

A low-budget is well-managed, the DVD extras showing off that they bought studio time at Pinewood; though it was a Zone 5 small process stage for what was possibly a token day's shooting. The majority of the interior shooting was ten days at the HVS Studios in Hayes, formerly a television studio and since we are informed under revival as such again.

Kill Keith

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