Sister Tempest: Review

Sister Tempest: Review

By Betty Widdicombe.

Sci-fi/horror comedy meets Cosmic Court drama – ‘Sister Tempest’ is the second film written and directed by comic book artist and filmmaker Joe Badon. His previous ‘The God Inside My Ear’ ’17, a surrealistic, genre-bending, comic film, shot in a not too dissimilar in style.

Elder sibling Ann Hutchinson (Kali Russell) is under a cosmic tribunal, focusing on the mysterious disappearance of her younger sister Karen (Holly Bonney. Ann is a teacher at a private girl’s art school, where a new student, Ginger Rodgers Breadman (Linnea Gregg) (yep- that’s her real name) a child of potato farmers joins. Ann develops a rather inappropriate relationship with a new student, and swiftly they become roommates. It is not long before this simple country girl has a rapid transformation – developing a cabalistic skin condition, and a voracious cannibalistic appetite.

Initial response after viewing…I’d been sent someone’s art school experiment. The plot is delivered via flashbacks, and a good portion is inserted with an extended montage of archive documents, photographs and stock footage. Dialogue flits between narration and  Badon’s art department and comic book background weighs heavy, with tinny props, mannequins, and cheap model making. Strangely lit at points, with strong use of ominous color pallets. The sound design is an interesting use of old-school sci-fi soundtracks and is often quite lively. This is the strongest aspect of the film and ties the story together, keeping us animated during a somewhat obscure collection of visuals.

The film is low-budget and highly stylized, reminiscent of techniques used in 50s/70s cosmic horror and sci-fi TV/B-Movies. The structure of the narrative is choppy, surreal and at times confusing. Trawling through past interviews with Badon its clear to see this heavily stylized film is a homage to this format, but I find it misses the overall essence.

“My films are all about my love of cinema and putting all my favorite films in a blender! I think that is what makes my voice unique, especially in today’s creative landscape… Back in the 50s and 60s, tiny production companies would make no-budget sci-fi and horror and load it up with as many locations and papier mache monsters and cheap effects as they could!” – Joe Badon in an interview by: Paul Farrell for ‘Dead Ringers Podcast’ – Apr’2019

Personally, an avid fan of vintage B-movies, obscure horror comedies and cult TV shows, such as The Twilight Zone, Old-school Dr Who, John Waters and David Lynch – I found it quite disappointing, as it failed to deliver.

The whole film is weird. Not good weird. Just plain odd. I think you have to have a really open-mind, or some great hallucinogenics to get on board. 

Who knows, maybe I’ll look back on this in 5 years and shove it on the cackle-worthy list of cult trash films. 

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Prop Maker by day, film fanatic by nature. Could programme a VHS at the age 2 and has not stopped consuming since.