Screen Reviews
Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist

Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist

directed by Ryan Meade

starring Tom Sullivan, Sam Rami, Bruce Campbell

Synapse Films

Sure, we all love watching spinning vampire heads spewing vomit, but just how do they get that effect without permanently staining mom’s new carpet? In the case of Tom Sullivan, it takes a lot of clever, low-budget sets assembled in a garage and shot in slo-mo while filming through a dish strainer.

This nifty little doc explores the technical and personal sacrifices of everyone involved in bringing the classic, low-budget The Evil Dead to life.

There are many other films in Sullivan’s oeuvre, and they all began in high school. There, he made shorts and got permission to show them to the school in the auditorium, and a bite like that never gets satisfied. Low budgets and permanent carpet stains were part and parcel of his skill set, and he went on to make some of the most iconic horror flicks of the past 40 years. Sullivan worked with a team of fellow classmates, and their imagination and drive make this documentary a labor of love for the indie film maker. The cool part of their style is that they actually got films released and may have made money on their first project.

We hear a tale both funny and compelling, and an inspiration for the aspiring filmmakers who want to make the next Barbie or Oppenheimer in their garage. A longish companion documentary interviews actors, technicians, and other associates with his other films. It’s compelling and insightful, revealing some good, juicy Hollywood dirt. The interviews are voluminous, packed with filmmaker information and trivia, and a must-see for the budding horror aficionado.

Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist, Synapse Films, 2023
courtesy of MVD Entertainment Group
Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist, Synapse Films, 2023

While many of these films are low-budget, low-publicity sleepers, there remains a market you can tap. Example: nearly 100 low-budget horror films are in the Synapse catalog. Honestly, there’s no reason you can’t join those ranks with a little creativity and some hard work. Even if horror is not your thing, this peek inside the cutting room is a must for the dedicated lover of obscure or gruesome cinema.

Synapse Films


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