No Solicitors (2015) Directed by John Callas. Starring Eric Roberts, Beverly Randolph and Felissa Rose. A young realtor and other victims become ensnared in a suburban family’s organ harvesting scheme.
We open on a sunny suburban neighborhood as children ride bikes and skateboards down tree-lined streets. As upbeat instrumental muzak plays, we focus on one house with a prominent No Solicitors sign over the doorbell. The scene immediately changes to a basement lair, where a woman is tied to a table and begging for her life. Her unseen captor undresses her, exposing fake breasts.
I don’t mean to say that the actress herself has silicone implants. These are literal synthetic boobs that appear to be constructed from clay and designed for cheap special effects work. They’ve been glued on over the actress’s actual chest. As the captor menacingly holds a blade to those counterfeit ta-tas, there are various jump cuts to black and white or super sped up footage of the victim screaming.
If you’ve ever read one of my reviews, you know that I hate amateurish techniques like this. So we’re not off to a good start.
After cutting off her panties for some unknown reason, the maniac slashes off one of her clay breasts.
We are introduced to Dr. Lewis Cutterman (Eric Roberts) a neurosurgeon who just got some great news: he’s been elected Best Brain Surgeon In America. Apparently, that’s a thing you can win. With his weathered face, glasses and long grey hair, Roberts is playing the wholesome nerd this time. Early on, the administrator of the hospital congratulates him with a handshake and Lewis doesn’t even stand up from his desk chair. What kind of guy stays seated for a handshake? After the executive walks away, Cutterman muses:
“If only you knew…”
Is he implying that he’s up to no good? Because if you haven’t seen the trailer, that’s a spoiler. Stop spoiling it, Roberts.
We meet a couple whose daughter desperately needs a kidney transplant. While discussing it in the local hospital, they are approached by a tall delivery man who offers his services. He puts in a call to a brother and sister, Scott and Nicole, who agree to fill the order. Curiously, they don’t ask about the blood type of the intended recipient or any other super essential medical questions. They then call their father, Doctor Cutterman.
WHAT! Twist! You’re telling me Eric Roberts is playing the villain in a horror flick? Did not see this game changer coming. Up is down, black is white. The whole world has been thrown into disorder.
“Okay, one kidney coming up after dinner.” Cutterman tells his children over the phone. He’s driving home from work and remains missing from the film for a sizable chunk.
After their nurse mother Rachel agrees to allow them to perform the surgery, the siblings race into a chamber filled with patients in hospital beds. One such patient is a virtual zombie with an open chest cavity and one missing arm, and Nicole decides to practice on him. Without sanitary gloves on, they cut into the victim’s skull and remove what looks like an uncooked meatloaf far too small to make proportional sense inside the skull.
I don’t know much about actual surgery, but they make it look as easy as popping a candy out of a Pez dispenser. Maybe I’ll give it a shot.
They put the “brain” on ice, just in case anyone at the hospital needs a complete brain transplant. You never know.
Two police detectives pop up that are searching for the missing girl who got her boob hacked off. They eat fast food, stare at computer screens and generally follow the rule book for every cop cliché you’ve ever known.
I wish they weren’t in the film at all because cops in horror flicks have to be done in a certain way to be intriguing. And this isn’t it.
We finally meet our heroine, Mindy. She’s an up and coming real estate agent who uses flirting to close deals. The coolest thing about her is that her boss Marvin is played by the same actor (Ken Sagoes) who gave us Kincaid in “A Nightmare On Elm Street: Dream Warriors” and its immediate sequel. It’s time to stop guessin’ and start messin’! “No Solicitors” needed more Ken.
Mindy arrives at the Cutterman’s door with her sales pitch and a tray of cookies. Scott answers, and she does everything but give him a massage to get in the door. He asks her to stay for dinner and meet his father, who is apparently on the longest drive home from work in history. They get her several glasses of wine.
“You are such nice people. I could stay here forever.”
“And we can arrange that.”
Lewis finally shows up, and they serve Mindy people meat as an entrée. Scott openly drugs the poor dullard’s glass a mere five feet away from her. She passes out and is placed in a hospital bed. We learn that Scott and Nicole used to have a younger brother, but he used foul language and Rachel killed him for it.
The Cutterman family performs the kidney extraction on a male victim, and the organ is delivered to the hospital. While the mysterious delivery man who first approached the kidney transplant couple listens in, a doctor informs a new couple that their young son needs a heart transplant. He also spies the police asking questions.
While Scott grinds the leftover bones into dust with a small woodchipper, Nicole steals Mindy’s fashionable clothes. These two siblings have a rather odd incestuous flirtation thing happening. After strolling around town in Mindy’s outfit, Nicole is unexpectedly attacked by a rapist. It ends up pretty much how you’d think attacking a cannibalistic serial killer lady would go.
Mindy eventually wakes up from the drugged wine and gets to know her fellow unwilling donors, which include SLEEPAWAY CAMP’s Felissa Rose as a single mom worried about her young son growing up without his mother. It takes quite awhile to explain to poor Mindy exactly what is happening here. And it looks like the EKG and vitals monitoring system and IV bag aren’t that essential because Scott rolls Mindy’s massive hospital into another room at one point and the equipment doesn’t drag behind her. Which is odd, because she is clearly shown with an IV needle and tube in her left arm. Must be one of those newfangled detachable Velcro models.
The Cutterman children turn parts of Mindy into an elaborate dinner for the family. Her upper thigh becomes a pot roast, and the fingers of one hand get breaded and made into mozzarella meat sticks. And they munch on a male victim’s eyeballs for dessert.
For people with a thing against solicitors, this family gets more unwanted traffic through their front door than a public restroom.
If it isn’t the police, it’s an idiotic burglar or more salespeople destined to become captives and meals. The whole thing comes crashing to a halt with a last-minute twist involving a cross-dressing maniac. The limb-challenged prisoners eventually fight back, the cops eventually find their way to the Cutterman’s door, and the potentially interesting premise fails at the execution level.
Going into a cheesy low budget flick with some awareness of what you’re about to watch is all well and good, but there are still expectations of entertainment value. Considering that this dreck was co-produced by horror veteran Felissa Rose, I expected more. Director John Callas helmed 1988’s Lone Wolf, one of my all-time favorite 1980s werewolf movies. That film followed a rock band as they fought a werewolf who was feasting on their fellow students and showed spark and creative vision.
And then there’s Eric Roberts. He can be good. He can be very effective. He has appeared in nearly 500 films since his career began in the late 1970s. But after the one-two punch of “Sorority Slaughterhouse” and “No Solicitors,” I’m thinking he should fire his agent. There’s nothing wrong with making a career of low budget horror or doing a couple cheapies between the more high profile films, but some semblance of quality has to be maintained. 2010’s “Sharktopus” was genius. I’d love to see him reach those heights of cheese again.