DIRECTOR: JOSIAH WEDDERLY. RUNNING TIME: 74 mins. DVD: FLEAPIT. PRICE: £9.99. CERT: 18.
Shot on the streets of Smethwick, Postmark Evil is an insane mix of horror and crime featuring an apparently demonic postman searching for a stolen artefact possessed of evil powers. Made on a miniscule budget, it is part of a cycle of direct-to-video exploitation releases produced by and starring Reg Smedley, all filmed in the West Midlands. Seemingly inspired by the late Cliff Twemlow’s eighties cycle of Mancunian based low budget films, Smedley’s efforts are even less well known and generally lack the wit, ingenuity and invention of the Twemlow films. Most tellingly, Smedley himself, a former plasterer, male stripper and extra in adult videos, lacks Twemlow’s undoubted screen presence and charisma. He also lacked the Mancunian film-maker’s behind the scenes talents, with weak scripts, poor sound and lighting and non-existent special effects. That said, Postmark Evil despite being obviously derivative of Twemlow’s superior Eye of Satan, is probably Smedley’s best effort. Certainly the script, also provided by Smedley, is far better than his usual efforts, featuring an almost comprehensible story line and speakable dialogue, (although much of the latter is rendered incomprehensible by the atrocious sound quality – seemingly recorded on a dictaphone).
Featuring a startling opening, in which a householder answers a knock at his door in the middle of the night, to be confronted by a shadowy figure dressed as a postman, who growls the words ‘Special delivery’, before blasting him with a shotgun wrapped as a parcel, the film proceeds at a break neck pace. A large part of the film’s running time concerns the police investigation into a series of murders of apparently random victims, all shot on their doorsteps my a mysterious assailant who then ransacks their houses, leaving no trace of themselves at the crime scenes. Eventually, the hapless cops realise that all of the murders are occurring on the route of a particular postman: the mysterious Hobb who has apparently recently transferred to the West Midlands from London. Except, it transpires, the only postie of that name in London was reported crushed to death by a pile of mail bags in a bizarre sorting office accident three months earlier. Meanwhile, a notorious gang of Birmingham jewel robbers are getting worried about Hobb’s activities and send hitmen to stop him – all of whom are quickly and bloodily despatched by the postie and posted back to their employers in pieces. In a seemingly completely unrelated plot thread, a young Smethwick starts experiencing paranormal disturbances in her home and strange erotic dreams involving a mysterious figure dressed like a postman…
The various plot threads start coming together in the film’s final third, as the police finally start putting it all together, learning that that in addition to his day job with the post office, Hobb is a leading Satanist, whose flat-cum-temple was robbed by the jewellery thieves. They had been commissioned by a Smethwick-based collector who coveted Hobb’s collection of demonic artefacts, particularly the mummified penis of the Marquis de Sade. The thieves, rather bizarrely, mailed the artefacts to the collector, with the penis becoming lost in the post, hence Hobb’s deadly visits to anyone who might have mistakenly received the package. The whole thing climaxes at the house of the woman experiencing the dreams and disturbances who had, of course, unwittingly received the penis in the post, mistaking it for a mail order dildo. Seduced rather than murdered by Hobb, he first murders the thieves when they track him to the house, before making love to the girl. As he climaxes, all the windows of the house are blown out – this coincides with the arrival of the police and a tense stand off ensues as Hobb faces them down with his shotgun and demonically possessed penis.
Financed, like his previous films Punch Up and Were-Wolverhampton, largely by local small businessmen, Smedley’s horror/crime crossover features many gratuitous shots of Smethwick carpet shops, Indian restaurants and newsagents. The direction by Smedley regular Josiah Wedderly, a former wedding photographer who later graduated to glamour work before breaking into films with Smedley’s outfit, is perfunctory, at best, although he at least keeps the camera pointed in the right direction. Some images, however, are memorable, such as the glowing eyed Hobb peddling his Royal Mail issue bike through darkened streets. Released straight to video, Postmark Evil turned out to be last film that Smedley would complete. His next project, an ambitious alien invasion film set in Birmingham foundered after the local press highlighted its title – Muslims From Space – and the fact that it featured flying saucers shaped like Mosques. Several backers consequently pulled out of the project. Several years later it was rumoured that the incomplete footage had bee bought by a far-right group who were trying to complete it as an anti-Muslim propaganda film, but this never surfaced. Smedley himself didn’t completely leave the world of entertainment, turning up as an extra in a couple of episodes of BBC daytime soap Doctors before setting up his own online adult site through which he released a series of short porn videos he had directed. Wedderly was less lucky, turning back to photography before being prosecuted for production and possession of indecent images of minors. Although eventually acquitted, his reputation was ruined and he was last heard of begging outside Birmingham New Street station. Perhaps the proceeds of this new DVD release from bottom-of-the-barrel specialists Fleapit might help him out.