Thursday, June 15, 2006

Filling in the holes in Another Hole in the Head Festival

I know, I have been sort of remiss since the opening night of the "Another Hole in the Head" last Friday. I found that, unlike the other festivals, I can only get through 2, maybe 3, horror flicks in one sitting, for one reason or another. Therefore, I decided to recap the week in a single slice, as it were. I attended eight additional programs since opening night, which included four shorts and seven features. Starting with the shorts, then (and in preferential order):

"Haze" (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, 2005, Japan, 49 minutes) is a wonderfully creepy and clausterphobic nightmare of a flick, in which a man finds himself trapped in a booby-trapped crawlspace. It's sort of like "Cube" but in TIGHTER (oh MUCH tighter!) quarters. The lead worked and sweated his way through an intense little maze for most of the 49 minutes, before erupting into the cathartic climax! I. Loved. This!

"Descent" (dir. Jay Holben, 2004, USA, 15 minutes) would have made Hitchcock or even DePalma proud! Madness and paranoia strike in the oddest of places... in a STUCK ELEVATOR!!! (Talk about clausterphobia!) How COOL is that?!!

"Zombie-American" (dir. Nick Poppy, 2006, USA, 9 minutes) was ALMOST 'cute.' I hate cute. A zombie (played and written by Ed Helms of "The Daily Show")is interviewed about the discrimination that Zombie-Americans face. It's a quick joke which takes a little bit too long (yes, at only 9 minutes) to get to the punchline. It would have worked as a skit on SNL, if that tells you anything.

"The Call of Cthulhu" (dir. Andrew Leman, 2005, USA, 47 minutes) would be sort of my final pick amongst the shorts. Not due to any lack in production quality or cinematic value, but only because I just don't seem to 'get' H.P. Lovecraft, or at least I do not understand the mythology behind the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It is filmed in black and white and is a silent film, with an excellent score! However, I just couldn't get myself involved in it. I just seem to be missing something here, and I can't fault the fimmakers, as the crowd of HPLHS fans nearly jumped to their feet at the ending.

Now, unto the seven features, in preferential order:

"Dark Remains" (dir. Brian Avenet-Bradley, 2005, USA, 91 minutes) is a totally CREEPY ghost story, and not in the 'chop 'em up' school of ghost story, but harkening back to "The Haunting" kind of story, where you are given the willies by just the visuals and not the shock value of the violence. If I were to have a hesitation with this little flick, it would be that the musical score does not trust the creepiness or shock of the visuals. In other words, I did not need the FULL ORCHESTRA slamming away at me to tell me that I should be scared of the appearance of one (or more) of the ghosts. In fact, it might have been even more chiling had the director not relied so heavily upon the score. The photography did MORE than enough to freak me out! It's a load of fun!

"Room 6" (dir.Michael Hurst, 2006, USA, 94 minutes) is basically the director (and/or screenwriter) expressing the phobia of hospitals. Very effectively. The film sort of loses steam by the climax. However, the set-up is quite well done and it provided a nice share of jumps. Once we reached the resolution, I was a bit disappointed.

"Darklands" (dir. Julian Richards, 1996, UK, 81 minutes) is sort of a melodramatic story concerning Celtic human sacrifices. Though it had its share of suspenseful moments, were it not for the dark, smarmy, hunkiness of the lead actor,Craig Fairbrass (an "Eastender" alumni, apparently), I would have easily walked out of this one. But he was just TOO hunky to ignore!

"The Lost" (dir. Chris Sivertson, 2006, USA, 115 minutes) features a beautiful boy, who happens to be something of a psychopath. The director owes a LOT of his technique and style to "Taxi Driver" in that we wait an inordinate amount of time for the BIG VIOLENT explosion! The only major drawback that "The Lost" has in comparison is that Marc Senter just isn't Robert Deniro, therefore we, or at least I, was not as captivated by his character to withstand the 90 minutes of subterfuge before the BIG CLIMAX. Though Senter is pretty enough to look at, he simply does not have the depth to maintain that length of interest that the film demands. I think the director might have recognized that, as the film does spend a bit more time on the subplots, aka victims' stories. I hate to sound like I am carping too much on this, as it does have a great deal of promise. It does, however, need a stronger editor and/or producer to pare it down to its shock value.

"Simon: King of the Witches" (dir. Bruce Kessler, 1971, USA, 91 mins.) had also the same allure that "Darklands" had in that it featured a youngish hunk, this time Andrew Pine, as well as a homoerotic subtext that I simply could not ignore. Other than that, it is a pretty low budget witch-flick from the early 70's, which was exploiting the satanic fear of the time.

"Defenceless: A Blood Symphony" (dir. Mark Savage, 2006, Australia, 90 minutes) is a splatter flick posing as ART. Long time readers realize what "Art" means to me. Artistic poseurs place themselves on a different level of criticism. "Defenceless...", which is a modern silent film, portends to transcend the typical zombie flick by presenting our victimized heroine as a murdered rape victim beautifully raised from the dead to seek her vengeance. I didn't buy it. Also the structure of the screenplay along with the deadly (no pun intended) pacing work against the potentially cathartic theme. I will risk sounding jaded, but I have seen much more carthartic bloody feminist revenge fantasies.

"Starslyderz" (dir. Garrin Vincent, 2006, USA, 84 minutes) is a silly, EXTREMELY low budget, yet well paced sci-fi parody. I have VERY mixed feelings about this one. During the Q&A the director bragged about the amount of drugs used during the creation of this piece. That is easy to believe, as it is exceptionally episodic, yet lacking an overall whole to tie together some fabulous bits! Each episode has a well executed climax. However, the whole is less than the sum of its parts, and I left the screening feeling unsatisfied.

I did not attend the official Closing Night, as it was also Opening Night of Framelines's San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, of which I will recap next!

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

re "Haze": Time for shower!
re "Descent": Wooooo!
re "Zombie-American": Wanna watch TV.
re "Call of Cthulu": What's your name?
re "Dark Remains": Wheeeee!
re "Room 6": Come here! (?? I don't know either)
re "Darklands": I love you!
re "The Lost": cranky bird
re "Simon: King of the Witches": yawns
re "Defenceless": Time for shower
re "Starslyderz": Is it bedtime?