Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Preview

Another Hole In The Head, "two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy", runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at www.sfindie.com.

I was fortunate this year to be able to preview the entire festival (with the exception of a few short subjects), thanks to Jeff Ross at SFIndieFest and Larsen Associates! Here are a few "picks", as the purpose of this posting is to encourage you to get out there! The snark can be found in the detailed, daily postings, starting here: JayCBird at Another Hole in the Head, 2009, where I do go into each film in greater, yet characteristically pithy, depth. However, here is a brief list and description of my personal "must sees".

The Opening Night feature, CROWS: EPISODE ZERO (dir. Takashi Miike, Japan, 2008, 130 mins.), looks gorgeous and is one of Takashi Miike's most polished efforts! His adaptation of the popular manga is nearly epic! There is also the chance to do a Miike double-feature this year, as DETECTIVE STORY (dir. Takashi Miike, Japan, 2007, 99 mins.) is also screening. It is much more characteristic of Miike's quirky sense of humor and unease. The two films play several times throughout the two weeks, but can be seen together on Tuesday, June 9th, at 7:15PM and 9:30PM, respectively.

Perhaps the most intense and visceral experience of the year, much less at this festival, is THE HORSEMAN (dir. Steven Kastrissios, Australia, 2008, 94 mins.). This greiving-father-gets-revenge flick had me squirming and peering through my fingers! And it is a dead, serious experience, in the style of Gasper Noe. It is NOT a gross-out slasher flick, but a tragedy played to the Jacobean hilt!

BLOOD RIVER (dir. Adam Mason, US, 2009, 104 mins.) is a thriller that is deceptively mind bending and and plays its soul searching secrets so openly and blatantly, that it can not be believed. And that's what it is ultimately about: belief. Hidden under the formulaic plot of "young couple versus mysterious stranger" is a thought provoking and provocative script.

SAMURAI AVENGER THE BLIND WOLF (dir. Kurando Mitsutake, US, 2008, 92 mins.) This is a surprising delight, even as I watched it! This homage to samurai movies and spaghetti westerns is produced with such abandon and joy, I simply loved it!

AUDIE AND THE WOLF (dir. B. Scott O'Malley, US, 2009, 80 mins.) There's nothing like a good werewolf comedy and this one goes at it with a twist! Derek Hughes portrays a werewolf. Sort of. Actually, he is a wolf who becomes a man during the full moon, and really, other than his feeding habits, all he wants is to be loved.

These last two films are what can only be described as guilty pleasures. NINJA PUSSY CAT (dir. Hiroyuki Kawasaki, Japan, 2003, 60 mins.) is a "pink film", aka Japanese soft-core porn. However, in this instance, all the sex is actually essential to the plot! It really is! It's not gratuitous at all, since our heroine has developed a Ninja move that only the female anatomy would be capable of. Yes, it does go "there"...

The locally produced BLACK DEVIL DOLL (dir. Jonathan Lewis, US, 2009, 72 mins.) is something you will either love or loathe. It is so wrong on so many levels, it is "right"! Basically, it is a soft core pornographic homage to blackxploitation in the form of a murderous black puppet with a sex drive. Uh, huh!

There are also a couple of short subjects that are worth the price of the feature length admission. First, MACHINE GIRL LITE (aka SHYNESS MACHINE GIRL, also THE HAJIRAI MACHINE GIRL) (dir. Noboru Iguchi, Japan, 2008, 22 mins.) had me laughing out loud! It is truly the most outrageous 22 minutes in this year's festival! I do not know the manga Machine Girl, which this so hysterically parodies, but if I ever do run across it, it will pale in comparison to what Noboru Iguchi does to it here!

Also, the only animated entry that I was able to preview is a quirky and freaky coming of age story about a boy and his goldfish. THE LEGEND OF OL' GOLDIE (dir. Matthew Snyman, UK, 2009, 7 mins.) cleverly and economically tells the tale of a boy and his goldfish growing (and I mean GROWING!!) up together. hee hee...

For more information about the live performances and parties, visit the SF IndieFest website at www.sfindie.com.

Maxxxxx says "Hello!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Days 12, 13 and 14 (Closing Night)

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head heads into the home stretch on Day 12 (Tuesday, June 16th) with it's last festival premiere.

BLOOD RIVER (dir. Adam Mason, US, 2009, 104 mins.) What starts off as a formula "young couple versus evil stranger" (ala DEAD CALM) becomes so much more, I do NOT want to spoil it. I am rather excited to hear how audiences speculate about the film's realities. The script by Simon Boyes and director Adam Mason is so deceptively simple, at first, that I found myself as sucked in to the situation as the young couple. When things start going awry, I found my suspension of disbelief challenged and then... well, that's the point! The mental exercise at the end of the film is fabulous! Mason has cast three able performers, with Andrew Howard delivering a deceptively, stereotyped performance as the stranger, and Ian Duncan and Tess Panzer as the "innocent" couple. Panzer in particular is called upon to take an unusual emotional journey as the pregnant wife. Ian Duncan gives a credible performance in the film's most thankless role, playing the bullying, yuppie husband. The script cleverly allows a certain amount of hedging in production values, as there are some continuity issues and the setting isn't really cohesive, but in the end, it needn't be. The pace and editing never really slack, but only in retrospect. Upon the first viewing (and it deserves to be seen multiple times!), there were moments of apparent wasted space. However, and again, all those issues are resolved (as are all 'things')... in the end...

Day 12 continues with two encore screenings: THE DEAD OUTSIDE, and I again suggest that you use this time as a dinner break, before heading back into the theatre for NINJA PUSSY CAT, which is a hoot!

Another Hole In The Head then wraps up another year with its final two days of encore screenings.

On Wednesday, June 17th:
The final screening of Takashi Miike's DETECTIVE STORY, then the necrophilia farce MORGUE STORY, followed by the amazing BLOOD RIVER.

And on Closing Night, Thursday, June 18th, the final three screenings are:
the werewolf comedy AUDIE AND THE WOLF, the Thai "fan letter" to horror movies COMING SOON, and finally, that obscene, little puppet - BLACK DEVIL DOLL!

Maxxxxx says
re BLOOD RIVER: "Bless you!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Days 10 and 11

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head begins its tenth day, Sunday, June 14th, with a pair of encore screenings (BE A MAN! SAMURAI SCHOOL and MONSTERS FROM THE ID) before presenting the festival premiere of the night.

AUDIE AND THE WOLF (dir. B. Scott O'Malley, US, 2009, 80 mins.) It has been a few years since a fun werewolf comedy has been produced! And thanks to director and writer B. Scott O'Malley, a new twist has been added to that genre, as this features a wolf which turns into a man under the full moon. It is an inspired bit and the character has fortunately been cast with Derek Hughes. He is an exceptional, physical comedian, as well as having an impish innocence. In other words, he's got puppy dog eyes and is a charmer. All of this works to the character's benefit as well as the film's. The plot it self creaks at points where it should be taking off into farce, but Hughes ably handles the load of maintaining the audience's goodwill in the face of some stumbles. I think director O'Malley may have been afraid of letting the film cross into "zaniness". However, he has a strong enough character and performer in Hughes' "John Doe" that if he chose to, I do think that a little snip here and there would shift it into high gear, without losing the audience. There is a nice amount of gore and blood (which is always appreciated in these things!), that the horror element is well grounded. There just feels like there is a bit of hesitancy, that the production does not trust the formula (the wolf-to-man is exceptionally unique) enough to let it breathe and fly out of control! Regardless, I found it charming (a werewolf film - charming?!) and a delight to watch!

WITHOUT (dirs. Brent Bishop, Gregory Tuzin, US, 2009, 13 mins.) I hate to sound too dismissive, but this is a rather typical, existential short where to strangers meet in limbo and try to figure out the meaning of things, though they are unable to effectively communicate what it is that they are actually searching for. Sort of a "Godot on the Playa", as it looks like it was filmed at Black Rock City, Nevada, aka Burning Man.


The day ends with another encore screening of DETECTIVE STORY.

Monday, June 15th (aka Day 11), is filled with encores:
RUN BITCH! RUN!, FRAT HOUSE MASSACRE, and PIG HUNT.

Maxxxxx says
re AUDIE AND THE WOLF: "Belle! Belle! Sit!" (Belle is my english bulldog.)

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 9

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head begins its ninth day on Saturday, June 13th, with an encore screening of the sick and twisted BLACK DEVIL DOLL, before the festival premiere of an even stranger flick.

The evening starts off innocently enough with THE VAGINA SONG (dir. John Madden, US, 2009, 3 mins.), a music video for Maya Prickett's original song. I earlier misstated it as being a "cover of The Bloodhound Gang's underground classic."! ack!! THIS deserves to become an underground classic in its own right! The production design is delightfully colorful and cute, and thoroughly surreal!

Speaking of surreal, I'm not sure quite what to make of PIG HUNT (dir. James Issac, US, 2008, 100 mins.). There are shades of that even-as-strange flick, RAZORBACK, but this is a bit more chatty. Also, setting it in Northern California opens up the opportunity to run into a unique, feminine commune, as it were. The production values are all professionally executed and the cinematography does actually "mutate" along with the story, as it travels from the yuppie gloss of the San Francisco beginning, then grows murkier upon running into the DELIVERANCE inspired locals in the mountains, before going all horrific when the title character makes its climatic appearance. I sort of wish that the film had spent more time on that final act, or actually expanded it while cutting back on the mountain locals section, which was just a bit too derivative and not nearly as inspired as the finale. But that's just me being an armchair producer. I can see where this could build a cult following.

RUN BITCH! RUN! (dir. Joseph Guzman, US, 2008, 90 mins.) This is a classically structured rape revenge story, though executed pretty graphically enough, it pushes itself into the exploitation genre. The sex and violence is played out fairly darkly, but Peter Tahoe's performance as the sadistic leader has a sly humor underneath it, which plays in contrast to Cheryl Lyone's exceptionally still and focused victim. These two performances kept me engaged in what would have otherwise been a routine sexploitation film. Oddly enough, as intense as I found the experience to be at the time I viewed this, in retrospect, I am not really remembering it as graphically as what I do THE HORSEMAN, which is thematically similar. (The accompanying short subject was unavailable for preview.)

Day 9 ends with an encore screening of SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

Maxxxxx says
re PIG HUNT: Squeals

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Days 7 and 8

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head continues Thursday, June 11th, with a selection of encore screenings:

SAMURAI AVENGER THE BLIND WOLF (which is a MUST SEE, as far as I am concerned!), MONSTERS FROM THE ID and the final screening of the Miike epic, CROWS: EPISODE ZERO, along with the accompanying short subjects: SHOWDOWN OF THE GODZ and EAT ME.

Day 8, Friday, June 12th, begins with three encore screenings:

COMING SOON, THE DEAD OUTSIDE, a film I would recommend skipping past, taking a dinner break and returning for the final chance to see SAMURAI AVENGER THE BLIND WOLF! Then stay for the festival premiere of the second "pink film".

NINJA PUSSY CAT (dir. Hiroyuki Kawasaki, Japan, 2003, 60 mins.) Soft core porn, ninja style, actually works in this film! It was a hoot and I LOVED it! Even though the actual motivation or plot mechanization that draws the 16th century Japanese woman into developing a new and, let me just say, gender specific ninja technique, was easy to follow, it became pretty trivial set against the 'trials and tribulations', er, oh, alright, all the sex that our heroine had to endure. But in the case of this film, the sex is actually essential to the plot! Really, it is! It is beautifully photographed and surprisingly well acted. There is even a significant amount of expense and effort put into the production design. It really does play out as a costume drama, featuring a female ninja warrior, who just HAPPENS to use a specific part of her anatomy in combat! HA!! Again, I loved it!

(There is an accompanying short that was unavailable for preview.)

Maxxxxx says
re NINJA PUSSY CAT: "Wooooo!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 6

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head begins Day 6, Wednesday, June 10th, with an encore screening of REEL ZOMBIES before launching into the festival premiere of the day, which is a zombie story of another type.

MORGUE STORY (dir. Paulo Biscaia Filho, Brazil, 2009, 78 mins.) I was unaware of the term "catalepsy" until this film, a condition of which two of the characters suffer from. (Symptoms include: rigid body, rigid limbs, no response and slowing down of bodily functions, such as breathing.) Toss in a mortician with a penchant for necrophilia and you've got what could be a nifty little sex farce on your hands. The script is exceedingly verbal, exposing its stage play origins. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that it is in Portuguese with subtitles, and it was a bit of a challenge keeping up with the extraordinary pacing of the three performers. Even the subtitles have a lot of errors in them, as if the translator was going as fast as he could to keep up. I enjoyed the energy and mania the cast displays throughout, I just didn't catch all the jokes or humor. As the program notes suggests, "See this once and you’ll demand a second viewing to gather the quotes." But a second viewing for me would be to see what I missed as I was so busy 'reading' it.

THE LEGEND OF OL' GOLDIE (dir. Matthew Snyman, UK, 2009, 7 mins.) This short accompanies MORGUE STORY and is a twisted little delight! It is also the only animated entry I saw in this year's fest. Matthew Snyman has designed the ugliest, yet cutest little goldfish. Well, it starts off little. Anyway, it is a brief tale about a boy and his goldfish, growing (GROWING!) up together. hee hee hee...




Day 6 concludes with an encore screening of THE SILENCE OF THE SUSHI ROLLS.

Maxxxxx says
re MORGUE STORY: "Maxxxxx! Shut up!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 5

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head launches Day 5, Tuesday, June 9th, with an encore screening of SEX GALAXY, which I would recommend skipping past, if to rest up for a fabulous Takashi Miike double feature! It begins with an encore screening of CROWS: EPISODE ZERO, before the festival premiere of the day.

DETECTIVE STORY (dir. Takashi Miike, Japan, 2007, 99 mins.) is the more typical Takashi Miike film that I am familiar with. It's creepy, bloody and comical. When Miike is being humorous, he can draft characters that possess a comic quirkiness that is endearing within the confines of the unsettling plot he weaves. Here we have two men, who are neighbors and coincidentally share the same names. One is a simple office worker who is drawn into the bloody mystery that the other, a detective, is attempting to solve. Women that the detective is in contact with are being murdered and different organs are being removed. Now, how the plot weaves an imprisoned and hooded psychopath, and an avant-garde artist who paints in blood, into the story is pure Miike. One does need to suspend a certain amount of belief when in the midst of one of his films and just give yourself over to his masterful pacing and always polished, if not inspired, visuals. Paired with CROWS: EPISODE ZERO, the evening is a display of Takashi Miike's near Mozartean prolificacy and versatility.

Maxxxxx says
re DETECTIVE STORY: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 4

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head starts Day 4, Monday, June 8th, with an encore screening of THE HORSEMAN, which I highly recommend! Perhaps a 5PM screening will help you shake off the potential nightmares?

SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR (dir. Chad Ferrin, US, 2009, 80 mins.) Even though the script does wander about in a psychedelic induced, schizophrenic nightmare, there are some chillingly effective moments. Chad Ferrin achieves an odd balance of disturbing psychological horror and comical bloodshed. He has peopled his film with the typical group of 20-somethings. In this throwback to 70's metaphysical horror, the kids are students who are experimenting with psychotropic drugs, while digging through archives and the skeletons of the med school they are attending. It's sort of an inspired combination: little bit of Lars Van Trier's THE KINGDOM mixed with some NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET! His young cast members are serviceable, but it is the older members that give the film its jolt. Ezra Buzzington and Vernon Wells play patient and doctor with a flair not seen since the era of THE EXORCIST. The cinematography has a nice, dreamy and buzzed gauziness to it and the framing of "the beast" once it is (how shall I say?) unleashed, is teasingly fun. The editing is exceptional in building up tension and cutting away before it becomes schlock. It might not have the visceral punch of the preceding feature (THE HORSEMAN), but it still has enough gnarly bits and creepy moments to satisfy a true horror fan. (The accompanying short subject, The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, was unavailable for preview.)

The day's program continues to lighten up a bit with the short SHOWDOWN OF THE GODZ (dir. Julien Calderbank, US,2009, 15 mins.). It is a cute little comedy dealing with one man's Godzilla obsession, and surprisingly features George Takei in a supporting role. It's filled with some Godzilla humor, I presume, as I wasn't really getting the little jokes (I think), but I did appreciate the central concept and conflict of when an obsession runs amok. It is paired here with a feature that parodies another Japanese genre.

SAMURAI AVENGER THE BLIND WOLF (dir. Kurando Mitsutake, US, 2008, 92 mins.) This is one wild blend of Samurai and Spaghetti Western that I simply LOVED! Director Kurando Mitsutake creates and performs as the character that is both Clint Eastwood and ToshirĊ Mifune, who is reluctantly drawn into the world of Samurai in order to avenge the death of his wife and daughter. He must face seven assassins sent to stop him before reaching the culprit responsible for the crime. He is joined by a mysterious stranger, ably and handsomely played by Jeffrey James Lippold. Mitsutake has also written, along with John Migdal, a clever, if nearly too authentic, parody of Asian Grindhouse films. There was a point that I almost believed that this was a product of the Shaw Brothers Studio! The actual fight choreography is just awkward enough to bring a smile to your face before the gore is unleashed. Mitsutake's visual panache with blood and guts is nearly spectacular. The gruesome finale to each duel is brought to a beautiful close with the near miraculous sheathing of the sword. You just gotta see it!

Maxxxxx says
re SAMURAI AVENGER THE BLIND WOLF: "Such a pretty bird!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 3

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head has an emotional and qualitative rollercoaster programmed for its third day, Sunday, June 7th.

Of the various live-action adaptations of manga at this year's festival, I found BE A MAN! SAMURAI SCHOOL (Sakigake!! Otokojuku) (dir. Tak Sakaguchi, Japan, 2008, 111 mins.) to be the most enjoyable, if at least accessible, for what it is - a live action cartoon. Tak Sakaguchi's directorial debut, which stars himself, is actually pretty impressive. Some of the humor, or perhaps the satire of Japanese machismo, might be lost in translation, if not in the style of a manga adaptation. In other words, it walks the fine line between satire and camp. Initially, I was not too sure whether this was just another silly samurai movie, or whether it was intentionally being humorous. However, Sakaguchi's script is surprisingly well paced and balanced, so that by the time we reach the climax, whatever silliness that occurred in the earlier sequences has been exposed as the comedy it was, and taken over by a well thought out sequence of drama and action. There are moments during the "3 Great Astonishing Assaults tournament" that are surprisingly moving, as well as truly gorgeous to look at. Sakaguchi is an ex-underground street fighter, who has apparently found a new vocation and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

I am not sure what the hunkered down HoleHead audience is going to make of this feature, as it is sandwiched between two polar opposite programs. THE DEAD OUTSIDE (dir. Kerry Anne Mullaney, UK, 2008, 86 mins.) is the first of the nineteen features in this year's festival that I have almost nothing positive to say about. I recognize that its aim is to present such a bleakness that even the characters can no longer stand each other, but I really did not need to experience it with them. How it manages to create a romantic triangle out of this hideously gray and infected setting sort of escaped me. Probably because I found the characters involved either so unlikeable or underdeveloped, that I really did not care. In fact, I found myself eagerly anticipating the obviously tragic outcome, if just to be relieved from the insufferable misery of it all.

Unfortunately, the next feature is miserable, but in a completely different direction. SEX GALAXY (dir. Mike Davis, US, 2008, 78 mins.) is simply 58 minutes too long. The sophomoric joke of redubbing dialogue has been done and with much more panache and wit than this film even touches upon. It is also being lauded as being a "green film" as it is compromised of "100% recycled stock footage". "Found footage" has been used many times before, and overdubbing an entire film was almost too much of a challenge for even the comic genius of Woody Allen in his WHAT'S UP TIGER LILY? If anything, this comes closer to a feature length, adult, soft core porn version of a MST3K episode. Yes, some of the lines are very funny, but it's sort of like being the only sober guest at a party filled with stoners: it is just a long night and you're not really in on the joke.

It is preceded by a much wittier piece. MAROONED? (dir. Ryan Nagata, US, 2009, 14 mins.) is a B&W take off on 60's sci-fi TV series, though it is actually a group of sci-fi geeks in a role playing game that goes bad! The cinematography is exceptional, but the score by Douglas Romayne is HUGE and actually challenges any of John Williams' work during that period, i.e. LOST IN SPACE. Overall, for a student film from USC, it's pretty impressive!

The next short subject,THE WIGLY (dir. Victor Bonacore, US, 2009, 6 mins.) is a fairly low key music video. From the program notes: "The WIGLY" stands for THE WAY I'M GONNA LOVE YOU, and it's about how far you would go for love. Would you kill for love?" Though I did not find it that dark, it is sober enough that it is a fairly nice preparation for the accompanying feature.

THE HORSEMAN (dir. Steven Kastrissios, Australia, 2008, 94 mins.) Oh. My. Gawd. Director Steven Kastrissios seems to want to challenge Gasper Noe for the title of "Most Humorless and Violent Director EVER!" And I mean that in the most positive way! THE HORSEMAN is a harrowing experience. The extreme violence, which could have made me giggle, instead had me peering between my fingers. Death by crowbar is not a pretty thing, and torture with fish hooks is even more disquieting. Peter Marshall portrays the vengeful, grieving father with such earnest ferocity, that there is nothing funny or absurd about the punishment he inflicts. As violent as the film is, the emotional power of Marshall's performance keeps it from becoming exploitative. It is both horrifying and vindicating in the tradition of the best revenge dramas. In fact, the film is nearly Jacobean in scope and passion. It should bring the audience to wincing, moaning squeals of discomfort. The film is definitely not for the squeamish, but deserves to be seen by an exceptionally discerning audience.

Maxxxxx says
re THE DEAD OUTSIDE: "Is it bedtime?"

CLICK HERE for more...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 2

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

Another Hole In The Head continues at the Roxie Film Center on Saturday, June 6th, and starts with an encore screening of COMING SOON and MACHINE GIRL LITE (Machine Girl Lite is a MUST SEE!), then proceeds with some mixed results.

REEL ZOMBIES (dir. David J. Francis, Canada, 2008, 97 mins.) The premise here is a mock "making of" on the set of a zombie movie, that is being produced in reaction to the real outbreak of zombies, and eventually necessitating the casting of real zombies. Yes, that is a bit convoluted, but there is the possibility of a great time in there. Yet, for the life of me, I can not figure out why I did not enjoy this as much as I feel I should have. It even features a near brilliant appearance by Lloyd Kaufmann (Troma films!), who gives a screen test, in the producers' hopes of a bit of stunt casting. (The joke there being that it IS a brilliant bit of stunt casting!) But then, that is sort of emblematic of how cerebral the humor is in the film. It is so realistically performed that the dryness, and honesty of the cast isn't really "funny". (The performances from the production assistant/driver and the makeup artist are standouts!) There are some brilliantly staged takes that wander all over the set and production without cuts, that left me spinning! But the technical achievement in those takes overwhelms the script that is being played out. It is nearly two-thirds of the way into the film before it lands a real punch (when the zombie infestation begins to infect the cast and crew). The film is almost too clever for its own good!

It is partnered with EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT ZOMBIES I LEARNED FROM THE MOVIES (dir. Sherezada Kent, US, 2009, 7 mins.) Three disgruntled co-workers are trapped in a dingy basement by shambling zombies. In a cute, though nearly silly in that Monty Python way, our humans attempt to work their way around them, though unnecessarily...

black devil doll Pictures, Images and PhotosBLACK DEVIL DOLL (dir. Jonathan Lewis, US, 2009, 72 mins.) You can either LOVE this or you will HATE this. However, that is probably a good thing, in that this send up of a blackxploitation, voodoo doll comedy pulls NO punches in its raunchy self awareness. The women that the filthy mouthed black puppet is stalking are presumably porn actresses. The cast of victims, for those of you who might know and/or be interested, includes: Natasha Talonz (5'2" and FF), Christine Svendsen, Precious Cox, Erika Branich and introducing Heather Murphy. I did not catch who performs the voice of Black Devil Doll (aka Mubia Abul-Jama), but he doesn't quite reach the pornographic extremes that Mercedes McCambridge did in THE EXORCIST. (I have a feeling I may have just slapped down the gauntlet!) The soundtrack is remarkably faithful to the 80's funk, by Giallos Flames, "a group of bad ass musicians putting the soul back into soundtracks & the funk back onto film". The film joyfully wallows in sexist and racist epitaphs! So, if you're up for an hour or so of good, filthy jokes, you ought to catch this! (Since it is locally produced, director Jonathan Lewis is expected to be present for all three screenings, including the "official closing night" screening.)

(It is accompanied by THE PICK UP (dir. John Carchietta, US, 2009, 26 mins.) which was unavailable for preview, as of this writing.)

frat house massacre Pictures, Images and PhotosThe day concludes with another homage to slasher flicks of yore, with FRAT HOUSE MASSACRE (dir. Alex Pucci, US, 2008, 117 mins.). A whole cast of sadistic frat boys and their "mean girl" sorority sister girlfriends are dispatched in an eventual bloodbath. The pacing is actually pretty good, which hides the inconsistent script. (I'm still not sure where or why it goes where it does by the finale.) The cast is, frankly, sort of hot, in that 20's slasher way. The production values nearly perfectly capture the early 80's (with the exception of hairstyles), as does the soundtrack. Oh, yes, disco and slashers! What more could you ask for in a midnight movie? The film is best to be enjoyed at this hour, so I would recommend catching it at THIS screening and not at one of its encores later in the festival.

Maxxxxx says
re BLACK DEVIL DOLL: "Shhhhhhhit!"

CLICK HERE for more...

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 1

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

SF IndieFest launches another year of "two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy" with the annual Another Hole In The Head, on Friday, June 5th, beginning with an appetizer, moving on to a Main Course, and then desert and a midnight munchie!

The day begins with MONSTERS FROM THE ID (dir. David Gargani, US, 2008, 70 mins.), a documentary which attempts to unscramble the chicken-or-the-egg question: does science fiction inspire science or vice versa? It focuses on the films of the 1950s from a scientific standpoint, not a sociological or political one. In other words, the sci-fi of the 50's was inspired by the atomic age and not necessarily the arms race or McCarthyism. It also proposes that it inspired the generation of scientists that led the space age.

This thesis is all well and good. However, the film acknowledges the socio-political upheavals of the 60's/70's, without referencing back to the foundations of that protest. In other words, the subject really is larger than the seventy minutes that this fun little doc can do justice to. It is filled - FILLED - with some great clips of some classic films! (The licensing alone must have cost a mint!) The gathered experts and speakers were unknown to me, for the most part. But if you are way into physics, etc., you may recognize some of them. For the most part, if you don't think about it too much, or dissect too closely (which is sort of ironic), then this is a really nice way to launch two weeks of sci-fi/horror/etc.

It is accompanied by the short, EAT ME (dir. Victor Bonacore, US, 2009, 10 mins.), in which a pair of zombies in love, have a delicious little picnic. As it were. It is filmed in glorious B-Movie black and white, and has a naivete' in production and performance.

The Official Opening Night presentation is CROWS: EPISODE ZERO (dir. Takashi Miike, Japan, 2008, 130 mins.), which is probably the glossiest, if not most polished film of the festival. The ever prolific Takashi Miike (he is represented in this fest by two films) has adapted the manga into a beautiful, if nearly epic tale. In fact, I must admit in the spirit of full disclosure, I did not finish this film. Though I could appreciate the production values, I am just not enough of a manga fan to be able or interested enough to follow the huge cast of Japanese teenage Yakuza. In an odd way, it was becoming a mixture of THE OUTSIDERS meets BRAVEHEART to me, and I just wasn't engaged, though I was fully appreciative of Miike's great visuals and it had an athletic pacing that would normally keep me engaged. However, I do plan on giving it another try during the actual run of the festival, when I can devote my attention to the entire 130 minutes, without feeling rushed to move on to the next piece.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicCOMING SOON (dir. Sopon Sukdapisit, Thailand, 2009, 90 mins.) is another excellent way to begin a festival. Though not nearly as polished as the preceding film, it is so thematically appropriate (a horror film, within a horror film), it's a no-brainer for an opening day selection. Director Sopon Sukdapisit has an excellent pace and editing rhythm. The cinematography is not bad either. The screenplay, taken as a whole, is fairly clever and surprisingly involved, and it gets "bonus points" for being nondiscriminatory in age or gender, as far as the selection of victims is concerned! (No child is safe!) I won't even hint at a synopsis here, as nearly any scene is a spoiler! If it weren't for the ever twisting series of events and plot, I would have laughed at the film, or even walked out on it, based on the performances alone. The performances are nearly amateurish, so it is hard to say whether dialogue was cut or scenes were edited or perhaps I was missing the joke in translation, but they went beyond laughable, to painful. The dialogue is nearly mind numbingly inept. If I heard the lead actress scream the name "Shane!" One. More. Time! I was going to start screaming back! That said, the film's ending has a self-referential glee to it, that a lot of its "sins" can be forgiven. (It is the only selection that will be on 35mm celluloid! The rest of the festival is digital.)

Preceding the feature is the hysterical MACHINE GIRL LITE (aka SHYNESS MACHINE GIRL, also THE HAJIRAI MACHINE GIRL) (dir. Noboru Iguchi, Japan, 2008, 22 mins.). I LOVED this, in spite of the fact that I know nothing about "Machine Girl", which it seems to be a satire of. Well, "satire" is too polite. Where "Machine Girl" apparently has an outrageous gun for an arm, "Shyness Machine Girl" has a weapon attached to... well... Somewhere else! This short film is worth the price of admission to the feature!

The final flick of the night is a "pink film", the genre of which proved to be extremely successful at this year's SF Indiefest. (Pink film (Pinku eiga or Pink eiga) is basically Japanese softcore pornographic film.) SILENCE OF THE SUSHI ROLLS [SEXY S.W.A.T.TEAM 2] (dir. Mototsugu Watanabe, Japan, 2002, 61 mins.) is a really twisted, pornographic, ninja version of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Yes, that's right. "Claire" has to enlist "Dr. Nectar" to help her solve the case of a molester. It involves an intrauterine device that incapacitates the victim, and, well, I'll just stop there. The film is a relatively painless hour, though, personally, I would suggest a "pass" on this to rest up for the rest of the fest and catch the second 'pink film' of the festival (NINJA PUSSY CAT), that screens later in the week, and which this pales in comparison to.

Maxxxxx says
re MACHINE GIRL LITE (aka SHYNESS MACHINE GIRL, also THE HAJIRAI MACHINE GIRL): "What's your name?"

CLICK HERE for more...