Saturday, June 2, 2007

Jason goes to Holehead opening night

Yay, Indiefest's Another Hole in the Head--my favorite festival of the past few years--starts again! One note, just for my regular readers who've noticed I give mostly positive reviews of everything. When I'm at a horror festival, I actually tend to be more critical because I like (good) horror movies more. So don't be fooled if I give critical reviews, I'm actually enjoying this more than other festivals.

With that said, the first movie of the night (since I didn't make it in time to see "Plymptoons, which I'll see Sunday) was the US premiere of "Stagknight", a British horror-comedy (something the British have been very good at recently) from first time director Simon Cathcart. In a nutshell, a group of pretty dim guys goes out in the woods to celebrate one guys impending marriage with paintball and strippers. They're tricked into performing a satanic ritual that awakens a demonic knight who guards some tomb where there's a very valuable cauldron (none of that makes much sense). Wacky, bloody hijinx ensue. The movie drags for long sections and the night scenes are often too dark to see the characters faces (that could be a projection problem, too), but there are also moments of brilliance where I laughed as hard as I've ever laughed (the brick scene and the tree splat scene come to mind). Overall, I get the sense that Cathcart is a filmmaker with promise who is still learning and finding his voice. Occasionally he hits it just right, but for at least three quarters of the movie, my reaction was "what the heck am I watching?" Cathcart was in attendance, and if he was taking notes on what got reactions and what didn't, his next movie can be an order of magnitude better. Here's a pic of Cathcart with the sinister cottage owner Sandra Dickinson:

"Stagknight" plays again June 12 at 9:30.

The next show was a bloody comedy masterpiece, starting with the short "Night of the Hell Hamsters". A babysitter, her boyfriend, a Ouija board, and a satanic horde of hamsters. I've finally found religion, and that religion is Spozgarianism.

The laughs continued with the wicked satire, "Murder Party". A timid schmuck finds an invitation to a Halloween "murder party" and decides to go, after making a crappy knight's costume out of cardboard. Once there, he finds a gang of drugged-up artists who actually plan on killing him as an art project (and are hoping to get a major grant for it). And so begins a none-too-subtle but very hilarious satire of the art world, as the artists are so incompetent they not only can't decide how to kill him, they end up killing each other--first through accidents and then when they turn against each other. Even cliched slapstick gags--like the plug-in chainsaw getting yanked out of the outlet inches from the kill--are executed well enough to still be effective. And some jokes are just clever and inspired, like burning the victim with acid that turns out to just be vinegar (acetic acid). Even the characters, who are so shallow their almost zero-dimensional, are played with enough gung-ho enthusiasm and commitment that they seem real, if just for the short time the movie's playing. Kudos all around to director Jeremy Saulnier and his cast and crew (collectively, The Lab of Madness). "Murder Party" with "Night of the Hell Hamsters" plays again June 11 at 7:15.

And finally, the midnight movie was "Simon Says", starring Crispin Hellion Glover. His presence (and maniacal glee) raise this movie slightly above it's 80's campers-get-slashed premise. Well, his presence, some nasty booby traps, and the doggy scene. Still, my major complaint would be that it's repetitive, with each kill eventually blending in with all the others. None of the kids are likable, and I quickly started rooting for them to get killed off quickly. Still, the doggy scene is a bit of brilliance, and Crispin Glover is always cool. "Simon Says" plays again June 11 at 9:30.
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