Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 10

We started last Sunday with a long Shorts Block (as opposed to a short Shorts block?) Here we go:

DEAD RIGHT II: A sequel to DEAD RIGHT (duh!) which is available online here or on DVD here. But you don't even need to watch the first. The second one drops you right into the action with Deke drugged in a hospital room with creepy Nurse Bobo, the Surgeon, and the Captain (the Surgeon's brother) he has to use his wits and strength to escape and get revenge on the man who put him there--his own brother. Come to think of it, if part I sets up a lot of this, I should probably watch it. And wait for part III coming...sometime.
MORATORIUM: Zombies...in Japan...with an English-speaking journalist along for the ride, a group of survivors in the van try to...continue surviving. Good zombie action, with a good phallus-chomping.
MIDNIGHT SNACK: The really gross horrors of food stalls in Taiwanese night markets.
BABY-SITTING: Creepy French kids who never smile, laugh or move. They just stare at you...until they...until the horror starts.
THE END OF FOREVER: A wishing well that really works! Not a good idea to use it when you're pissed off at your significant other.
THE UGLIEST MAN IN CARTOONS: He's pretty ugly, all right. His only friend is a fly, and he basically only communicates in Rodney Dangerfield jokes. But when he meets the real ugliest man in cartoons, mayhem ensues.
THE DUMP: One of the funniest things I've ever seen. A serial killer goes to his usual body-dumping grounds and finds...another guy there dumping a body. A bit of a stand-off, will it mean war or the start of a beautiful friendship?
TORTUROUS: The wrong guy is kidnapped and set up for torture. Luckily he's a professional career counselor, and maybe he can just talk his torturer into switching careers?
SO, NOW I'M A ZOMBIE: The conversion process and rapid loss of humanity, from the new zombie's point of view.
MIRACLE ON METAL STREET: An artist who used to be metal is asked to design the cover art for a heavy metal band's new album. But he's got nothing, and now it's due tomorrow. So he does what anyone would--gets high and lets the devil inspire him...with a musical number!
DEAD NOTE: A popular guitarist, riding high on his fame, is the victim of a tragic accident. Or maybe the victim of a deranged, psychotic woman.

I gotta say, it's typical that the shorts are some of the best programs at Holehead. If you're not sure about the quality you can expect for everything else, I can at least recommend the other shorts program, next Sunday.

Next up was the feature HOUSE OF DUST, one of A.D. Calvo's two films in the festival, both of which are "inspired" by true events. In this case, the true event is that there used to be insane asylums that had in-house incinerators for cremating the inmates after they died. Or, in the case of this story, one particularly dangerous inmate before he died. Cut to the present day, the insane asylum is boarded up and there's a medical school next door. A group of students break in, find the incinerator room, accidentally knock over the cremains of the inmates, breathe the dust, and the haunting is on. This is PG-13 horror (technically, not yet rated, but I'd be shocked if it got more than PG-13) so it relies on atmosphere and acting rather than blood and gore. And it's very good at that. Particularly the group of young actors, who really get to dive into roles where their characters change quickly depending on if they're haunted or not. And it plays a little bit with the ambiguity there. After all, college is a place where a lot of young people try new things and find themselves. So if the former teetotaler now drinks beer and gets rowdy, is he haunted or is he just trying new things and not handling it well. I liked that, and I liked that the festival played this movie, even if I'm not all that into PG-13 horror.

Then was the movie I've probably struggled with the most in the festival. I really wanted to like REMINGTON AND THE CURSE OF THE ZOMBADINGS. I mean, it's a gay zombie movie from the Philippines, that sounds fun, right? Well, as a kid Remington liked to yell gay slurs at everyone (I now know the Filipino word for "homo," not that I want to use it.) Until one drag queen curses him, guaranteeing that he will turn gay when he's older. Cut to when he's 19, throw in an intolerant scientist with a "gaydar" gun that only kills gay people, raise some of his victims from the dead, and you've got what could be  great, campy fun with a solid pro-gay viewpoint. And that last bit is where it falls down. In being pro-gay, it relies on every over-blown gay stereotype. Gay men all dress like women and are flaming queens. Being gay is a curse--like it would be so awful to fall in love with your best friend, come out to him, and find out he reciprocates? The only problem in that situation is the girl who Remington had a crush on before the curse hit him, but she wouldn't give him the time of day before he turned gay. There's even a time (and I'm going to go ahead and get spoiler-y here) where it could've all worked out. Where he could've said "I don't want this curse lifted, I'm okay with being gay and dating my best friend!" But instead his homophobic dad makes the ultimate "sacrifice" by turning the curse on himself so his son can be happy. What the hell? The guy who would've been just find being gay gets turned back straight because the dad is...I guess too old to matter anyway? I really, really wanted to like this concept, but if this is what the Philippines considers pro-gay, I have to wonder what the heck is wrong with the Philippines.

And then the last show started with a short, LIBRARY, hand-drawn animated look at a dystopic future among the ruins of old libraries. About the power of written word, and its persistence beyond death.

And for some reason that was the lead in to Troma's RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH VOLUME 1. Look, you either get Troma movies or you don't. The stories are ludicrous, the special effects are silly, and they throw tons of random jokes in there that get in the way of any semblance of a plot. And ever since SGT. KABUKIMAN, NYPD they've put the exact same car flip/crash scene into nearly every movie (heck, saves on the budget. They shot one good car crash, and they're getting the most out of it.) Now that nuclear power isn't such a big political bugaboo, the Troma nuclear power plant has been  bulldozed and instead a "Tromorganic" food processing plant, run by a lunatic (director/Troma king Lloyd Kaufman) who wants to make a fortune selling his green (and I don't mean environmentally conscious) tacos to the local school. Of course, the kids mutate--in particular the awful, nerdy glee club becomes a vicious gang of Cretins (or Cree-tones, when they're singing) and rampage through town. There's also some good lesbo action with the food nerd and the new rich girl in town. And then...it ends all abruptly. It's split into two parts (they did the same thing with TOXIC AVENGER 2 and 3, and I assume it's for the same reason--they shot too much footage.) I'm fine with that, I want to see RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH VOLUME 2 (preferably both back-to-back,) and I actually liked the ending scene (a CARRIE parody) in and of itself. It just makes for a very abrupt ending.

Total Running Time: 457 minutes
My Total Minutes: 345,595
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