Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jason goes to Holehead--Opening Night

Well, this is kind of a surprise. I'm always scared on the opening night of Another Hole in the Head, but not for the right reasons. I'm scared that there will be technical glitches or worse--the films will suck. Well everything went off without a hitch and all three films were above average (I know, I know, I mean they're above the average quality of films in the past several Holeheads. Usually the only ones I can count on are the one or two that I've chosen. But here's hoping the rest of the festival is as good as opening night.)

BLOODY KNUCKLES kicked off the fest with some good old hilarious offensiveness. Our hero is Travis, writer of pulp comic Vulgarian Invasion, who takes offensive aim at anything and everything in our culture. Sort of an underground anti-censorship crusader, and this movie totally embraces that ethos. Unfortunately, he pisses of the wrong crime lord and gets his drawing hand cut off. He wallows in depression, thinking his life is over, until just the right combination of rat poison and vomit brings his hand back to life. And his hand wants revenge, and wants his help. It's a bit slow in the middle when the hand is tormenting him into action. We all want to see the bloody revenge, not a guy fighting with his own hand. But heck, story and pacing aren't this film's strong suits. It's the go-anywhere, fuck censorship (especially self-censorship) attitude that makes this so awesome. Also "Guliani" being used as a safeword, and a docking joke. Oh, and Homo Dynamous needs his own spin-off movie.

Next up was AFTERIMAGES, from the team that made HAUNTED CHANGI (Holehead 2011.) A group of film students are studying in Singapore. They spend a break from their studies (during which they're supposed to complete their film projects) in a lavish home where they celebrate "ghost month." This is when they practice the Chinese/Singaporean (I don't know how far through Asia this custom spreads) of giving offerings to their ancestors by burning paper representations of items which they will receive in the after-world. Ghost money is a favorite, but people also burn paper cars, houses, clothes, etc. When one of them burns a camera, the next morning five slightly singed photographs are in the ashes of the fire. This piques their interest, so they burn a film camera--and are rewarded with a roll of 16 mm film. This is the framing device for a pretty clever horror anthology, all variations on a ghost theme, and all playing with different movie formats--16 mm, 35 mm, flash card, VHS, etc. That was my favorite part, actually, the playing with different formats (although it bugged me that the film students thought VHS hadn't been big since the 70s. Screw you guys, it was bigger in the 80s and continued well into the 90s!) And the shorts were all very well done, very effective, and the framing device had a satisfying payoff. Very well done.

And finally, I ended the night with BLOOD PUNCH, which was one of two films I brought to Holehead (the other being LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONSTERS, playing next Thursday.) Here's what I wrote about it back when I saw it at Cinequest:
Milton wakes up with a hangover in a cabin. He throws up, finds a video screen with a message imploring him to watch, and sees a video of himself cutting two of his fingers off. This is especially odd because his fingers are completely intact this morning. Flashback to one day previous (give or take) and we learn that he’s a meth cook. And we meet the wild woman who breaks him out of rehab for one epic cook that will leave him set for life. They just have to beware of the third in their trio, her psychotic boyfriend. A little drinking, a little peyote-laced meth, a wild night…and that’s where Milton wakes up. Kinda. I’m dancing around the huge spoiler here, and everyone ends up describing the film as ‘XXXXXXXXX XXX crossed with…something violent and insane.’ Needless to say, the classic noir triangle of bad girl, worse ex, and good guy gets spun super-hard here, with a near-exhaustive list of kills (you know the old adage that if a gun is seen in act 1 it must be used by act 3? Well, what if a cabin full of weapons is seen in act 1?) despite a surprisingly small cast list. This was just one beautiful, bloody mind-fuck.
Ha! I love how I danced around the spoiler there. I also told the audience while introducing film that this has what I believe is the highest ratio of body-count to cast members. Nobody challenged that assertion afterwards (and more importantly, lots of people thanked me for bringing such an awesome movie to the festival. So that was a great way to finish the night.)

Total Running Time: 281 minutes
My Total Minutes: 375,163
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