Finishing up the first weekend with 4 movies.
First up a late addition to the fest (which isn't listed on the print schedule, but is listed online), BE A MAN! SAMURAI SCHOOL. Japanese manga action comedy (long a staple of Holehead) at its finest. The Samurai School has a long tradition as the place where boys learn to be men. The new first year class is starting, and it includes ugly, scarred (the facial scar goes all the way up to his hat) brute Genji Togashi, whose on a mission since his brother went to (and died at) Samurai School. Then there's total coward Hidemaro, whose mother forces him to go to uphold the Gokukoji family honor. And finally Momotaro, a total bad-ass with a kind heart who always stands up for the victims (played by director Tak Sakaguchi, disciple of Ryuhei Kitamura and star of VERSUS). For the first half the instructors and second years torment/teach them (including boiling oil and sake drowning tortures), but then an old disgraced student shows up to take revenge the school. This leads to the Triple Death Challenge (or something like this), with three students (including, of course, Momo) putting their lives on the line for the honor of the school. But everyone pitches in as cheerleaders, including Hidemaro, who through sheer willpower comes through as the greatest flag raiser of all time. All is lorded over by a principal whose voice can shatter windows and who teaches there is no strength greater than the male willpower. Crazy action, weird humor, and all allegedly put together for ~$400,000 (it looks much, much more expensive).
BE A MAN! SAMURAI SCHOOL plays again next Sunday, June 13th, at 2:30
The next show started with the short, DANIEL, which happens to be the first movie produced by Another Hole in the Head (and it made it into the festival, what are the odds?) Have you ever wondered what you taste like? Daniel did. Hilarious and gruesome.
That lead into the feature from the UK, THE DEAD OUTSIDE. In the near future there's a virus that has infected most of humanity (it's a zombi-ish, if not outright zombie movie). Uninfected Daniel (not the guy from the short, a different Daniel) is travelling the countryside, escaping the infected. He stops at a small Scottish farm where he meets April. Only 16, but she's not just uninfected, she appears to be immune. But she refuses to accept that she's a cure--she has a history with that. They hole up in the farm, fending off the occasional infected, and having a hard time trusting each other. That just gets worse when another uninfected woman shows up and stays for a while. There's some excellent stark cinematography (it's practically black and white for much of the film), but the constant conversation and distrust drags after a while. Many good moments, but it could've been cut down quite a bit.
THE DEAD OUTSIDE plays again Friday June 12th at 7:15 and Tuesday June 16th at 7:15
Next up was a sci-fi show starting with the short MAROONED? A space captain lands on a desolate enemy planet. Or a 40 something loser LARPS with a couple of guys he met on the Internet. It's all fun and games until someone suffers a traumatic head injury. Then it gets really fun and hilarious.
By the way, I've really liked the shorts in the festival this year, although some of them are not well paired with the feature (MACHINE GIRL LITE with COMING SOON doesn't work). In this case, the short and feature were perfectly paired.
The feature was a film made (nearly) entirely from recycled public domain footage, SEX GALAXY. In the future, overpopulation and pollution of the water supply has resulted in sex being banned on earth. So when intergalactic plumbers are out on a mission, they take any opportunity to view porn and visit a famed planet of seashell-clad space whores (ruled by Ron the robo-pimp). And of course, wacky hijinx ensue. I laughed out loud several times, although ultimately it pushed the limit of how much awkwardly edited public domain footage I could take. Still, pretty funny. And hey, there are clips of old stag films, so that's cool.
SEX GALAXY plays again Tuesday June 9th at 5 pm.
And then the last show of the night, starting with the short/music video THE WIGLY. A new take on "I'll love you til the day I die".
The short couldn't have been more different than the feature, which is my favorite of the festival so far. THE HORSEMAN is a sick, brutal revenge flick from Australia, and winner of the “Best Australian Film” and “Best Australian Director” awards at the 2008 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. As the film opens, we see an exterminator entering a man's house. Turns out he's not there to exterminate insects, he's there to torture, interrogate, and ultimately exterminate the man. This immediate, brutal violence grabs you by the neck from the start, and it's a bold choice to show a bit of revenge first before establishing motive. Presently we learn that the exterminator is a father. His daughter recently showed up in the morgue. The autopsy revealed alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and the semen of 4 different men. Later an anonymous package arrives with a gangbang video of "City Sluts 2", starring his daughter, apparently shot on the night of her death. That guy he killed in the opening scene--he was the cameraman. Through flashbacks we see him take out the distributor and producer. He's on a hunt for all the actors and everyone else involved (especially the mysterious 4th man, as only 3 are on camera). His mission is simple--find out what happened that night, find everyone who's in any way responsible, and kill them. But this is more than just revenge, it's a psychological study of a man's grief, and the role revenge plays in that. On his travels he meets an 18 year old runaway, and through helping her he works through some issues (and if he couldn't protect his daughter, maybe he can at least be like a father to her). There's even a point at which his revenge is more or less assuaged, but revenge begets counter-revenge, and things just get bloodier and more brutal. An excellent kick in the gut.
THE HORSEMAN plays again Monday June 8th at 5 pm.