Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jason goes to Holehead--Opening Night

San Francisco's best (only?) festival of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi movies kicked off last night. As always, I'm there in front row center for all of it.

I didn't make it up for the 5:20 screening of HAUNTED CHANGI (I'll catch it next Thursday), so for me the fest started with RED ICE. It's a local Bay Area production about demons, drugs, and hardcore flute action. Beelzebub is pissed that a Succubus is horning in on his San Francisco territory, so he sends his Chinese demon Mr. Wu to assassinate her. Wu hatches an elaborate plot to get a mortal (drug addict/flutist/aerospace software engineer) Evan to do the dirty work. The plot involves super-crank from hell (literally) called Red Ice. And then the plot gets complicated. There are many scenes I liked in and of themselves, and the makeup effects for such a low budget effort deserve praise, but all through the movie I kept wondering where this was going. Once it was over, I still didn't know. Even the Red Ice I didn't quite get--I don't know if this is an anti-drug movie, a pro-drug movie, or just a movie in which drugs exist. I can't say that this is an obviously great movie, but it may be one I'm puzzling over for some time to come.

HELLDRIVER, on the other hand, is no puzzle at all. It's just kick-ass, crazy, frenetic Japanese action that Holehead shows so often. A sadistic mother and uncle who butcher a father. A tormented daughter. A space rock that turns people into zombies with tiny tumor-antlers that are both a powerful narcotic and a powerful contact explosive. And a kick-ass team (including the daughter) of death-row inmates turned volunteer zombie hunters. And non-stop, almost exhausting action. This mythical "Japan" where such movies come from seems awesome. If only it were real, I'd love to visit it sometime (but I don't think I'd last that long).

And finally the midnight show, starting with the important public service announcement ZOMBIEFICATION. Safety procedures to follow in the event of a zombie outbreak in the theater.

And finally, the night ended with EATERS, one of (at least) three Uwe Boll films in the festival (I don't know what's up with Holehead's relationship with Boll, perhaps I'll have more to say after AUSCHWITZ or BLOODRAYNE 3). This one was produced but not directed by him. It's an Italian zombie flick, and I can't shake the feeling that there's a significant amount of Italian/European social satire that went right by me (come to think of it, I think there was Japanese social/political satire in HELLDRIVER, too). A small group of humans live in a world taken over by the undead. The world is also populated by Neo-nazis, crazy artists, people who make a game of zombie sharpshooting, a scientist who thinks zombiism might just be the next step of human evolution, and the daughter of the plague spreader who might be the key to a cure. In the middle of it are two zombie hunters trying to capture a live specimen to bring back to scientist Gyno so he can continue looking for a cure. But through it all they talk about mundane stuff like bad cooking, beer, had not being able to piss when they're being watched. And, of course, there's plenty of nihilistic zombie-killing action. My only complaint is there is so much dialogue the subtitles fly by too fast for me to read them.

And that's the start of Holehead, 2011 edition.

Total Running Time: 311 minutes
My Total Minutes: 237,377

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