Sunday, June 21, 2009

2009 Another Hole in the Head Recap

Another Hole in the Head Film Festival wrapped on June 18. With a genre festival of "Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy," one needs to grade on the curve. A different standard is used to judge these films. In general, they have to "more" - more violent, more outrageous, more vulgar, more gratuitous, etc..

I pulled a "Jason" meaning I saw every film at the festival. Actually, that's not quite true. For some reason, they did not screen the short film (The Pick Up) before Black Devil Doll on June 18. The film started ~15 minutes late so maybe they scrapped the short film. The total count was 20 feature films and 14 short films.

A few films stood out.

The standout of the festival was The Horseman from Australia. The plot is a vanilla flavored revenge tale. In this particular instance, a father is out for revenge after his daughter gets involved in the porn industry and overdoses on heroin. Without any black humor or self-awareness, The Horseman is brutal series of violent vignettes. I can't begin to catalog the different acts of violence. The most memorable scene was when a man has his nipple ripped out by a pair of pliers and then the wound is cauterized with a blowtorch. If that doesn't scare you off, then The Horseman your kind of movie.

A half-step behind was the closing night film. Black Devil Doll set a new standard for raunchy humor. You know you are in for a ride when the movie poster tagline proclaims "He's a lover! He's a killer! He's a muthafuckin' puppet!" A zaftig Heather Murphy is alone and bored so she starts to play with a Ouija board. Only bad things happen in the movies when a Ouija board is involved. As it so happens, a black militant murderer/rapist (of white women) is executed at the same time. His spirit is transferred (via the Ouija board) to Heather's Howdy Doody looking puppet. The puppet is transformed from a red haired, freckled face white boy to a goateed, camouflage pants/paratroop boot wearing black militant...with a taste for kinky sex with white women...before (and sometimes after) murdering them. The movie goes beyond raunchy and would get an XXX rating if a human was in the lead role. The puppet gets into analingus, water sports, roofies and bends Natasha Talonz like a pretzel in a memorable sex montage. (Talonz next movie is tentatively titled Vaginal Holocaust.) Talonz brings enthusiasm to her role as the slutty friend. We are introduced to her when she receives phone call from Heather. She's having sex but she can multitask so she takes the call - coitus continuous. If that's not enough, she even has a conversation with her young daughter (off screen) while speaking on the phone and having vigorous sexual relations. Prior to that, we learned from her answering machine that the "6:30 Gang Bang is Full." The whole film follows suit - naked women, simulated puppet sex (even with the money shot), multiple murders, sexist/racist dialogue and a great time. Black Devil Doll was filmed in Antioch which is in the Bay Area.

Black Devil Doll

Takashi Miike's Crows: Episode Zero is a formulaic film but he executes it like a master. I'm not sure what to call it but the basic formula is that the hero has to battle a succession of enemies to work his way to the top. Usually, it's a gangster film where the young turk works his way up the food chain. In Crows, the setting is a high school that is apparently a training ground for the Yakuza. The film reminded me of a pair of Walter Hill films. One is legendary The Warriors and the other is Streets of Fire with Willem Dafoe and Michael Paré among others. All three films were very stylish and set in some fictitious alternate reality. Anyway, Miike brings his typical panache to the film which looks to have a bigger budget than his most famous films. That description is lacking in detail but a week after I saw the film, I can't remember the details but rather that I enjoyed myself. The gist of the film is a skinny Japanese kid kicks ass on other students, Yakuza and cops. He has to get his ass kicked and show his heart (à la Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke) to build his alliance.

Pig Hunt is like Deliverance set in Northern California crossed with Razorback. Four guys and a cute Asian gal from San Francisco drive up to Boonville to go pig hunting. One of the guys grew up in the area. They encounters some hillbillies, a commune of lesbian marijuana growers, a hippie Mandingo and a 3,000 lb wild boar. It doesn't take a genius to figure out where this is going. The hillbillies steal the show. After killing one of their bethren, the hillbillies go gunning for the City slickers. That scene is classic parody. Let's see one of them is dressed like a Catholic priest, one guy puts on a gas mask and rides around on his motorcycle, another is dressed in Terry Bradshaw Steeler jersey and they have jeep with a teddy bear hood ornament. Strong performance all around with nice touches of humor. There was a strange "torture narrative" subplot. Upon arriving at his late uncle's "cabin," the City folk see a bunch of Guantanamo Bay newspaper articles posted on the wall. I'm not sure how that advanced the plot or filled in the backstory.

If Pig Hunt is Deliverance crossed with Razorback, Run! Bitch Run! is I Spit on Your Grave crossed with Last on the House on the Left with a dash of Kill Bill. Two Catholic schoolgirls (complete with plaid skirts and knee socks) sell Bibles door to door as school fundraiser. One day, they knock on the wrong door and encounter Lobo, a vicious drug dealer, Marla, a lesbian whore and murderer and Clint, a stutterer with a fetish for Catholic nun porn. Anyway, the two schoolgirls get raped (one of them is also forced to orally copulate Marla), one gets murdered while the other is left for dead. Of course, she's not quite dead. After awaking from her coma, she starts crossing names of her list. The films gets extra points for the machete in the rectum demise of Lobo; blood and fecal matter splattering on the faces of two women. If that isn't your cup of tea, maybe Marla masturbating with a wooden toilet plunger handle is more your style.

Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf was an American film directed by and starring Kurando Mitsutake. Mixing sepia tones from Sergio Leone, that Toshirō Mifune film where he played a samurai in the American Old West and a number of genre films where the hero has to traverse the gauntlet of various assassins with innovative ways to kill. Samurai Avenger also throws in some homage to classic grind house films. A running joke throughout the film is that whenever a particular gory scene is shown, the quality of the "film stock" drops several levels. According to the faux disclaimer, the film was shown in its original format with censored scenes restored from well worn prints.

The plot involves a Japanese man whose wife was raped and murdered while vacationing in modern day Western America. He pleads for his daughter's life. Nathan Flesher, the main villain, proposes that the man gouge out his eyes in exchange for his daughter's life. The man dutifully complies but Nathan still kills the girl. Subsequently, Flesher is convicted of another crime and on the eve of his release, Mitsutake returns to the US to get his revenge. In the intervening years, Mitsutake has transformed himself into the Blind Wolf Samurai. Not confident in his own abilities, Flesher has hired seven assassins to intercept and dispatch the avenging samurai. Among the more memorable assassins are the cute woman that fights topless to distract & hypnotize her opponents, the pregnant witch that can call forth zombie warriors and the one-eyed kung fu master. The blind samurai ends up missing a few body parts by the end of the film and there is also an amusing katana blade Caesarean.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Scottish film The Dead Outside bored me enough that I fell asleep. I am reminded of a story I read a few years ago that presaged renewed Scottish nationalism. In London, they were showing a Scottish film on television with subtitles. The dialogue was in English but the actor's Scottish brogues made their words indecipherable. This became a minor cause célèbre among Scots. There was a little of that at play in The Dead Outside as I had a hard time understanding what the actors were saying. Their accents had something to do with it but so did the low budget of the film. The elliptical plot didn't help either.

Blood River and Sex Galaxy didn't impress me much either. The other films were entertaining enough but not worth an entry. Audie and the Wolf had an interesting song that I would like to hear again. The lyrics were something like Lah-dee, lah-dee, lah-dee; my sister know karate; she went to a party; and beat everybody

The two pinku eiga (pinku eiga) films fell a little flat as well. I think I've seen six pinku eiga films between this festival and IndieFest in February. The first one I saw (S+M Hunter) at IndieFest was the only one that I truly enjoyed. The other films just can't recapture the joie de vivre of S+M Hunter.

Among the short films, Showdown of the Godz provided yeoman-like entertainment but was most notable for George Takei's appearance. Machine Girl Lite provided an alternate reality to last year's hightly enjoyable Machine Girl full feature film. Even more lacking of character development than Machine Girl (which at least provided one dimensional caricatures), Machine Girl Lite is silly to the point of boring. Although the sight of a cute Japanese girl sprouting a machine gun from her ass whenever she gets embarrassed is good for a few seconds of guffaws but extended shots of muzzle flashes and non-lethal bullet impacts gets old quickly.

I guess I'd have to give the top honors in the short film category to Marooned?, a short film that savages geeky, role-playing Trekkie types.


2009 Another Hole in the Head

Feature Films
Coming Soon; Thai with subtitles; (2009)
Be a Man! Samurai School; Japanese with subtitles; (2008) - Official Website
Sex Galaxy; (2008) - Official Website
The Horseman; (2008) - Official Website
Someone's Knocking at the Door; (2009) - Official Website
Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf; (2008) - Official Website
Crows: Episode Zero directed by Takashi Miike; Japanese with subtitles; (2008) - Official Website
Reel Zombies; (2008) - Official Website
Morgue Story; Portuguese with subtitles; (2009)
Silence of the Sushi Rolls; Japanese with subtitles; (2002) - Pink Eiga Website
Ninja Pussy Cat; Japanese with subtitles; (2003) - Pink Eiga Website
Monsters from the Id; (2008) - Official Website
Audie and the Wolf; (2009) - Official Website
Run! Bitch Run!; (2008) - Official Website
Frat House Massacre; (2008)
Pig Hunt; (2008) - Official Website
The Dead Outside; (2008) - Official Website
Detective Story directed by Takashi Miike; Japanese with subtitles; (2007)
Blood River; (2009)
Black Devil Doll; (2009) - Official Website

Short Films
The Wigly; (2009)
Marooned?; (2009)
The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow; (2009)
Machine Girl Lite; Japanese with subtitles; (2008)
Showdown of the Godz with George Takei; (2009)
Everything I Needed to Know About Zombies I Learned From the Movies; (2009)
The Legend of Ol' Goddie; (2009)
The Future of Fucking; (2009)
Snowbound; (2009)
Eat Me; (2009)
Without; (2009)
X-Mess Detritus; (2009)
The Vagina Song; (2009)
Daniel; (2009)

No comments: