Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Hole in the Head Film Festival

I saw 26 programs at the seemingly interminable 2010 Hole in the Head Film Festival. The festival ran from July 8 to 29 at the Roxie and Viz. I missed 7 days due to the Silent Film Festival and the Kurosawa program at PFA but was still able to catch about 80% of the films.

I chatted with Jeff Ross at Indiefest in February and he mentioned he was trying to schedule Hole in the Head to not conflict with the Silent Film Festival or the SF Jewish Film Festival. He was unsuccessful on both counts. 32 films in 22 days makes for a leisurely paced festival. In years past, they had some matinee screenings on Saturdays and Sundays but this year they only screened at 5 PM, 7 PM and 9 PM each day with an 11 PM screening on Fridays & Saturdays. I could have caught all 32 films but it just became a bridge too far.

2010 Hole in the Head Film Festival – Feature Films
Alien vs Ninja; Japanese with subtitles; (2010)
American Grindhouse; documentary; (2010) - Official Website
Dr. “S” Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies; (2010) - Official Website
The Exterminator starring Robert Ginty; (1980)
Fell; (2010) - Official Website
Future X-Cops starring Andy Lau and Bingbing Fan; Cantonese with subtitles; (2010)
Grotesque; Japanese with subtitles; (2009) - Official Website
Jimmy Tupper vs. The Goatman of Bowie; (2010) - Official Website
Metropolis 1984 Redux; directed by Giorgio Moroder; (1984) - Official Website
Mil Mascaras vs. The Aztec Mummy; (2007) - Official Website
Mutant Girl Squad; Japanese with subtitles; (2010) - Official Website
Nightmares in Red, White and Blue; documentary; (2009) - Official Website
Phasma Ex Machina; (2010) - Official Website
Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre; various languages with subtitles; (2009)
Robogeisha; Japanese with subtitles; (2009) - Official Website
Samurai Princess; Japanese with subtitles; (2009) - Official Website
Satan Hates You; (2009) - Official Website
A Serbian Film; Serbian with subtitles; (2009)
Sexy Time Trip Ninjas; Japanese with subtitles; (1984)
Shadow; (2009) - Official Website
Silent Night, Zombie Night; (2009) - Official Website
Symbol; Japanese and Spanish with subtitles; (2009) - Official Website
Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives; (2010) - Official Website
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil starring Alan Tudyck; (2009) - Official Website
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl; Japanese with subtitles; (2009) - Official Website
The Violent Kind; (2010)

Mil Mascaras vs. The Aztec Mummy was part of a double feature sponsored by Thrillville. Will "The Thrill" Viharo and Monica "The Tiki Goddess" Cortes made their debut at the Roxie. Sadly, it was the last Thrillville road show as Will is focusing on his writing career and "Forbidden Thrills" movie series at the Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda.

The second half of Mil Mascaras double feature was Academy of Doom which I skipped out on. July was quite a grind in terms of seeing films and I was exhausted at that point. Will or someone sponsored free beer so they gave away Trumer Pils before the screening. I had a couple and it did not put me in the mood for another hour at the Roxie.

There weren't as many short films this year.

2010 Hole in the Head – Short Films
Riding the Groper Train “Mr. Pink Talks About the Groper Train Series”; Japanese with subtitles
Stranger (Perfect Machine)
Demiurge Emesis narrated by Danny Elfman
Belated Valentines Lover
Escape from Death Planet

According to the festival guide, Ice Cream Sunday was supposed to proceed Grotesque but it didn’t on the July 22 screening.

No short film was scheduled to accompany Ticked-Off Trannies but an animated video of He-Man Master of the Universe set to 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” played before the film. It turned out to be my favorite short film of the festival.


In terms of films, I thought the festival line-up was weak. I'm not really a horror, science fiction or fantasy film fan but I can enjoy a "good" film in those genres.

I can only recommend two films from the festival.

My favorite was Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Tucker combined humor with the slasher film tropes to make an entertaining film. I should add that Alan Tudyck, one of my favorite actors portrayed Tucker who served as the de facto straight man in the titular duo. The plot involves a bunch of increasingly sociopathic college kids on vacation in the woods down south (think Deliverance). They encounter a pair of good-natured nay sensitive Southern Men (as Neil Young said). A series of misunderstandings lead to tragicomic events.

Instead of recounting the plot in detail, I'll add that Tucker and Dale vs. Evil reminded me of Scream without the self-awareness.

The other film which merits a resounding recommendation is the outrageously titled Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives. The film was an homage to 70's grindhouse films like I Spit on Your Grave except the heroine was a tranny. The titles summarizes the plot to a sufficient degree for these purposes. I will admit that for most of the film, I thought star Krystal Summers was the only "female" among the cast but I was disabused of that notion during the Q&A and subsequent web surfing.

A few scenes could have been edited down (particularly towards the end when the bad guy describes in annoyingly verbose dialogue exactly what torture will befall Bubbles based on the playing card she chooses). The faux 1970's grindhouse flourishes (scratches, missing reels, etc.) was also unnecessary. It's hard to criticize a film titled Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives that is performed with such gusto. Like Tucker and Dale, Trannies combines the avenging angel film with healthy dosage of gay humor. As William Belli who co-starred as Rachel Slurr said of the film, "It's a period film except known of us had our period."

According to their website, Ticked-Off Trannies is getting a limited theatrical relese in October.


A number of films were interesting or entertaining but I can only give them a half-hearted hurrah.

Most prominent among the "also rans" is A Serbian Film. The mundanely titled film depicts some of the most perverse acts captured in cinema - a man anally sodomizes his prepubescent son and another man seems to have sex with a new born child. The films is supposed to be an allegory for how the Serbian government has treated their citizens although I think that the political commentary was lost on most audience members (including me). The screening I went to had the most mid-movie walkouts of any films I attended at the festival.

Metropolis 1984 Redux was also worthwhile but after seeing the Alloy Orchestra scored, restored version of Metropolis, the 1984 redux could not compare. The soundtrack held up surprisingly well given its age. I thought nostalgia for my youth would give the edge to the Moroder version but the 80s soundtrack sounded like the 1980s whereas the Alloy Orchestra rendition sounded timeless. I will admit the Moroder soundtrack was quite good and enhanced the story.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl was the best of a disappointing batch of Japanese films. The film had a bit too much gore for my taste. The gore doesn't bother me but it was repeated ad nauseam for most of the film. I fell asleep several times. VG vs. FG had an amusing subplot involving the various cliques at the high school where the action took place. Frankenstien Girl was part of the Lolita clique so it received the most screen time. The other two cliques involved the Cutters (self-mutilators) and the Afros (Japanese in black face who aspire to be African American - go Flo-Jo!) and provided an occasional smirk.

Actually, there was a Japanese film that was more intense than the typically CGI/splatter films. Grotesque was one of these films where a crazy guy kidnaps and tortures people. In this instance, the kidnapper is a deranged doctor and the victims are a pair of shy kids at the beginning of their romance. To the film's credit, the pair actually grow in terms of maturity and courage while the mad doctor is cutting off body parts. It became painful to watch but it was never boring. I guess that's what Saw is like but I've never seen those films. My understanding is that the kidnapper is never seen in those films but the creepy and earnest doctor's presence in Grotesque enhances the film.

Dr. “S” Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies, Jimmy Tupper vs. The Goatman of Bowie and Phasma Ex Machina were low budget American films involving zombies, monsters-in-the-woods and poltergeists, respectively. Jimmy Tupper was my favorite of the bunch. Most of the film was a character study of the dysfunctional Tupper as he camps out in the woods waiting to encounter the Goatman. Towards the end of the film, I hoped the film would dispense with the man-beasts and make Tupper's psyche the real monster but alas Goatmen made an appearance. I will say they masterfully ended the film with a cliffhanger to set up the sequel - Jimmy Tupper vs. The Goatmen of Bowie

Satan Hates You was such an amateurish morality tale that I think it had to be tongue-in-cheek. Complete with imps in dinner jackets egging on the self-destructive behavior of a self-loathing homosexual and promiscuous teenage girl, the film descends to didactic mawkishness. However, it has just enough "wink wink nudge nudge" to make me believe it was satirizing the Jack Chick comics the film so obviously resembles.

Speaking of Jack Chick, I work in the Financial District of San Francisco and I've noticed that someone is placing Jack Chick comics on boxes of the poles with the pedestrian crossing signs. I'm referring to the box with the button you press to activate the crossing signal. I see the minature comic books or "Chick tracts" on these boxes a few times per week.

The other films in the festival were unmemorable or even unwatchable.

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