Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Closing Night

The final two movies of the festival were last Monday night. And it was a great send-off

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Secret Screening #1, a sequel to the secret screening from last year. Wherein our heroes are in trouble as the bad guys...strike back. And our main hero learns a lot of shit from a little green dwarf but not enough and then runs off to fight the bid baddie only to find out that long ago big baddie f-cked his momma. Also, the really cool guy becomes the really, really, really cool guy. Like cool as ice...or frozen carbonite.

RETURN OF THE JEDI Secret Screening #2, the sequel to Secret Screening #1, wherein main good guy is now a bad-ass instead of whiny farm boy. And super-cool guy warms up a bit. And there's a fight in the desert with a bunch of cool-ass monsters that people forget how cool they were because then it switches to a bunch of freakin' Care Bears running around a forest. And they play drums on the nameless bad guys' heads. And big baddie turns out to be a little bit of a good guy after all. Especially compared to bigger baddie who was controlling him all the time.

And that's the end of Holehead 2015.

Total Running Time: 258 minutes
My Total Minutes: 411,570

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 10

4 more films yesterday, Another Hole in the Head Film Festival is almost over for 2015. Just two "secret" screening left tonight. And if you've been to the festival throughout the week--or if you're just not a complete moron--you know what those are.

We started Sunday with the final shorts block, #9. I no particular order...
GENGHIS KHAN CONQUERS THE MOON: Well, he has conquered the rest of his known world, so when an astronomer shows him the moon, and the Sea of Tranquility, he questions what use is it to see something if you can't reach out and take it?
HATRED: Two brothers, a scarecrow, and a lot of pain, fear, and hatred.
THE MAN WHO LOVED FLOWERS: With a smile like that, he catches everyone's eye and brightens their day. And he's got the perfect bunch of flowers for a special lady. Based on a Stephen King short story.
PERSPHONE: A woman wakes up in a box. She works her way out, and finds she's underground. Fear of being buried alive, and more.
THE PRAYER: A variation on "Now I lay me down to sleep..." from a man moving on to another place.
SPRING GARDEN: From Boise comes this story of a man who has always wanted to kill someone, and his adventures with blackouts and nosebleeds. Very funny.
TAMPOON: The terror of women's health products. Beware that string...
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU: A clever short story about bullied teenagers in a car crash, who discover that when they die, they come back to life. So what to do about their friend who is only paralyzed? From the director of the 2012 Holehead hit MON AMI.

And then on to the features, starting with the Christmas slasher flick, ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE. It starts right away with a mystery figure picking up a creepy Santa Mask and taking some hedge clippers to the obligatory hot girl in the shower and then to her boyfriend, going right after his manhood. Yup, before we even meet the heroine, we get a chopped-off dick, because it's that kind of movie. I guess Santa has decided everyone is naughty this year, and coal is not enough punishment. The heroine is Rachel Kimmel, back home (in Napa) visiting her grandmother for Christmas break. And she helps out Mrs. Garrett, the weird woman next door, with her decorations. So... many... creepy... decorations. There's some history between the families--Rachel's mom went missing years ago, and so did Mrs. Garrett's daughter. I won't get more into that because therein lies massive spoilers. I will say that it's a funny, colorful entry into the slasher genre that doesn't exactly break much new ground, but is a lot of fun.

One of the scream queens in ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE was Jessica Cameron who directed TRUTH OR DARE which showed at Holehead in 2013, and she directed the next feature of this year, her "fucked-up lesbian love story," MANIA. This is a strange film, very different from her previous and not at all what I was expecting. It starts off simple--an on-screen clinical definition of mania, then a pair of lovers--Mel and Brooke, although I detected no comic reference there. Brooke is on medication for her mental illness. During the day, Brooke loses her job and Mel is busy at hers, so tragedy occurs and Brooke ends up brutally murdering their friend who comes to check on her. Very brutally, like excessive head smashing. And I think it's going to be that kind of movie. The hit the road quickly, and when the first dream sequence rolls around, I realize that Cameron's trying something different. She's not going for a horror movie, she's going for an art film with horror elements. There's a repetition--or variations on a theme--going on, with Brooke missing her meds and sneaking off to fuck and kill men over and over again, and Mel increasingly desperate to fulfill her promise to take care of her and make everything okay. There's no police tracking them down or other typical genre elements. There are some weird encounters with freaky rednecks and a psycho killer woman. It kind of made me wonder if the police aren't following them because the outside world is even more fucked-up than they are. Judging by the reactions of my fellow regulars, I might have been the only person last night who really liked this movie, and I think that's because I stopped taking it literally pretty early on and looked at it as a metaphor for the repeated mistakes and unhealthy behaviors in a codependent relationship. After all, Brooke might have mania, but Mel is the one who is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If only there was a word for that.

And finally, the closing night film with the squishy, gooey body horror/female sexuality tale BITE. Casey is about to get married, but first she takes a trip down to Costa Rica with her girlfriends. There she gets bitten by an unknown insect. Just a tiny little bite, but back home it gets worse. It oozes, it turns red, and it gets bigger. That and the fact that she was already getting cold feet about the marriage--particularly about her domineering, conservative mother-in-law-to-be, and the whole unresolved question of having kids. He wants them, she doesn't. Which is too bad, because she's gonna have some whether she wants to or not. See that bite... well, it progresses from oozing, to making her throw up clear slime, to making her pop out little fishy eggs all over the place. It just gets more and more disgusting over the course of a week or so, and when those near her try to intervene, it's not just gross but deadly. In fact, she kind of starts developing gross super powers, like super-hearing, a voice that can break glass, and the ability to spit poison at people. With a different ending, this could be the best superhero origin story since TEETH (2007) but instead it's a goopy, gross, and endlessly fun way to cap off the festival.

Total Running Time: 341 minutes
My Total Minutes: 411,312

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 9

The second big Saturday in the festival, six programs starting at 11 am and ending after midnight. We start, as usual, with some shorts.

Shorts Block 7
BUNNY BIZNESS: A cute stop-motion goth kid adventure, as he arrives at a taxidermist's shop to pick up his birthday present. Problem is, it's not dead yet.
COOL WATER: Surrealism and creepy old man masks. It's about death. And it's too early on too little sleep to enjoy this.
HIGHWAY MAN: Dystopian near-future. A hero who is carrying a lot of guilt and regret. A woman being threatened gives him one last chance to be a hero.
I DARE YOU: After an outbreak (I don't think they ever use the word "zombie") rumors abound of government experiments on the victims. And young people play "dare" games where they run through infected zones and try to return with proof of contacted with the infected (and, of course, don't get bit along the way.) Fun, inventive film, which hopefully will become a feature in the near future.
LARRY GONE DEMON: Literally, the roommate from hell. Getting him to pay the rent is the least of their problems. Getting him to stop playing death metal and smearing his feces everywhere is a bit more pressing.
LAST BREATH: Three women in a car on a wintry road, discussing men and sexism in cinema. And then the car breaks down and they have to survive a creepy cult.
MAMOCHKA: A mother's pain in two Russian civil wars (1905 and 1922) told in computer animation that rests squarely in the uncanny valley. Unpleasant.
PARTY ANIMALS: Bear interrupts his hibernation to invite all the animals over to his mansion for dinner. There he proposes a game--whoever is the last one alive will inherit his mansion. So bunnies, deer, turtle, fox, wolf, etc. all start playing the game. Oh yeah, and they're all played by humans in crude animal masks.
PLAY SPACE: A little girl in a maze of tubes and ball pit meets and  befriends some impish demons in this cute little cartoon.
THE WATCHER: A young photographer in the woods, looking for some peaceful, serene vistas to photograph. Instead he finds a madman trying to kill him. And it goes on and on forever. I took the opportunity to take a little nap.
WHISPER: A beach cabin, and a woman trying to kick the ghosts of addiction ends up raising some ghosts instead.

Then another shorts block, number 8
ADVANCED DOODLING: A cool bit of colorful fun with art, and the art-making process.
COOKOO: A short music video with a nutria's skull taking the part of a cuckoo's head.
CRAP YOU: A little boy gets a stuffed raven at a yard sale. When he turns it, it says "crap you." And then it won't stop saying it, no matter how much he tries to destroy it. It keeps...coming...back. Great ending, too.
DOG BOWL: A woman who doesn't quite fit in with humans. In fact, she's more simpatico with her dog, drinking from a dog bowl and stealing an wearing a service dog's vest. And then she learns the surprising truth (either that or she's just fuckin' nuts.)
GNOME & MR. DONUT: A cute, funny cartoon of a gnome roofing his pastry house, when one of his building supplies stands up and rebels.
LOVE AND ZOMBIES: A woman has turned down her boyfriend's marriage proposal, so they need to talk about their relationship. It doesn't matter that they're trapped in a bar surrounded by zombies, this is important.
MR. HARVISH: A choose your own adventure movie, where three times there's a decision point and the audience had to vote red or blue on where Mr. Harvish goes next. So in theory there are 8 different movies in there, but you only get to see one. And no, there's nowhere online you can choose different paths... Anyway, it's an interesting idea and the film itself--at least in the version last night it was a story of a disturbed man cracking up after killing his wife--was pretty good. But honestly stopping the film 3 times, bringing up the house lights, and voting kind of ground everything to a halt. Also, this idea has been done before, and with a larger budget. Although my understanding is that movie really, really sucked.
SMALL GARDEN: A weird, surreal, psychedelic bit of animation, as only the Japanese could do.
SON: A little boy uses his sick day to go exploring while his mom is out. And what he finds in the secret room will change everything.
TRICK OR TREAT: Three little kids on Halloween. The witch gives out pennies. The gorilla gives out a good amount of candy. But that spooky, abandoned house, stay away from it. It's lights aren't even on. Oh, wait, the light just turned on...
VILLAIN: A comic book come to life, from the villain's point of view. The heroes are the sadistic ones from a villain's point of view. The only difference is power and government backing.
WILL I SCATTER AWAY?: Surreal danger, as a man is chasing himself. Shot over San Francisco and nearby, in beautiful black and white, and featuring an oddly dissonant soundtrack where the Foley almost works but doesn't really (like you hear footsteps on a hard surface when he's walking through a field and nothing when he's walking on concrete. Sort of the uncanny valley equivalent of sound.)

And then we moved on to the features, starting with SLUMLORD, one of guest programmer Michael Guillen's picks from Fantasia. This was his answer to AirBnB, and it's a pretty grisly one. The McManus brothers, whose FUNERAL KINGS opened Indiefest back in 2013, produced this feature (directed by Victor Zarcoff) about a super-sleazy evil landlord. We start with a little text about surveillance cameras and how many people are under surveillance in their own homes without them knowing about it. Then we see creepy landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) buying a fiber optic camera from a salesman who makes a creepy joke about hiding it in the toilet, if you're into it. Gerald doesn't react. When a young couple, expecting a baby soon, tours the place, she mentions how it smells like dirty diapers whenever the landlord is there. And from that moment on I could smell it whenever he was on screen, because he just fucking looks the part so well. Of course he's watching them--in the pool, in the shower, everywhere. And it doesn't help that the young husband is having an affair and Gerald has all the goods on him. Things escalate from creepy to extra creepy to terrifying to deadly. It's a movie that will make you want to take a shower afterwards--but check for cameras first.

And then Michael Guillen's next pick from Fantasia is a truly terrifying (because it's terrifying true-to-life) story of religious fundamentalism. SHE WHO MUST BURN is probably the final film from the octogenarian godfather of Canadian independent film, Larry Kent (who was at Indiefest in 2012 for his film EXLEY as well as a retrospective screening of his 1967 film, HIGH.) And it might be his best (his films are hard to find, and I think we need to organize a retrospective of his work in San Francisco.) It's a Canadian critique on American religious fundamentalism and Planned Parenthood controversies (although I don't think the organization is ever mentioned, it's impossible not to make the connection.) Angela is a counselor at a women's health clinic, and wife of a deputy sheriff. In the opening scene, a man in the waiting room waits for a doctor to come out and then promptly and calmly shoots him (while quoting that bible quote made famous in PULP know the one about the tyrannies of evil men and knowing my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.) Angela keeps up her counseling for women's health, despite daily harassment and threats at her home--and the fact that there's no longer a clinic within less than a day's journey. And when she arranges for a woman to get a breast cancer screening--and to take her young daughter and spend the night--the church makes the wrong assumption, because obviously the only thing women's clinics do is kill unborn babies. The harassment ramps up, her husband tries to fight back, but the sheriff is weak and blind to how far the religious fanatics are willing to go. There's a storm brewing, both literally and figuratively, and the climax is already revealed in the title. What struck me about this movie is how fully developed all the characters were. Even the villainous religious fanatics, I was struck with how much peace and serenity they showed (well, except for Caleb, who was always being criticized for not doing enough.) The thing is, the world is rarely if ever a peaceful or serene place, and so in general something (e.g., faith) that brings peace and serenity to your life is a good thing. But if it brings serenity while you're committing atrocities, that's truly terrifying. It's easy to dismiss fanatics when they're frothing at the mouth and calling for death to the non-believers. It's much more frightening when they're at peace, and calmly and quietly carrying out "God's will." This has been the standout of the festival so far (with just one more day to go.)

And next up was the silent film event, Never Silent! Vol. 2: THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. I had missed vol. 1 with Nosferatu last year so I didn't know what to expect. I'm always a little wary of "updated" soundtracks to silent classics. Too often (and I'm looking at SFIFF here) they become more about the musician than the film--little more than a concert with a film in the background. So I'm very pleased to report that Its Own Infinite Flower actually played an accompaniment to the film, letting the film come first and doing a John Carpenter inspired minimalist techno score that accentuated the atmosphere of the film. Caligari is of course a classic, a story of a carnival performer who shows off his "Somnambulist" Cesare, who is implicated in a string of grisly murders, apparently controlled by Dr. Caligari. I remember when I first saw it thinking it was great (especially the bizarre, crooked angles of the sets) but being completely unimpressed by the final reveal that it was all the mad dreams of a mental patient. So I was pleased to learn shortly after watching it the first time that in fact the final scenes were added at the orders of the government censors, and never originally part of the story. So watch it, enjoy it, and ignore the final framing device.

And finally, the late, late show screening of DEAD BODY. What was supposed to be a small post-high school get together in a cabin in the woods quickly turns into a larger party, with nine altogether. The host is kind of peeved, but things move along. And then for a bit of fun one of them suggests they play a game of Dead Body. They each draw slips of paper from the hat. One of them is the "murderer" and when he or she pinches someone they become the victim and play dead. Then someone yells out "Dead Body"--either someone who finds the body or the murderer himself can call it out to try and throw people off track. They reconvene, talk it out, and everyone decides who the murderer is. If you guess wrong, you're also "dead." So they try a few times, people aren't really getting the hang of it, and then someone gets the hang of it too well, as someone is actually killing them off. Is it the weird kid? The jock outsider that nobody knows? The girl with a past record of pulling a knife on someone? Could be anyone...but none of them really make sense. I did guess the motive pretty early on, but it was still a lot of goofy fun watching it all play out, and the ending is definitely satisfying. A good way to end an exhausting day at the movies.

Total Running Time: 552 minutes
My Total Minutes: 410,971

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 8

The big final weekend started last night with three films, once again let's jump right in.

SUSPENSION jumped right in with a scene of a dominatrix getting ready to torture a psychotic murderer with the old iron-poker-up-the-ass trick. But he escapes and turns the tables turns out it's just the active, artistic imagination of a schoolgirl. One whose father did snap and kill 8 people years ago, and one who is regarded by almost all her classmates as a freak. Director Jeffrey Scott Lando, whose SAVAGE ISLAND played at Holehead way back in...2004 at the first Holehead (if you don't count the final all-horror weekend of 2003 Indiefest, which some of us count as the first--or zeroth--Holehead) is back and updating classic horror genres to modern times again. Back in 2004 he was playing with redneck horror. Now he's playing with slasher horror in the mold of HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY THE 13TH (oh hey, look at the date!) Anyway, after taking some excessive abuse from bullies, Emily (Ellen MacNevin, rocking the lead role. As an aside, strong female lead performances have been a feature of Holehead this year) goes home to babysit her brother while the rest of the kids go to a party to drink, do drugs, and have underage sex. But Emily just stays at home with her little brother--her creepy, almost non-verbal brother--who wants her to draw more of her bloody horror story featuring her escaped psycho father torturing and killing all those who have wronged her. And the movie switches back and forth from her babysitting to the story-within-the-story, until...they converge. And then things get gloriously out-of-control bloody violent. I loved this movie!

Oh, and I happened to be wearing my orange psycho ward jumpsuit and a hockey mask in honor of the date and the late-night movie, but it turned out to be even more appropriate for SUSPENSION, so that was an awesome little bonus. And for the people behind me (which is everyone, since I sit in the front row) I turned the mask around (mostly because it gets too hot and too hard to see through it) so they got to see the back of my head staring at them through the movie. I know they appreciated that. It's one of those rare moments that I wish I were someone else, just so I can experience the awesomeness of being around me. (No, I'm not too much of a narcissist, why do you ask?)

Next up was SACRED BLOOD, by the maverick Coppola, Christopher--whose THE CURSE OF BLOODHEAD also played at Holehead 2004. And he was also in attendance, so it was kind of a reunion of original Holehead filmmakers. Chris said he made this movie as a love letter to San Francisco, and is the first of 16 independent features he plans to make here. And that's pretty exciting. But before San Francisco, the movie starts out in...crap, I forget what Eastern European country...I wanna say Bulgaria, but maybe Georgia? (I just checked, it's Georgia.) Anyway Natia (Anna Biani) is a circus performer--a sharpshooter who lights candles perched on her sister's head. Their circus is struggling, but of all things a dog act perks things up...until it all goes wrong and she gets bit. So, with a bad case of vampirism she shows up in San Francisco knowing nobody but possessing some awesome fighting skills. She needs money, and she needs help wiring it back to her sister in Georgia. But the powers that be in San Francisco don't make it very easy for her. Lilly (Bai Ling) is a sexy vampire of Chinatown who gives her some tips. Kato Kaelin (yes) shows up as a pimp and is taken out pretty quickly. And Rob Nilsson is the God-fanger (Christopher just had to have some fun with his uncle Francis' most famous film series) who runs the city. They're not really there to help, they're their to use her. Luke is actually there to help. (Bailey Coppola, Christopher's son. And I will try to avoid pointing out that he looks like a young version of his uncle Nicolas Cage, because apparently he hates that. But I will say he did a great job in the film and welcome a new generation of Coppolas to the family business.)  A struggling artist who is immediately infatuated and just wants to draw her. And so an eventual showdown is set. Allegorical San Francisco politics is all over this film, which makes me wonder how well this will play outside the Bay Area (but then, that was true of a lot of his films) but for those with even a passing familiarity will recognize a San Francisco that's ruled by (literal) bloodsuckers but still features some good people who will help make it your home.

A visibly drunk, wine-sloshing Christopher Coppola did a Q&A that was as over-the-top as his personality. And it went a little long, but nobody other than the regular pass-holders who were sticking around to see the 11:00 11:15 film seemed to care.

And finally, the late, late show, FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (ignore the fact that this was number 4 out of...10...11 if you count JASON VS. FREDDY.) It starts with Jason's body being taken to the morgue. Where the doctor and nurse getting busy seems to wake him up again and start another slashing spree. Enter the teens (including Crispin Glover and his epic dancing) who are there to drink, go skinny dipping, and fuck. So of course that brings Jason, and the body count rises. And right across the street there's a family with a very young Corey Feldman as a monster-special-effects obsessed little boy. And ultimately he has to be the one to take out Jason. And I really don't care if that's a spoiler, because this movie is over 30 years old, and they all follow a formula. But I will say this about the ending. It's set up so that Corey Feldman's character Tommy Jarvis might snap and continue Jason's legacy. Sadly, that's not the case, because that would've been awesome. Instead, the grown-up version of his character faces off against Jason in a few more movies, becoming Jason's prime nemesis. Which is cool, too, I guess. I mention this mainly because so many fans last night asked about it.

Total Running Time: 278 minutes
My Total Minutes: 410,419

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 7

Two movies on Thursday, let's just jump straight in.

Speaking of jumping straight in, that's what ALL I NEED did, opening with an underwear clad young woman, bound in a room, she has no idea where or why. She looks around and sees other women, still unconscious, all bound, all in their underwear. This is not as sexy as it sounds. In fact this movie deserves quite a lot of credit for portraying the stereotypical costume of the damsel in horror film distress as being about vulnerability instead of pandering to the audience. Anyway, another woman is awake and tries to help her. But every once in a while--you never know when--a creepy, silent man in coveralls, gloves, and a hood walks in, drags a girl away, and butchers her (offscreen; while there's  plenty of blood in the film it's judicious in it's use.) So the film is about her escape. And it's about building tension perfectly. Much of the fear comes from waiting and dreading what will happen next, not the jump-out-and-scare-you frights (although it's good at that, too.) Caitlin Stasey is excellent in the lead. In fact, she's so good that when they needed to do re-shoots she was hired away to a TV series and they had to write in a subplot and change the ending. And the subplot works excellently, too. Just when the tension in the room reaches a pitch, we switch to a story of a man with money troubles, and the mysterious organization that offers him work as a delivery man--but that's just a test of his loyalty to see if he's up for something bigger. And that's a whole different kind of tension. Instead of her visceral fear, his is more of a puzzlement. I could even bring in some gender politics and point out that women fear losing their lives while men fear losing power. But maybe that's going a little to far. What I do know is this was a great movie, and one that brings fresh new energy and ideas to the damsel-in-distress horror sub-genre.

And continuing with the damsel-in-distress sub-genre, we had a special sneak preview screening of GIRL IN WOODS, and all I can say is I was terribly disappointed. It starts off looking great, it's got production values well above most Holehead selections. It's got great acting, starring Juliet Reeves as a woman who is still traumatized by watching her father kill himself when she was a little girl. She and her boyfriend are on a vacation in a cabin, when he proposes and goes from boyfriend to fiancé. And then, on a walk in the woods, just as they're heading back, her fiancé kills himself--a shot to the head, just like her father. And she's alone, traumatized again, not knowing how to get back to civilization (despite the fact that they only walked a few hours away from the cabin.) And that's where it loses me. She has no survival skills, not even basic common sense, but she survives anyway all while losing her grip on her sanity (many conversations with other versions of herself ensue.) Not only does she survive, her phone survives for 11 days, until she notices there's a map on it and then the battery dies. That was the crowning glory that broke my suspension of disbelief. This movie asks me to make too many jumps away from common sense, and I just couldn't do it. Sorry.

Now with that said, there is an interpretation (strengthened by the ending, which featured a "twist" that was telegraphed from near the start) that makes it all make sense, but it requires that 100% of the movie be false. And I'm just not up for going back and imagining what really happened while she was crazy the whole time. And explaining what works and what doesn't with that interpretation would take more effort than I care to give reveal too many spoilers. Yeah, I'm gonna go with the spoiler excuse.

Total Running Time: 172 minutes
My Total Minutes: 410,141

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 6

Two more movies on Wednesday, a day when I was so exhausted that I didn't even have a beer. That felt weird. But the movies were great!

First up was CASH ONLY, a story of a struggling Albanian American landlord in Detroit. Elvis Martini (Nickola Shreli, who also wrote the script) might have the coolest freakin' name in the world, but his life is not that great. A couple of years ago he burnt down his house for the insurance money, and while he was never charged, it was suspicious enough that the insurance didn't pay out. But that's not the bad part--unbeknownst to him his wife was home taking a nap. Now the mortgage on his apartment complex is in arrears, he has 4 weeks to pay up, and that's not his only debt. He owes money to bad people and his tenants are...not good people (except for the gay guy who's really doing a nice job cleaning up the place.) His friend Kush is growing pot in the basement, there's a hooker who leaves her son at home alone with no food...and none of them are paying their rent regularly (again, except for the gay guy, but even he's a bit late.) He needs that money now, and in the process of shaking them down he ends up evicting the wrong person. Someone who stole something from a very, very bad man. And now his daughter is in danger, and if he's not smart he will be in even more danger. Shreli does a great job carrying the movie, and the tension builds beautifully as he struggles to do the right thing. The ending is way over the top, which in the hands of a less skilled writer, director, or actor could feel wildly out of place. But they make it not just work, but build to an excellent climax. Great fuckin' movie!

And then VALLEY OF THE SASQUATCH was a bit of good-ol' bigfoot fun, but with a solid human drama behind it. Michael and his father Roger are moving to a cabin in the woods. We learn pretty quickly that Michael's mother died in a car crash and they are both morning in their own way. Which involves a lot of passive-aggressive fighting with each other. The cabin belongs to Michael's uncle (Roger's brother-in-law) Will, and Roger invites along his buddy Sergio, a loud, drunken, macho Mexican who's constantly calling Michael a pussy when he does stuff like refuse a beer or not want to go hunting. They go hunting anyway. And they run into bigfoot. Actually, bigfoots... bigfeet... what's the plural? And so a night of terror begins, with bigfoots bigfeet sasquatches attacking the cabin and people attacking each other. A fun movie with practical effects and real characters instead of CGI and 'splosions.

Total Running Time: 182 minutes
My Total Minutes: 409,970

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 5

Two more movies on Tuesday, the night of oddities.

First up was MAGNETIC, an oddity with a lot of interesting ideas, but one fatal flaw. First the interesting ideas. Alice leaves New York to live in a winter wonderland (yes, her name is an intentional reference to Lewis Carroll.) There, in an analog dystopia replete with cassette tapes and rotary phones, she works the shittiest job in the world--calling parents to tell them their child has died and what morgue to pick them up at. All while a massive solar flare is about to hit the Earth, and an all-female Ra cult are planning to take over. Oh, and she's the only one left with dreams. And it's all set to a retro-electronica soundtrack. And I haven't even gotten to the weird part yet.

Now the fatal flaw. In the beginning, as she leaves the city, she throws out a bottle of pills. A voice in the shadows tells her she'll need those. She replies that she can feel nothing even without the help of medication. And then she spends the entire movie showing that. Everything is played with absolutely no feeling. Which is clearly an artistic choice, and is clearly making a point about our sense-deadened society. But aesthetically, it makes her journey a tedious and tiresome slog. This is a movie that may be well worth thinking about afterwards, but not possible to enjoy as you watch it.

And then the opposite, an oddity so random that you think it couldn't be interesting, but ends up becoming a cool, enjoyable story. CURTAIN, after a mysteriously bloody opening, tells the story of Danni, an ex-nurse who has finally moved out of her uncle's apartment and into her own. She's just setting up, putting in furniture, hanging a shower curtain, etc. And after a nap, when she goes to take a shower, the curtain is gone. Well, this strange and simple premise leads her and her colleague/boyfriend Tim (who mentors her in her job with a save the whales organization) on a strange journey to unlock a portal that leads to...well, the backwoods of New Jersey. And a terrifying cult, and a lot of strange, confusing danger. And a damn cool story.

Total Running Time: 143 minutes
My Total Minutes: 409,788