Let the Bodies Hit the Floor: Close Your Eyes and the Predator's Return
Lest you begin to think that all I do is blow intellectual sunshine up the skirts of would be indie directors, I thought it was time to include some of the films that were less than successful. Much, much less.

Close Your Eyes by David Lilley
I think the title of this short came from the director's initial instruction to the director of photography. Either that or it comes from the way the film is intended to be viewed. Essentially this film had two lighting schemes: dark and more dark. Occassionally I had a brief glimpse of what was going on, and I could almost hear the director saying off camera, "What are you crazy? I could almost see the action. Get so more dark up there." I'd like to comment on the story, but since I couldn't see enough to figure out what the hell was going on, I can't. This short wouldn't even work as a radio play.

The Predator's Return by Jerald Fine
No, not that predator although I think I would have been more amused by a pack of elderly people being terrorized by a guy in a rubber predator mask than I was by this film. The premise is intriguing: an elderly Holocaust survivor finds himself face to face with the Nazi who killed his family. The theme of aging and the fear of the loss of control associated with aging is usually confined to vampire films. Dan Cascarelli's Bubba-Hotep is a rare exception. Since a loss of control is one of the principle elements in fear, it is a shame that more scripts don't exploit this natural source of anxiety. Once the element of debilitating illness is paired with the horror of the Holocaust, it would seem a mixture destined to succeed. Afterall, what could be more terrifying than being trapped in a body that won't obey your will, unable to even communicate your fears, while living in close quarters with the man who killed your family and countless others?

In horseback riding we have a saying: put a mediocre rider on a good horse, and you'll see a mediocre performance; put a fabulous rider on a crappy horse, and you'll see a fabulous performance. To make that comment applicable here, it simply means give a great director a crappy script and crappy actors, and they'll still come up with a helluva film. Here a good story was given to a crappy director, and an annoyingly long short is the result.

The voiceover effectively killed this film. In the opening monologue, the character tells us no more than three times that he never forgets a face. OK we got it. And if the constant repetition wasn't bad enough, the inclusion of details that were already being conveyed visually, "I stared at him intensely", with that awful imitation German Jew accent was enough to make my trigger finger itchy. As the commentators on Blood Drive II say and low budget horror films like Saw illustrate, know your limitations and work within them. Here the only horror was watching this atrocity unfold while waiting for the ending credits.

That's Wrong, Right?
I am desperately trying to write these reviews people. I swear it. But it's been an exhausting week and to top off my sleep deprivation, last night was the ballroom Halloween party. It was also my last night of dancing with Captain Hot. Oh we shall miss him and his ridiculousness and even, dare I say it, his I Hate Americans platform. He claims he'll be coming back, but the day I count on a Russian man to tell me the truth is a long way off. Unfortunately, three hours of dancing has left me with a mind full of cottonballs with my only thought being about how can I cut off my legs and dull the throbbing pain.

I had planned to be Rainbow Brite for Halloween, but Ricky's screwed me over and so I ended up at the last minute constructing a woodland sprite costume from things in my closet and make up box. It's not a good thing that I happened to win a prize for a costume from things just thrown together from my closet, right? I mean, people aren't just suppose to have fairy wings and flower garlands lying around waiting for a good moment, or am I wrong? The good news is that even with my last minute costume I managed to maintain my four years reign of best costume. What pisses me off is the two other people who won were wearing clearly store bought costumes. Usually my costumes have some store bought elements. I mean, when I was an angel I didn't make those freakin' wings, but I would put in my own elements. For example, my halo was actually a christmas tree garland that I wove together. Just doesn't seem right that someone who know how to handle a credit card should share the limelight with an artist like myself. Harumph.

I swear that by tomorrow the Apartment 206 review will be up. Really and truly. I just have to find my head. I know I left it here somewhere.

So tired. I'm desperately trying to get these reviews up while my user traffic is pretty heavy and while the movies are still fresh in my mind. (I took notes, but I'm still going to hit up the directors for screeners if they have them. Hint, hint ZG.) Unfortunately between this, grading papers, and attempting not beat my students to death with their own desks I'm completely exhausted. So I'm afraid some of the reviews will have to wait.

On the downside, I don't have much in the way of Halloween shenanigans planned. Tonight is the costume party at the ballroom, but really that's it. So if you want the Bunni for your Halloween event, feel free to send me an email with all the relevant info. And I do children's parties.


Let the Bodies Hit the Floor: Mainstream
I've been linked to by the Big Apple Blog Fest hosted currently by Mister Snitch, and so I'm trying to do as many reviews as possible so as to benefit our lovely indie filmmakers. Let's face it, I can tell you about my wild debauchery anytime (soon, I promise.)

Mainstream by Adam Barnick
Another short featured on Fangoria's Blood Drive II. The minimalist aesthetic of this nine minute short is key to its nightmarish success. It also explains why viewers have radically different interpretations of the film. The film opens with a man strapped to a surgical gurney. In true Kafka style, we don't know why he is there, and he doesn't seem to either. He is injected by several needles and anesthetized. After he loses consciousness, an eyeless surgeon removes his blood and as well as glowing yellow brain fluid. The man is then filled with some unknown chemical. The surgeon then retreats revealing a large fleshy umbilical cord attached to his back. The next victim lies on the gurney. The next cut reveals a brief scene at home with the first victim and his pill popping wife.

Reviews led me to believe that this film was more an allegory about the working class, however I saw it as a symbolic interpretation of the problems with Western medicine. The eyelessness of the surgeon indicates how doctors no longer see or recognize the individuality of each patient. The removal of the fluids as well as the pill popping wife illustrates how the goal of healing has shifted from actually restoring health to simply making the patient easy to manage (particularly psychotropic drugs). These treatments deaden patients to the world around them instead of restoring them to health. The umbilical cord indicates that the doctor is not an individual either. He is himself controlled by other means (HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, consumer demand-take your pick).

Of course, the lack of control and the needles plug into primal fears. My father claimed the most horrifying scene he ever watched was the dentistry torture scene in Marathon Man. It wasn't just the simplicity of the scene (a man, a drill, and a chair), but the universal fear of the dentist's chair and the loss of control associated with that chair. This film, much like Marathon Man, portrays the base fear one experiences in any waiting room, ER, OR, and examining room.

Unlike most of the other shorts which relied on a twist-this film simply quietly and creepily progressed. I found myself watching it again last night, and I was just as disturbed as I was by seeing it on the big screen for the first time. The sound in particular is chill inducing.

About my only complaint was that the two patients wore jeans. I understand he was trying to keep a cool color palate, but it didn't quite fit with the medical background. A pair of blue scrub bottoms would have kept the color palate intact while still being more fitting for the medicalized interior.

More to come...

The Nigella Lawson of NYC Horror Film Fest '05
I've always associated horror films with food. If my father was taking me to see a scary movie in the theater, he made sure we had the ultra industrial, added cholesterol, dyed with a glow in the dark compound that doesn't exist in nature and never should-who do think you're fooling by calling that butter? comes with its own rib spreader tub of popcorn and a big ass doesn't this look strangely like anti-freeze? Mountain Dew. If we found out there was a particular scary movie on TV, we would immediately leap into the car (that old freakin' datsun with more rust than paint on it) and zip up to the 24 hour store, which was located on the top of the hill-pratically the only conveniently located thing in town. We would load up on Mellow Yellow, Slush Puppies, pretzels, safety orange "cheese" popcorn, chocolate covered raisins, sour patch kids, and whatever else struck our fancy. As soon as "creepy" candy like gummy pet tarantulas and pet rats came out, my father would buy those too.

So I couldn't very well spend five days sitting in a dark theater without my spooky snacks. Wednesday I stopped at Dylan's Candy Bar and picked up supplies. Filmgoers kept asking me why I was dragging around bags of candy, and I had to explain that candy is part of the spooky movie ritual for me. I couldn't just sit and watch the movie, and, of course, the candy is meant to share. Besides how better to really test your metal than to watch a vampire movie while sucking on a gummy frog leg or licking on a pig snout lollie while watching a zombie movie? My candy offerings were so successful, I had to make another run to the local Duane Reade. Considering it is the season of candy and spooky, I thought I would offer some quick candy reviews.

Ice Mice (Harry Potter) Blueberry flavored hard candies with teeny candy mice inside. Tasty but would have liked them better if the mice inside had been little plastic ones rather than the somewhat unfortunately flavored candy.
Frog Legs with Bloody Dipping Sauce (Fear Factor) Not a whole lot of flavor, but WOW a lot of sugar. Especially fun for vampire films. If you use them correctly, you have blood sauce left over (sweet like Karo syrup) which you may pour over the victim of your choice and lick off at your leisure.
Jelly Slugs (Harry Potter) Nicely flavored and good decent texture.
Caramel Kisses (Hershey's) BIG CROWD PLEASER. If you are hosting a party, a must have.
Sour Crawlers (generic) Another big crowd pleasure-fusing gummy with sour in the form of a worm-how can one go wrong with that? (Also you can get three bags for two bucks at Duane Reade.)
CoCo Cats (Peeps) Didn't go over with the crowd as well as expected. I don't why people were so afraid of mocha flavored sugar coated marshmallow cats. I thought them a nice alternative to the regular Halloween Peeps.
Delightfulls (Peeps) Pumpkin shaped peeps filled with a creamy chocolate. Absolutely delicious. Breakfast of Vampire Slayers.
Gummi Parts (Frankford) Noes, toes, ears, and eyes made out of gummy. Acceptably palatable, but I like the gummy brains at Dylan's better.
Gummy Brains (Dylan's) Although Bakerina was originally a bit circumspect about them, she discovered, as did many of the filmgoers, that these gummies were appetizing. A very pleasing fruity flavor. Big crowd pleaser although you might have to talk them into trying it.
Gummy Fangs (Dylan's) Unlike the brains which are sweet, the fangs are like the sour crawlers they are both gummy and sour. Still very appealing.

"All I can say is you were as evil as sin and you never did the dishes"*
I will be adding an extra sidebar for featured filmmakers and their sites. I will I swear it. It should be up by Thursday. (Yo, blogmonkey I might need a little help here.) In addition, where possible I shall be featuring some of the fabulous scriptwriting by making the best lines from Horror Fest Films titles of non-review posts.

*The title of this post was taken from Alex, Vampire Killer.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor: Part One
Since I have a limited about of energy, a huge amount of things to write, and, apparently, a very anxious audience I will be posting reviews of the films I saw in an episodic manner (most likely defined by the order in which I saw them). I will also be including reviews of films that I have seen over the weekend, but not at the fest including the shorts on Blood Drive II and Short Kutz. (They will be appropriately marked should you care to seek them out.) Everytime you see "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" as a post title it means reviews of films will follow.

A Public Service Announcement by Brian Forrest
This short film is a tribute to what a filmmaker can do with just one average looking guy, a chair, and a sick sense of humor. PSA is about a young yuppified man proclaiming his love of cannibalism in the minimalist style of an actual public service announcement. Actually, the quality of the movie is above that of the average PSA.

PSA is not actually scary. As Tony Timpone and Tim Hinsley, who provide commentary on Blood Drive II claim, in any horror festival/compliation DVD you have to include some comedy. The fusion of comedy and horror is pretty well established, and as Timpone and Hinsley claim comedy is often far harder to pull off than horror. In addition, the inclusion of comedy, whether it be sarcastic commentary or gory slapstick, is potentially damaging. Horror writers have the difficult job of making potentially ridiculous situations believable enough for an audience to buy. Think of the premise of your favorite horror film-a guy who kills people in dreams, a videotape that kills you, body snatchers, human immortal leeches. It's easy to see how an audience could reject such premises as ridiculous. The inclusion of comic relief can make the viewers see the entire film as simply ludicrous rather than relieving dramatic tension.

PSA is simply a well put together short with a rather dark sense of humor, but I'm sad I couldn't find the director or any information about the short because it was a great way to kick off the Fest. Hopefully it will be included in a compilation DVD somewhere.

Culinary Art by B.C. Furtney

Furtney has another short on the Blood Drive II DVD entitled Disposer, which I actually thought was far more effective than Culinary Art. On the other hand, the Fest organizers tried, when possible, to pair shorts together. In this case the pairing of Culinary Art with PSA gave away Furtney's twist-that the young attractive woman making her date dinner is actually making her date INTO dinner. Furtney seems to favor stories in which young sexy women have some seriously strange hang-ups. For example, Disposer features a bored young man calling a sexphone line only to find his dream girl has a very kinky idea of phone sex. I don't want to give away the ending but if you watch it you will never be able to hear the question "Do you know where my hand is?" without getting a little squemish.

Furtney's films are kind of like the Man Show version of horror. The young women in his films often end up half clad blithely smiling as they are hosed with blood in the same way that Sports Illustrated models are showered in water in slow motion. Both Disposer and Culinary Art feature the same kind of dark humor in which men entering into fairly pedestrian/predictable dating situations suddenly find themselves facing extraodinarily violent women. The women in these two films are highly sexualized embodiments of 2 different stereotypical female roles. In Disposer, we find the sex crazed nymphomaniac-living only to satisfy male desire. In CA, the woman has embraced the more traditional homemaker role, but her outfit is also very sexy.

The images used in these films unites violence and sexuality. The garbage disposal, a feature of every kitchen-the female domain, is very vaginal-an expression as the Freudians might say of castration anxiety-but also an inversion of the usual sex roles as it is a woman's hand-phallic-entering a female vessel (disposal). In CA, the homemaker asks her hapless victim if he would prefer a "leg" or "breast" a play on the idea of being a "leg" or "breast" man. Since she is the one who is the intended, uh, recipient, she has taken on the male role of making decisions based on an objectification of the body.

Furtney's other films Mister Eryams and Perfect also feature sexy twisted women, but they are more quiet pictures-going for creepy rather than goretastic guffaws (I can't believe I just wrote that). Definately worth seeing.

More to come...

"If I knew I was going to die, I would have worn more comfortable shoes."*
Well as all of you know, I spent this weekend at the NYC Horror Film Festival. One would think spending that much time in a dark room I would be positively energized today, but uh not so much. In fact, I am on the verge of becoming a narcoleptic here at my desk. This is very frustrating as I want to share with you all the fabulous as well as the less fabulous and the downright what the fuck were they thinking when they made this? films I saw over the last five days. I also have, as usual, the Bunni tales and analysis that you have come to love (no you have really, just trust me on this one). On the other hand, if I attempt to write about such ideas in my current condition it's going to come out only slightly more coherent than the thoughts of my students on the poems of Ezra Pound.

On the other hand, I don't want this to turn into another Pantless in the Poconos situation where I promise stories of topless Bunniliciousness and do not deliver (I swear I will eventually tell the Pocono stories) and since this is the right season for it I am going to do my best to be well rested and post all of this spooky stuff by the end of the week. After this week, I'll link to some of the old How To posts as well as coming up with some new ones.

In the meantime, rent the Last Horror Movie or Lucky or some other goretastic selection and wait for the carnage to begin.

*The title of this blog post was taken from the short film Apartment 206.

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