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Reflections Of Evil is without doubt one of the most intellectually
challenging and demanding films I've seen since the golden days of the
underground scene in 1960-70. I can agree with the opinion that it does
down very hard on the viewer, but as demanding as it is it's also
refreshingly relieved from all the Hollywood main stream production
that has been the obvious and only choice for much to long. Personally
quite fed up with all that, and I strongly recommend everyone who feels
same way to take a good look at Damon Packards film.
As difficult as it might seem to be for an average viewer to agree with the narrative style, it's well worth the effort to put up with it. On the other hand, if you are at all familiar with the work of Bunuel, Kenneth Anger, Morrissey, productions from "The Factory" and overall experimental film making as such, you will probably find the use of overdubed sounds and the visual compositions as an effective audiovisual exclamation to the very quintessence of the various ideas.
This aggressive and abusive in-your-face tale of an over consuming, over developed and high speed accelerating culture bursting in it's own gloating can be very hard to accept, and I can understand why the main stream viewer have serious problems with the daring and provoking approach of this film.
But It's not a question whether you like it or not, that's hardly the point. The point is that it truly is a most remarkable piece of work, and probably more related to experimental, over expressive and self dissective art form culture than anything else.
Either way it is indeed impossible to ignore a film like Reflections Of Evil, and if you are at all interested in what's happening on the true alternative scene of independent film making today it definitely is a must see. For all you others, take a refreshing holiday from Hollywood with Damon Packard as your tour guide and host. I personally guarantee you a unique film experience!
Financed by a private trust fund, lasting well over 2 hours, written,
directed, starring, and largely distributed by Damon Packard, Reflections
Evil is one of the more interesting independent features to emerge from
America in the last few years. An unrelenting assault on American
consumerism in general and Hollywood in particular, it also manages to
a go at such targets as the Bush administration, Vietnam vets, police, the
chemtrails controversy, redneck TV viewers and dog lovers. 'Introduced'
tail-ended by a coiffeured Tony Curtis obviously speaking elsewhere (key
passages of which are patently re-edited and overdubbed to apply to the
film), Reflections of Evil is punctuated throughout by other 'found
- notably that which insistently advertise tacky 70's goods or promotes
ABC Movie of the Week.
Packard plays Bob, the overweight hero of his film. His bemused and oppressed character dresses in multiple layers, favours baggy pants, and lugs round a baggy hold-all from which clothes hang down. Headphones and radios drape in a clutter round his neck. He survives by tramping the streets of LA, selling - eventually giving - watches to anyone who will listen to an apologetic sales pitch, although he never succeeds in making any profit from his enterprise. Aptly, given the sweet-coated culture of so much of the film's scorn, Bob is addicted to sugar. Repeatedly punctuated by irrational rage and displays of self loathing, his business patrols also include excessive consumption of cakes and candy - which, in an early moment worthy of John Waters, leads to a spectacular vomiting on the sidewalk. Back home, or at a restaurant, the 400 pound Bob is upbraided by his mother for being so weak-willed and disgusting, and the two constantly bicker. Interspersed with Bob's unsteady progress, is the vision of a woman (who, we later learn, is his dead sister) wandering the streets, then a studio, looking anxious in a pink negligee. The two will finally be reunited at Universal studios.
Some have complained that Reflections of Evil is a disorganised, hard to understand film. In fact it has quite a simple structure, one in which episodes from Bob's perambulations, an extended flashback to his childhood in the 70's, and an hallucinatory drugs dream are neatly headed up by repeated, ironic, announcements of the threatened ABC movie. Inevitably a film of this sort can seem self-indulgent. But Packard has some prime targets to shoot at, and the occasional longeur (the Universal studio park footage and Bob's viewing of the latest Star Wars instalment could both have been profitably trimmed, for example) can be forgiven. He obviously has a weakness for the continental horror of the 1970's. The dreamy scenes featuring Bob's sister look as if they could have slipped out of any Jean Rollin erotic vampire flic, and one of his equally excellent shorter films (also on the DVD) lovingly imitates an extended 70's erotic horror trailer. Reflection of Evil easily incorporates those elements, as well as being a most unlikely candidate for ABC's 'movie of the week' then or now (Packard has sarcastically distributed it with the words 'joy' and 'love' as a selling point).
For an independent, low budget film, it's a relatively sophisticated production with multiple set ups, excellent sound editing and none of those long-held scenes familiar from Warhol's 'Factory' or other underground films. Sound plays an important part in Packard's world, and several reviewers have commented on how deliberately intrusive this element is. He frequently favours SF epics like The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, ET and Star Wars for source extracts, and their music plays out serenely between the raucous dialogue scenes. (Charlton Heston was one of the bemused recipients of the DVD.) Scenes of confrontation, alienation and of impotent rage are common in Packard's film, but he manipulates these moments so that they have a tragi-comedy of their own, both disturbing and hilarious at the same time. Victim and cultural commentator at the same time, the director's unfocussed howls of impotent outrage are easily associated with by the audience. In this context, post-synching, often the bane of independent productions, is conspicuous. Packard makes a virtue of this handicap, as his supporting characters are frequently dubbed with ludicrous voices and accents, while Bob's own conspicuous consumption of junk food is marked by excessive munching and farting. There are some scenes which stay long in the memory: Bob's public rants while standing next to a succession of Miss Congeniality film posters, for instance, or the long sequence in which a series of owners set their dogs on him in the street. The hilarious scene in the diner when he tries to sneak mouthfuls of food from under his mother's watchful eye; the redneck couple observing an unsteady hero from their window ('He's drunk on those liqueur chocolates again!') or the crazed negros, ranting in the street, one suddenly pulling a knife.
The obese Bob, harmlessly proffering his watches, is a threatened small-time entrepreneur, although his dishevelled state also suggests vagrancy. There's a neat corollary when we learn that in life the director has personally distributed 22,500 DVD copies of his only feature, including some 8,000 on the street by hand, although it can now be had online. (Amusing accounts of reactions garnered, from willing and unwilling recipients of this artistic persistence, can be found at the official website). No doubt those who pick up Packard's unforgettable work, only to be outraged by its scathing attack on complacency, will have been affected exactly in the way the director intended, as his film is a sure kick to the groin of much of Hollywood's - and the media's - self-satisfaction. As if in official confirmation from this, the director has now been given a lifetime ban from Universal Studios (not on the basis of the amusing Spielberg-directing satire that appears in the film, but as a result of him shooting unofficially on their lot!). For those with an open mind, Reflections of Evil is unmissable personal project, and a sure cult in the making.
I think it´s a pure masterpiece of art. Really. I have the deepest respect
for this kind of filmmaking.
It´s not horror. It´s not splatter. It´s satire. The best satire I´ve seen in years.
I wrote this just have seeing it the first time:
"Reflections on reflections - Damon Packard, genius or just insane?
One sunny afternoon a strange spam-mail dropped into my mailbox. I first thought had to do with a project I was working with, but I soon realized that this was something completely different. It was about Damon Packard´s epic movie about a man called Bob and his trip through the streets of LA: Reflections of evil.
Damon wanted to give me a copy for free and I mailed him at once. I needed to see this flick. And after studying the very cryptic official page I was going mad. I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!
I´ve never been so curious about something like I was this time. When I haven´t received a copy in almost one week and really felt sick. I wasn´t myself. I wanted to hear the mailman drop the package in my mailbox.
My angst disappeared on Friday morning. The mailman had a present for me. A dvd from Damon Packard!
A friend of mine got a copy the day before and said that this was very strange, so I just manage to keep away from the movie for a couple of hours. This was something special, and I didn´t want to see it at once. But what the f**k!
This is the story of a slightly tragic salesman. Or is he really tragic? Roaming the streets of LA, furious and clearly out of his mind. It´s like a roadmovie, but inside the heart of tinseltown. The city of happiness and madness. It´s not only about tinseltown, it´s about the american society, the fury of the people. This is the country that never sleeps and never seems to get some rest. People are furious and sad, confused and obsessed. Some reviewer said it made him think about Apocalypse Now - and I agree. This is the ultimate inner travel I´ve seen in many years.
Slowly the city around Bob is turning very weird. The hate comes out and the paranoia is over us. Helicopters is watching everything, cops are everywhere and people are just insane.
During the time the Bob is attacked by homeless people and dogs we´re turning back in time, till 1971. Bob, his mother and older sister is visiting Universal Studios and taking the tour. After his sister disappears and get´s involved with weird sect that makes her one of them. She dies of an overdose (I think). No she want´s to save Bob from the hell he´s in, from beyond the grave.
Let me say one thing, this is a movie that´s helluva hard to describe. The best way to understand what I mean, is to see it. Go get a copy goddammit.
Packard have shot the movie on 16mm, super8 and Digital8 on a very low budget. But this don´t mean it looks like crap, because it dosen´t. Packard and his cameraman is clearly very talented and the jumping from documentary dogme-style to classic dolly-shots are marvelous and works very well. The light is most of the time very tight and moody. Some people seem to be disturbed by the strange and noise soundtrack. But I don´t. Everything seems to be dubbed afterwards and it makes the feeling of the movie more surreal.
I know, I´m being hypnotized by this flick. I can´t help it. It had something that spoke to me very clearly. Maybe was it the inspiration from J. Kennedy Tools novel Confederacy of Dunce's or the surreal and unconventional storytelling? You´re pulled into Bob's strange mind and all the people he meet. And it´s impossible to stop.
Packard goes from very cheap physical humor to Woody Allen-esqe dialogues, from Jess Franco and Jean Rollin to Herzog and Fassbinder. The inspiration clearly comes from the movies from the sixties and seventies and it works well.
Does Packard want to tell us something with this movie? Maybe I´m very wrong, but I think so. This is a story about a country falling apart. About people who dosen´t trust the system and the constant `big brother' watching over them. The fear of that somewhere there´s a couple of fat men in expensive suites that makes all the decisions of the country's future.
Packard seems to have a love-hate relation to America, Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. Universal Studios become the symbol of the cultural decay of the world and when it almost literary turns into living hell at the end, it becomes clearer. There´s only Damon Packard to make E.T. a terrifying experience. E.T. - the symbol for peace and happiness, cute children and the moral people.
Probably some of you are just calling this movie crap. Some of you will just throw it in the garbage (don´t) and some people, like me, will love it. Adore it.
Give Packard a movie contract and some money, let him do whatever he want. He deserves it.
(and, yes...Damon isn´t insane. He´s a genius)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
** contains a minor spoiler i guess** Reflections of evil transcends ordinary descriptives like 'bad' or 'good. I can't express the magnitude of this film. It reflects the postmodern condition so perfectly. It contains the entire range of human existence and then some. Hypnotic, epic, hilarious, moving, thought provoking, artistic: everything a great movie should be. The fact that it was shot on low grade stock effectively drives home the eerie 1970's movie of the week feeling which permeates and holds together this masterpiece. I heard the original edit was like 6 hours or something outrageous; I'd watch it any day... I tend to disagree with those who feel this is an all out attack on Hollywood and mass consumption. These elements are in the movie but it's because Packard is a true artist and an artist portrays her/his environment. Reflections Of Evil isn't a commentary it's a reflection of the world through a very personal yet somehow universal mirror. I don't think the filmmaker dislikes Spielberg or Lucas, he's obviously an o- g Star Wars fan. My favorite part is the "on the set of something evil" segment with young Spielberg. This part is probably the funniest s*** ever recorded by a mechanical device, (not because it's making fun of Spielberg, which it isn't really, he's almost an incidental character) but because it's pure chaos and absurdity. Packard's tenacity and spirit give us hope in a time when we need it most.
This movie should be watched!!!! I think that Damon Packard could be called a genius. There is no other film like this one. His camera angles and editing techniques are phenomenal! I really dug the 70's parts. I really can't explain what I think of the Film. I really think someone needs to give Damon Packard 4 million bucks to make an even greater film. MAD PROPS Damon!!!
I'm not going to attempt to explain the plot. Plot is really irrelevant
when describing this film. It's an experience, an inexplicable dark
feeling just below the surface of consciousness. The thoughts and
actions of the main protagonist, although on the surface seem odd, are
strangely logical and coherent in the bizarre environment in which he
inhabits. The streets are recognisable as L.A. but light, sounds and
characters he comes into contact with are surreal. It's a perpetual
state of dusk all the time and something sinister is brewing beneath
the surface. The main character's strange idiosyncratic behaviour
somehow fits in with his environment and as a result seems normal, like
the strange happenings in a dream that seem perfectly logical at the
time until you wake up and realise their incongruity.
I'm not sure exactly the message or meaning Damon Packard is trying to communicate and I don't really care. All I know is, I dig it...
Film maker Damon Packard is an enigma. Or, at least he is to me. I have
tried to figure him out, get into his mind, understand his
intentions... Is he a serious artist, or is he just screwing with our
minds? Is he really obsessed with the actors, directors, producers, and
films that he showcases and borrows from in his work? Does Damon
Packard even exist? I think he does, though it is hard to believe that
a man, who may just be the Orson Wells of this generation, is a living
breathing mortal human being.
I have seen 4 or 5 Damon Packard films, each one a good film, meriting at least one viewing. But, it's Reflections of Evil that affected me the most. I have watched it in its entirety twice and I am convinced that it may be one of the greatest films of all time. Yes, you read that right.
How does one gauge a film's greatness? Is it the cinematography, directing, acting, sound score, set design? Yes, all of those things, or just one of those things, if executed in a superlative fashion, can make a film that belongs among the pantheon of great film art. Reflections of Evil has all of the components that make a great film. However, on these merits alone, the film would be nothing more than a mildly amusing curiosity. What fires Reflections of Evil into the stratosphere and beyond is its ability to entertain and fascinate the viewer completely and utterly. There isn't a single frame of this film that doesn't mystify and dazzle. It is so "out there", so hilarious, so entertaining, and so evocative. It's a cosmic, mind-blowing, out-of-body, magical experience, and it's not to be missed!
Please do yourself a favor and purchase a copy directly from Mr. Packard. He'd appreciate it. He deserves the audience and the money.
"Reflections of Evil" is quite a roller coaster ride, particularly when
it reaches the summits of it's twisty, winding course. I for one will
never forget the scene in which a nasty cop harasses the main character
(played by director Damon Packard). As for Packard's willingness to let
dogs actually attack him like he was a side of beef, well if that isn't
suffering for your art then I don't know what is.
Also amusing and kind of subversive is how they ducked shooting permits to film in theme park rides. The actors perform among real patrons who are waiting in line unaware they're now participating in a movie.
This is a raw, dreamy/nightmarish film that's certainly a unique experience to watch. I won't soon forget it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Reflections of Evil- a mesmerizing & disjointed journey that follows a frustrated and mentally disturbed watchseller ply his trade in LA.This movie will not be for everybody- but it hooked me from the beginning- the sound editing is off kilter but perfect for the dementia of the lead character.This film was made on a shoestring- most of the shots were stolen on the streets of LA and @ Universal Studios.At times the movie felt like a 70s horror flick mixed with a 60s acid trip with random bumfights thrown in-bizarre stuff like a Klaus Kinski ride at an amusement park and the ominpresent Miss Congeniality posters in the background of homeless folks struggling to survive. B+
I've heard of going outside the lines. This bizarre film goes outside
the known universe.
The whole thing plays out like a psychotic episode. In washed out cheap film, we witness a sick obese man who wears many layers of clothing like he's homeless, (but he's not) suffering from a life threatening eating disorder making him eat like he's always feeling starved, who wanders around Hollywood, peddles watches, yelling at anybody he sees. He hobbles around like a beached whale, and frequently cracks his skull on the pavement. He's middle aged, but still lives with his nagging mother. Are we to laugh at him? Pity him? Hate him? Who knows?
Whereas an art house director partially assembles a jig saw puzzle for you and gives you the remaining pieces to figure out the meaning, this director just takes the jig saw pieces and throws them all over the place, landing anywhere they might, some lost forever. The "non-structure" structure is taken too far, and becomes a nuisance. It was actually entertaining to see old footage of some vintage 1971 TV programming, and I wonder how he found all this stuff. It jumps on to the screen at spasmodic intervals. The obese guy's late sister pops in occasionally going OD with hippies or dancing around in an angel dress. Vignettes mock Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios. The director makes a caricature of himself as the deranged obese guy. There is some attempt to attack the movie industry, and bash people who just vacantly stare at whatever is on TV; an apathetic couple watches the Movie of the Week (in 1971) while outside their house, the heavy guy (in 2002 ?!?!) yells and pukes.
Nothing fits together. How all this relates to the eating disorder or the hippies and drug overdose victim is anybody's guess. A lot of it looks like a couple of guys with cameras wandered through Hollywood, and filmed anything they saw: helicopters, birds, posters advertising a Sandra Bullock movie, and mentally ill people. Apparently the film was meant to say something about disturbed people and their eccentric behavior, but does it mean-spiritedly and poorly. The value of viewing this is solely for the curious novelty of how odd it is. Nothing more.
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