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An inspiring collection for real independent filmmakers
I bought this DVD last week. Here are my thoughts upon initial viewing.
'Blood Of A Saint' reminded me of a joke I'd best not post here. First, it's off-colour; and second, it's not exactly politically correct. Maybe I'm getting old, but penis jokes aren't as funny as they used to be. Having said that, Will Frank's film reminded me of 'Meet The Feebles' and 'The Grand Poseur'. It was over-the-top puppetry, and artistically great. For the anthology, I think it would have been better if it were made with live actors and played more for horror than for humour. As a film on its own, I liked the bizarreness of it, and the choice of using puppets.
'Section 49' seems like Karl Demolay was channelling David Lynch. Very Lynchian feel to it, a la 'Eraserhead'. A couple of scenes went on a bit longer than they needed to to make their points. Loved the B&W photography, and the not knowing what the hell was going on.
Good use of the 'found footage' in 'Footage Found, Arabi'. The interior of the tomb looked especially good. (And by that, I mean 'authentic'.) I liked the 'found footage within footage found' concept, and the special appearance by H.P. Lovecraft -- I mean 'Randolph Carter'.
'Five Miles Straight Ahead'. Good job on the costuming and the weaponry. Some nitpicks, but not to mention. The corpses were good. I'd say more, but I don't want to spoil anything.
With cordyceps being all over the web this past year or so, Mike T. Lyddon's 'The Cordyceps Principle' is timely. The photographer doesn't strike me as being sociopathic (as he's described on the case), but more a guy who has been under the heel of his domineering wife for so long that he just snaps. Obviously the traits were there, but he's a more sympathetic character than a 'sociopath'. The actor portraying the Romanian reminded me of a young John Lithgow. Excellent make-up effects. I loved the payoff. Ha! This one really had the feel of a 1980s horror movie, before the gore-for-gore's-sake thing took over. Ah, the days before everything had to follow a formula! Those colourful rooms ('Hell') reminded me of Dario Argento's lighting. Nice one.
My favourite segment was 'Thing In The Shed'. The lighting was nicely done. Good efforts on the parts of the actors. The first glimpse of the 'thing' was great. Its movements were perfect. The creature makeup. What can I say? Beautiful. The creatures were so black, and the lighting was so dark, I was like 'Show me more!' Great decision by Lyddon not to show too much. Watching 'Thing In The Shed', I felt my pulse actually speed up. That's not an easy thing to pull off nowadays.
Overall I rate this anthology good. With four directors creating six segments, there is some unevenness in style. There are some good, solid films in this DVD. Importantly, it shows some of the work that can be produced outside of the so-called 'Indie' scene where a 'low budget' is in the millions. These films were made for less than the craft service budget for most films. There's some quality work here that should inspire REAL independent filmmakers who don't have the luxury of seven- or even six-figure budgets.
Zombie! vs. Mardi Gras (1999)
Hilarious... if you get the joke!
'Zombie! vs. Mardi Gras' has been called 'the worst film ever made'. Personally, I laugh my fool head off every time I see it! I've read some reviews online, and I think they're missing the joke. 'Zombie!' is not intended to be taken seriously! It's 'Cinema of the Absurd'. Imagine George Romero zombies, a Roger Corman script, and then add Jean-Luc Godard as the director. Set it in the insanity that is New Orleans during Mardi Gras. 'Beads... Breasts... Blood' proclaims the video cover. And that it has. Add space aliens, a couple of Elvis impersonators, Galileo risen from Purgatory, and a pudgy Ninja, and you're set for a romp.
There are lots of references to Godard films. For example, there's a line about 'hurling reels' from Godard's 'Contempt'. A shot of the alien computer seems to be inspired by 'Alphaville'. The scene between the man and woman in the apartment in French -- bad French -- is typical of Godard's style circa 1960. The scene with the pseudo-intellectual couple in the diner has a Godardian feel to it, and it's hilarious! There's a reference to George Rodrigue's 'Blue Dog' (also referred to in one of Lyddon's other films, 'Cut Up'). 'Zombie!' is full of these little nuggets.
Some of the shots go on too long, and some of the footage is a bit murky. But taken in context -- as Cinema of the Absurd, and not as a typical 'zombie film' -- it's great. Guerilla film-making at its best!
Cut Up (1994)
A beautiful indie film.
(No real spoilers, but tagged just in case.)New Orleans is a very attractive city, and it's shown to good effect by lensman Charles Bush. The opening scene, after the titles, of the levee at the Huey P. Long Bridge has beautiful colour saturation and clarity that belies the film's 16mm origin. Phil Beard deserves credit for his lighting, reminiscent of Dario Argento's, especially of The Crescent City's Piazza d'Italia. Actor Rosie Rosato brings an incredible intensity to his character Mike Landrum.
The story is remarkable for its literacy. The title is taken from the 'cut up' method of writing pioneered by Brion Gysin (with a nod to Tristan Tzara). Gysin literally cut up newspaper articles and rearranged the pieces at random. 'The Patchwork Killer' in the film does the same thing with his victims. Gysin also created a 'dream machine' a device that stimulates alpha waves in the brain which is featured in the film. Characters include 'Max Peters' (John Woods) and Azure Canine (Mike Lyddon). Max Peters's name is a play on op-artist Peter Max, and establishes him in the retro-art world where the killings take place. 'Blue Dog' (on which the name 'Azure Canine' is a play) is a well-known inhabitant of paintings by New Orleans artist George Rodrigue. I love finding these little nuggets in films! Cut Up necessarily had a very low budget, but it shows what competent filmmakers can do with very little money and a lot of hard work. The story is good, the nods to experimental artists give it a depth that is seldom found in works of this sort, and the cinematography is beautiful.