Man, I’m lagging behind with the blogging, this schedule is brutal. Fantastic Fest Day Two, and even getting to the theater at 9:30 to wait in line to pick up tickets for noon showings means you are way back in that line.
Today’s slate started out with Mother’s Day (7/10), a home-invasion film that on the one hand was a remake of the Troma dark humor/abduction horror “Mother’s Day” but on the other was an adaptation of a real life horror story, the Wichita Massacre. Director Darren Bousman (Saw I-III, Repo! The Genetic Opera) needed something easy to get off the ground, and Hollywood loves remakes, so in traditional exploitation film fashion he agreed to do one thing while using it to do another – he had always wanted to make a script called “Wichita” he had read, about a horrific series of crimes in Kansas, but no one would touch the dark subject matter. In an interesting twist that makes the movie seem like a sequel to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Rebecca DeMornay is “Mother,” a woman who kidnaps babies and turns them into her own little criminal family. The three brothers are off on a bank-robbing spree when one of them gets shot, and they retreat home, only to find out that the house got foreclosed on and Mother and their sister have moved out, and the new tenants are having a big party as a storm rolls in. They take them captive, call Mother, and the torture/murder/robbery/rape/etc begins.
I enjoyed Mother’s Day. I am not a big torture porn fan and don’t like the Saw movies, but I thought this was a bit better in that it had more reasoning to it that most of that genre – not simply “we like to torture people because we are inexplicably into that”; they need medical help, money, escape, and to control a house full of people, and being monsters that’s the way they go about it. And it was great having Brousman and others in attendance, the Q&A was so interesting it made me like the movie better. For example, the movie was shot at 5 hours long and had entire characters – both victims and perpetrators – that were cut out to get it to theatrical release. And they were shooting a bank robbery escape film in Winnipeg without a permit and got mistaken for real robbers, leading to a massive police mobilization with the cast and crew being taken at gunpoint.
Next, I saw a Hong Kong film, Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience (7/10). This wasn’t innovative, but I like the genre – the film brings to mind scenes and characters from the classics Hard Boiled, The Killer, City on Fire, and Organized Crime and Triad Bureau. Star Leon Lai does his best Chow Yun Fat impression while giving bad guys the beatdown; his squad of cops takes a good number of casualties in the inevitable huge tea-house shootouts. In the end it’s just “another film, you know, like those other ones I listed” but heck, I like all those movies, so it was nice to watch a newer one.
That was followed up by Zombie Roadkill (7/10), which was put together from a series of Web shorts that are going to be running on FEARnet soon. A campy little set, this is about some kids who are driving down a cursed stretch of road where roadkill comes back to life looking for REVENGE! Think “Furry Vengeance but with exploding heads.” It’s funny and totally unrealistic, and there’s a hilarious monologue from Thomas Haden Church as the park ranger where he explains that this stretch of road was built over an Indian burial ground and witches were burned here by Puritans and then the Puritans were burned and the government did experiments on child molesters and and… Plus they gave out “roadkill” tacos afterward. Anyway, it was short and goofy, and it’s a web series so you should probably watch it.
Do you think I’m done? Oh, no. This was a FULL Fantastic Fest day, which means two more movies.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days (6/10) is a sequel to the somewhat interesting vampire movie 30 Days of Night where an Alaskan town is taken over and pretty much wiped out by a vicious mob of vampires. The sole survivor of that movie steps into what could be a “John Carpenter’s Vampires” sequel, and hooks up with some other people who Know the Truth ™ to hunt them some vampires. They suck at it and largely get killed.
I didn’t dislike this movie as much as the other people I saw it with did. I thought it was more well done than some of those aforementioned Carpenter ones (does he do all the editing himself, or does he have some buddy who’s a shitty editor? Because every movie of his since Prince of Darkness has had awful editing.). The two female leads were in attendance, and were cutely sloshed out of their minds for the Q&A. I mean, it’s not “good” in the traditional sense, but as someone who once went on a quest to watch all the vampire movies he could get his hands on, it’s certainly not in the bottom half of that crowd.
Although we did all burst into laughter at the vampires screeching at each other like pterodactlys getting their nutsacks stomped. In the first movie, they all spoke some weird Eastern European type of language. In this one, only the “borg queen” leader seems to, the rest all just squeal. There’s one scene where they seemingly conduct a lengthy conversation.
Vampire 1: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampire 2: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampire 1: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampires 3 and 4, in unison: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
And finally, I saw The Violent Kind (8/10) by the Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores). I didn’t expect much from the blurb in the program, but the porn stars handing out Pabst Blue Ribbon as we entered piqued my interest and the movie really delivered a heaping helping of B-movie fun! A biker gang has a birthday party for one of it’s founders’ old ladies up in a house in the woods, and after most of them leave bad things start to happen, from possession to home invasion to unexplained electrical failures to lap dances (well, OK, that was from earlier). It was like Sons of Anarchy meets Evil Dead II with Blue Velvet thrown in – as well as bits of everything from The Exorcist to The Faculty. It was a lot of fun; it was probably my biggest pleasant surprise of the day.
And that’s the end of Day Two. I liked The Violent Kind the best, followed by Mother’s Day, Fire of Conscience, Zombie Roadkill, and 30 Days of Night: Dark Days.