Indie Corner

INDIE CORNER: WINTER 2006

By • Nov 23rd, 2006 •

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In the 1970’s, every American town had one or two homegrown rock bands, young beginner musicians with various amounts of drive, talent and business savvy. Some, like Metallica, made it to the top, others’ like my sister’s high school sweetheart, quit and became an engineer. Today, the local garage-band has been replaced by the local film-maker. Digital video has placed film-making tools in everyone’s hands.

Matthew Buzzell’s docu-drama, DO YOU MISS ME plays into this garage-band/local film-maker analogy. His feature-length study of, Luna, a New York indie-rock band, made me think of how musicians and film-makers, in comparison, have creative juices flow, along with a degree of drama and the occasional hissy-fit. The unpolished docu look of Buzzell’s film puts you right on the tour bus with the Lunas.
Recommended Viewing.

One of the first shot-on-video horror films is Jon McBride’s WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE, lensed back in 1989. This study in family bonding (and grinding up bodies) is enhanced with some wild over-the-top comedy. It’s like watching the Brady Bunch go on an Ed Gien styled killing spree, by accident. McBride shot his film on the only video medium available back then – analog. The colors are harsh, pretty much like one of those home movie clips on AMERICA’S FUNNIEST VIDEOS. Personally, I find some of the clips aired on AFV downright creepy. Maybe that’s why I had so much ghoulish fun with WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE. The film is released by Camp Motion Pictures, a new video distribution firm that showcases slasher films high on gore and twisted visions, visions conventional cinema wishes to side-step. (Just me nit-picking – I don’t agree with the word “camp” here. Pretentious films like THE BLUE BIRD, where Liz Taylor plays a bling-bling fairy Godmother, or BOOM! again, with Miss Liz, become riotous camp classics with their ultra serious sledge-hammer symbolism. You just can’t purposely make a camp classic.) If you want to spend the evening staring at the Boob Tube saying “What The F….?” then WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE is ripe for you.

More indie horror slithers our way with Biff Juggernaut’s LOVECRACKED THE MOVIE. Imagine Monty Python directed by Dario Argento, and you have this crazy collection of nine gore/comedy skits. The linking thread for these surreal bloodbaths is a Monty Python-like reporter doing an investigative report of famed horror author H.P Lovecraft. Cameos by famed Troma exec Lloyd Kaufmann and punk rock princess Joanna Angel pepper this savage bit of DVD fun. My only complaint here is that while Juggernaut made a film with a very original look, and format, leaping from dismemberment to giggles, he throws in some rather tired clichés. During the closing credits we see “funny” out-takes off in the corner. Some scenes are pretty much direct repeats of famous Python sketches. Biff, when somebody says, “You know, Biff, how we always see in all those movies where they (insert cliché here.) Well we should do that,” just ignore them, Biff. Anyway, a fun, sick movie.

Another good film that uses overused clichés is IRAQ FOR SALE, directed by Robert Greenwald. Greenwald, who made the recent WAL-MART – THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE, OUTFOXED and UNCOVERED, fascinating documentaries, began his film career with Hollywood crowd-pleasers like SWEETHEARTS DANCE and XANADU. (Going from a roller-blading Gene Kelly to Sadaam… I’m impressed!) IRAQ FOR SALE shows the mismanagement by the key members of the Department of Defense to profit by the war in Iraq. It will surely insult the right-wingers in the audience and surely confirm the paranoia in the leftists. But, that’s what good documentary film-making is all about – stirring debate, and getting people to think. (Fittingly, Greenwald’s production company is called Brave New Films. Like LOVECRACKED, my complaint is that a few times Greenwald takes the easy road – the cliché. He imitates the famous scene in SUPER SIZE ME where we see Morgan Spurlock on the phone, making many unsuccessful calls to a major Mickey D’s exec. Greenwald has somebody doing the same thing – trying to get through to a profiteer on the phone.

Indie films lose their creative punch when they pay too close an homage to their favorite films, or have the need to imitate a technique used in a similar, more famous film. The reason why most people see our indie films is that they want to soak in the kind of unique creativity that the studio moguls dare not put in a summer blockbuster.

To the many film-makers who have submitted their films for me to review: I have been absent from writing film reviews and from my own film-making due to over-bearing family issues since August. I’m almost back on track, now, so keep on making those films, and sending them in.

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