Indie Corner

INDIE CORNER: WINTER 2007

By • Nov 1st, 2007 •

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DAS WRATH VON SHRECKEN-FILM-MAKER!

That’s it! I ain’t gonna be nice no more! I was always nice when I reviewed indie films before, even films with problems. See, I’m an indie film-maker myself- having made six feature films. And I’m not perfect. Sometimes my films clicked, endearing audiences – sometimes audiences watched my films and just shook their heads. Anyway, I’ve learned a lot as a film-maker, and wish to share my experiences.

I caught Jim Carroll’s horror-thriller, EVIL BEHIND YOU. Carroll calls his film “…a scary Christian-based thriller marketed to the PG-13 crowd. Other movies rely on nudity, profanity, squirting blood, gore and sudden sound burst to create fear, “Evil Behind You” relies on an extremely unique plot. We created a movie that will make an impression and last for a lifetime.” This “unique” film centers on four whiny young adults held prisoner in a basement. Nobody panics, the “prison set” is neater than my apartment, and I’ve seen this same movie plot many times before! Obviously, Mr. Carroll watched the recent popular horror movie named for a common hardware tool. He felt he could do so much better by doing a near-remake, with nothing unsettling on-screen, that it would be suitable to be viewed by a box of kittens! I’m sorry, this film looked like what would happen if the local Sunday Scholl staged a production of SAW. Jim, horror films aren’t about how much blood we do or do not see. A good horror film-maker focuses solely on the nightmarish scenario described in his screenplay. Sometimes, in the case of THE SIXTH SENSE, or THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, the film-maker decides to keep the stage blood in the fridge. With something like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, the director feels blood-letting heightens the reality, and scares! We want horror stories, not horror lessons! Of course, many horror films do use gratuitous sex and blood-splatter to mask their short-comings.

Camp Motion Pictures is re-releasing some of the first horror films shot on video. One of their offerings, CANNIBAL CAMPOUT was lensed in 1988 by directors Jon McBride and Tom Fisher. Remember 80’s films like FRIDAY THE 13th and MOTHER’S DAY? These were two of many films depicting campers being clobbered by backwoods kooks! It seemed in an 80’s movie, if you went camping, you were simply doomed from the start! CANNIBAL CAMPOUT is the same ol’ camper carnage, only with far more blood, and far less acting ability! I watched these two films back to back, and I felt very strange, as if I watched a six-hour video of The Wiggles shackled to a radiator!

THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY is a rather engrossing film that, for a film-maker or actor, hits home. For those who never had the chance to work on a film, it offers an unfiltered, entertaining look at what makes us show-biz people (and wanna-be show people). Director Robert Margolis plays himself, a struggling New York actor. While he searches for profitable and rewarding acting work, his loved ones grow impatient. The stress Margolis experiences is way too real. We see the people around him give him unfair time limits to hit it big. Margolis filmed something he knew. How he was going to film it came second. THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY has heart, a broken, but strong heart, and is one worth catching.

Another fascinating film that captures the creative/financial quicksand film-makers and actors get themselves into is the highly comedic THE KEBAB CONNECTION. A young Turkish actor works a kebab stand by day, and later in the day, looks for work as an actor. He has an appetite for kung-fu films and wants to be the next Bruce Lee. It sort of feels like a combination of a Mafia movie and a Bollywood musical. Lots of fun.

Mervyn LeRoy has always been one of my favorite film directors. An unsung creative dynamo from Hollywood’s studio system, LeRoy’s films from sixty or seventy years ago, like I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, THEY WON’T FORGET and (as producer only) THE WIZARD OF OZ, move along so quickly, with plenty of energy, modern audiences remain glued to the screen. One of his famous quotes was “Shoot the story – not the money.” For the indie film-maker let’s change it to “Shoot the story, not the film theory book.” Wait, that doesn’t sound catchy, but you get what I mean…

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