Indie Corner

INDIE CORNER: EARLY SUMMER 2008

By • Jun 8th, 2008 •

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WILL GLOBAL WARMING EFFECT TROMA FILMS?

It got scary! YouTube was down for a bit one Saturday morning in May. “Oh, my dog!” I exclaimed! “How are people going to see my trailer for my new film?” (Okay, I have to plug it- Check under DEED HELL LOHAN) Well, within an hour or so, YouTube was up and running. I’m learning a lot about YouTube, the sixth most popular website in the world, how to use the features, futz around with it in a harmless way to benefit my film, etc. Hopefully, YouTube will eventually replace the festivals as a venue for getting attention for your film. Festivals always had the problems of nepotism amongst the judges and the volunteers who select what films are to be shown, the costs involved (traveling, etc.), sub-par screening conditions (One film-maker told me a festival projected their film off a laptop!), and how to ensure that an executive is going to stick around and watch your film. Also, I learned that having that pretty little festival-laurel icon on your DVD box doesn’t help a darnn bit. As I learn more about YouTube, I will share my info.

A big recent favorite was T. Arthur Cottam’s wonderfully eccentric CARBUNCLE. In it, a delusional film-maker, named “T Arthur Cottam” (played by the director so well that I wonder if the real “T” is that loopy) creates a film around a struggling trailer park family. It’s all played out so painfully real. We don’t have the stereotypical “Wow, my youngin’s the best kisser in the trailer park…” cliché, but we see the struggle a recently divorced, alcoholic father goes through day by day. This film drew me in so tightly to it’s crazy world that I forgot I was watching something created by film-makers who will surely make a deep impact in the film world. I tell ya, dear reader, seek out CARBUNCLE and watch! It is odd that a film-maker makes a film which depicts a film-maker in such an unfavorable light. It reminded me of Rainer Fassbinder’s BEWARE THE HOLY WHORE, where the director was so toxic and mean, the paid cast members ignored his commands.

Another film that paints a crummy view of them who cook up movies is PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED. It’s now listed on the imdb with “TERMINAL REMIX” bolted on the back of the title. Sorry guys, I saw the film before the re-mix and I suggest tacking on “WE BURNED IT AND STARTED OVER AGAIN.” Like a certain movie about the Blair Witch, some young film-makers enter a secluded haunted area, this time it’s a long abandoned train terminal. Granted the location was incredible, oh what decades of care Mother Nature and her friends Mildew and Rot did for the film’s setting. But the people in the location, “Oh, my dog!” Cardboard hipster paranormal film-makers getting haunted in yet another horror movie. In order to show their acting chops and not advance the plot along, the film-makers decided to have everybody pick at each other. The bickering stops when the ghosts of either unhappy commuters or mental patients (the train station became a mental hospital at one time) arrive. My favorite scene was when one of the running film-makers-in-peril blunders into a room filled with severed doll heads, the air filled with the cries of flipped-out ghost-children. In order to hush the room full of Caspers, the film-maker decides to breast feed one of the doll heads. Oh, I forgot to mention, the film-maker was a girl. It would have been more fun if the film-maker was like Michael Moore or Rob Zombie!

For quality digital film-making scares, check out Sean King and Paul Natale’s chilling LOST SUBURBIA. Mixing documentary style and narrative film, we are given four tales based on Long Island ghost stories. The first tale centers around the heavily haunted Sweet Hollow Road. Its tale of teen suicide owes a well thought- out nod to OCCURANCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE. There are no cliches here, just the tragic tale of misfit teens taken in by a ghost tale. Another segment on “Mary’s Grave”, a popular Long Island haunting (think Candyman and Lizzie Borden in one package) follows some very typical, and therefore realistic Long Island partiers seeking the long feared grave of Hatchet Mary. A third segment tells about the abandoned Kings Park asylum. The film-makers saved the gentlest ghost story for last, the story of a drowned Indian Princess in Lake Ronkonkoma. Its leisurely pace and spooky aura reminded me of VERTIGO and THE INNOCENTS. LOST SUBURBIA doesn’t try to gross out with cookie-cutter boo-tactics, it tells it spooky stories as they are, giving us the chills each and every time.

Hopefully, soon the festival folks taking in the bundles of envelopes jammed with film-maker entry fees will ask “Where did the money envelopes go?” Let’s see what happens with You-Tube. As one film-critic (for a leading newspaper) told me: “Oh, no, do not get me started on the festivals.” To fix up John F. Kennedy’s quote you might as well say ‘Ask not what festivals can do for you, ask what you can do for a festival.”

Until next time, film those stories, friends!

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