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Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I’m not familiar with this festival, but I am a big fan of regional fests that work hard to bring otherwise hard-to-see films to audiences, and this overview of the fest does a nice job of explaining what value there is in Another Hole in The Head for San Francisco film freaks:

Hi Harry, Another Hole in the Head, the fantasy/horror/sci-fi festival in San Francisco (produced by SF indiefest) just wrapped up. I saw absolutely everything in it, and I thought I'd send you along my take of the best of fest. If you want to read all my opinions (including what sucked, so you know I don't just love everything), go read my blog. Anyway, here's my compiled reviews of my favorites, in no particular order. If you use this, you can call me Jason Wiener...because that's my name. Murder Party: A wicked satire of the art scene. A timid schmuck finds an invitation to a Halloween "murder party" and decides to go, after making a crappy knight's costume out of cardboard. Once there, he finds a gang of drugged-up artists who actually plan on killing him as an art project (and are hoping to get a major grant for it). And so begins a none-too-subtle but very hilarious satire of the art world, as the artists are so incompetent they not only can't decide how to kill him, they end up killing each other--first through accidents and then when they turn against each other. Even cliched slapstick gags--like the plug-in chainsaw getting yanked out of the outlet inches from the kill--are executed well enough to still be effective. And some jokes are just clever and inspired, like burning the victim with acid that turns out to just be vinegar (acetic acid). Even the characters, who are so shallow their almost zero-dimensional, are played with enough gung-ho enthusiasm and commitment that they seem real, if just for the short time the movie's playing. Kudos all around to director Jeremy Saulnier and his cast and crew (collectively, The Lab of Madness). The Living and the Dead: A brilliant movie of sickness (both mental and physical) and British manners. British aristocrat Donald Brocklebank (Roger Lloyd-Pack) lives with his very ill wife Nancy (Kate Fahy) and his retarded adult son James (Leo Bill, in a brilliant creepy yet sympathetic role). In order to pay for his wife's badly needed operation, he must go to London to raise money--despite the fact that he promised James he wouldn't leave. But when he leaves, James gets the idea that he can prove to his father that he's responsible and can take care of mum himself. So he locks them in, keeps out Nurse Mary (Sarah Ball) and takes care of mum. Problem is, her condition deteriorates, and when James gets the idea of tripling her medication, that just makes it worse. Soon everything deteriorates into madness (and a brilliant dream/hallucination sequence). As well as a gripping, affecting story, the storytelling techniques themselves are astounding. Nearly all the scenes (especially with sick Nancy) are very static, very formally framed, reflecting aristocratic British reserve. Which makes the frantically active scenes of James alone all the more striking. In fact, the visual language of this movie is very much the language of opposites. Obviously the title sets up the opposite of living vs. dead. I also counted static vs. moving, light vs. dark, night vs. day, sane vs. insane (in a clever reversal, James is perfectly sane in his hallucination/dream state), sick vs. well, past vs. future...and there's probably more. This definitely feels like a movie that greatly rewards multiple viewings. Seriously, "The Living and the Dead" is the first movie this year (not just in this festival) that totally dropped my jaw to the floor. It's not always pleasant to watch, and some of it is downright nasty, but it's all brilliant. Aashi & Ssipak Okay, Holehead tried something new this year, since matinee screenings of horror films don't sell well, they had a mini animation festival during the day, transitioning to horror films at night. This was by far the craziest of the animated films, a totally insane Korean film . Most of the grunt work for American animation is actually done in Korea, and I get the sense that this is the product of Korean animators who were sick and tired of making American kids movies. So they created a world where the only remaining fuel source is feces, everyone at birth is implanted with an anal chip to monitor defecation, and are rewarded for pooping by being given highly addictive popsicles. However, addiction to the Juicy Pops has created a race of psychotic smurfs called "the diaper gang" who can't poop. There's a cyborg cop hunting them, and the government is ruled by a little girl. The title characters are hoodlums running a small time Juicy Pop smuggling operation, and Ssipak falls in love with a beautiful woman, but when she's kidnapped by the diaper gang, bloody hilarity ensues. Plus there are gobs and gobs of movie references, so besides tickling my crazy side, it also appealed to my movie geek side. Awesome! Blood Car: I had actually seen this previously at Cinequest, but I came back to see it again. It's the retarded good-time movie of the year. The basic premise is that in the near future gas is so expensive (over $30 a gallon) that nobody but the ultra rich drive. So a vegan dweeb named Archie tries to invent a car that runs on wheat grass, but ends up inventing one that runs on blood. There's a possible political allegory here, but it's best to ignore it--or better yet, completely misinterpret it (yes, it is patriotic to kill people to fuel your car!) Because this movie is not about making you think or motivating you politically--it's about being as retarded and bloody as possible. And like most things car related, it's really about getting laid, as Archie finds that although the vegetable stand girl is nice, the meat stand girl is a freak (yes, Archie's got a little Betty vs. Veronica thing going on)! And, of course, when the government gets interested in his invention, the wacky hijinx just get wackier, hijinxier, and bloodier. Oh yeah, and after one viewing, you can recognize everyone who's seen it by who can finish the line "Stick a taco in my mouth, and ..." But after two viewings, my favorite line was the non-sequitur, "...and tarantulas in vending machines!" Special Michael Rapaport is perfect as an ordinary Joe who volunteers for a trial of a new experimental anti-anxiety drug, Specioprin Hydrochloride (brand name, Special). He's also a big fan of superhero comics. He hangs out with his best friends, stoner brothers who own a comic book store. So he really digs it when the drug starts giving him superpowers--flying, walking through walls, telepathy...or maybe it just gives him hallucinations that he has super powers. Yeah, actually it's pretty definitely the latter, but it's really clever how he keeps the conceit. When the doctor running the trial tells him flat out that he's having an adverse psychological reaction, he hallucinates that the doctor is speaking to him telepathically, telling him the room is bugged, and he should keep taking the pills until his powers are permanent. When the businessmen running the trial show up to convince him to quietly quit (and for god's sake, stop running around tackling people while wearing their logo on his back), he makes them his evil arch-nemeses who are planning to use the drug to create an army of psycho-zombies (or something like that). But here's what I really love about it--he really, really is a superhero. The "suits" really are (or become) villains, and he really does have what makes all superheroes great--the will to never give up (and really, the drug gave him that, so it is the story of a drug turning him into a superhero). Blow them up, drop an atom bomb on them, hit them with an entire freakin' planet, and a superhero still won't stop fighting. Automaton Transfusion This one wins points for having the most audacious trailer, claiming to be the horror movie that will define its generation. I'm not sure if I'd go that far, but it is a very, very good movie. High school students suddenly find themselves in the middle of a plague of fast-moving zombies. Normally I don't dig the fast-moving zombies, but the origin, explained near the end, actually justifies them being fast (you can read it in the festival description, but I prefer not to give it away). This was shot on the extreme cheap in 9 days, but it still looks good, the characters are developed well enough for me to actually care about them, and the camerawork is exciting without devolving into nothing but unfollowable shaky-cam, and they got a surprising number of zombie extras for such a low-budget film (the director must have lots of friends, or used craigslist). Really nearly everything works except the way-too-abrupt ending, which is a function of the filmmakers not having time or money to shoot the ending as it was originally written (involving helicopters). However, Dimension Films has bought the remake rights, so expect this version to come out on DVD in September, and the big money version to hit theaters next summer. It's also part of a planned trilogy, so I'm looking forward to all three. The Man From Earth And finally, "Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth". Jerome Bixby, of course, is a famous sci-fi writer who died about 9 years ago. He was most famous as a writer for "Star Trek" (the original series) where he wrote, among other episodes, "Requiem for Methusaleh". Bixby spent a long time (according to director Richard Schenkman, the last 40 years of his life) obsessing over the logistics of living a really, really long time. In "The Man From Earth" John Oldman (pun intended) is abruptly leaving his university job of 10 years to hit the open road. His friends (colleagues and students) come to his place for an impromptu going away party, and to press him about why he's leaving so suddenly. There he drops a bombshell on them--he's actually 14,000 years old, probably a cro-magnon (they didn't have a word for it in his time, obviously), and has to leave now before people learn too much. At first they treat it like a wild story, a sci-fi novel idea. But slowly he starts convincing them that it's either true, he's insane, or he's an asshole who's taking the joke too far. The logistics are quite fascinating, especially how his long life doesn't give him any great insights beyond the fact that we keep making the same mistakes. He can't be more advanced than the greatest knowledge of his time, so he can't--for example--know the world's round before everyone else did. Nor does he exactly know where he's from, although he surmises from later anthropology. Most of all the movie uses the premise to riff on the human condition--history, psychology, science, religion, etc. And in the process, it took me further in my mind than most movies, even with (maybe especially with) spaceships. I don't want to spoil any big revelations, so I'll just say a few generalities. First, the acting is great, especially William Katt (good to see the Greatest American Hero getting work), Tony Todd (in a much better role than in "The Thirst", which played earlier in the festival) and David Lee Smith as Oldman. The idea idea is clever and well fleshed out, obviously the product of someone who has thought it over from every angle. The staging is great, keeping things moving despite being limited to a single living room. In fact, the setting would make it perfect to adapt to a stage play (one I would readily pay to see). All in all, a great movie. And that's the cream of the crop from Holehead 2007 --Jason
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