— by SCOTT SWAN —
In no particular order …
Oct. 29: “Flesh Eater” (AKA: “Revenge of the Living Dead”) — I gotta give credit where it’s due. Bill Hinzman, for those of you who don’t speak zombie, is the Pittsburgh filmmaker best known for playing the very first walking dead in George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic, “Night of the Living Dead.” Hinzman’s also a talented filmmaker in his own right, and so, a couple decades after “Night …,” in the midst of the ’80s gore boom, he decided to cash in on his legendary status by helming his own horror masterpiece: “Flesh Eater,” a sort of sequel / kind of rip-off of the film and role that brought him into prominence. And when I use the term rip-off, in this instance, it’s in the most affectionate way possible.
I picked this movie up mainly because of my love of Romero’s original. I assumed this was going to be an unwatchable piece of trash. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the exact opposite was true. This is, in fact, very watchable, and very entertaining, and made with a considerable amount of skill and affection for the genre.
Oct. 30: “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects” (Double Feature) — I first saw “Corpses” in Austin at Harry Knowles’s famous Butt-Numb-A-Thon festival. The early buzz was this was a movie so extreme Universal dropped it, and this fascinated me. Lions Gate Films stepped up to the plate and gave director Rob Zombie a new home for his directorial debut. The title packs a punch, and with the infamous Zombie at the helm, it all added up to one hell of a promise to genre fans. And for me, it was a promise kept. “Corpses” delivered exactly the kind of ride I was up for, and then some.
And if you dig “Corpses,” then toss in the sequel. You won’t be disappointed by the further exploits of Baby, Otis and everyone’s favorite degenerate clown, Captain Spaulding. If “Corpses” is the foreplay, then “Rejects” is the actual down ‘n’ dirty, non-consensual deed. And if the first film didn’t get you hard, then at least give “Rejects” its day in court. It’s by no means a rehash, and Zombie has clearly grown by leaps and bounds since his first outing. He trusts his instincts more and he’s crafted a film that transcends easy genre labels. It’s unflinching, brutal, and pissed-off, but at the same time it’s a haunting meditation on revenge. It’s Peckinpah. It’s “Deliverance.” It’s ’70s. And it’s a Hell of a lot of fun.
Oct. 31: “American Movie” — The documentary traces Mark Borchardt’s career from his very first film, an out-of-focus silent entitled “The More The Scarier,” to his present projects. Along the way, he’s made a slew of “The More The Scarier” sequels and an odd piece simply called “I Blow Up” (check it out below). Even though we only get a quick glimpse of “I Blow Up,” which looks like Sam Raimi meets Andy Warhol, it hooked me. I hope someday all his early works will be made available on home video. They’re crude, laced with intense violent imagery, but display passion and pure potential.
Flash forward a decade or so: Mark’s now got three children, past due child support payments and an up-at-dawn custodial job at a cemetery. It seems the probability that he’ll ever break through with his movie career is slim to none. In interviews, his brothers openly show little faith. Even his parents, who clearly love him, are far from optimistic. When his current feature attempt, “Northwestern,” falls apart, Mark decides to keep push forward on a short film, “Coven.” What follows is a trip into the heart of darkness.
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Follow Scott Swan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scottobiswan.