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Faces Of Schlock
Your old Uncle Kurty has been taking some new medication lately, and it's made him super amenable to low budget filmmaking. Not that I was ever against it per se, it just seems to be tickling me the right way recently. Faces of Schlock is going to benefit mightily from my largesse, as its super special combination of full-scale stupidity and horror intelligence breaks no promises whatsoever.
Yes, there will be truckloads of high-falutin' critics complaining about this movie. "Oy, it's so cheap!" "Yeesh, it's so stupid." "Yeegads, the acting stinks, and it's not even scary!" To these critics, I say, "learn how to read!" How can you form the words, Faces of Schlock and not understand what you're about to watch? In this case, it's an anthology horror film that cleverly combines two uniquely powerful catchphrases in its title in a blessedly obvious way.
So here we get a quartet of pocket-change productions directed by Andrew Shearer, Justin Channell, Chris LaMartina, and Henrique Cuoto, respectively, all of which take a tried and true horror theme, drape a thoroughly modern set of circumstances on top, and generally make it look like if you try hard enough you can come up with something that feels unique.
Blood Witch deposits us briefly in the Inquisition to find a pair of lusty lesbian witches summarily dispatched. Jump to the future and a bitchy, passive aggressive goth chickee is trying to resurrect one of the witches to do her killin'. Toss in a cheap play on words and you get a balls-out concept that will have the jaded among you cackling with glee. I'm pretty sure this is the first gore movie I've seen that involves codependent lesbian sex between a bitch and a witch. Fight past the bad sound, low production values and often amateur acting (and this is the last time I'm mentioning them) and you'll find a stylish, funny, innovative short with 12-dollar gore that's still rather effective. Bravo Shearer!
Channell's Mike Wuz Here injects snarky slacker ennui into the old haunted theater routine, and though it's often sophomoric, it's also a truly unique and entertaining spin on ghosts. Mike's suicide means his ghost is doomed to passive-aggressively wander around, acting just as he did while alive - except for occasional killing - and it's pissing his coworkers off. Never mind the coworkers are a bunch of John Waters acolytes smoking an apple bong in the closet, they can still toss off lines like, "you've got a 'broner' for Booberry," with irritable cool.
One Foot in the Grave finds schlockmeister LaMartina taking it a little easy. The weird tale of a pun-loving podiatrist forcing a woman to amputate her foot manages to include explicitly themed foot-fetish fun with a dismembered rotting foot chasing people around like an idiot. The story sticks around too long, but it's so willfully dunderheaded it's impossible not to love, especially when the 'Okey Dokey' song starts to play.
Lastly, Cuoto takes us on a Slay Ride full of serious Santa weirdness, more extreme budget gore, and a whole lotta Ruby Larocca, who does serious time sans duds. Ruby finds herself unmoored on Christmas Eve, and soon the sugarplums start hitting the fan. Before it's all through, you'll know what it means to self-eviscerate yourself with a chainsaw. You might not know much more than that, but you'll still have had a good time.
Like all God-fearing anthologies, schlock touts a wraparound sequence of mixed success. Elvira clone Slutpira is a busty amateur horror host struggling to find her motivation amidst terribly cheap sets and an even worse crew. These interstitials don't quite pull it off until one that wordlessly focuses on a showering cutie. When she discovers she's being filmed the director rushes in shouting, "keep showering!" And when a Slutpira segment comes to an unceremonious halt he assures everyone that, "it's not just good, it's good enough." That kind of thinking pretty much suffuses this movie, and if you don't get it, you have my sympathies. Faces of Schlock is a flat-out dork fest with consistently low values (of every kind) and consistently good ideas.
A 16 X 9 Widescreen Presentation may be overdoing it as far as these films go, but nothing looks too bad. Colors aren't great, the image is often a bit harsh and digital, black levels aren't always what they should be, but, again, this is Faces of Schlock.
Digital Stereo Audio comes out of your speakers, but room-sound dialog is often so muffled that you'll have to ride the volume control to hear everything. And sometimes when the loud bits come, they are all out of proportion. Not much to praise here, but as noted before ...
Yet, here's a schlock-load of extras, a gross tonne of extras, including a Commentary Track with Couto and wraparound producer Jeff Turner (for the wraparound sequences) and respective directors, actors, etc. for each short. Fun, youthful fun. Behind the Scenes Slutpira tosses out 5 minutes of loose stuff including the realization that actual scene readings and walk-throughs were used. Then, 13 minutes of Behind the Scenes "Slay Ride", 10 minutes of "Slay Ride" Outtakes, three minutes of Behind the Scenes "Blood Witch", five minutes of "Blood Witch" Outtakes, ten minutes of "Mike Wuz Here" Outtakes, a 25-minute World Premier Featurette, and a 30-minute Cinema Wasteland 2009 featurette, showing in nausea-inducing shaky-cam the fun to be had at this convention. Drawing a Blank Web Series showcases five minutes of droll lo-fi animation fun, a Schlock Rock Video with punk band Jasper the Colossal rocks it out, the Official Trailer is here, and a Web Link to even more mysterious goodies is presented. Pretty full slate, I'd say.
I guess the question here isn't whether Faces of Schlock is good or bad - you'd have to be a complete idiot to expect it to be 'good', and everyone knows it. The question is whether Faces of Schlock is crass or insultingly bad. It isn't. Through it all you find four innovative shorts done with sly humor and full commitment. Lezbo demons, slacker ghosts, vengeful feet, and I'm not sure what else, all coming from some sleazy sub-basement. This stuff feels like Factory 2000 work with more professionalism, (if you know what I mean) so don't expect WB starlets or state-of-the-art horror. Just crack one open and get with it, cause this one's Recommended.