March 2004

Joint Partners not so Special Edition DVD

not so Special Edition Joint Partners not so Special Edition is a mixed bag of four short films along with a collection of deleted scenes, photo galleries, interviews and other bits and pieces.

T.Fly Boxed
At only one minute long, this is the shortest film in the collection and involves a curious fly that opens a mysterious box. Although not perfect, it is an entertaining one-joke animation.

H.R. PukenshetteH.R. Pukenshette
If you read the title of this film out loud in an outrageous French accent, you will understand the sort of humour were dealing with here. Its also worth noting the end credits, which offers maximum respect to The Young Ones.

After his girlfriend leaves him, The Dude decides to drink himself to death but is interrupted by the appearance of his guardian angel - the eponymous puddle of vomit - who shows him that life is worth living.

H.R. Pukenshette is a bizarre collision between childrens television of yesteryear - sickly songs and a cloyingly sweet message about pals making life worthwhile - and straightforward gross out comedy.

And it works brilliantly.

Asburied
Asburied is a look back at the once-glorious resort town of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Its also the film that I found hardest to comment on. Its very nicely shot and does do a very good job of capturing the atmosphere of a town that has seen much better days. But, I get the feeling that the film is also a bit of a nostalgia trip.

I have nothing against nostalgia but, in this case, not being an American and never having been to New Jersey, the nostalgia upon which Ashburied is depending is lost on me.

Bum RunnerBum Runner
Like H.R. Pukenshette, Bum Runner is an inspired piece of lowbrow humour.

The film is essentially a car chase. Except the characters are all homeless and the vehicles are supermarket trolleys.

Every cliché you could wish for turns up in the film - the upturned fruit cart, the pane of glass, the scattered boxes - and all of them are given a gleeful trampy twist.

Bum Runner is sick, silly and laugh out loud funny.

My only real gripe with this DVD is that, at only 28 minutes (plus extras), it is very short. But, as a statement of intent, the not so Special Edition DVD marks Joint Partners as a company to watch - H.R Pukenshette and Bum Runner especially demonstrate a wonderfully deranged sense of humour which I would certainly like to see more of.

Shadows in Fog

Shadows in Fog This is a bit of a departure for me as I am about to review roughly half of an anthology. MonstersDotCom, which is available from Brimstone Media, consists of three short films – the screener I have is labelled Shadows in the Fog and contains two of the three films.

Last Stop Station
A tabloid journalist finds himself driving through the middle of nowhere and almost out of petrol. And when he finally finds a filling station, it appears to be deserted.

Just as our intrepid journalist starts to become frustrated, a light goes on behind a door and fog starts to emerge.

Out of the fog comes a group of hooded – and clearly non-human – figures, who proceed to fill his tank, check his tyres and clean his windscreen.

I’ll say this for cowled denizens of the otherworld – they certainly know the meaning of the word ‘service’.

Recognising the story of his career, the journalist starts taking photos… until the pump attendant taps on his window.

Not surprisingly, it wants his camera.

Eventually he hands it over and they let him go.

Blinded by dollar signs, he heads straight to the nearest motel and calls a fellow journalist, telling him to come with a video camera, a flash and some cash, and the pair of them head straight back to the (Texacowl?) filling station…

Last Stop Station is a well-made, witty, original and very entertaining film and is well worth getting hold of.

Shadows in the Garden
Shadows in the Garden struck me as being very reminiscent of Swamp Thing (the comics, not the films).

The film starts with a series of newspaper headlines telling us that a serial killer is still on the loose, that Lieutenant Green – the investigating officer – is missing and may be the killer’s latest victim and that people have reported seeing a ‘shy monster’.

Telling its story from the monsters point of view, Shadows in the Garden is a touching – and largely dialogue free – tale of a monster trying to piece together fragments of memory to understand who – or what – he is.

It’s not difficult to identify the monster’s origin, but the film’s sympathetic portrayal of a very well conceived botanical beastie and its excellent storyline makes Shadows in the Garden a very well executed short that puts many of its bigger budget brethren to shame.

Both Last Stop Station and Shadows in the Garden tell quirky and original stories with a very effective visual flare. MonstersDotCom would be worth getting hold of for these two films alone.

Big Fish

Edward Bloom (played by Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor) is a teller of tall tales, none of which his son, William (Billy Crudup) believes any more. But now that his father is dying, William finds himself trying to understand his father through his stories.

Big Fish is a fantastic film about the value of stories as Edward revisits the fantastic tales that William grew up with and which his wife, Josephine (Marion Cotillard) has never heard.

Its a touching film - packed with performances that are by turns laugh out loud funny and very moving - which, like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, is a celebration of the imagination and a life that is larger than life.

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever DVD
While Cabin Fever is certainly a gory film that takes its initial cues from the slasher sub-genre of horror films, it quickly breaks out of its constraints to become a very well made - and rather unnerving - horror film.

The film starts with four college kids heading off to a cabin in the middle of the woods to celebrate the end of their exams. And the kids certainly fall well within the usual horror film conventions - the couple, the quiet nerdy one, the good girl and the prat.

And theyre in a cabin. In the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by rednecks. Guess what happens next

Wrong.

Instead of playing out like a conventional 80s slasher flick, Cabin Fever turns into a much more modern horror film centring on a flesh rotting disease (based on the real-life necrotizing fasciitis).

Better still, rather than playing to type, the characters become very concerned with their own survival.

Still, the film does manage some splashes of humour - most notably in the form of Deputy Sheriff Winston - but these serve to enhance rather than detract from the horror.

Overall, Cabin Fever is a brutal and unnerving film, and a great debut from director Eli Roth.