Thursday, October 04, 2007

Weddings, FEAST, Scarehouse and Wasteland

Long week.

It started last week, actually, with the preparations for Mike and Carolyn's wedding - rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, pre-ceremony, ceremony... and then it was over. An eye-blink: some vows (including a sermon that made utterly no sense to me but was delivered in warm and even tones by Carolyn's brother, Lamar), a limo ride, some food, my brilliant toast (the bulk of which was conceived in the rest room just prior to delivery), a few dances then... the night was over. Amy and I took the gifts back to the home of the new Mr. and Mrs. Haushalter and joined them for brunch the next morning. It was nice. Our heads were spinning all day, but nice all the same.

The rest of this week was spent in preparation for Cinema Wasteland this coming weekend. It's no secret that this bi-annual event is my favorite show and I'm proud that we'll be unveiling a new issue of Sirens of Cinema (our Second Anniversary Issue with cover by Joe Jusko!), a work-in-progress cut of Splatter Movie (something we do with all of our movies to keep the buzz going and to get feedback from fans) and the brand new DVD release of A Feast of Flesh. Yeah, we're getting it out there prematurely, but I doubt it'll cause a ripple effect tearing apart the business. It's just a cool thing to have available. The menus are gorgeous, the original cover pic was taken by our good friend Dave Cooper, there's a montage of Mike Haushalter's on-set photos inside, our commentary is witty and urbane and it's getting good reviews so far.

Reviews like this one from Movies Made Me Do It:

There are times when I really get nervous before popping in a movie with the intent of reviewing it, and when it came time to watch A Feast of Flesh (formerly known as Abattoir), I have to admit that I felt that nervousness creeping up on me. Why? Well, mainly because I really enjoy director Mike Watt's work, and although I wouldn't go so far as to call us "friends" as I've never met the guy and I'm pretty sure that he doesn't even remember my name, we have had a couple of conversations in the past and I thought that he came across as a great guy with a genuine love for the business. So, where does the nervousness bit come in? Well, his latest film deals with vampires... need I say more? I truly despise the vast majority of the vampire flicks to come out of the last ten years, especially the ones that are as sex-charged as this one appeared to be based on the promotional materials. However, I popped it in anyway, and I was shocked to find that it wasn't all that bad; nay, scratch that, it was actually pretty damned good.

We begin the film by watching a man beating a woman in a dark alley, but before he can do much damage, a woman appears out of nowhere and literally rips his face off. Terri (Stacey Bartlebaugh-Gmys), the woman who was being beaten, is obviously a little scared at first, but this mysterious stranger makes it clear that she has no desire to harm her; in fact, she'd like to take her to a place where she'll be safe and never have to worry about this sort of thing ever again. The place in question turns out to be a high-class brothel known as the Bathory House which is owned by Elizabet Le Fanau (Amy Lynn Best), and right from the start, observant viewers will notice that this isn't your average whorehouse as all of the women inside are vampires. Talk about going out for a little sucky-sucky action, sheesh.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, friends John (Steve Foland) and Seth (Aaron Bernard) are kicking back a couple of cold ones in the local tavern when John invites Seth to come along with him and a couple of friends to the aforementioned brothel to forget about his woman troubles for a while. You see, Seth's girlfriend has recently dumped him and ran off to New York, leaving the poor guy heartbroken and constantly drowning his sorrows in liquor. He turns the offer down, but the rest of the gang decides that a little sex-for-cash action is more important than being there for poor Seth. Then, a revelation is made: John notices that one of the ladies working in the whorehouse is actually Seth's former girlfriend, and it doesn't take long for him to find Seth and fill him in on this piece of news.

The two plan to go back to the house and talk to her, but before they can do so, they're interrupted by Tom (Bill Homan), a gangster-looking guy who claims that their lives will be in danger if they pursue that plan. He takes them back to Sheridan (director Mike Watt, sporting a great Irish accent), a man who fills them in on a little information about the situation at hand, and before you know it, it's Sheridan and his boys versus a bunch of vampire vixens with these two guys caught in the middle. There's much more to it, of course, but I feel as though I've revealed enough as is. Also appearing in minor roles are Debbie Rochon and the husband-and-wife team of April Monique Burril and Jimmyo Burril (both of Chainsaw Sally fame).

What sets A Feast of Flesh apart from the thousands of other "hot women who also happen to be vampires" movies floating around out there is the fact that it actually has some steak to go along with its sizzle; I know, putting an actual plot in one of these movies is such a novel concept, right? Apparently, Mr. Watt (who also served as the writer here) thought so as well, and the result was a film that actually had me interested in both the storyline and the characters within. Keep in mind that when I reference the characters, I mean more than "who will pop their top next?", as there are some very well-written characters to be found here and I couldn't have been more shocked or pleased when I realized that.

Even when one leaves the plot out of the equation, there's some really neat ideas wrapped up in the running time for this one. One thing that I particularly liked was the "faith-based" system of vampire weapons; by that, I mean that things like the traditional cross and holy water relies on the weapons' wielder believing in it rather than just assuming that it works. You're a Catholic? Crosses are your best friend. Jewish? I guess you'd want a menorah, but sadly, we never got to find out about that one. Hell, one guy in here believed that money makes the world go 'round, and as a result, he was able to use a dollar bill as an effective weapon. I realize that it sounds silly on paper, but it worked out nicely on the screen and was a very interesting deviation from the usual vampire mythos.

A Feast of Flesh is a great vampire film, and this is coming from someone who normally skips over any DVD that even references another vampire flick. All of the things that one expects from this subgenre - blood, boobs, and beasts - are in ample supply, but those things also come with an inventive and intriguing storyline that will keep viewers hooked until the credits roll. 8/10.

Which I've read about eight times this week to keep my morale up.

So don't call me at home this weekend. Come visit us in Cleveland at Cinema Wasteland.

OH, and one last thing: I know I've been touting the good graces of The Hundred Acres Manor all year, but everyone within shouting distance should also drive down to Scarehouse in Etna. Run by our good friends Scott and Barb Simmons, with mucho make-up provided by Don Bumgarner (F/X wizard on A Feast of Flesh not so coincidentally), it's a hell of a ride and a really damned fun time. And there will be a certain very talented young directrix making a guest appearance on October 21 (check the site's calendar for more info...)

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