Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: Father's Day

I’ve been hearing about Astron-6’s flick Father’s Day for a while now. Part of that hype is due to the fact that this movie has more kick ass posters than I have ever seen one flick have. Seriously, google “Father’s Day Poster” and marvel at the sheer amount of awesome. It’s gotten shining reviews from the horror community and been the subject of its fair share of gossip regarding the details of Troma’s distribution of the movie. I figured today would be the perfect day to check it out. Yeah, I know, reviewing Father’s Day on Father’s Day is cheesy as hell, but that’s how I roll. Anyway, to say that it lived up to my expectations would be an extreme understatement. It’s bloody, it’s fun, it’s subversive, and it just might be the best safe sex commercial I’ve ever seen.

The story: “The urban legend known as 'The Father's Day Killer' began some years after the demise of serial rapist/murderer Chris Fuchman. Since the 1970s, the use of contraceptives has tripled in North America alone and a generation of fathers fell asleep with the covers pulled tight, buttocks clenched. The story has become a fire-side cautionary ritual on camping trips, often used by fathers to warn their sons of the dangers of unplanned pregnancy. That deep seeded fear of penetration, violation and eventually death waned as the murder and rape of fathers continued to decline all over the world. Unfortunately those numbers didn't remain low, and it would seem that the legend is not yet complete…

Ahab, a man obsessed with exacting a brutal, violent revenge on the man who murdered his dad, joins John, an eager priest and Twink, a hot-headed street hustler on an epic quest to find and defeat this mythical monster known as Chris Fuchman AKA The Father's Day Killer.”

I finally felt the nostalgia wave that is at the heart of throwback cinema during the first minute of this film. You see, I was born in 1980 and didn’t get into horror movies until the 90’s. I wasn’t around for the heyday of drive-in or grindhouse cinema. I have a great appreciation for those forms of cinema presentation, but I never saw a double feature with trailers and concession commercials at the drive in or barely visible, beat to shit prints at a grindhouse theater. I love seeing those nods to how they did things before my time, but you can’t be nostalgic about something you weren’t around for. Actually, scratch that. You can. We call people who are nostalgic for things they never really experienced “hipsters,” and hipsters should all have their balls (or tits as the case may be) gnawed off by rabid weasels. Anyway, what I did experience in my early horror fan days was VHS distributor logos and late night TV. When the movie opens with Astron-6’s VHS style logo (ala Wizard or Vestron or Media, etc.) and goes into a faux announcement of the night’s movie line up, I got that twinge of nostalgia that fourty/fiftysomething viewers must get watching grindhouse throwbacks. Thank you Astron-6.

That being said, however, I question whether the weathered-film look was necessary. A movie doesn’t have to be a grindhouse throwback to be an authentic exploitation flick, and Father’s Day’s status as an authentic, down and dirty exploitation flick is beyond question. It doesn’t evoke a certain time period as much as the timeless mood of a genre. I know that throwbacks are Astron-6's thing, but I kinda wish with this one they would just drop the fake-aging thing and take their spot as a leader of NEW, not retro, exploitation cinema. If anything, Father’s Day feels much more like an 80’s style home video market exploitation flick (epitomized in those days by Troma) than a throwback to those flicks that Hobo and Grindhouse were aping. I personally think that if they were dead set on using fake patina on their film, the kind more associated with VHS, like what was used in the “ASTR-TV” segments, would have served the film better than the Grindhouse style.

Do NOT take my questioning of the “throwback/homage” cinematic device as me saying that I didn’t like the flick. Oh no Cellmates, quite the opposite! I had a freaking blast watching Father’s Day. This is an incredibly fun movie. This flick might be a little too much for those of you with more delicate sensibilities. I, however, am a bit of a sick puppy, which is convenient, ‘cause this is a sick movie. Gorehounds, you’re gonna love this flick. There was actually one scene that made me, the Son of Celluloid, literally cringe. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Then again, I think a man sticking a hypodermic needle into his glans penis before taking a knife to it would make anyone with a dick squirm a little, don’t you? ***END SPOILER ALERT*** We get gut munching, stabbing, evisceration, impalement, shootings, graphic genital mutilation, and an eye cutting that rivals the one in “Un Chien Andalou.” It all looks fantastic too. The gore in this flick is definitely commendable.

If gore isn’t enough for you, there’s rape. There’s lots of rape. This isn’t the kind of rape you’re used to seeing in movies either. We’ve got lots of man on man rape. Not American History X sanitized butt rape either. No, this is full on (and full frontal), just north of hardcore, fat pasty middle aged dude on fat pasty middle aged dude sexual violence. Fuchman’s red rocket of love is definitely on a mission to conquer Uranus. While that’s not exactly something I’d say I “enjoy watching” per se, I’m all in any time someone is doing things onscreen that other filmmakers are afraid to do. Way to shake things up gentlemen. In addition to all of the wang flopping around onscreen, there are plenty of breasts too. Ahab’s sister Chelsea works in a strip club, which becomes a major location in the film complete with all rights and benefits thereof. Apparently heaven is full of topless women as well, but we all knew that already. I mean, it couldn’t be paradise without them, could it?

So far, this sounds like a pretty intense flick with all of extreme gore, ass rape, and gratuitous boobage, huh? Well, the part that I haven’t mentioned yet is that it’s funny as hell. While it has a lot of horror and action elements, I’d say that Father’s Day is a comedy first and foremost. The dialog is absolutely hilarious. It has a great absurdist tone. While the set pieces, action sequences, and gags are the guts of the flick, the heart and soul are the quieter moments where the writing really shines. There’s one scene involving Ahab and Twink slipping past the cops that I’d describe as having a tone of “Airplane mixed with Loony Tunes.” The actors pull off the hilarity perfectly by playing it completely straight. The crux of the cast is the trio of Adam Brooks (Ahab), Conor Sweeney (Twink), and Matthew Kennedy (John Sullivan). They make a great comedic trio with excellent timing and onscreen chemistry. The movie manages to be consistently funny throughout without devolving into being jokey, and there’s no denying that it works. The last time I laughed this hard at a movie was The FP, and before that, um…I couldn’t tell you.

More ingredients than I can go into here factor into this flick being the entertaining ride it is. I already mentioned the central trio, but the performances of Mackenzie Murdock as Chris Fuchman and Amy Groening as Chelsea are fantastic too. The music by Jeremy Gillespie sets the mood perfectly. There is stunt work, particularly in one car chase scene, which was obviously done by the actors themselves. Some of this stuff is extremely dangerous, and I’m sure whether or not it was worth the risk has been debated, but it added a LOT to the scene, and to the film as a whole. I would make a comment about the actors having balls, but we see most of them on screen at some point, so that’s a moot point. One other thing I liked is that the main, obvious story comes to a close with over half an hour left to go in the film. Usually, I can pretty much peg the basic outline of any plot, but at that point, I had absolutely no idea where the flick was going to go from there. Do you know how long it’s been since that happened? In an era where films are increasingly predictable, it was refreshing to have a “what the hell is going to happen now” moment. I do think that last act, which does contain a few of the film’s best moments, drags a little though. It probably could have been trimmed by a couple of minutes. Then again, complaining about pacing in a movie like this is kinda ridiculous. Either way, ending the obvious story arc and completely switching directions was a brilliant move. The ending was great as well.

Random Thought 1: If you wanna make me love a movie, a topless stripper wielding a chainsaw is a great place to start.

Random Thought 2: Brent Steale, who plays Detective Stegal, reminded me a little of a young James Woods.

Random Thought 3: I haven’t watched the MTV Movie Awards in many years, but back when I did, they used to have an award for Best Kiss. If they still do that, the kiss between Ahab and Mary should get it this year.

Astron-6 has a making-of documentary in the works called No Sleep, No Surrender. After seeing Fathar’s Day, I can’t wait to see it. As much of a blast as it was to watch, it had to have been a blast to make. Also, it looks like it will touch on some of the issues with Troma. After another filmmaker recently told me about his/her less than scrupulous dealings with Uncle Lloyd, I’m intrigued to hear their story. You can check the trailer for No Sleep No Surrender out HERE.

Father’s Day is a perverse, gore soaked, eccentric exploitation flick that unequivocally delivers the twisted thrills. It’s easily one of my favorites of the year, and joins Dear God No! and Dead Hooker in a Trunk in the upper echelon of the current neo-exploitation wave. I do think I saw it in an entirely wrong format, however. Astron-6 kindly sent me a private link to view the film, so I watched it on my laptop, but this movie screams to be watched in a theater with a crowd of like minded sickos. I really want to check this out on the big screen. If there is a theatrical screening anywhere remotely close to you, I implore you not to miss this. Two severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out. Hail the Fuchmanicus!

2 comments:

INGO said...

You just made me wanna see this...great review----

Blogger said...

I have just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers strip-tease on my desktop.

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