Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 Days of Horror: Feast

2005, John Gulager -- Netflix

And then there is the monster gore flick.  Monsters as a genre are a line straddled traversing from horror to adventure.  While even in the adventure flick, there is the palpable sense of fear in the protagonists, they always move away from the fear to begin a focus on the battle between the characters and the monster. In a monster horror, the fear is always present, the monsters always winning, the untrained characters always aware of the ever present chance they will die next.

Feast is a Project Greenlight (the side project started by Ben Affleck & Matt Damon to support young film makers) winner that builds the self aware gory monster flick.  It plays with the structure immediately as each person in the desert tavern is introduced with a character card designating them the Hero, the Bozo, the Slut, etc. and noting the chance they have at surviving the movie. We see faces we recognize immediately such as Balthazar Getty (the Bozo), who's IMDB listing tells me that he has not done as many bad horrors as I expected, Jason Mewes (the Actor) playing ... himself, Henry Rollins (the Coach) and Judah Friedlander (Beer Guy) playing himself as a beer delivery guy -- well, does Judah ever play anyone other than himself?  The setup is immediate as The Hero enters the tavern with the head of a monster, explains the situation and is immediately eaten.  Enter his wife as the Heroine who is given a bit longer to last.

There we have it, a mixed up bunch of contentious no-goods trapped in a bar in the desert with no phone, no cell reception and mysterious monsters laying siege to the place. Origins are unimportant nor are, apparently, the actual appearance of the creatures as they spend most of their screen time wearing cow skulls and heavy fur blankets.  These things are smart, witty and have the nastiest reproduction methods I have ever seen.

Though the humor is in the setup, the actors play everything completely straight. They are in a horror movie and aren't aware of it.  We catch the tropes and chuckle as they turn them upside down.  The Kid doesn't survive by hiding in the closet; he is gobbled down like spaghetti.  The heroes are picked off one by one till the unlikely one emerges. Even the Bimbo gets away unscathed if a bit bloodstained.  And the Bozo survives and even shows a bit of heroism.  And apparently, you can choke a toothless monster on your forearm.

This movie is a gore fest, excuse the pun, the kind my brother would rent off the shelves of neighbourhood video stores.  It has blood and guts and decapitations and plenty of those aspects of gore movies that don't appeal to me (maggots, eewey goo) and even some aspects that begged for a need at  all -- seriously, did we need to see a "baby" monster spew semen as it humped the head of a bound biker? Characters are chomped, beheaded, have their faces ripped off, their guts torn out and one is even used as a battering ram.  In spite of the less savoury aspects, the movie goes along at an enjoyable clip until the survivors drive off into the sunrise and the inevitable sequels.  And I felt I had seen something fresh in the genre.