Flash forward to now... the Fruits of Season 3 have been released... to very little fanfare. Feast, directed by winner John Gulager and written by winners Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, was rescued by The Weinstein Company for what could have been a kick-ass release. Instead it went into limited release in September of '06 and slithered onto Video Shelves in October.
But hey, it's not like this is a model of accessibility either, man. Feast is delicious in its edgy and nasty fun. Its blood and gore quotient is off the charts and its every bit as blackly funny as it is scary. The best part about Feast is the very self-aware nature of the entire thing. This is a Horror Pastiche, mixing some of the best (and intentionally worst) of the genre and turning it on its ear for a buffet of comedic chills. Each character is given a corn-ball generic-extra name and an introduction complete with title card, fun fact or occupation and a life expectancy. Naturally, the "Life Expectancy" is almost immediately thrown down the proverbial drain with the rest of the blood, adding to both the comedy and the freshness of the piece.
The plot and story are pretty fun, but almost secondary to the action and laughs here due to the skilled and surreal camera eye of experimental indie director John Gulager. A quant desert bar in the middle of "Canyon Country" is packed with the usual losers and regulars, a passerby in the form of Henry Rollins' Coach and, for some reason beyond sanity, Jason Mewes playing an actor named "Jason Mewes". Of course he mostly just plays pool with Balthazar Getty's "Bozo" instead of screaming "Snooch to the Nooch" or berating Silent Bob.
Suddenly, a desperate man holding the decapitated head of a monstrosity slams in and gives the sanctimonious speech that only the film's Hero can give. But is Eric Dane's Life Expectancy Title Card correct? For that matter, is that of Navi Rawat (who plays Hero's wife... Heroine) correct? Hoo-Wee, baby, let me take you on a Sea Cruise through Red Tides before you find that one out.
Gulager keeps the events moving at a surprising rapid fire pulling dead rabbits out of his hat at every turn and pushing you to the next shocking limit before you can even react to the fact that "You're not supposed to do that in a horror picture!!!" Dispensing with the over-explanatory slowness of many films, Gulager leaves everything as ambiguous as a Bush Administration Judicial Nomination, focusing on the confusion, blood and fun instead of the cerebral and logical. This isn't to say that it doesn't make sense... all the dominoes fall in the proper order and may make you laugh as they do... however, does it really matter what these creatures are and why they're munching on these particular bar patrons?
The make-up effects here are great, especially for the low budget. Gary J. Tunnicliffe's skills at making the most he can out of rubber, latex, caro syrup and caramel color, as well as his wry, dark sense of humor shines through here like you wouldn't believe. This is also a credit to Gulager's interpretation, as Tunnicliffe goes way over the top here, forcing one to either laugh or get the hell out. On a side note, if you're wondering the extent to which Tunnicliffe "gets into" his work, he also played the female of the two horny adult monsters. I'm not sure I'd even go that far... and this is Kneumsi you're reading, kids.
The casting is great and the actors show a lot of chemistry for such a short shoot. Getty's constant bantering and bickering with Duane Whitaker is hilarious, Gulager's girlfriend Diane Goldner is an isolated, yet repeated crack up as "Harley Mom", Judah Friedlander is goofy fun as "Beer Guy" and Jenny Wade is a sexy treat as "Honey Pie", especially when she's so obviously disgusted by the ubiquitous blood and gore. It would be almost silly to mention that Clu Gulager is great in this. He may not be the most recognizeable face in Hollywood, but he's been doing his job (and doing it really well) for a long time. His portrayal here as "Bartender" is both hilarious and earnest. Never does he seem like the "Venerable Guest Star" or the "Director's Dad".
The real show stealer here is Jade Blue Afterglow herself, Krista Allen. Yeah, she's incredibly hot, but she really steps into the action/ horror mode, and remains hilarious throughout. Her delivery of some remarkably (yet intentionally) inane lines both amps up the "B-Movie" aspect of all this and shows her range (even if only because she doesn't crack up). Too bad she doesn't get naked.
For all its anti-class, Feast isn't the "truly great" horror film it promises to be at first. To its credit it never loses its sense of humor, but still never crosses into "Spoof" territory as it goofs around in the "Farce" that it is. Still, Feast reduction to the grass-roots approach to this "under-siege" motif eventually feels a little one-note, and the repetition of the shocking and hilarious elements we find in the first half feels a little stale later. Similarly, because so many bombastic scream-laughs were shoved into the first act, the second half has to compete with these and they almost go too far. Not that I take much issue with "too far", but hell, I'll point out "trying too hard" in any venue! As refreshing as Gulager's choice not to over-explain is, his lack of thorough exposition in other areas leads to a bit of a "zone out" affect later. Still, even at its worst, Feast manages a self-referential and fully goof-conscious feel that exceeds expectations. After all, this is a "B-Movie", and it has fun being what it is.
Feast may feel a bit like Night of the Living Dead or From Dusk Till Dawn in parts, and in many ways, that's a good thing. It also rockets far past mere wink-nudge spoofing into some solid and original surreal farce. The script is good... the directing is better. It's a fine and uncommon approach to an older horror style, and I tip both my hat and my Three and a Half Stars to it. Now if you'll excuse me, I just got back from a Business Trip to Dallas and Austin. I'm not too clear on the events that transpired in the Bar we ended up at yesterday, but I imagine it was probably pretty funny. To be fair, this wasn't a desert bar in the middle of nowhere... this was a quaint piano bar in the middle of Downtown Austin, and the worst villain we found there was our second helping of Pinot Noir. But hell, after seeing Feast, I'm sure I could rewrite that into a Horror Flick! Boom! Huzzah!
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