DIRECTED BY: Astron-6
FEATURING: , , , Mackenzie Murdock, Amy Groening, Lloyd Kaufman
PLOT: A crazed cannibalistic killer goes after fathers in his rape/murder spree. One-eyed assassin/maple syrup maker Ahab, young priest Father John Sullivan, paranoid streetwalker Twink, and mystery-solving stripper Chelsea all seek revenge, teaming up for a strange and scattered mission.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: An eye-patched vigilante, a topless stripper with a chainsaw, a nearsighted cannibal rapist, incest, demonic possession, trips to both heaven and hell, a non sequitur commercial for low-budget sci-fi “Star Raiders,” hallucinogenic berries: Father’s Day has a lot of weirdness to recommend it. It starts off as a fairly standard (and insanely gory) grindhouse throwback, but evolves into a bizarre and fantastic adventure that just might be weird enough for the List.
COMMENTS: Known for their impressive output of horror and comedy shorts, Winnipeg-based collective Astron-6 combines DIY filmmaking with a sick sense of humor and unadulterated love for 80’s straight-to-video schlock. After making a trailer for the fake exploitation flick “Father’s Day,” Troma offered the group $10,000 to produce a full-length feature of the concept. At the start it seems like a standard, and completely gruesome, grindhouse throwback with grisly close-ups of penis mutilation and sickening rape/murders set alongside over-the-top character archetypes and an enthusiastic score. As Ahab (Adam Brooks), Father John (Matthew Kennedy), and Twink (Conor Sweeney) team up in the wake of several close-to-home father murders, it begins to take a turn for the ludicrous and eventually plunges into all-out wacky fantasy, seeming to forget its initial narrative and stylistic leanings—and becoming better for it.
With real pig intestines, buckets of fake blood, and a well-laid green screen, Father’s Day maintains a dark, grungy aesthetic that works well with its 70’s appropriations while exuding DIY innovation that sets it apart from some of its peers. Steven Kostanski’s stop-motion hell creations and an extended trip around the world for Father John are among the many segments that vary in style and tone. There’s even a goofy commercial for a fake Star Wars rip-off thrown in about two-thirds of the way through (the feature itself is introduced as a “midnight movie” tv program). Astron-6 seems to have hundreds of ideas and little interest in streamlining, resulting in a surprisingly dense 99 minutes as myriad references, off-kilter jokes, side-trips, and subplots arise and descend. Luckily, most of them work, but the ones that don’t result in some unevenness, especially in the overall tone. The noticeable shift towards the middle is somewhat jarring, but not a dealbreaker.
Father’s Day may be sick and twisted in many ways, but it manages to be most of all fun. The Astron-6 gang looks like they’re having a blast just being silly together as the plot becomes more and more ridiculous. The whole cast is great, injecting equal amounts of parody and imagination into their roles, and I especially enjoyed the main three male leads, who have excellent comedic chemistry. The film’s biggest flaw is its tonal inconsistencies, but for many viewers the inclusion of so many ideas and exploitation references will likely be appreciated. Astron-6 decided to really go all-out for this film, and by holding nothing back they will impress many and alienate those who wouldn’t get it anyway. And I have a feeling they’re fine with that.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“With a surreal plotline, exceptional acting, a host of hilarious one-liners, and a large, beautiful cast of many many almost naked women this is one highly recommended giggle & gorefest you really shouldn’t miss.”–Rick McGrath, Quiet Earth (festival screening)