Tag Archives: Lynn Lowry

CAPSULE: FANG (2022)

366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Richard Burgin

FEATURING: Dylan LaRay, , Jess Paul

PLOT: Billy lives with his Parkinson’s-stricken mother; his dispiriting routine is interrupted by a rat bite which seems to catalyze an unnatural change in him.

Still from Fang (2022)

COMMENTS: Billy’s world is cramped. He sweeps a broom for nine bucks an hour on a crowded warehouse floor for Mr. Wolfson. After a short walk home, he can only look forward to his small apartment where he looks after his fading mother, Gina. On top of this dreariness, he is trapped inside his own mind, and is forced nearly every waking hour to pretend to know how to interact with all these callous normies he finds himself amongst. Daily, he faces patrician disregard from Wolfson and maternal fury from Gina. But he has a refuge.

More than ten million years in the future, the planet Graix is thriving, with wide-open spaces and a civilization descended from rats which were sent from Earth in the deep past, when a nigh-unlivable planet forced humanity into a “Noah’s Ark”-style gambit.  Billy has much more to say about this world, as it is his—the good part, at least. His mother’s caretaker, a young woman named Myra, thinks so, too. After his spiel, she looks at his drawings of this world and sincerely opines, “This is really cool.”

Richard Burgin takes great care and consideration in and for Billy’s character, and Dylan LaRay is to be commended for his spectrum-informed performance. But Burgin cannot be too kind to Billy. The protagonist’s small world looks smaller on camera, with furtive lens movements coupling with angled close-ups. The lighting is overcast. And every other character is performed, it seems to me, as slightly “too much,” as a way of capturing the daily bombardment Billy endures. (Even ignoring the confined Hell of his life with his mom.)

The supernatural element may or may not be real. We can be certain of two things: Billy is primed for a mental breakdown, and he is bitten by a small white rat. He witnesses down fur growing from an awful wound on his arm, and his hyper-perception (the foley in Fangs is not a comfortable experience) takes a tone more sinister than even his underlying circumstances should allow. While there is a facsimile of comic relief—in the form of a pair of warehouse co-workers, one of whom invariably talks about breasts, as well as a delightful scene with a zealous hardware store clerk—there is not much of it. And knowing the genre, the character’s perturbation (undiagnosed autism), the mother’s affliction (Parkinson’s disease, stage five), and observing Billy’s life in the first ten minutes, we know this will not end well.

That in mind, please take the “Recommended” notice with this warning: Fang is very painful at times; but its most painful moments are its most impressive. Billy’s encounters with his mother—sometimes with Myra bearing witness—tilt dismayingly between disturbing and sweet, cruel and caring. At times, all four, as when she condemns her boy in the most vulgar and harshest terms, and then on the heels of this excoriation mistakes him for his father and moves to seduce him. Fang is at its best when it is true to what it is at heart: a hushed, harrowing tale of mental disintegration. While some of its more overtly “Horror film” elements misfire, the genuine sadness of the son’s and mother’s experiences was enough to make me shudder.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A dash of body horror combined with a pinch of surrealism and a peck of psychological horror... Fang is a perfect midnight movie.”— Bryan Staebell, Scare Value (festival screening)

INTERVIEW: LYNN LOWRY, A LIFE IN CULT FILM

sat down (via telephone) with 366’s to discuss her long and distinguished career. Ms. Lowry tells tales from the sets of I Drink Your Blood (1971), The Crazies (1973 and 2010), Shivers (1975), Cat People (1982), and more, gives her impressions of , , , Radley Metzger, , , and others, and explains why low budget independent films are more fun (if less lucrative) than big-budget Hollywood projects. From cutting off hands to playing bi-curious housewives to getting mauled by a leopard, she’s done it all. And she’s still going strong, with almost forty projects listed on IMDB in various stages of completion for 2021 and 2022!

To our knowledge, at just over an hour, this is the most extensive Lynn Lowry retrospective available anywhere.

Listen below!

CAPSULE: ODISSEA DELLA MORTE (2018)

AKA Valley of the Rats; Odyssey of Death

366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.

Beware

DIRECTED BY: Vince D’Amato

FEATURING: Jesse Onocalla, Momona Komagata, ,  Tristan Risk

PLOT: A man rents a limousine and travels around town talking with his associates as he tries to figure out who killed his girlfriend.

Still from Odissea Della Morte (2019)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Amidst all the random shots of walking around, limo-bound conversations, and pseudo-BDSM, there is a quiet aura of nothingness going on. As there is virtually nothing doing in this movie, there is virtually nothing weird about it.

COMMENTS: With money, generally, comes a modicum of competence when it comes to filmmaking. The middle-to-big-budget movie you watch may not be particularly entertaining, but it’s at least technically well done. But low budget films are odd beasts. Some cost as much as a used economy car, and are unceasingly entertaining. Others, costing as much as a higher-end mid-budget sedan, are unceasingly tedious. To what end do I type all this garbled verbiage? My reason is twofold. First, I am somewhat frantically trying to think of what to write about Vince D’Amato’s Odissea Della Morte (translation probably not needed). Second, having begun the review in this stylistic manner, it occurs to me that it’s a fairly decent textual translation of Odissea‘s cinematic style.

Jesse (Jesse Onocalla) rides around in a limo, much to his friends’ bemusement, going on a bender while interviewing various people who saw his girlfriend (I don’t remember her name, it doesn’t matter) before she was murdered. While chewing over various evils of modern society in this mobile backdrop, various nonentities enter and exit the vehicle and make various unimportant observations. Intercutting these vignettes are shots of largely naked, occasionally gothed-out women doing ambiguously sexy things and photographing each other until the whole movie becomes this weird (!) and tedious dream thing that culminates in what is perhaps a twist.

I hope my record of reviews can attest to the fact that I am generally a very patient viewer who is eager to give every movie the fairest shake possible. The closest I’ve ever gotten to “cheating” for this website is with this movie. I did watch it, all of it, and even have some notes to prove I paid attention for portions of it. However, when your film’s two highlights are a brief conversation with an affable limo driver and some blandly cryptic remarks from an actress most famous for a small part in a movie known mostly for its theme song by David Bowie, your film is probably doomed, and no amount of T&A, canted angles, and color-to-black-and-white shifts can obscure that.

Forgive me, there was a third highlight: an aura of menace, a tied up woman threatened with a knife, and some beardo shouting, “I AM THE CITY!” in a way that made Jack Skellington‘s declaration of pumpkin-kingship seem altogether Shakespearean by comparison. That gave me a chuckle.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a love letter to the works of David Cronenberg and Jess Franco set to [D’Amato’s] unique take on the giallo film.”–Film Bizarro