Monday, August 3, 2009
What's better than sex? Not this movie!!!
D. Archibald Francrastin (aka Michael Kennedy)
Synapse Ent. DVD
Based on Edward Lee's short story, and then in turn graphic novel of the same name, this striving-to-be-gore classic fails on nearly every conceivable level. Though throughout the running time of the film my buddy, Nick Williams, continued to tell me, as though it was a comfort, that the movie was truly faithful to the source material, all this did was reinforce that I no desire to read any of Edward Lee's material.
The story as it were deals with a fresh out of prison hillbilly named Travis Tuckton, who comes home to his elderly and disabled grandfather. His clearly insane "Paw" regales him with stories of how all the townsfolk did Travis' Pappy wrong over the years, causing him and his "Maw" to die in a car crash. Pappy also tells him with stories of "headers" the greatest sexual experience known to man, and how, since he is now legless and old, he cannot do them anymore, he'd like to watch his grandson perform them on those who wronged the family. So without wait, they are kidnapping slutty bimbos who just happen to be walking down the sides of the lonely backwoods road, taking them home and cutting holes in their skulls. To fuck. Yes, to fuck. That's the whole joke of the title folks. A Header is to cut a hole in the top of someone's head and skull fuck their brain while they die.
Yes, this sounds really sick and twisted, and even the kind of material you could make a really underground disturbing movie out of. Instead, the movie takes the approach of an over-the-top hillbilly David Mammet, with the (bad) actors droning on and on, spewing forth terrible dialogue - all of which could be considered forced on a generous day. To their credit, they keep their backwoods accents intact for the most part. The film, however, is played as a broad comedy, inviting us to laugh at the absurdity of all of it, and that would be fine if there was a director behind the camera who had the gumption to make it work. But Header just piles each scene of ludicrousness on top of another scene of brain-numbing dialogue, until you literally hurt.
There is a Jim Thompson-styled Noir subplot about an ATF agent, gone rogue because his wife is sick and he needs money for her unnamed illness, who crosses paths with the head-fuckers. But the conclusion that this is going towards is sooooooo obvious that it becomes a moot point after about three minutes, especially after the wife starts spouting medical facts so incorrect everyone should know about.
The climax almost works as it gets a bit more intense and grim, but it comes out of left field, as if it's from a different movie altogether.
The presentation here is fine, especially considering this looks to have been shot on DV. But the movie itself is poorly shot and edited, with rather odd choices for sound work as well. Seems the under the line level of writing and directing continued right into the tech aspects of the film, too.
Sysnapse gives the film the special treatment with a whole host of extra features for those who want to dig in further. Personally, I didn't feel the need to bother with it. A let down for sure.