Friday, October 12, 2012

Dust Up

I'll readily admit, I didn't really love Dust Up, but enjoyed it a lot more than I usually do this sort of movie (said it before, will say it again - when you set out to emulate bad movies, the result is usually a bad movie). It's an acquired taste, but I think filmmaker Ward Roberts is either very canny or very lucky in how he plays it tongue in cheek. A lot of people would be mocking the genre or the shortcomings of older movies, but this one tends to laugh at the more modern, jaded characters being injected into the scenario.

Anyway, given that the hosts were actually asking for pictures, here's a bit of Horrible Photography:
Amber Benson & Mike Snoonian
Actress Amber Benson & Host Mike Snoonian

... and that's the better of the two I took.

Ms. Benson is probably best known for being on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a good chunk of its latter years (though she wasn't actually featured in the opening credits until her last episode), and it's kind of interesting to see how she and other recurring cast members from that show have done a decent job of using the connections an actor can more easily make with genre fans to build a career that they can control a little more. It helps to genuinely enjoy that material, and she certainly seem to.

I must also say, I'm fairly impressed by what Snoonian and partner-in-crime at All Things Horror have done. I've got no idea what their numbers are in terms of readership, but their screening series has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few months. Where before, their shows were almost entirely in the Somerville's micro-cinema (which is pretty micro, seating maybe fifty), this and last month's Etheria Film Festival played in one of their "regular" screens. At least part of their Shudderfest 2012 (Friday the 26th's screening of American Mary) will be playing on the main screen.

Gotta admit, it has me tempted to try and build a similar screening series for sci-fi/action movies or the like. Maybe next year, I'll actually try and network some at festivals next year or do much better about responding to emails and see if I can get some of the good stuff from Fantasia to show up in Boston (honestly, I'd love to get The Kick on a local screen).

Dust Up

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 8 October 2012 in Somerville Theatre #4 (All Things Horror Presents, Blu-ray)

Dust Up has some very cool opening credits, clever throwbacks to the 1970s exploitation flicks it emulates over a rocking soundtrack; it's got a couple of nifty posters along those lines, too. Like those movies, the actual product is seldom as awesome as advertised, although they replicate and exaggerate the fun parts better than most.

You wouldn't necessarily think that a guy who lost an eye in the Middle East would want to settle in another desert, but that's what Jack (Aaron Gaffey) has done, spending most of his time hanging around with Mo (Devin Barry), a Native American twentysomething trying to get back to his roots but not really researching them beyond cliches. He occasionally does work as a handyman, which is how he meets Ella (Amber Benson), a young mother whose husband is earning money as a roadie. Well, that's not right; Herman (Travis Betz) has actually dug himself deep into debt to local bar owner/meth dealer Buzz (Jeremiah Birkett), who wants his money now. Naturally, Jack quickly develops a soft spot for Ella and wants to help.

Of course, things go south in the wackiest, most over-the-top ways possible; the old movies sold on blood and guts and it's almost impossible not to attack a project like this without irony. The good news is, writer/director/producer/editor Ward Roberts has a decent handle on how much of each the movie needs. There's plenty of gore, and even when it's played for a joke, the joke is more often "that's horrible!" than "ha ha that looks so fake!" Similarly, when it's smirking at the characters and their actions, it mostly for being ridiculous as individuals as opposed to just mocking genre staples. That's nice; it makes the film's goofiness its own rather than just parody.

Full review at EFC.

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