I mostly know Fessenden from his roles in Kelly Reichardt movies… only previously seen his Habit, the other mid-90’s heroin/vampire movie – know I didn’t like it much but I don’t recall anything about it and don’t trust my 1996 self’s opinions, since 1996 Self loved From Dusk Till Dawn and Happy Gilmore.

I guess this is The Thing meets The Happening meets The Screwfly Solution, an “eco-thriller” in which the environment fights back against an arctic oil team who already had their own inter-personal drama and now have to contend with people turning suicidal/homicical after seeing snowy ghosts. Throw in an evil corporation covering up climate-change evidence, Ron Perlman and Connie Britton, and remarkably good plane-crash effects, and it’s a solid little apocalyptic movie.

Connie and Ronnie:

Maxwell (Connie’s Friday Night Lights costar) is first to die naked in the snow, Jamie Harrold (Kingdom Hospital) just nosebleeds to death in his sleep, and a couple people get taken out when the “rescue” plane crashes into their base. Perlman and his rival, Phantasm II star James Le Gros, end up stranded in the snow with approaching ghost-deers, while back home, Connie kills Joanne Shenandoah for smothering Kevin Corrigan (the not-bright, cleaner-spraying guy in Infinity Baby).

“It’s funny how a single day could drag and drag while entire years just flew by in a flash.”

A couple of near-strangers in the Miami area become accidental fugitives. This fits right in with the 1990’s American indie scene, played Sundance with Clerks and Hoop Dreams and Spanking the Monkey. Then Kelly’s next feature, the very different Old Joy (which I thought was her debut until recently) came twelve years later and River of Grass wouldn’t resurface until a nice restoration this year.

Cozy has a husband and a kid or two, is restless. At a bar she meets Lee (Larry Fessenden), who has just received a gun found by his friend Michael “brother of Steve” Buscemi, which was lost by Cozy’s dad, a detective. They wander the neighborhood and shoot a homeowner who surprises them, then go on the run with no money or plan, never successfully leaving their home county. When Cozy finds out they’re not fugitives after all, having missed the homeowner, she shoots Lee and disappears in his car.

“If we weren’t killers we weren’t anything.”

Detective Dad:

Besides Fessenden, Kelly had worked with Todd Haynes, thanks Ira Sachs in the credits, has a walk-on role for Phil Morrison, and musical participation by Ira Kaplan, Dave Schramm and Amy Rigby – that’s a mighty list of friends and collaborators. Really nice blu-ray, with a commentary where Reichardt and Fessenden lightly mock the film and each other. “Look, another iconic shot. This really defines American cinema.”

Also rewatched Reichardt’s next two features, in prep for Certain Women:


Old Joy (2006)

I didn’t have much to say about this last time, and still don’t. Now I’ve read the Jon Raymond short story, and the movie is a very close adaptation – except for one thing. The book has an aside about a dead deer being loaded into the back seat of a borrowed car, then the deer turning out not to be dead, waking up and destroying the car. I could swear I’ve heard that story before – but where? I still find the movie to be more positive and peaceful than the story would suggest. Seen Daniel London in a couple things since this – notably The Toe Tactic – and I’ve bought a bunch more albums by Bonnie Bill Oldham.

Lucy:


Wendy and Lucy (2008)

I kinda like my writeup from last time. Biggest surprise of the night: Lucy the dog (Palm Dog winner at Cannes) also costars in Old Joy. This movie gives me panic attacks and makes me super sad at the end, and I love it to death. Kelly adds a couple true details that weren’t in the original story, like the police not knowing how their own computer systems work. Security guard Wally Dalton was in The Catechism Cataclysm – funny that I didn’t mention him in my post but I did mention Old Joy.

More consistently great than part one, with higher high points (Robert Morgan!). I’m tempted to make a playlist of ABCs highlights and edit myself a super-anthology but I’ll wait until part three comes out next year.


Amateur
Imagined scenario of cool, efficient sniper in the air vents taking out his target, then reality of tight insect-infested ducts full of nails. Great ending. Director EL Katz also made Cheap Thrills.


Badger
Directed by and starring Julian “Howard Moon” Barratt. Asshole nature-doc spokesman (Barratt) is abusive to his crew, gets eaten by badgers.


Capital Punishment
Local gang of vigilantes take a dude suspected of killing a girl out to the woods and clumsily behead him. Meanwhile the girl turns out to have run away, is fine. Director Julian Gilbey made A Lonely Place To Die, which is probably better than Wingard’s A Horrible Way To Die.


Deloused
I probably would’ve skipped ABCs of Death 2 had I not heard that Robert Morgan was involved. This was… inexplicable… and amazing, and ultimately makes the entire anthology worthwhile. Involves insects and beheadings and knife-arms.

Equilibrium
Funny and well put-together, with single long takes simulating time passing. Couple of idiots stranded on a beach are unexpectedly joined by a pretty girl. Jealousy ensues, then they return to bliss by killing the girl. Alejandro Brugu├ęs made the Cuban Juan of the Dead.

Falling
Israel/Palestine, woman whose parachute is stuck in a tree convinces a rifle-toting kid to cut her down, he accidentally shoots himself in the head. Nicely shot, anyway. Directors Keshales and Papushado made Israeli horrors Rabies and Big Bad Wolves (a Tarantino fave).


Grandad
Grandad is tired of his disrespectful grandson living with him. Jim Hosking is working on something called The Greasy Strangler next. Grandad Nicholas Amer has been around, worked with Peter Greenaway, Jacques Demy and Terence Davies.


Head Games
During a makeout session, a couple’s facial features go to war with each other in classic Plympton style. One of two Bill Plympton anthology segments from this year – we missed The Prophet.


Invincible
Old woman will not die, siblings want her inheritance and try everything to kill her. Stylishly shot (as are most of these, so it’s maybe not worth writing that anymore). Erik Matti (Philippines) got awards for crime flick On The Job last year.


Jesus
I think it’s supposed to be payback on a couple of dudes who torture and murder homosexuals, but when the kidnapped gay guy displays his demonic powers I’m not sure what’s going on anymore. Dennison Ramalho wrote latter-day Coffin Joe sequel Embodiment of Evil and actor Francisco Barreiro is showing up everywhere this month.


Knell
Initial scene where girl witnesses supernatural globe over the building across the street followed by people in every apartment turning violent was like Rear Window meets The Screwfly Solution, then it continues in the direction of total doom. Directors Buozyte and Samper are apparently Lithuanian, also made a surreal sci-fi thing called Vanishing Waves.


Legacy
Guy to be sacrificed is being set free and is arguing with this decision, and I lose the plot after that, but there are groovy, cheap Metalocalypse-looking gore effects. Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen is Nigerian, has made a million movies so far since 2003.


Masticate
Drugged-out flesh-eating fat man goes on rampage before he’s killed by cop, all in slow-motion and set to a jangly pop song. Robert Boocheck made a short that apparently played in an anthology called Seven Hells.


Nexus
Cleverly timed and editing, goes for tension instead of twist ending since we figure out early on that the distracted cabbie is gonna hit the guy dressed as Frankenstein. Larry Fessenden made Habit and Wendigo and The Last Winter, all of which have been on my to-watch list forever and just came out on blu-ray.


Ohlocracy (mob rule)
After the cure for zombiesm is found, human zombie-killers are sentenced to death by a kangaroo court. Hajime Ohata made the non-Kafka movie called Metamorphosis.


P-P-P-P Scary!
Poppy, Kirby and Bart look like escaped convicts, have big noses, meet a face-morphing guy who does a jig, blows out their candles and murders them inexplicably. Todd Rohal made The Catechism Cataclysm, and I might’ve guessed this was him.


Questionnaire
While a guy correctly answers questions on an intelligence test, we see flash-forwards to the “career opportunities” the interviewer has in mind for him (brain transplant with gorilla). I watched Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare just last week.


Roulette
German game of Russian Roulette ends with the sixth-chamber guy shooting his beloved instead of himself, as some unknown evil approaches. Marvin Kren made Rammbock and Blood Glacier.


Split
Like a remake of Suspense but with more baby murdering. Hammer-wielding intruder destroys family of cheating husband(s) during a phone call.
Juan Martinez Moreno made horror-comedy Game of Werewolves.


Torture Porn
Girl in porn audition turns out to be Cthulhu, I guess. Jen and Sylvia Soska are identical twins who made American Mary and Dead Hooker in a Trunk.


Utopia
Self-driving incineration machines deal with non-beautiful people. Vincenzo Natali made Cube and Splice.


Vacation
Dude is on phone with girlfriend when dude’s friend reveals they’ve been doing drugs and prostitutes while on vacation. The friend is disrespectful, and one prostitute stabs him many times with a screwdriver. Jerome Sable made last year’s Meat Loaf-starring Stage Fright.


Wish
Kids go inside their off-brand Masters of the Universe playset, discover it’s horrible in there. Steven Kostanski made Manborg, which looks similarly wonderful.


Xylophone
Kid won’t stop playing her damned toy xylophone while babysitter Beatrice Dalle (of Inside, the first actor I’ve recognized since Julian Barratt in letter B) is trying to listen to opera records. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo made Inside, of course. Credits say Beatrice is the grandmother not the babysitter, which makes sense since babysitters should leave antique record players alone.


Youth
Miyuki hates her mom and stepdad, imagines them dying in tremendous ways. Soichi Umezawa is a longtime makeup artist who worked on Bright Future and Dr. Akagi.


Zygote
Dad abandons pregnant mom with a 13-year supply of a root that delays labor. Horribleness ensues. Chris Nash has made a bunch of shorts.

Not the kind of movie I was looking for. It has realistic lighting instead of movie lighting, which makes all the difference. Also I’m not sure that it was a horror movie. Depends what happened, who any of these people were, and whether the one bloody action montage (preceded by a girl dancing topless in a wolf mask, but with poor lighting) was supposed to be actually happening, or was the movie they’re shooting, or something else.

Sheil:

Swanberg (his own lead actor, just like Polanski, except not at all like that) is casting a werewolf movie, frustrated with moviemaking, says it’s crap if it’s just filmed theater, that we need new forms (I suggest he watch some Guy Maddin). I think he’s casting a girl in his movie who makes his girlfriend uncomfortable. He goes on about how movies (making/watching them) doesn’t make him happy, and right now his movie isn’t making me happy, so I’m off to the IMDB. Interesting thing is this one stars two experienced actresses – Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color) and Kate Lyn Sheil (all the Alex Ross Perry and Ti West and Adam Wingard movies) – plus at least three four film directors – Swanberg, Ti West, Larry Fessenden and Antonio Campos – but I’m not sure who anyone played or what was going on. Maybe I could’ve paid closer attention. Anyway, first movie I’ve seen by Swanberg (not counting a V/H/S episode) and I was hoping I’d love it since he has made a hundred more.

A werewolf with a gun is twice as deadly: