The Cochise Film Festival is a celebration of the low budget and independent films that often get overlooked by most mainstream reviewers and promoters. Recently started up by Adam A. Park (an independent film maker and actor in his own right with a great little movie called Zombie Mutation coming soon) and using films from his production label Trash House Cinema, he and his crew put together an interesting and eclectic selection of movies.
Won Ton Baby (2009) starring Debbie Rochon (Tromeo and Juliette and many other movies) as Madam Won Ton. A lady of the night, who after having a drug and drink fueled love fest with an Elvis impersonator gives birth to a slightly messed up daughter, with a left over twin brother still inside of her. Once removed the bizarre looking baby grows quickly and goes on a killing spree. This is one of those films where everything about it is awful, but somehow strangely appealing, and definitely hilarious. The acting is watchable, but the script they are given to read is atrocious with very long scenes of people just talking to pad out the running time. The editing is truly shocking with the sound quality of shots differing between inaudible and loud as hell. So why watch it you ask? Because it is absolutely mental!
The baby in question looks like a mix between the deformed brother from Basket Case and the mutant baby from It’s Alive, with a dash of Elvis sprinkled in for good measure. It is hilariously bad, with its massive hands, bulging eyes and umbilical cord that is actually still attached and is used constantly to strangle people. The baby talks a little like the baby from Demonic Toys mixed with a prohibition gangster! This film is not for everyone and with scenes involving the baby having relations with a very drunk woman and the baby pleasuring itself over some nudie feature, it is going to gross a lot of people out if they don’t get bored before then. If you like really stupid, fun films where you can see someone operating the babies hands in most of the shots, then this could be the film for you.
The Scarlet Worm (2011) is a return to the old style western like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns. It is a very solid and well-made movie, with some great performances by all the cast, especially the lead actor Aaron Stielstra. He plays Print, a hired gun who is quite creative about his craft and is growing tired of it. The story line involves him training up a young rookie and going on a mission to kill an abortionist (played by Dan Van Husen). There are some great dialogue scenes in this movie, as well as a well put together plot looking into the abortion issue in the Wild West.
All the cast are super, but it is Dan playing Heinreich Kley that really grabs your attention. He plays his role of a preacher brothel owner, turned abortionist with such restrained vigor and intelligence you could almost be fooled into believing in his religious thinking. There is a sense of power and control about him, which makes him an interesting character to follow. He is not a bad guy per say, more someone so dedicated to what he does that he will use any means to accomplish it. If you like westerns this is certainly a great one, and if you don’t then this is the perfect film to start with.
Slime City Massacre (2010) is a sequel to the ’80s movie Slime City, which involves a bunch of squatters who after drinking and eating some food in Slime City, turn into horrible slime beasts. This is goretastic and is a throwback to the splatter era of VHS, mixed with a handful of Troma for good measure. It is a fun gross out movie which fans of Street Trash should love. Debbie Rochon appears again here as do a whole bunch of cannibals! So if that sounds like a party to you, then this is your movie right here.
Booley (2010) is a low budget version of Falling Down if that filmed starred Clark Kent mixed with Marty McFly’s nerdy dad from Back to the Future. It is a fun little movie that uses a self-help tape, as a nice linking device to tie in the many times Angus Booley snaps. It starts out normal enough, but soon turns into murder and bizarre torture. It is a movie you will have seen before, but to be honest you may never watch this particular film again. It suffers from being far too long and drags in certain places, which causes the tension that’s been built up to disappear. Also, you know Angus is going to snap as he looks like the type of nerd that would snap in a movie! Still, it is fun to see him lurking around corners and having a very weird maniacal grin before he messes someone up.
Murder of the Dolls (2010) is a movie made by the events creator Adam A. Park, which involves a murder in a high rise flat mixed with some espionage, and based around the surviving flat tenants. It was completed entirely in two days (script, casting, filming the lot) and has a very interesting pace to it. It feels like a European movie, with its shots of different high rises and the way dialogue flows over scenes that have already happened or are about to happen. It also has a fly-on-the-wall documentary feel to it. The whole thing feels dream-like in some places, like we are floating through these people’s lives to witness what will happen to them. It is a bizarre style which at first I struggled to comprehend, but once you get used to it makes the film fascinating to watch. A different and interesting piece of film making to be sure. It is stunning that this piece was shot in the time it was.
Gallery of Fear (2010) is an anthology film very much in style of the old Amicus movies like Vault of Fear (themselves influenced by Tales from the Crypt). Debbie Rochon (She is in a lot of these films, and good on her because she is a great character actress) plays an annoying art critic who goes to a special gallery showing in the middle of nowhere. Each painting reveals a new tale; an artist who steals people souls when she draws them, a nerdy teacher who makes friends with a living fungi monster and uses it for revenge, and a couple who drive into a shack in the middle of nowhere to look around meet a family very much related to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre crew. The style of this movie is amazing and the colors and weird sound effects all link together to form a great tribute to the old ’70s movies. It suffers from its length (a common problem with some indie movies) and each segment would have benefited from having 10 minutes trimmed off its running time. They are all fun segment’s though, the most harrowing being the mannish woman harassed by the red neck locals at the end. Though this is also the least original, as it basically plays out exactly like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The best film of the festival was Three’s a Shroud (2012), another compilation movie. This on is superb with the obvious love of the genre coming out in each scene, and for once each scene is just the right length. The first story is the most gripping and involves a man who is told by his wife not to open the door to let her in, even though she is outside. Well-acted and quite gripping, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, as you wonder why does she not want him to let her in? It has a twist ending which is great fun. The second piece involves a photographer who is so obsessed with one of his models he either creates (or summons, I am a bit unclear on this) a creature that looks like the Violator clown from Spawn, if Charles Band had made it. It is a freaky thing, but lots of fun and for a low budget monster very effective. The third and final piece involves time traveling in a small area similar to the movie Triangle or Time Crimes. To say too much about this piece ruins the plot, but if you have seen the mentioned movies you will have an idea of how it plays out. The wraparound story involving a killer bear is predictable but that does not make it any less enjoyable. The director told me that each segment focuses on a different type of movie so the first part is hammer horror, the second a creature feature and the third is a slasher flick. This comes across so well when you watch it, and gives each section a distinct flavor. A fantastic piece of work which will be coming out on DVD in the new year sometime.
There were so many more great movies on show that I have not had the chance to cover, which I will quickly list below:
The Chateau (woman alone in a house hears weird sounds), Nympha (a religious incest story told through three different people and three different timelines), The Hounds (a superbly shot gory thriller), Monitor (the last scene involves a very messy brick death so that should be enough to draw you in), Party Girl, No Strings Attached 2 (a killer doll movie), Banjo ( a gruesome short involving a sexual act and a bloody and bitter sweet conclusion), Walk Away and Sweet Hand of the Rose.
This festival may be hitting the bigger cities like London next year, but it was nice to be able to visit a locally funded, non-profit event just for the fans here in the small town of Retford. Look out for this event in the future, UK readers as it was a triumph of independent cinema.