We’re back from a brief hiatus to wow you with the might-haves-beens, has beens, once was, never weres and SOV’s (not to be confused with SOB’s). I’ve missed you dearly, but not as much as you’ve missed “dead formats” and new franken-media creations designed to trigger the nostalgia-clitoris inside your pants. This week I’m bringing you a new feature released in 2011 by a little company called Rabid Child Films called SWAMPHEAD. The market for newly created Shot-On-Video fare is not completely flooded yet, and quality is still be stressed over quality unlike the late 1980’s. If I had to guess where we might be in the wheel of history, it would be 1986. Before the mass market sequel machine destroyed a good thing but after the first wave of classics hitting the mylar. That’s where this guy fits in. Let’s clean your heads shall we? Pun fully intended (as intended as the synopsis below).
IT’S TIME FOR 1980X.
Synopsis from the back of the classic clamshell (worn and probably recycled):
An ancient relic is found at the bottom of a local lake which resurrects the severed head of Robert Grass (Swamphead). A group of hapless teens come across the relic and their weekend camping trip becomes a nightmare of blood, feces and more head than a night in Tijuana . Can they destroy the zombie head or will they die trying?
It’s also important to note that this cover is full of the finishing touches that make Swamphead feel like a true release of the period complete with “Video Masterpieces” header, red outline border, VHS logo. It’s a got a beautiful bumper on the tape.
With so many movies of this type hitting the internet in limited quantity with only 25 or so being released its nice to find one that’s worth it. This isn’t a classic film that’s being re-released (though I love those as well, and we have a few of those in future installments). This is a fresh story. It’s not the most original story, but the lo-fi practical, retro-effects complete a picture that the directors have studied well. The thing to remember about the shot-on-video style is that it doesn’t have to be a great movie; it simply has to feel accurate to what the audience remembers from the 80’s. In that respect Swamphead has few competitors. It looks old, obviously shot on video tape as opposed to some filmmakers who choose to post-production the shit out of their releases. Again, nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice to see the old craft still in practice.
This is a sick, bloody fun movie with gallons of gore and shit and boobies flying like saucers. It’s pure gratuity, and it works because you can laugh at it. Swamphead is a movie that could easily stop short of gonzo, but it doesn’t Swamphead goes full gonzo. Where else can you find a head shooting from point to point in flight, cursed and screaming with crazy wide, wild eyes? I can’t guarantee a laugh, but if you’re not laughing you may have missed the joke. Remember, this isn’t a real scare picture. This is a reproduction of a style of shooting with content that fits the period it tries to imitate. Not bad for a couple o’ guys with a camera in Wisconsin doing the effects work themselves. Lo-Fi is the new Hi-Fi.
Speaking of which, have you met Justin Propp and Dustin Dover? These guys created this very independent production; wrote it, effected it, directed it. It’s a labor of love, and it shows. Two guys who wanted to make a movie probably got family and friends together and squeezed this out into the world. Not a whole lotta film experience behind either one of these fellas though Justin Propp worked as a camera operator and key grip on Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era which is an absolutely awesome doc. You know what this tells me? The inexperience? It tells me that if these guys get a budget together and another fun script, we might have a second movie worth watching. These are the people you are looking for. People who know that one of the main purposes of cinema is to entertain (if you call SOV cinema).
I recommend picking this up if you can find it. Follow Swamphead on Facebook HERE. It’s been out since 2011 with a limited production run, so it may be hit or miss until then its new distro home at Briarwood Entertainment springs it from the fault. This happens with VHS. It’s one of the things I eluded to earlier. Check back with Rabid Child Films and be sure to follow Briarwood Entertainment on Facebook and visit their site where Swamphead is listed as coming soon!
Keep your heads clean and your boxes big.