Hell Plaza Oktoberfest
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Severed Head Network
2000-2002 (2007) - Wicked Pixel (Elite)
What... the bloody hell?
This compilation of short films arrived with a number of other
horror-related titles from Digital
Bits HQ. I knew nothing about it but I like short
films and it seemed like it might be appropriate for the Hell
Plaza Oktoberfest, so I figured let's give 'er a
shot. Well, to say this wasn't what I expected would be a vast
First off, here's a little background I didn't have before I
popped this in. The films collected here are the brain-children
of Wicked Pixel Cinema, an independent film collective based out
of St. Louis.
see many of the same names pop up again and again in the credits in
different roles, variously as directors, writers, editors, actors,
cameramen, and what-not. I have nothing but admiration for what Eric
Stanze, Jason Christ, the late Tommy Biondo and their collaborators
have achieved here. These guys are making movies answerable to no
one. They represent indie cinema in its purest form.
Now, I didn't know any of this before I slid this disc into my
player. After the usual corporate logos play through, the first
thing you see here is a completely nude woman descending a staircase
into a basement where she is haunted by a creepy, shadowy figure.
Needless to say, I was transfixed by this. Eventually I realized
this was the menu and it was just going to keep on playing until I
did something. Reluctantly, I pressed the down arrow key on my
remote and the options revealed themselves. I bid farewell to the
comely naked chick in the basement and here's what I saw.
Vomire - Directed by Chad
Eivins, this is a thoroughly bizarre experimental short that cuts
between a blood-drenched couple having sex, slaughterhouse footage,
a dude in a pumpkin shirt violating a crucifix, and other such
wonders and oddities. I'm not sure what it all means but it made an
Faith in Nothing - Directed by
Eric Stanze. A music video, more or less, set to a song by a band
named Analogue Satellite. There's nothing particularly horrific
here... just a woman dancing in various states of undress while
apparently pining for her ex-love.
Satisfaction - Directed by
Tommy Biondo... one of the longer short films here. This juxtaposes
scenes of a woman making love with a guy with images of her being
raped by her ex. The climax of the film does get into horror
territory but for the most part, the discomfort you may feel stems
primarily from the sneaking suspicion that you're watching these
people actually have sex.
Unwanted - Another music
video, this one directed by Todd Tevlin. Pretty standard issue, not
particularly scary or intense.
Victim - Directed by Jason
Christ, this comes the closest to traditional horror. Victim is a
five-minute black-and-white short riff on slasher film tropes. Well
done but over so quickly, it doesn't leave much impression.
Sedgewick - The longest and
arguably strongest film here, co-directed by Stephen Lashly and
Quinn Botthoff. Sedgewick follows the adventures of the title
character, an elderly man, on a trip to the grocery store. Every so
often, we slip into his bizarre fantasy world, populated by evil
clowns and rifle-toting deer. Sedgewick is both amusing and dark
with some genuinely effective moments, even if the whole thing drags
on a bit too long.
Liontown - A ten-minute
mini-musical directed by Aaron Crozier with a cast of dozens in
furry animal hats being drawn to a resort called Liontown. It
inevitably ends in a bloodbath. This is OK although it seems like a
project conceived as an animated short that switched to live-action
when the creators realized none of them could draw very well. That
may not be true but Liontown
may have been more effective as a cartoon.
Curveball: Pile of Junk -
Jason Christ returns with another music video. It's OK. I wouldn't
have switched it off if I came across it on MTV or USA's Night
Flight back in the day but it's nothing terribly special.
Good song, though.
The Severed Head Network is an
odd, decidedly mixed bag of sex, blood, music and mayhem. The horror
isn't particularly explicit in most of these shorts. It's a
dark-edged collection to be sure but Wicked Pixel is more interested
in using horror imagery to create mood and atmosphere than in
producing scares. Sometimes it works. But even at its best, this is
sort of like sitting through a screening of senior projects in film
Elite's DVD serves up quite a few extras in addition to the
alluring and baffling menu. The title sequences from the original
VHS collections of the Severed Head
Network are here, offering up more nudity, blood, chains
and industrial music. The Gallery of
Abstraction presents half a dozen extremely short
experimental pieces, none more than a minute or so. There's also
behind-the-scenes video from four of the short films, a still
gallery and a handful of trailers for other Wicked Pixel
The Severed Head Network would
be the ideal background disc to play at your next Halloween party...
assuming you're holding it in an abandoned warehouse or abattoir.
It's not a home run but it's interesting enough that I'm curious to
check out more Wicked Pixel productions to see what these folks are
capable of on a bigger canvas.
Program Rating (Average):
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/B-/B+
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