Originality is a commodity most prized in the Horror genre, for the discriminating fan, at least. Hordes of teens may show up for any Horror offering at the local theater, seeking only a few cheap scares and some laughs, and that’s fine, I suppose, if that’s all that a person is looking for. The reason so many paint-by-numbers Horror flicks get made is, let us be honest, because they make money. Moviemaking, just like any other art or labor, inevitably follows the path of least resistance. If people are willing to pay for an average film, a predictable film, filmmakers won’t feel any impetus to create anything else. This is why the genre as a whole is such a miasma of lousy, mediocre fare, and why the true, discriminating Horror palate yearns for those rare morsels of originality.
Any prospective moviemaker must needs tread carefully, though, in seeking to fill that particular niche. It’s all too easy, whilst trying to craft something fresh and uncommon — something EXTRAORDINARY, to go by the original definition of that word — to fall into the sand trap of stupidity. It has been said that a fine line exists betwixt the latter and true brilliance, and I wholeheartedly concur, especially wherein parody is being attempted. For example, movies like MEET THE SPARTANS and SCARY MOVIE are not funny to me. They are juvenile, childish — stupid. When I first learned of the existence of HEAD, a full-length film in which all the parts are portrayed by puppets, I was equally excited and apprehensive. This COULD be a work of genius, I said to myself, or it could be something of the other sort. Which is it, then? The former or the latter?
I am pleased to announce, HEAD is fantastic.
The creators of the film wisely serve it to the viewer in distinct portions, which prevents the viewer from losing interest and “tuning out.” Disney early on had to contend with this problem when creating their first full-length animated feature, SNOW WHITE; namely, how to keep people invested in the story when there were no human players onscreen. Works the same way with puppetry. Lacking the human element, a creator has to get, um, creative. Thus HEAD offers us variety: first a late night Horror movie host, Graveyard Gil, whose shtick, despite him, you know, being a puppet, is still funnier than Svengoolie’s or Elvira’s. Then the film dishes up a short zombie piece, which tips the viewer off, if he didn’t know already, to the kind of movie he is watching. Having the puppets cussing could tip the boat over, if not handled correctly, but HEAD avoids this misstep. (I feared, least they might fall into the Kevin Smith school of writing dialogue, wherein the four-letter words in his scripts often feel forced and contrived — thankfully this doesn’t happen here.)
After the introduction by Graveyard Gil and the zombie short, the viewer is treated to the main event. What could have been, and WOULD have been, a generic killer-in-the-woods storyline if conducted with human actors—and this despite its clever, often hilarious dialogue—becomes so much more when all the players are puppets, the gore is puppet gore, the sex is puppet sex…you get the idea.
When I finish a movie and my sides are aching from laughing, it’s safe to pronounce the movie a success. If achieving camp on purpose is difficult, as some critics maintain, HEAD proves an exception to this rule. It’s SUPPOSED to be funny, and it actually IS funny. And if you look at the amount of cinematic flotsam generated each year, all the dumbed-down, lowest-common-denominator fare out there (i.e. MEET THE SPARTANS), you will appreciate just how rare an achievement this is. Because it plays it straight with the storyline, leaving it to the fact that all the players are puppets to achieve the humor—because it doesn’t try too hard to be funny, if that makes any sense—HEAD delivers.
Latest posts by The Cheezman (see all)
- CLOWNTOWN (2016): Review…These Days, Hope It’s Not YOUR Town… - October 12, 2016
- We Talk With Tom Nagel, Director Of CLOWNTOWN - September 26, 2016
- MR. TOPPS (2016): Short Film Review…A Very Skillful, If Somewhat Incoherent, Creation - September 12, 2016