John Bruni reviews Best Of Tromadance Film Festival – Volume 3

Best Of Tromadance Film Festival - Volume 3 Various min., Various
Written by Various
Directed by Various
Language: English
My rating: ★★★

Here we have the third installment of Tromadance, the truly independent film festival held at the same time as the phony independent film festival, Sundance. So far, the first two volumes lied about having more than 3 hours of short films for your perusal. This time, they live up to their word, and then some. There are a lot of really good films here, so let’s just dig in without any further ado.

* * *

DRIBBLE
Directed by Giuseppe Andrews
31 minutes
Rating: Pro

This may not be horror, but it’s one of the grimiest, filthiest, nastiest things put to film. Many of you will remember Giuseppe Andrews as the weed-smoking deputy from CABIN FEVER. How many of you knew he was a director in his own right? And he’s a pretty fearless bastard, too. This is filmed like a documentary, and it follows a dirty-mouthed basketball player has-been as he lives in his trailer and spouts off his lunatic rants, most of them about pussy, but many of them about how he hates black people. Some of the crazy shit that gets said in here is obscene enough to make Kevin Smith blush. One guy talks about cock boogers, which are actually gobs of dick cheese so thick you have to wipe them up with a towel. There are some amazingly ugly lines in here, like “You need to scratch my black butthole, you white slave.” Or there’s this one moment where the protagonist is talking about having done so much nose candy he was “pissing cocaine.” “My piss rules the world!” Another character goes off about how back in the ‘Thirties, you could buy a prostitute for a dollar, and she’d clean your dick afterward. The thing is, these guys are so good with their lines, it’s hard to tell if they’re actually acting or not. The only stinker in the crew is the guy who plays the ref. He’s too awkward, although he does have some great lines, like, “Lick my nigger pistol. Like my jigaboo cockaroo,” and “I want to apologize for being a nigger.” To top it all off, the old guy dancing naked is one of the most disgusting things ever filmed. The only problem with this movie is that it’s waaaaaay too long. Everything is so drawn out that the acting starts to deteriorate after a while. Also, why the fuck is this movie dedicated to Burl Ives? And why does Andrews have a voicemail from Werner Herzog at the end?!

PDA MASSACRE
Directed by Jamie Greco
17 minutes
Rating: Mixed

All right, so there’s this serial killer who goes around, killing people who show off too much affection in a public fashion. It’s actually pretty lame, for the most part, but there are a few ingredients that make up for it. There are a few scenes in which the protagonist is dressed up like Sarah Jessie Raphael and is interviewing Ken and Barbie dolls about their awful PDA predilections, all for an audience of stuffed animals. It also helps that Debbie Rochon plays one of the victims. She brings a bit of class to it, even when she’s getting a severed head shoved up into her pussy. There’s also a wonderfully awkward gang rape scene that turns into a mass murder. To top it all off, it looks like Lloyd Kaufman has reprised his doctor role from ORGAZMO. All right, this film is just too silly, and it has a very disjointed, out-of-order feel to it. The flaws outweigh the cool bits, sad to say.

KUNG-FU KITTIES
Directed by Philip Gunn and Daniel Gutierrez
9 minutes
Rating: Con

This starts out very creepy with human eyes and mouths (with fangs) on actual kitten faces. It also starts out as kind of funny when two such kitties duke it out in Mortal Kombat style, but this gets really fucking annoying really fucking fast. Holy fuck, do they drag this one out. Talk about driving a decent joke into the ground.

INCREDIBLE TORTURE TRIO
Directed by Jim Ojala
6 minutes
Rating: Mixed

Here we have a show about three guys who publicly torture the shit out of each other for charity. It starts out pretty simple, with needles through cheeks and piercing nipples, but then it gets kind of crazy, like ripping off ears and pouring battery acid all over their faces. The violent acts themselves are really well done, but there is very little else here. No story, the characters are kind of bland, and it’s actually kind of a yawner.

IN DEFENSE OF LEMMINGS
Directed by Justin Remer
9 minutes
Rating: Mixed

This is one of the weirder entries in Tromadance history. It starts out with a woman claiming to be a lemmings activist, trying to enlighten the world about how lemmings really are, but then it gets very meta very soon, as the interviewer claims she’s an actress and then starts reading the script of this very movie to her. It gets him into a weird loop of repeating himself ad nauseum until the film turns into something else, mainly a guy trying to become a better Jew just so he can more easily hide his bald spot. It’s pretty off the wall and unusual, but it’s very hard to get into. There’s also a part where a Troma assistant is trying to pitch the idea to Lloyd Kaufman, which is a pretty funny scene, but again, it’s hard to get into.

SKUNK APE!?
Directed by Matt and Greg Brookens
28 minutes
Rating: Pro

Here’s a film that Troma can be proud of! Punk band Screaming Scab and the Herpes is practicing out in the Florida Everglades, and their music is so abrasive, it offends the Skunk Ape, a weird, smelly version of Bigfoot. They flee to Chicago, and Skunk Ape follows . . . . The band is being followed around by a supremely douchey documentary filmmaker. Sadly, he turns out to be the hero of the story. He’s the only one who knows what’s going on as Skunk Ape goes around, killing off members of the band among the streets of Chicago. It’s a decent story, but the characters are where it really shines, Scab and Pig in particular. Pig is such an animal that after he injects crack, heroin, and poison dart frog serum, he gobbles a pizza up by the handful. It’s just some nasty stuff. And Scab is your typical punk, angry at the whole scene while grudgingly giving props to the guys he thinks are really pulling it off. This one is just plain fun. One word: HARPOON!

FEAST OF FOOLS
Directed by Robert Kleinschmidt and Tracy Waaka
5 minutes
Rating: Pro

This is a delightful little claymation story about a group of very creepy clowns slaughtering children in their audience. The execution is actually pretty disturbing. The blood effects are awesome. Best of all is when they’re eating the corpses and drinking blood from goblets. It’s the perfect length, as the idea gets across without overstaying its welcome.

ANOMALOUS HUMANITE
Directed by Sin Silva
7 minutes
Rating: Mixed

Reverend Spookagori’s Morgatorium? Who wouldn’t be in? There is a lot of creepy imagery as viewed through a nickelodeon. Best of all, it’s based on a true story, right? Well, the problem is, there is no story. There really is nothing going on here. It’s just a bunch of weird guys spinning around, that’s all. It’s fun, but it’s nothing special.

THE J2 PROJECT
Directed by Alex Horwitz
12 minutes
Rating: Pro

What if archaeologists found a bloody sandal in a cave in Israel that resembles the one Jesus was buried in? And what if science made a clone from the DNA? That’s right, Jesus is back for the Second Coming, brought back not by God but by SCIENCE. What happens then? It’s a hell of an intriguing question. Televangelists fund this, but shortly after, Catholics turn against this messiah because he keeps talking about poor people. What about the rich Catholic church? What about troubled souls like that? It’s an excellent look at the hypocrisy of the Catholic church. J2, who is the clone of Jesus, is actually a very nice guy. He runs non-profit organizations, mostly for helping youth overcome the problems of poverty. You can’t really do this without an actor so sincere he transcends the idea. Peter Cambor is that actor. But really, the best part about this one is when they show J2 as a kid, playing with the shrink who was designated as his father. J2 is dressed in a Superman costume, and he’s pretending to fly. Great stuff.

LE DIAMANT DES DAMMES
Directed by Ludovic Spenard
13 minutes
Rating: Mixed

A guy driving drunk down a snowy country road while getting blown by his girlfriend? What could possibly happen? Actually, they both make it out of that ridiculous predicament, but they have a much more difficult time dealing with the Eskimo zombies they accidentally wake up at a cabin in the middle of nowhere. There is a lot of homage to this one, and that’s the problem. It borrows so heavily from THE EVIL DEAD that it’s almost not its own movie. There are some good moments, but the end is the most silly. The protagonist becomes a zombie slayer by the end, battling the undead plague that has taken over the world? How did that happen? She’s not that great a person in the body of the story. There is a great effect when a disembodied hand grabs her boyfriend’s dick, though. That’s worth something.

MARIJUANA’S REVENGE
Directed by Phil Jackson and others
5 minutes
Rating: Mixed

It’s the year of the PSA, except this time, it’s against marijuana . . . kind of. Here, they extol upon the bad side of weed, like it gives you the munchies. It slows you down so much that even if you were driving, and a kid wandered into the path of your car, the little tyke would have minutes, maybe even hours, to get out of the way. It even impairs your judgment by giving you the idea that FLUBBER is a good movie. Sure, it’s funny, but there isn’t much here. It’s like most directors really aren’t trying to tell stories this year.

WORKING STIFF
Directed by Jesse Kerman
12 minutes
Rating: Pro

This one is filmed in black and white, and it’s about a video store clerk, so there is a heavy Kevin Smith influence, here. That’s where the comparison ends, though. This clerk has a crush on a girl who frequents his store, but she is so abrasive in shooting him down that he decides to kill himself, except Death gets distracted, so he doesn’t really die. This doesn’t stop him from his suicide attempts, and sadly, when he survives, he doesn’t stop working at the video store, or from hitting on his love interest. The only thing that finally works is when he shoots himself in the head in front of her, and she’s so turned on by it that she wants to fuck his corpse . . . except he still doesn’t die. It’s a fucked up story, truly it is, and the actors have put their all into it. It is definitely worth your time.

MONKEY BRAINS
Directed by Kevin Maher and Whitney Melton
2 minutes
Rating: Con

Remember the scene from FACES OF DEATH involving the people who want to eat monkey brains? This film parodies that, except when they finally get their taste of monkey brains, they realize how gross it is. They suddenly become guilty with what they’ve done. This movie is only 2 minutes long, and that’s 119 seconds too long. This is probably one of the stupider entries in Tromadance history and should be avoided.

DUMMY DRUNK
Directed by Sin Silva
2 minutes
Rating: Con

Here’s another mindblowingly stupid film. It’s a bunch of still frames of actors in which only their mouths move as they tell a story from one to the other about how the first guy is not drunk, although he clearly is. It’s one of the most ridiculous wastes of film ever produced. Pass.

KID FEARS
Directed by Ty McGee
9 minutes
Rating: Pro

There are two kids hanging out at a carnival, and one accidentally knocks out the tooth of the local bully and winds up getting the shit kicked out of him. He grows up to become a body builder and boxer just so he can defeat the bully. It’s a very simple story, but it’s told in such a fabulous way. There’s a lot of innocence here, even when the kids have grown up and are battling it out in a boxing ring. The scene where the protagonist is admiring himself in a funhouse mirror, watching as his muscles grow bigger, is amazing. Great stuff.

And that’s a wrap on another volume of Tromadance films. Coming soon: the fourth installment.

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About John Bruni

John Bruni is the author of DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN (New Kink), POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS and TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE (StrangeHouse) and STRIP (Riot Forge). His short work has appeared in anthologies like A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE (Pill Hill), ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! BRAIN BANG! (StrangeHouse) and the critically acclaimed VILE THINGS (Comet). He edited STRANGE SEX 3 for StrangeHouse, and he was the editor and publisher of TABARD INN: TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. Find out more at www.talesofquestionabletaste.com and www.talesofunspeakabletaste.blogspot.com.
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