The Arizona Filmmaker Showcase settled into its new Thursday night at 8 pm schedule with relative ease. Traditionally held every first Saturday of the month at FilmBar Phoenix, the Arizona Filmmaker Showcase still had a great turnout and presented a selection of 6 short films from AZ indie filmmakers Liz Bradley and Christopher Smith, Jordan Dove, Vaughn Grey, Kevin Kittle, Michael Muchnij and Ryan Nelson. The next Arizona Filmmaker Showcase will take place on Thursday, February 4th at 8 pm at FilmBar Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased in advance.
Gnome Sweet Gnome – Christopher Smith and Liz Bradley
What if there was an 80’s sitcom about a rude Gnome that takes up residence with a suburban family? Liz Bradley and Christopher Smith have a pretty good idea of what the opening credits would look like in this terrific TV show intro created with music provided by Matt Gourley and James Bladon from their album ‘Stay Tuned Vol 1.’ The album is a collection of TV theme songs for shows that never existed. The talented team that brought to the screen the exceptional feature film ‘Biology 101’ includes the talents of local actors Mark Speno, Stacie Stocker, Juliana Sada and Bronwyn Schile for a well made sitcom spoof that just might have gotten the green light. Final Take – Syndicated style.
Scatter Bolt – Jordan Dove
While out hiking in Papago park, a young woman (Mikaela Branch) shoots some footage of a UFO on her phone. She heads home and watches a ‘how to’ video on alien encounters that advises: when you are toe-to-toe with an angry E.T, aim for the eyes! She heads to the kitchen and pulls a gun out if a drawer, stroking it lovingly like a good Arizonan. She returns the pistol to its happy place and takes a nap. Turns out, aliens know a thing or two about intellectual property, as a red faced space case breaks into her casa looking for his potentially viral video. They do some kung-fu fighting (that includes a Samurai sword!) before she gets her snuggle gun from the drawer and ices the E.T. I can’t tell what the heck is going on here or when it is appropriate to be entertained as the action and audio are beyond absurd in this freaky sci-fi flick; the 911 operator asking “can you describe the alien ma’am?,” an alien that announces his arrival with a groovy domo arigato Mr. Roboto voice/projection, and a woman that thinks out loud while she tenderly visits her gun in the kitchen. Final Take – Scatterbrained.
Wendi – Vaughn Grey
Detectives Morgan and Sullivan (Joe Jauch and Michelle Nakamoto) arrive at a sleazy hotel room and discover the body of a dead prostitute named Wendi (Sandy Penny) floating in the tub. As the detectives look over the crime scene, Sullivan makes a psychic connection with the spirit of the dead hooker who pleads with the cop to catch her killer. Telepathic images reveal Wendi haunting one of her clients, singing in the shower, and participating in a Satanic ritual involving black scorpions and samurai swords.The cops confront a suspect but leave him alone for lack of evidence, overlooking the handcuffs hanging from his bed and Wendi’s underwear strewn about his room. Created as the pilot episode for a web series,’Wendi’ has a great neo-noir look dripping with rich reds and a continuously dark soundtrack. The constant struggle for a dominant, CSI style technical cop drama and a trippy, mildly experimental supernatural thriller keep ‘Wendi’ firmly planted in the dark side and restricted from walking on the wild side. Great performances and groovy photography. Final Take – The (not so) good little witch.
Sweet Tooth – Michael Muchnij
As Duncan celebrates his 11th birthday in the backyard, a strange boy arrives, grabs a bat and bandana and participates in a seemingly innocent game of Hit the Piñata. The mysterious marauder connects with the candy container and follows through with a violent blow to Duncan’s face, and subsequently embarks on a sugar-frosted mad rampage, clobbering kids and disaffected adults as they spew pink frosting and rainbow sprinkles from every wound. Hold on to your party hats for a fun and deliciously sinister short that is dark and delightful. Eerie photography combined with extreme closeups and hyper-foley create an engaging short film that keeps you glued to the screen. Outstanding performances by the entire cast with mad props going to Charlotte Lilt as the uncaring mom who gets her just deserts. See this excellent, darkly humorous yet tastefully tacky short film before it departs on its festival run. Final Take – The Piñata’s revenge!
Furry Fury – Kevin Kittle
After a global apocalypse and years of genetic mutations, man and animal have fused into scavenging, cigar smoking, gun toting furries. Created for the 2015 IFP Breakout film challenge, ‘Fury’ is an entertaining, violent and goofy movie that is sure to take the 2016 Phoenix Comicon by storm. (Previously reviewed.)
A Haunting on Butterscotch Lane – Ryan Nelson
Two bungling brothers awaken one morning to find their cookie jar possessed by angry spirits. They track the source of the hauntings to a crazy hobo’s trailside memorial that they may have slightly desecrated. Unable to appease the pesky poltergeist they seek help from the only two experts in town: the local priest and the guy at the comic book store. The priest is no help but the nerd provides the perfect plan to capture the creature and send it straight to heck for all eternity. From the talented film team of Clydesdale Manhattan, director Nelson and crew create a hilarious, extremely well shot non-stop comedy full of sight gags and crazy characters in their signature comedic style, bordering on raunch and always firmly entertaining. Final Take – Haunted cookie condo.