Short Film Wallow Marks Diabolique Finish

To quote from the program book:  “Chip returns home to find his mother brutally murdered and a sessile space alien living in her house rent free.  A somewhat xenophobic and bureaucratic government agency called Science Team is brought in to eliminate the extraterrestrial threat.  Drama ensues.  People die. Inner and extraterrestrial demons are engaged.  Men in pink suits use cool-looking technology.  Events culminate in a destructive orgy of violence as people’s minds are literally blown out of their heads.”  One of the film’s introducers called it “hopefully the most bizarre film you’ve seen all year.”  I don’t know science-teamwhether I necessarily agree with the latter (I see an awful lot of films), but feature-length SCIENCE TEAM (2014), in a block with short films DEARLY DEPARTED (a fiancée won’t let a little thing like her intended’s death get in the way of the honeymoon), FRANKY AND THE ANT (a hit man’s ethic that centers on loyalty), and UNCANNY VALLEY (an animated look at a robot’s attempts to win his human Mistess Celina’s love), all of these films from the USA, did offer an interesting end to the 2014 Diabolique Film Festival.  While hard to describe, SCIENCE TEAM might be considered retro science fiction/horror with a deliberate attempt “to make it like an ’80s horror comedy” (Director Drew Bolduc interview in FANGORIA, June 27).

This was the last of six two-hour blocks (generally one and a half hours of film followed by a half hour Q and A/break between blocks) that offered a wallow of short films for Saturday’s participants, starting with two more or less family friendly programs but growing progressively darker (or, in the final set, maybe bizarro) as the day progressed.  I had other obligations earliDIFF_AcademicSymposiumer, notably the September meeting of my writers group at 12:30 that afternoon, but I did make the final four blocks, from 4 p.m. to a bit after midnight, totaling 27 films in all ranging from 2 minutes long (SANTA, Greece, from the fourth block, subtitled “The Chilling”) to 80 minutes for the aforementioned SCIENCE TEAM.  Other highlights for me were, from the third block subtitled “The Disturbed,” LIVELY from Canada (a babysitter, an escaped killer, a precocious nine year old boy) which also won for Best Cinematography; from the fourth block, EVIL TWIN from Germany (an epic fight through space and time involves two sets of brothers), WATERBORNE from Australia (zombie kangaroos), and Best Makeup winner THE VISITANT (a mother defends her child from a demon — or does she?) from the USA; and from the fifth, “The Perverse,” EXTREME PINOCCHIO from France (a re-imagining of the tale involving a junkie dwarf and a sexual predator with a Geppetto fixation, also winner of Best Screenplay), and the Spanish TIMOTHY (another babysitter story, this involving the psychopathic host of a children’s TV show who visits still wearing his giant rabbit costume).

And there were many more of interest:  KVISTUR (Canada) and COUNTER PARTS (USA) in the third block; LA LLORONA (USA), THE CARRIAGE, OR, DRACULA & MY MOTHER (Canada, also Best Director), and ODD ONE OUT (Canada) in the fourth; SERVICE (USA), PITY (USA), and THE HEAT (Poland, winner of Best Short and Best Actor) in the fifth.  And more beyond that, with précis of all to be found here.

  1. Sorry but that first thing sounded absolutely so awful, I could barely read another word. ; )

  2. Some may not like SCIENCE TEAM. The director’s previous film was THE TAINT from Troma Films (think TOXIC AVENGER, THE CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH, etc. — also I think Troma did CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL) and, while SCIENCE TEAM is moving away a bit, if you don’t like Troma, you may not go for this one either. (Full disclosure: I haven’t seen THE TAINT myself and of Troma films in general I have mixed feelings. Sometimes they seem to be too low budget [in the case of SCIENCE TEAM I didn’t have that problem, though it makes no bones about being a B-movie] or too vulgar or too silly.) I did like a lot of the shorts, however, and would recommend following the link to check out the Festival’s own capsule descriptions. On the other hand, where do you find a particular short unless you luck into it at, most likely, another film festival?

  3. So…how would SCIENCE TEAM compare with THE STRAIN series?

  4. A lot more fun, but the acting not as good. In this one the hordes running around aimlessly are the good guys (i.e. members of the Science Team), not baddie zombie vampires. Also the protagonist isn’t particularly handsome (or heroic for that matter, in fact he seems seriously disturbed). On the other hand, THE STRAIN gives you Ratcatcher Wisdom which SCIENCE TEAM has only the occasional exploding head (caused when the monster transfers, of something, its brain waves to humans, but the Science Team does have a limited number of protective helmets (but made out of plastic by the look of them, not the more traditional tinfoil). Also, SCIENCE TEAM, for better or worse, only lasts 80 minutes (but THE STRAIN’S special effects are much better and the accidental humor more artful — one might sum it up by saying the SCIENCE STRAIN tends at its worst to be self-conscious; THE STRAIN self-important).

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