Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009)

I would watch a movie just about this guy.

I didn't hate Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way. It was so aggressively juvenile, like a prepubescent boy screaming obscenities over XBox Live. Even the subtitle seemed to be tailor-made to get a "dur hur hur" out of the kind of guys who think Family Guy is hilarious because "dude, it's so wrong." I hoped that the third film would get things back on track and recapture what I liked about the first film, but when I saw an alien shitting out a woman's semi-digested head in the opening scene I knew I would be in for a bumpy ride.

Feast III: The Happy Finish was shot back-to-back with the second movie, which is rarely a good sign since the second part usually suffers. This is confirmed on the commentary track, where director John Gulager laments the numerous production problems that resulted in severe script cuts and a film that just squeaks over the 70 minute mark. Obviously the same actors return, with Gulager's wife (Diane Goldner) as Biker Queen, his brother (Tom Gulager) as Greg Swank and his father (legendary character actor Clu Gulager) as the seemingly invincible Bartender. Probably his dog was involved somehow; I'm pretty sure he held the camera during the action scenes. Also returning is Hanna Putnam as the ditzy Secrets, Carl Anthony Payne as the car salesman Slasher and Juan Longoria GarcĂ­a as Thunder, the one surviving half of a duo of midget luchadors. Biker chick Tat Girl (Chelsea Richards), underused in the first film, gets a little more to do here and, even better, spends the majority of her screen time with her tits out.

The writers still have fun introducing horror movie cliches and then gleefully turning them on their head, but the end result is a film that changes tack every few moments and never really finds it's groove. It zig-zags down different plot threads with no sense of drive or purpose and characters are introduced and dispatched seemingly at random. You know, there's a reason why films use certain genre tropes and character archetypes; because they work. Sure the anarchic spirit of this film is kind of fun, but comes at the expense of plot, tension, interesting or likable characters etc.

The other problem is that their usual tricks and shock tactics aren't all that effective the third time around. The first time they introduced an extremely capable, heroic character and then immediately killed him off it was pretty clever. The third time around it seems kind of lazy and annoying. At one point there's a martial arts expert who leaps into sewers and starts whipping ass with a pair of wrist-mounted blades. He's named Jean-Claude Segal and he even has a nonsensical introductory speech where he calls himself a "whistling warrior". Clearly this character was created just for me, but unfortunately I knew that he was way too awesome and interesting to live.

Like the second film, characterisation is wildly inconsistent, although the characters seem to be slightly less sociopathic and sometimes display actual emotion. Probably the closest thing to a genuine character arc is Greg Swank, who spends the entire film with a pipe embedded through his head. He gradually becomes more demented and remorseful for the act of infanticide he committed in the second film and when an alien finally removes the pipe from his head the film cuts away to a dream sequence where he is floating in the ocean. A pleasant little art house moment amongst the meth-fueled insanity, that and the utterly bizarre ending that would even leave Takashi Miike scratching his head.

The aliens look as goofy and rubbery as ever, but I appreciate that nearly everything is done with practical effects instead of CG. It's extremely gory and fans of the second film's tasteless depravity and obsession with toilet humour will get a kick out of this one too. A bum gets the shit literally kicked out of him. A zombie woman gets disemboweled through her vagina. An alien fucks a guy in the ass until he explodes, giving birth to an alien/human hybrid. My favourite gag was when Bartender tries to do the old trick of cauterising someone's flesh wound with lit gunpowder, but accidentally blows the guy's arm off. Whoops!

There are still issues on the technical side. Editing is occasionally incoherent and in what is perhaps an effort to disguise the cheap costumes, a lot of the action is obscured by shaky camera work. Also, sometimes they use the camera's night vision mode during dark scenes. This isn't a celebrity sex-tape, assholes; get some real lighting. By far the worst scene is when they fight a bunch of zombies in an underground chamber, lit only by a seizure-inducing strobe light. This part of the film, what is ostensibly the climactic action scene, is rendered nearly indecipherable.

If you didn't like the second film in this series then this one won't change your mind. Somehow I didn't find it quite as grating, but perhaps that is only because I knew what to expect. This movie is summed up nicely by a scene where one of the aliens teabags the camera with it's over-sized scrotum. Sure, this movie has some enormous balls, but it puts them to use by insulting the audience in the most tasteless and juvenile ways possible. If getting cold-cocked by an alien's wrinkly nutsack sounds like a good time to you, you might enjoy this film.


brandoncurtis said...

I think "Feast III" is a step in the right batshit crazy direction. Bummed they didn't keep Shitkicker around, he was fantastic.

Dave said...

Shitkicker was a likeable, kickass character and that's why he had to die. That's the blessing and the curse of the Feast series.