Something hidden -- go and find it;
Go and look beyond the Ranges
Something lost behind the ranges:
Lost and waiting for you. Go!


-- from Guy Maddin's CAREFUL


Being a periodic meditation on some of the more obscure outlying regions of cinema;
regarding movies that are inadequately publicized and hence, easily overlooked --
and by cinema, it is meant in the larger sense of films/tv/DVD/internet --
that might be worthy of your interest, but perhaps has escaped your notice.


*************************************************************************************************************************

Friday, August 17, 2007

SPACEDISCO ONE




       No one seems to question the practice of “sampling” in the music industry -- oh, a lot of people don’t like it, and there’s still the occasional lawsuit popping up against the use of this or that song; but on the whole, it’s an accepted, if sometimes frowned upon practice -- in the music industry. Do that sort of thing in the making of a feature film, though, and there’s a whole ‘nother level of upset and litigation involved. Which makes Damon Packard’s filmmaking career all the more astonishing -- since the majority of his films have “borrowed” music, themes, even entire scenes -- from other films; primarily 70’s and early 80’s sci-fi and horror flicks. That probably explains his choice of subject matter for his latest opus, SpaceDisco-One; a sort-of sequel to Logan’s Run and Bladerunner -- with a dash of Mad Max style post-apocalyptica thrown in -- all clashing head-on with George Orwell’s 1984, ...uhh, just to keep the audience on its toes, I suppose.


       I should mention that SpaceDisco-One is both the story as previously outlined and the story of its making -- simultaneously. Dispensing with the conventional wisdom that the “making-of” featurette be included as some sort of “extra” on the DVD, that whole aspect of the production has been directly incorporated into the storyline -- if you can call what transpires in SpaceDisco-One a “story”. In brief, descendants of characters seen in Logan’s Run, Battlestar Galactica and Krull are tracking down some rogue “replicants” on the orbital platform “SpaceDisco-One” -- an interstellar craft whose interior is largely represented by a skating rink and some “borrowed” footage from the film Roller Boogie. Meanwhile, 1984’s Winston Smith has crashed through some kind of inter-dimensional gateway and somehow ended up in the middle of this mess. If this all sounds crazy unto the point of schizophrenia, well, let me assure you -- it is... But there’s a method to Packard’s madness -- he contrasts the silly excesses of these 70’s genre flicks with the current excesses of the Bush administration and the concomitant media hype surrounding “The War on Terror” -- to frightening, if paranoid effect. This is Packard’s greatest strength as a filmmaker -- he’s obsessed with some pretty silly aspects of pop culture (all deeply rooted in the 70’s), but these same obsessions also make him utterly appalled at the current state of our civilization -- and he’s a talented enough filmmaker to effectively communicate this dismay to an audience.


       Packard’s first feature-length effort, Reflections of Evil is a semi-autobiographical account of his early days in Los Angeles as a street vendor of watches and T-shirts -- a picaresque tale which includes appearances by an ersatz Stephen Spielberg, numerous actual mentally-ill L.A. street people and the all-too real Joey Heatherton. This project (in many ways his most ambitious) was bankrolled by a trust fund inheritance he received as a result of being heir to the Packard Motor Car fortune. He’s also made many shorts -- Bugnuts concerns David Hyde Peirce’s (again, ersatz) hunt for his lost cat -- a search that takes him around the world, and eventually as far as the moon. His Star Wars Mockumentary is as clever a send-up of that oft-parodied trilogy as I’ve seen, and his earliest film, Dawn of an Evil Millennium is a sort of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired cop-buddy movie -- now there’s a genre that hasn’t been exploited to its fullest yet, that’s for sure. A project Packard has been forced to put on the back-burner (due to issues of scale and cost) is Apple -- an epic lesbian fantasy, in the vein of Lord of the Rings -- except, ya’ know... -- with more lesbianism!


       Both SpaceDisco-One and Reflections of Evil are available for purchase here and for rent... -- who-knows-where? If you happen to live in the L.A. area, you can frequently find copies of Reflections of Evil in the “used” and “cut-out” bins of your local DVD store. You can also order these films from Packard’s website, listed below. Please help a struggling -- and quite possibly mentally deranged -- artist out, by at least taking a look.

Some links:

Damon Packard wiki.

Packard’s very slow-loading Myspace page.

The Reflections of Evil website and source for all of Mr. Packard’s films.

An interview with Packard regarding his first feature, Reflections of Evil.


Next post -- 08/24/07

5 comments:

Van Choojitarom said...

Thank you again, esteemed curate Grigorss. By cutting in Robert Vaughn, Packard's "Star Wars Mockumentary" reminds us (if we needed reminding) that the ante imperium Star Wars films are really, for all their screen saver glory, at most equal or inferior to their Turkish counterparts, or the offspring of the Inseminoid. Packard's signature editing style seems to be every three shots, something throws up or falls off. In comparison, most pornography anthologies and video games seem stolid and slow paced.

grigorss said...

Thanks for your comments, your support and most all -- your wisdom, Van; it is always appreciated. I just realized that I really should have included this link in the body of this week's installment -- Oh well, now it's an "Easter Egg" for those who choose to look at the comments.

Kalibhakta said...

Damon Packard?

you mean--

GOD?????????????????????

grigorss said...

RE: Kalibhakta's comment,

Yeah -- that's the guy...

Paul said...

Grig...

My understanding, actually, is that the wild west days of sampling are over, and most folks clear rights on the samples that they use these days. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, this bit on the "amen break" is interesting...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac