Written by: Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, and Steven Kostanski (all credited as Astro-6)
Directed by: Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matthew Kennedy, and Conor Sweeney (as Astro-6)
Starring: Adam Brooks, Mackenzie Murdock and Matthew Kennedy
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
Lock up your fathers.
Thirty years ago, Troma turned Motherís Day into a bloodstained spot on the calendar, and now theyíre back to do the same with Fatherís Day. The formula hasnít changed much in three decades, as Lloyd Kaufman has found the type of demented movie to serve as the spiritual successor to the oozy sleaze that lined video store shelves during the studioís glory days. Astron-6, the writer and director of Fatherís Day, is actually a composite name of five different guys, all of whom probably grew up renting those Troma tapes, and it feels like theyíve tried to cram every inspiration they ever gained from them in one movie.
Fatherís Day doesnít seem to actually take place on the actual holiday; instead, it refers to notorious serial killer Chris Fuchman (yes, pronounced ďFuck-ManĒ), who has been killing fathers for something like thirty years. When Fuchman re-emerges, a young priest (Matthew Kennedy) seeks the help of vigilante Ahab (Adam Brooks), who has spent most of his life tracking down the now mythical killer. He reluctantly joins Father Sullivan when he realizes it could give him a chance to reunite with his estranged sister (Amy Groening) who is now (of course) a stripper.
Fatherís Day is yet another nostalgia-fetish piece, meant to remind us that there were once movies like this but never really giving us much of a reason to watch this one instead of those better ones. Donít get me wrong--it sort of feels like a Troma movie, and it takes all of about two minutes before you see a guy feasting on someoneís intestines, making it patently obvious why Troma graced it with their brand. So itís extremely gross, gory, and only moderately-acted (at best), just like any other Troma flick youíve seen, and itís even being sold in a now-moldy retro package; instead of the grindhouse, though, this one is taking you back to late night TV movie blocks, as Fatherís Day is being presented as programming on ďASTR-TV Channel 6."
As such, youíve got faux grain and wear and tear to create the illusion that this is a lost Troma movie, one thatís been cobbled together from the nostalgic scraps these guys are carrying around. Itís difficult to deny their passion or commitment to matching the puerile transgressiveness you associate with Troma, though. Fatherís Day is outrageous and twisted in the best possible way, full of over-the-top mutilations and disgusting gags. You might take it seriously for a few minutes, but then you realize youíre watching a movie with an effeminate main character thatís actually named Twink, just in case you werenít sure. A lot of the humor is consistently stupid, and the film tries to compensate by stuffing too many ideas and modes into its 95 minute run-time. Iíd say itís completely irreverent tonally, but it actually chokes on its reverence for the films itís aping. Ahab is obviously a riff on Snake Plissken, so the film can hit the gritty badass beats of vigilante flicks before hitting all of the other ridiculous plot points (Gun toting priest? Got it. Incest? Check. Penis mutilation? Multiple ones!). By the time Fatherís Day wraps up, the street-justice flick that it began as seems quaint and normal by comparison. Somehow, it eventually takes a detour into hell in a sequence that feels like Jigoku made over by Tromaville (where Lloyd Kaufman makes one of his better cameos to date).
However, for a film thatís brimming with all this insanity, Fatherís Day feels listless, lacking the manic energy and inspired performances necessary to bring something like this to life. The film is more than solidly put together and even contains plenty of cool visuals and panache--itís just that the whole thing just sort of feels like empty fetishism. Weíve enjoyed movies like this before, so hereís another one dutifully trotted out, content to coast on the outrageous splatstick spirit that inspired the film. Something like Fatherís Day should be much more fun, but it sometimes just lumbers along, and it doesnít help that its eventual twists and turns are telegraphed (when Fuchman is unceremoniously dispatched at around the hour mark, you know something else has to happen). I think the most telling moment came about halfway through the film, when we suddenly are taken to a ďcommercial breakĒ that advertises the film following Fatherís Day: Star Raiders, an obvious a take-off of campy sci-fi flicks that actually made me perk up. Suddenly, I realized that I didnít really care if we even went back to FatherĎs Day. Like the main feature, the Star Raiders trailer is full of silly, fun-looking moments, but I imagine that even itíd probably be pretty laborious if stretched out to feature length.
Thatís sort of the problem with Fatherís Day--it feels like a joke concept stretched out beyond its means. Even its title just seems to be an obvious play on an infamous Troma movie, with little thought put behind it otherwise. I donít think itís a terrible movie (well, it is by certain standards, but consider its pedigree), but itís one that feels a little undercooked. If you actually came across Fatherís Day on TV late one night, I imagine youíd have a little fun with it before changing the channel to something else. Of course, you'll probably never see it on TV; instead, youíll have to check it out during its limited theatrical run for now, where I imagine the film will really come alive with the right crowd. When surrounded by like-minded gorehounds and sleaze-purveyors, Fatherís Day would probably be a blast because it is gloriously tasteless and slickly done. The conglomerate that is Astro-6 (who also act in the film) do have their hearts and minds in the right place, which is in the gutter; however, their film sometimes spins its wheels in its attempt to get out of it. Rent it!
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