Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: Hobo With a Trash Can

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Hobo With a Trash Can
Various Directors; organized by Claire “Fluff” Llewellyn
Bloody Brit Productions
85 minutes, 2015

This is an anthology film with an interesting premise, and I quote: “[E]ach of the participating filmmakers were given a budget of $1 and assigned a specific item of trash to create a short film that ties into the narrative wraparound.” I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Welcome to Retroville (filmed in Chicago), a town that mixes old with new. Someone may put down their cell phone to talk on a dial phone. You get the drift. Into this world wanders our central wraparound story (“Welcome to Retroville,” of course) character, Bo (Christopher Kahler). He is the titular hobo, with a shopping cart full of junk and a premonition that something is terribly wrong in Retroville; perhaps it’s aliens? When he touches certain pieces of garbage, green lights flicker around him and he has visions. These visualizations, natch, are the six short films (and equal length wraparound) that make up the whole collection.

Claire "Fluff" Llewellyn
The first story (“Frying Saucer”) is a sci-fi piece about frying pans that cook bacon to an addicting level, but there’s more than meets the pork behind it. Can newlywed housewife Mindy Goodfellow (Claire “Fluff” Llewellyn) catch on and take action before the world is doomed? In all these short stories, Mindy is the only one who bleeds into the wraparound segments, after Bo is accused of murder by two bumbling coppers.

In other segments we are introduced to some ghosts playing poker in a Chinese restaurant’s back room who are assaulted by yet another spirit (“The Hungry Ghost”), a talking piece of fruit who is intent on taking over the world (“The Apple That Bit Back”), a condom that is more than it seems (“CondomDemned”), a dwarf touting around a paper bag with an appetite (“Grab Bag”), and the one serious piece that feels a bit out of place, and is painful to watch on so many levels (“Dr. Hanger”; pay attention Republicans!), but I would not want it removed.

The humor that flows through most of the film and its pieces runs from really smart to really silly, from well-acted to just plain goofy, and from imaginative to just obvious. Through it all, however, Llewellyn and Kahler (aka Bloody Brit Productions), who edited it all together, did a great job in making each segment have a consistent look (and with added “scratch marks” on the “film element”) and pacing. The tones, both in look and feel, are harmonious, with the exception of “Dr. Hanger,” which, as I said, is sort of like that one segment in a “Saturday Night Live” in the early days when they’d try to do something serious.

There is some serious cheesiness that runs throughout, even with this many directors, and the music is especially hammy, with a Theremin-style electronic noise that reminded me a bit of the soundtrack to Xtro (1983). Note that I’m not saying this is a bad thing; I mean, it’s supposed to be retro in both look and sound, and in that way it succeeds. It actually reminds me of some other compilation films from the ‘70s period, like Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses? (1977).

To be honest, I’m kind of hoping this is just the first in a series. Sure, it’s not the only horror compilation by a long shot, but I like the premise of the $1 and the hobo. I’d like to see Bo come back, because, honestly, Kahler is one of the better actors in the film, and was enjoyable to watch.  I get the feeling that if this became somewhat of a franchise, perhaps the practice of putting these together will help shape it into something that will catch the attention of the indie horror audience it’s aiming to reach.

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