WorldFest: Wild, Mild and Wicked

Moviegoers may find both their Sixth Happiness and Seventh Heaven in these 40 featured indie films

This first film outing by director/screenwriter Aaron Downing, a former runner for the Beverly Hillbillies series, blends bizarre scenes and subjects. He uses the bartender at the Lucky Club to bare his primary theme, that the slayer and seemingly civilized humans still need their "pure kill" to purge their destructive demons of the past.

"What happens when we cease to fear fear?" the barkeep ponders.
Pure kill is an intriguing theory. But Fred (Gregg Rubin in an impressive performance) has amassed so much emotional baggage he would have to slaughter half the city to clear his soul for a fresh start.

He has changed his name and knocked up a teenage girl back in Illinois. When a pickup from Lucky's waits for him in her bed, Fred opts to whack off in the bathroom. He stalks one woman and harasses another by telephone, all the while dodging calls from his mother.

Fred is a freak, but he's definitely not one-dimensional. He's a seven-year CPA and comedian-in-training. And he shows remarkable tenderness and stability in a romantic encounter with an old friend's sister, Angela. Rubin and Christina Gulino team admirably for that most believable episode. Then the sanity jumps ship for a helter-skelter alter-ego finale. He answers the ultimate question in this reality warp: whether he himself can be a killer.

Downing cleverly parallels the edgy pace of the energized mind-game thriller Pi, and he adds a predictable touch of Taxi Driver to the bedlam. Credit his sharp dialogue for the ultimate staying power of this film. But he seems to have overdosed à la David Lynch on the visual presentations; rather than eerie, call it irritating.

He may be saved only by a keen sense of humor, as heard on the background radio broadcasting zany impacts of a two-year drought. Like the khameleon killer, the film itself falters in establishing a true identity. (George Flynn)

Pure Killjoy Saturday, April 10, at 9 p.m. and Monday, April 12, at 7 p.m.

Red October
I almost lost patience with October 22 but was ultimately glad I stuck with it. The Richard Schenkman film opens with a 911 call from an L.A. restaurant where a gunman has opened fire on unsuspecting diners.

From this rather gory opening, which ends with the police drawing on the apparent gunman, ready to blow his brains out, the film flashes back to the beginning of the day and follows the paths of the various diners and waitresses as they wander into harm's way. There's a strong cast, including Colm Meaney, Amanda Plummer and Ernie Hudson, who plays against his usual nice-guy type to terrifying effect. The film stumbles in the beginning, as films that try to tell too many stories often do, but finds its stride about halfway through and ends with a satisfying twist. (David Theis)

October 22 Thursday, April 15, at 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 17, at 3 p.m.

Lost Treasure
You'll need more than a bottle of rum to get through this Treasure Island. Writer/director Peter Rowe takes things that are good, does them again and messes them up. He's the guy who's directing the unnecessary, unfunny The New Addams Family. It's not Star Trek; he didn't even give them a next generation. It's just the same characters, but uglier and boring.

That's basically what he did with Treasure Island. He didn't remake it; he just made it again. It is hard to speculate why -- there's already the 1990 version starring Charlton Heston, not to mention the muppet movie.

The film starts off on a random island where a pirate is burying his treasure. A few pirates are hanging out on the beach making smart remarks. Long John Silver says something Billy Bones doesn't like and -- wham -- his sword slowly slices through Long John's leg.

Five years go by and Billy Bones stumbles into Jim Hawkins's Inn singing, "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum." (That's how we know he's a pirate.) Then some guy comes and stabs him.

The doctor says he doesn't have time for leeches, which we already watched him put on Jim's grandmother's 80-year-old arm, and he just slowly slices into Billy Bones's mushy skin and bleeds him. That scene encapsulates the whole movie; it's slow, painful and something I didn't want to watch.

A bunch of pirates storm the inn wanting the map to the treasure (which Billy Bones somehow has -- we don't know why or how). All the ensuing fight scenes are horribly slow. Maybe they were trying to be true to the time with everyone loading their guns, stumbling and taking forever to react. But that's where artistic license comes in. Pick up the pace, people. Even the music was slow; people are killing people and they're playing something akin to Enya.

The cast features Patrick Bergin, Kevin Zegers and Jack Palance as Long John. Palance won the Oscar for his supporting role as the cowpoke in 1991's City Slickers, and he still looks more like a cowboy than a pirate in this movie. Despite his presence, the only compelling moment in the film is when Long John Silver starts philosophizing to Jim about who's the real pirate -- the men who worked hard and wanted a share of the treasure, or the squire who stole it.

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