Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In short: Things (1989)

Don (Barry J. Gillis) and his buddy Fred (Bruce Roach) are visiting Don's brother Doug (Doug Bunston) and his pregnant wife Susan (Patricia Sadler) somewhere in the wilds of the USA as represented by somebody's hut in Canada. At first it's all dream sequences, talking complete nonsense, hiding insects in sandwiches and looking at Doug's collection of lost Picasso paintings, but after what feels like hours, a horde of giant ant creatures made of papiermache crawls out of Susan's belly and starts to eat through the family starting with the dog (don't worry, animal fans, it's just a long, long, long scene of a dog yowling off camera and some blood spattering onto a white wall, then some more blood, and then even more blood). That's the sort of thing that's bound to happen when you're trying to cure your childlessness with the help of an "experimental treatment". Fred gets sucked into a mousehole (or something), hands get lost, practical jokes are played while the practical joker's dead wife lies next door, body fluids flow. From time to time, porn actress Amber Lynn appears to read the news. After a time, the film is over.

Canada, the country that can be made responsible for the existence of Things, isn't a place I usually connect with (probably shot on home--grade video) amateur gore movies. Watching this thing, I couldn't shake the feeling everyone involved was trying to make up for the small number in local productions in this particular genre by making Things particularly insane.

If you've seen anything else in Things' style, you know the deal with the technical side side of affairs. The camera work is mostly static, full of badly framed scenes taking place in the cramped surroundings of what in these cases usually is the director's living quarters; but at least someone brought a red light bulb. The script seems as if it had been transcribed from the random mutterings of a very disturbed teenager somebody found chained in the attic. Characters don't just not act like people, they act as if they don't even know something like logic or humanity might have existed somewhere, sometime.  Dialogue stretches from ridiculous cursing to sentences like "I wish I had a midget for a brother instead", and something about blood flowing like maple syrup. Of course, most of the dialogue has been dubbed in later in what I can only assume must have been single takes; of course, some characters have been dubbed by more than one person, while others, especially the incredible Doctor Lucas, are realized by having their voice actors do funny voices. Some of this might be meant as a joke, this, however, is not a film where the difference between humour and ineptness is clear. I think it's supposed to be a comedy, but I might very well be wrong.

Obviously, nobody goes into a film like Things looking for technical achievements. When it comes to amateur gore escapades, I'm usually hoping for experiencing a cross between a fever dream, a boring home movie and a direct visual line to someone else's unconscious, and Things delivers on all three fronts. This is after all a film that starts off with a dream sequence containing a naked woman in a devil mask taking an ant baby out of a fridge (at least I think that's what happens), continues through long, painful "buddies in a living room" scenes and takes various detours into incomprehensible insanity like a randomly inserted scene with Lucas and a hunchbacked assistant doing nasty stuff to a half rotten guy, activities we'll never hear about again. Not to speak of the Amber Lynn stuff. Things is like a vacation in other people's worm-riddled brains.


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