It's been awhile since a first year festival has garnered as much attention as Philip H. Anselmo's Housecore Horror Film Festival has. There were a number of key events, such as a live scoring to the movie "Suspiria" from the band Goblin, but one of the most talked about ones was the world premiere of "The Profane Exhibit". Much like the Housecore Festival, "The Profane Exhibit" instantly became a hot topic of discussions when the project was announced. Something that has slowed down immensely though as faith in the project began to waver as time continued to pass with no news of the completed project anywhere in sight.
The announcement of a world premiere at Housecore allowed for some faith to be regained by those following the project while the rest of us had our doubt, and rightfully so. Film Bizarro was on hand for the premiere, curious, albeit skeptical, for what was going to be shown. Because of the skepticism, it didn't come as a surprise when it was announced to the attendees standing outside the venue that "The Profane Exhibit" would NOT be screened as a completed film, but rather, a handful of segments from the movie would be shown. Yes, as unfortunate as that news has been to some, a completed film is still nowhere to be seen. Instead the producers behind the "Profane Exhibit" were only screening a few segments, like they have been doing at other festivals and conventions this year.
So, sitting in a mostly filled bar, we were able to view five segments from "The Profane Exhibit" and since what they showed were being seen as basically standalone pieces, it was hard to gauge the general theme the movie is carrying and an overall unity to the anthology. Regardless, here is what we thought of the five films that were screened:
Directed by: Ruggero Deodato
While "Cannibal Holocaust" maybe one of the most hated exploitation films made, Ruggero Deodato approached the theme of Corruption of Innocence with a quiet film that shows, as he put it, "the evilness of children." Unfortunately, Ruggero's segment felt like it was over before it had even started. Taking place on a bridge known for suicides, we watch as a woman has a brief encounter with two seemingly innocent children that, of course, turns dark. There wasn't much to "Bridge", sadly. It functions as a complete story within its short time but fundamentally it felt empty and lacked any sort of presence to actually make a viewer stop and take notice. I can respect his minimalist approach and desire to make something completely different from the movie that made him famous. Something he made a point to talk about during the Q & A after the screening. However, it may have been something that was taken too far as there was simply nothing to the movie. I certainly wasn't the only one who seemed unsure of what to make of "Bridge", as the audience's general reaction to it seemed to be a mix of bewilderment and chuckles.
Note: We have received some additional information regarding the details of the project as a whole and it seems that the seemingly confusing nature of Ruggero's segment is due to a very specific reason that relates to the wraparound story. Let's just say that his segment is essentially a "joke segment" in regards to what it is and what it is suppose to be within the story of "The Profane Exhibit".
Title: Sins of the Father
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
I guess when you're blind to everything around you, and your fixated on one goal -- in this case, revenge -- it's easy to have the tables turned on you. At least that's what is explored in Nacho Vigalondo's piece whose theme is Corruption of Revenge. A son takes his aging and senile father to a nameless and faceless company that will allow him to have revenge for a moment in time when the son was only a child and his father stole his innocence from him. Sadly the desire for revenge will costs the young man more than what he thinks he has already lost in what was the most chilling segment. Because of the time restriction on these films, they're not as effective as they could be but Nacho's film was easily the most interesting of the bunch but the least graphic, next to Reggero's. However, it's the way Nacho tells the story, the helplessness of the character and the ending is what makes "Sins of the Father" the most favorable of the 5 films that were shown.
Title: Tophet Guorom
Directed by: Sergio Stivaletti
What could possibly be the cheesiest part of "The Profane Exhibit", Sergio Stivaletti delivers a segment that feels more like a crossbreed between b-movie schlock and a Paul Naschy monster movie. The theme is Corruption of the Pure and it features a woman, who was abducted, roaming the corridors of a castle looking for the child she recently gave birth to after she was told it didn't survive. In the dungeon she uncovers the shocking truth about the cult who abducted her off the streets -- horrifying experiments turning women into savage beasts. It seems as though "The Profane Exhibit" is a movie that looks to explore the dark and depraved side of humans and what they are capable of, but Sergio Stivaletti's segment felt extremely separated from the others that were screened. While it did feature a torturous transformation segment, "Tophet Guorom" came off as more of a traditional horror movie. There seemed to be more of a relation to Stuart Gordon's "Castle Freak" than there was to other segments, and, in retrospect, it wasn't bad but did seem too disjointed from the intentions of what "The Profane Exhibit" is. Again, going by the audience's reaction, I wasn't alone on this.
Title: Mors in Tabula
Directed by: Marian Dora
Feeling like a poor man's "Aftermath", Marian Dora's contribution to "The Profane Exhibit" will most likely be the segment that is most talked about due to the use of real medical footage. The segment opens up with real footage of surgeries and amputations in full graphic detail while the main character -- a doctor -- delivers a narration describing his future patient; a middle aged woman suffering from a life threatening form of cancer. Sadly, for the patient, the doctor suffers from a God complex and finds that saving a life is just as easy as taking one. Disappointing but not surprising, Marian Dora delivers another overly pretentious endeavor that comes off as juvenile in its attempt to shock the viewer. Technically, there is an accomplishment to "Mors in Tabula" as it is hard to find the line between real medical footage and special effects. An achievement that becomes overshadowed by a shallow and shameless shock parade trying to pass itself off as art with an ending that is as silly as it is stupid.
Directed by: Uwe Boll
I think it might be safe to say that Uwe Boll is the underdog of "The Profane Exhibit" as people still continue to harp on those unfortunate video game adaptations of his. However he has shown that he is a capable director with titles such as "Stoic", "Darfur", "Rampage" and even now with his segment, "Basement". A rather simplistic installment in terms of story but one that cuts right to the heart of its theme, Corruption of Home. Ron Howard and Caroline Williams play as a seemingly normal suburban couple but keep a dark secret locked away in windowless, sound proof basement - their daughter. The straight forward delivery by Uwe Boll does keep the simple story very basic and fundamentally the reason it works so well is because of the weight of reality the material carries. It lacks the punch that it is needed -- most likely due to the lack of a stronger emotional element -- but it was one of the more satisfying segments that was screened.
So what was our opinion overall of the 5 films from "The Profane Exhibit" that were previewed for those in attendance? Disappointing. "The Profane Exhibit" is something that has been anticipated by a great deal of many, including us, but what was shown was far from impressive. What was shown was bland and dull, to be honest. Only Uwe Boll's and Nacho Vigalondo contributions were interesting but even they were simplistic and lacked any sort of impact. They weren't a punch to the gut like they could have been.
Ultimately, the segments being screened as stand alone pieces like this, I think, is a terrible idea and is detrimental to what will be the final product of "The Profane Exhibit". It could work for something like "The ABC's of Death" which is nothing more than a ham-fisted death scenes compilation. "The Profane Exhibit" has an overall theme and a tone, each segment serves as part of that theme and rely on their connections to not only each other but the wraparound story as well. These installments were clearly not meant to be viewed on their own and it showed as even the two decent segments still felt like there was something missing to them. The part that drew them together and formed the much needed connection. Instead they came off as nothing more than a couple of random short films.
Regardless, we are still somewhat hopeful for the project but at this point it has everything to do with who is directing the segments, and those directors are Michael Todd Schneider (magGot), Andrey Iskanov and Ryan Nicholson. Oddly enough, the three men who have yet to have their segments shown at any of the early screenings. The preview held by Housecore only demonstrated that "The Profane Exhibit" is going to be nothing more than another forgettable anthology movie where big names were used but only resulted in a mediocre project.
("Manna" by Michael Todd Schneider)