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Monday, February 22, 2010

The Family Tie: If Dali Made a Revenge Flick...

The word "absurd" has come to be pretty much a universally negative term in the English language. But I'd like to bring back the more literal meaning of the word, if I may...

ab·surd (ab-sûrd', -zûrd'): Of, relating to, or manifesting the view that there is no order or value in human life or in the universe.

Having gotten that out of the way, I'd like to declare that Matthew Glasson's trippy 40-minute featurette The Family Tie is totally absurd. And I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Together with his school buddy, Scott Greene, Chicagoland native filmmaker/musician Glasson had the idea to make a brutal, darkly comic revenge movie that turned the subgenre on its ear and injected a '70s exploitation horror sensibility to the proceedings--and this is the germ that led to The Family Tie, which began life as a short video made in college.

In late 1997 and early 1998, the two men got together a rag-tag cast and crew and shot the thing in the suburbs of Chicago. Unfortunately, amateur editing capabilities being what they were at the time, the multiple hours of footage sat on the proverbial shelf for eight years, until Final Cut Pro finally enabled Glasson to undertake the grueling tasks of editing the footage into workable form, adding narration and shooting extra FX shots. The film was finally completed in 2007.

Shot on a veritable microscopic budget, The Family Tie tells the story of Dave Buglesias, a poor young man whose family is destroyed by a maniacal gun-runner. Filled with a thirst for vengeance, Dave embarks on mission to wipe out the man responsible for it all--a mission that pretty defies any and all expectations that watching movies of this kind would ever foster in your mind. The word "surreal" does not even do justice to the blood-drenched proceedings which follow...

The order of the day here is hyper-realism, and once you accept that, it's quite an amazing bit of fun. The acting is completely over-the-top to the point of total hilarity, with Greene taking on the role of the villain with a level of nihilistic insanity that has to be seen to be believed. Non-actor Phil Anzelmo is also game as Dave, whose obvious lack of experience only adds another level of absurdity to the film.

As Tenebrous Kate points out in her just-posted review over at Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire (great minds think alike, especially when encased in the bodies of people who have copies of the same screener), the highlight of the film's delicious weirdness may be the scene in which poor Dave must pay a visit to the unthinkably perverted gangster "Brass Balls" Benigno in order to extract some much-needed info on the whereabouts of his nemesis.

Quentin Tarantino meets Slime City, The Family Tie literally had me laughing out loud at the utter ridiculousness of it all--a level of ridiculosity that only continues to escalate just when you think it can't get any more bizarre/random. This flick is clearly a product of Glasson and Greene's absolute passion for film and filmmaking, tempered by some serious filmmaking sensibilities. The teensy-weensy budget is quite evident (it's shot in Video Hi8), and one (one being me) wonders what they might be able to accomplish with some serious scratch to work with. There's no doubt the raw talent is there.

Oh, and did I mention it even has a gosh-darn training montage, for crying out loud? If for no other reason, please see it for that. In fact, you don't even have to sit around wondering how to see it, because thanks to the miracle of the YouTube, here it is, right below, for your viewing pleasure!

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And while I have you here-- You may have noticed that big honkin' graphic at the top of the sidebar (reproduced here). Well, it's Rondo time again--that's right, the nominations for the 8th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards were announced yesterday, and I'm proud to say that The Vault of Horror has been nominated in the Best Horror Blog category for the second year in a row!

Run by the folks at the Classic Horror Film Board, the Rondos are pretty much the most legit, big-time genre awards on the Internet--I'm talkin' press releases, an awards dinner, and best of all, actual statuette awards, in the image of the unmistakable noggin of vintage film baddie, character actor and acromegaly sufferer Rondo Hatton. They've been endorsed by the likes of geek overlords Guillermo del Toro and Harry Knowles, and since 2002 have been recognizing excellence in every area of horror/genre entertainment you can think of, from film, TV, books and magazines to art, music, collectibles and culture in general.

Last year, they introduced a blog category for the very first time, distinct from Best Horror Website. The Vault was lucky enough to make it to Honorable Mention (for which I received a yummy congratulatory cake from the fam), and I'm honored and humbled to be mentioned again alongside some terrific blogs. If you have an opportunity, proceed to the official ballot page and make your selections (ballots are accepted by email only, to taraco@aol.com). Vote in as many categories as you like. It's a lot of fun, and you're likely to discover a lot of cool stuff you never even knew about.


Tenebrous Kate said...

You're so right to spotlight Scott Greene's performance--his delivery is priceless! I am going to have to make a concerted effort NOT to pick up the phone like that at work today, in fact ;) Great review--this is a wonderful little nugget of absurdist storytelling.

B-Sol said...

Without meaning it in a negative sense, his performance almost feels like something out of a completely over-the-top TV commercial, like the Sedelmeier commercials of the 1980s, except with excessive violence added. In other words, highly entertaining.

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