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The 2008 Another Hole in the Head Festival

Human sushi, bitten-off penises, a demented Siamese twin, a girl with a machine gun for an arm — they all add up to a single truth: Movies don’t get as messed up as the ones you’ll see at the Another Hole in the Head horror film festival in San Francisco. Hosted for its fifth consecutive year by SF Indie, the festival invoked bursts of hearty laughter from those with a taste for the obscene, while leaving others silently squirming in their seats wishing they’d stayed home.

The festival kicked off with a strong start with its opening night film Alone (). Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom, Alone is a Thai film that follows Pim, the sole survivor of a separation surgery with her Siamese twin, Ploy. When she returns to Thailand to visit her dying mother, she’s shocked to encounter Pim’s ghost — who, for reasons unknown, is angry and hell-bent on revenge. The directors masterfully reel you in with the element of suspense, and they’ll get you jumping in your seat with their gift for chilly visuals.

Counteracting the spooks, day two of the festival screened The Machine Girl (), a highly anticipated film packed with equal doses of hilarity and obscenity. A Japanese revenge fantasy, Girl follows Ami Hyuga, who’s on a quest to hunt down the murderers of her brother. She meets her match, however, when she confronts the ninja/Yakuza family responsible for her brother’s death; they capture her and slice off her arm. After barely escaping, she seeks shelter with a friend who engineers her a machine gun to replace her arm. By no means is this movie meant to be taken seriously, and it succeeds in what it tries to do: Satiate your blood thirst in between mercilessly tickling your funny bone. It’s an intrinsically bad movie, nonetheless, but certainly worth checking out — perhaps on DVD, accompanied by your good friend Bud Light.

A week into the festival came a rather epic disappointment –305 (), a parody of 300. The 5 in the title refers to the five black sheep of the Spartan army, who are so inadequate their sole duty is to guard a goat path. One day they feel inspired to leave the goat path and join King Leonidas and his army of 300 strong in their fight against the Persians. Little do they know that leaving the goat path allows the Persians to penetrate the Spartans’ defenses, ultimately leading to the deaths of all 300 soldiers. Structured as a mockumentary, razor sharp writing would have made this premise work, but the script was so stupid and clumsy it felt like it was written with spoons. This movie couldn’t have gotten me to laugh even if the directors were in the audience holding me at knifepoint.

Spanning just over two weeks, the festival went out with a bang playing Tokyo Gore Police () as the closing night film — which festival organizers described as the ‘most messed up’ movie of the festival. And messed up it was — in every way you could possibly imagine. Police (from the same team that brought us Machine Girl) is a satiric Japanese horror that tells the story of a war between a breed of mutated humans known as Engineers. When an Engineer is injured, his or her wound turns into a weapon. Imagine the magnitude of violence that such a premise would inspire, and Police will exceed your expectations nonetheless. To give you some examples, a man’s bitten-off penis turns into a cannon he uses to shoot cops; a woman lactates acid from her sliced off nipples; and the main character’s amputated arm turns into a gator head with razor-sharp teeth. ‘Messed up’ is an understatement for the bizarre perversity exhibited in this film, and it served as a worthy conclusion to this year’s splatterfest. It’ll be interesting to see what 2009’s Another Hole in the Head festival will bring us. Will the SF Indie organizers find anything more messed up than Police? It seems unlikely, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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