The Severed Head Network DVD Compilation (The Best Of The Severed Head Network Volumes One And Two)

VOMIRE, directed by Chad Eivins
FAITH IN NOTHING, directed by Eric Stanze
SATISFACTION, directed by Tommy Biondo.
UNWANTED, directed by Todd Tevlin.
VICTIM, directed by Jason Christ.
SEDGEWICK, directed by Stephen M. Lashly and Quinn M. Botthof.
LIONTOWN, directed by Aaron Crozier.
CURVEBALL: PILE OF JUNK, directed by Jason Christ.

Cast: DJ Vivona, Tommy Biondo, Chris Grega, Molly Reid, Robert Daley, Jana Thomas, Anne Freivogel, Eric Stanze
87 mins
Distribution Company: Sub Rosa Studios
Supplemental Material:
Behind-the-scenes featurettes, stills galleries, preview trailers, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 opening credit sequences


Just when I thought that they got the last Goth kid, along comes this DVD - a collection of short experimental films with running times ranging from anything between 5 and 25 minutes.

The DVD doesn't supply much info about whom exactly the film-makers are, but I have a suspicion that most of them are probably film school students and that these shorts were made while they were still at university. Why do I say this? Because a few of them seems to be filmed in some bohemian dorm rooms. Comfortingly enough, dorm rooms doesn't seem to have changed that much since I was in university back in the 1980s.

Most of the shorts have their basis in horror films and have a definite Goth feeling to them. In fact a few of the shorts are music videos - one for a heavy rock band and the rest for some techno music. (I'm probably showing how out of touch I am here by using these classifications. Maybe the music is ambient techno grunge or something fancy. I don't know ? but if it doesn't have any electric guitars and you have to plug all the instruments into a wall, then it's techno to my mind.)

Usually shorts completed by film schools students are simply made to ensure that students can properly frame shots, keep the camera in focus, that sort of thing ? the basic stuff that the makers of Manos, the Hands of Fate for instance got wrong.

The Goth, grunge or whatever sensibility and pretension comes free of charge, and while I sound disparaging, I?m not: imagine trying to watch short films made by yuppies instead! (Uhm, actually they call them ads I suppose.) But after a while the Goth, etc. sensibilities turned from wry bemusement to vague irritability: some more originality would be required here.

Or make that ideology. The DVD cover states that it contains adult material and isn't suitable for children. This is true. One short explicitly shows a student-y couple having sex, interspersed with shots of the same woman being raped by another man. (This short was filmed in that student res I mentioned earlier.)

I watched about a minute of the first short on the DVD (ominously titled Vomire) before hitting the stop button - it looked truly disgusting and I didn't feel like watching it at all. Thanks to the Internet I have seen enough gross stuff to last me a life time!

Most of the shorts on this disc have little purpose beyond shocking delicate bourgeois sensibilities. But what is the point? Playwright Bertolt Brecht claimed that art isn?t a mirror, but a hammer. Brecht however had ideology (he was a commie) and like Kurt Cobain said, shocking the bourgeoisie is easy. Creating something more substantial and lasting is difficult.

Which brings me to my favorite short on this disc: a 20 minute or so segment about geriatric dementia titled Sedgewick that plays like Dali/Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou in that it successfully recreates that incoherent and feverish quality of dreams. Don't miss it ? it makes one glad that in our very conformist and conservative times that the yuppies haven't won yet and something like this still can get made.

THE DISC: Forget any ideas of DVD quality, etc. These shorts are made on the cheap mostly using handheld video cameras. One feels cheated somehow because I'm sure the DVD could have fitted more shorts and segments than it does.

WORTH IT? If you like experimental film, then checking out this disc is worthwhile even if it is just for the ?Sedgewick? short. It does however feel at times like a bunch Fangoria readers with Sony video cameras running rampant.

RECOMMENDATION: If your tastes run to the bizarre and weird, you have a tolerance for low production values, then you won't be disappointed by The Severed Head. Also, a weird short like the musical/horror/comedy Liontown might just be the thing to show to bored friends visiting ? before they send you off to get that much-needed psychiatric help everybody always felt you needed.

Unfortunately I have the suspicion that only friends and family of the film-makers involved would probably want to check this DVD out . . .



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