So, today’s entry is strange. On Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness they’ve decided to take a look at a film made by James Rolfe himself, so here we have some sort of inception where we take a look at October’s Overlook Madness to a film made by the guy who inspired this whole thing. Let’s take a look.
It’s weird, like I’ve liked James Rolfe’s stuff for a long time, and also overrated it for the same amount of time. He’s been a fascinating subject for me, someone who is clearly passionate about film but that hasn’t got a real chance to make something truly impressive in the realm of the cinematic arts. Beyond how impressive some of his video work on the internet might be, he’s still a league below some other creators, who might be less funny, but have a sense of how to frame, edit and work around some other shortcomings, taking full advantage of the digital tools at their hands. If anything, James seems stuck in an old way of making films, videos and things around what interests him, which is fascinating in many ways, but that might turn against him if he ever wants to grow out of it (same thing happened to Doug Walker and his Nostalgia Critic, now stuck in an endless loop and an audience that doesn’t expand and that has diminished in the light of recent controversy… something that James might be good to look at closely).
But a good way to look at what makes James’s style attractive, and still someone that I follow (although not as ardently as I did once) is to see his earlier films. Particularly this one: a psychological horror that actually delves into pretty heavy stuff and with some outrageous performances that cut deep into the idea of madness, but in the end it’s about a floating head biting people’s necks and a dark figure that apparently controls it. The thing is that James doesn’t seem able to make something entirely serious because he’s just not capable, so he just decides to make a big joke out of it, which is something I can truly appreciate. And the method to have his vision come through, the editing with two VHS machines, the black and white doing a contrast/color shift on TV and then recording off of it, it’s absolutely genius, and it reminds me of that quality and overall force that’s behind films like ‘The Evil Dead’ (1981), just… not great. Overall, this 51 minute film could be seen as something laughable or even terrible, but the urge behind it pulls through, and the weird choices and some of the acting moments are truly terrifying, enough to give it a pass… if you’re a fan.