Packard je underground klasik.
Njegov najnoviji film vrtlog je new age/ufo/konspiracijske apsurdističko-melodramske socijalne psihodelije.
A sequel to reality.
Plan 9 from INLAND EMPIRE
by Bill Gibron
Personality has always been an artistic element of cinema. At any given moment, how a character reacts to the circumstances they are in or changes the course of situations they are in charge of alters our perception of them and the narrative in general. More times than not, said transformations are exterior. They exist within places and because of things and can be viewed with the alert eye. Some filmmakers, however, have traveled this terrain in a more unclear, insular mode. The Double Life of Veronique, for example, explains its proposal from the title on down. There is something similar going on in many masterful films, from Hitchcock’s Vertigo to that Gwyneth Paltrow dud Sliding Doors.
For Damon Packard, maverick mainstay of the underground LA indie art cinema scene, such a strategy becomes the basis for an examination of time, place, and person entitled Foxfur. Not really a full length feature (it runs a scant 60 minutes), in nonetheless represents the first fully formed effort from the outsized auteur since his brilliant sci-fi scramble, SpaceDisco One. In between, there have been lots of false starts, a startling live-action take on Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and a few cameo appearances in fellow film freaks experiments (Caleb Emerson’s Frankie in Blunderland, The “Sweets” segment of The Theater Bizarre anthology). Driven by a dream few can comprehend and more than willing to place his unprocessed plans directly on film (or video), he stands as a singular visionary in a world made up, for the most part, of middling mainstream mediocrity.
When we first meet her, the title character is an editor, helping a pair of rap impresarios create their latest music video extravaganza. Almost instantly, she morphs into an obese geek who wants a ride to a local bookstore to check out a favored writer. Along the way, she changes again, into a sunny LA gal with a brain filled with conspiracy theories, posts from , and self-created cosmic symbiosis. From there, we watch as Foxfur finally discovers her place among a group of animal skin wearing huntresses, the clan canvassing the California valley where the TV version of M*A*S*H* is currently shooting. After they are discovered by security, the girls head off into the woods, only to realize that their true fate lies in a past prophecy, ancient astronauts, a dismissed scholar, and the connection between the perceived world and the long gone apocalyptic passing of the same.
With its links to Packard’s palpable obsessions - fantasy, technology, the ‘70s, extraterrestrials, West Coast New Ageism - and time/space/persona hopping conceit, Foxfur easily becomes the most inaccessible and therefore important, audacious, and satisfying film in the man’s amazing catalog. Like David Lynch’s digital experiment, INLAND EMPIRE merged with a myriad of outside the box ideas, Packard plays fast and loose with reality in order to steer the audience toward ideas they might not otherwise embrace. There’s a level of ludicrous theorizing here that would make even the most seasoned thinker sweat. Foxfur, until the ethereal ending, is one of the filmmakers more “talky” efforts. Good thing Packard is as captivating with mono-dialogue as he is with visuals.
Indeed, there are visionary moments here, as when our heroine starts seeing the ‘black threads’ (oily streaks that scream across the sky), the dead-on shout out to Pixar’s Brave, or when Foxfur and the gang stumble upon some members of the M*A*S*H* company. Packard is a Picasso of unusual juxtaposition. His first masterpiece, Reflections of Evil, played like a surreal speculation on Steven Spielberg and that ‘70s staple, the ABC Movie of the Week. Throw in a bit of freakshow physical comedy (he loves to put his actors, and himself for that matter, in ill-fitting fat suits) and you’ve got one of the most amazing movie experiences you can have. It might not always make logical sense, but when Packard puts on a show, something special is bound to break out.
Yet it’s the message that’s equally meaningful in Foxfur. Without giving too much away, the story suggests an alternate reality where, upon the actual end of the world, human remnants coalesce and merge. It’s like past lives played out among extraterrestrial designs. What happens at the beginning may not 100% link to the eventual reveal, but Packard’s aesthetic logic never fails to fulfill. He always manages to make things tie together. Like Lynch, his dreamscapes seem to defy easy explanation, but buried within their baffling anarchy are serious thoughts on equally sobering subjects. In the case of Foxfur, Packard appears to be outing the ambiguous pointlessness of post-millennial modern life. It’s all artifice and attitude. No wonder Foxfur finds her fate in nature. Nothing about the high tech plane she was placed in can provide such satisfaction.
Like the Dylan ersatz biopic I’m Not Here, Packard also employees the intriguing device of having several actresses play Foxfur, and it works wonderfully. Instead of providing a singular spec for the character, each performer makes it her own. This is especially true of the opening, where one haughty version of our lead has a hard time tolerating the throw down between our hapless hip hop heroes. All throughout the film, Packard plays off such stereotypes. Security guards are actually much more than they appear, while bookstores are less arenas of thought as they are overloaded with suspicious, video-obsessed freeloaders. All throughout the backdrop, people are playing with their cellphones, locked in a kind of clueless consumer K-hole where nothing matters but the next text or Foursquare update. The call back to the origins of life is not only necessary, it’s mandatory.
It’s just a shame that no one in the industry sits down with Packard (and any of his peers, for that matter) and offers him the kind of creative development deal that would allow for access to financing and broader distribution. Sure, he might not be everyone’s cup of cream soda, but he definitely fits in with all the oddball eccentrics that make up much of the current indie scene. In Packard’s case, one imagines a possible rejection to such a pitch. He doesn’t make movies so much as gestate ideas and give long, painful, flawless birth to them. While Foxfur may be smaller in running time, it’s as big in ideas as any of his films. Even through all her different ‘dimensions,’ there is only one Foxfur…and she’s fascinating.
Damon Packard has a new absurdist film out called FOXFUR, which premiered in late July at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, and is now available on DvD.
Foxfur takes place in current day Los Angeles and features the main character, Foxfur, a young woman seemingly caught in between alternate realities, eventually learning that the world ended in 1982.
But first there’s a manic rush to get to a new age bookstore to find some answers regarding rumors about the fate of real life UFO heavyweight Billy Meier and alien conspiracy theorist Richard Hoagland.
Absurdist conflicts occur as Foxfur’s friend, Khris played excellently by Khris Kaneff, attempts to drive her to the bookstore in his running out of gas van, yet goes through a tension building series of mishaps and missteps along the way.
Packard is best known for his masterpiece REFLECTIONS OF EVIL from 2002. Since then he’s created a vast number of works from short vignettes to longer pieces like the Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary (2003) and Tales of the Valley of the Wind (2009), two very different works.
FOXFUR marks a return to more of a, long awaited, Reflections style film, only this time with a fraction of the budget as the “finished” film reflects.
It’s a botched film as Packard likely recognizes, but as viewers and fans of Damon’s work will recognize going in, it’s a Packard picture, and only Packard can make a botched piece of cinema, actually work and work well.
Foxfur treads those outer boundaries of “working well” as a finished narrative work and I would guess it probably came out to be some bastard cousin of the originally intended script. But there’s a lot of great scenes and a lot of good well performed absurdist acting; it’s still a great watch, it’s still a Packard.
Many of the “mistakes” probably make it for the better as well. The fact that the lead character of Foxfur is played by several different actresses due to not being able to hold on to one actress for extended periods of time (and with no attempt to try and use similar looking actresses) actually works out great and this casting mishap is integrated into the story. Kaneff’s character plays along with absurdist confusion as one scene transitions to the next and a totally different Foxfur appears, “you’re not Foxfur?!” as a three stooges Packard edit assist head shake follows…
Reflections of Evil was also fractured and loose, yet hilarious and relevant; probably one of the best Los Angeles films of all time, showing the city raw and the characters everyone in L.A. encounters.
Foxfur also plays up the L.A. scene by featuring “The Boddhi Tree”, a real life new agey bookstore, a spiritual go-to trendy’esque hangout for the classic Los Angles yoga-spiritual wannabe or otherwise crowd. Some scenes are shot inside the Boddhi Tree and Packard has an actor playing David Icke, who works the front counter.
Many will jump the gun and think Packard is making fun of Icke, Meier, the Boddhi and “stupid people”- as I recall one reviewer writing – altogether. But that’s not the case, just as he wasn’t making fun of Spielberg in a Reflections scene, though it may have seemed that way. Through Packard’s lens it’s more of a celebration, recognition, even admiration of these people and our relationship to them whether as followers or forced observers. Packard probably likes Icke. I think it’s more of a recognition that these places, these people exist – not positive nor negative – they’re just here and that’s cool, let’s celebrate, recognize, have fun with it.
Ultimately it seems the budget and passing of time got the best of Packard. He seemed to go as far as he could go with this one, until it was just simply time to stop. Dump what you got into the timeline, manipulate and re-master PackardVision style, slave away at a video and audio edit, and export the motherfucker.
Foxfur ends abruptly with a scene that may have been meant not as an ending, but as an opening sequence. It’s actually a beautiful scene, with yet another new Foxfur actress, and we finally learn more about what the previous hour was supposed to be about, and then we quickly learn that another gladly accepted hour of this movie, is non-existent. You can almost hear the last dime from the Foxfur film budget drop to the ground as suddenly the scene ends, and the credits roll. - absurdistvideoart.com/
The main objective of the films of Damon Packard seems to be to induce a nervous breakdown in the viewer. The chaotic rush of plot, the flashing special effects, the densely layered sound design, the complete abandonment of logical cohesion add up to provide a literal experience of the old hyperbolic catchphrase “senses-shattering”!
Yet for all of Packard’s blustery whirlwind of pop culture references that he layers upon layers in each outing, it’s clear that the heart of his films comes from a deeply personal place, whether it’s the spiritual and cultural anxieties felt by the main character — played by himself — in Reflections of Evil or the woes experienced by a sci-fi filmmaker in SpaceDisco One.
Foxfur, Packard’s latest offering, revolves around a heretofore unconfessed obsession of his: UFO conspiracies. Well, who’s to say if it’s an “interest” or an “obsession,” but either way the film is jam-packed with well-known hot button topics and individuals involved in the field. However, one doesn’t need to know any arcane UFO abduction theories to enjoy the film. (This reviewer didn’t and only discovered that many of the names and events referenced in the film actually exist through post-viewing research.)
Have You Seen This Movie?
Instead, the film revolves around a young woman named Foxfur. We meet her while editing a rap video in Final Cut Pro with some clients, but soon she is panic stricken at the thought that two of the biggest names in UFO conspiracy theories, David Icke and Richard Hoagland, have gone missing.
Sensing that something afoul is afoot, Foxfur pays Khris (Khris Kaneff), a pudgy, middle-aged male friend of hers, to drive her to a New Age Los Angeles bookstore called The Bodhi Tree for answers. (The store is a real one in West Hollywood that has since shuttered.) There she finds Icke (Rigg Kennedy) safe and sound answering phones for the store and another conspiracist, Bob Lazar (Bob Ellis), flipping through the stacks.
The trip to and scenes within the Bodhi Tree take up about the first half of this approximately hourlong film. Although, a large section of that half includes the film’s biggest non sequitur, and absolutely hilarious, sequence in which Khris runs afoul of know-nothing employees at big box retail stores.
Also, up through the first half of the film, so far two different actresses have played the part of Foxfur. One actress (Angel Corbin) calls Khris for the ride to The Bodhi Tree, but when he shows up, Foxfur is played by a different actress (Paris Wagner). The film makes a joking reference to the switch, but following the trip to and the scenes within the Bodhi Tree with Wagner as Foxfur, the film eventually fragments even further with four more actresses taking over the role before the conclusion. They are, in order, Cassandra Nuss, Tessie Tracey, Cassie Yeager and Sarah De La Isla.
The switching of actresses is most likely a creative choice borne by the film’s budgetary and shooting limitations. Packard, as his obsessive fans know, has been documenting the making of Foxfur online and posting scenes to YouTube for the past couple of years.
Foxfur‘s fragmentary nature, though, is perfectly suited to the film’s themes of time travel, space travel and other dimensional activity. On the one hand, the film can be perfectly carved up into short little film chunks that could possibly exist on their own. But as the character Foxfur travels through various realities in her different incarnations, the overall plot is consistent enough throughout so that the film works as a cohesive whole.
In the early scenes with Wagner, Foxfur watches black streaks race across the sky as reality around her begins to disintegrate. This later pays off when Tracey as Foxur takes a wild, perhaps interdimensional, bus ride that lands her back in 1982 where Yeager as Foxfur encounters the outdoor sets of M*A*S*H and Wizards & Warriors in the Malibu Canyon. It wouldn’t be a Packard film, either, without at least some pop culture, both familiar and obscure, thrown in somewhere.
Anyway, trying to explain a Damon Packard film and to describe the enjoyment of it, is quite the difficult task. There are so many side ideas and plotlines sprinkled, stitched into and strewn about Foxfur, it’s a nigh impossible task to document it all. Like his previous films, Foxfur is best thought of as a total sensory overload of unbridled cinematic and narrative creativity.
Instead of trying to limit his imagination by his budgetary constraints, instead Packard throws in a little bit of everything he’s got and swirls it around with a steroid-injected soundtrack and blinding special effects. So, when the blonde Foxfur finds herself a brunette in a Robin Hood-eque costume in 1982 being pursued by obese bus drivers and bow-and-arrow slinging fuzz monsters, you either go with the flow or not at your own peril.
The Foxfur character, in all her incarnations, is also a very appealing main character, a young woman buffeted around reality by forces beyond her control, yet strongly keeping her wits about her to make sense of it all. In that regard, she’s the perfect representative of Packard’s audience within the film itself.
- Mike Everleth
Foxfur is the latest from maverick filmmaker Damon Packard, and
it’s a bold, challenging piece of idiosyncratic filmmaking. Packard seems to want to challenge the viewer by bombarding them with a
chaotic plot structure, dazzling and vibrant light filters and a dense, superb soundtrack which together create a film built to challenge the viewer’s perceptions in every way.
Packard’s Foxfur is quite the acid trip, as we follow the titular character, FoxFur (played by four or five different actresess), as she embarks on a journey with her friend, Khris, to the “metaphysical” bookstore. On their way they encounter a disconnected population of Angelinos, witness floating spaceships, and even travel back in time to the set of Mash in 1982. If you haven’t by now figured it out, FoxFur is everything but conventional, having an absurdist rhythm to it all that gives it this dream-like feel. It’s hard to follow at times but also profound, and features a quite a few hilarious moments courtesy of Khris Kaneff’s fantastic comedic performance. Through this journey the film has this fascinating blend of ideas like the role technology plays in our current society, the eccentricities of Los Angeles culture, and UFO folklore. I personally found the commentary about our societies reliance on technology to be captivating, with Packard suggesting that we have all become mindless slaves to our smartphones. While watching Foxfur I couldn't help but wonder what Packard could deliver if given even 10% of the resources many mainstream filmmakers have. His ingeniunity and creative process is inspiring, especially for how much he is able to create with so little. I would be lying if I said I understood everything Packard was trying to do with FoxFur, but perhaps that’s simply the point, with the film spurring all narrative expectations while delivering a truly unique and transfixing experience. - rowereviews.weebly.com/
This week’s Certified Film Threat in Progress showcases the latest film project from Film Threat favorite filmmaker Damon Packard, “FoxFur,” looking for funding via IndieGoGo…
Assume no one at Film Threat has heard of you (which may be hard to do; we’ve been big fans of most of your films): who are you, how long have you been making films? What films have you made?
I’m starting to lose perspective on who I am, there is a new reality replacing the old one as we plunge further into (what I call) the dead zone. These strange memory gaps are growing stronger, it’s a bit like that Alex Proyas film “Dark City”. Well let’s see, (taking a moment to fill the pipe and light it)
I’ve made a string of films over the last 28 years, some may know “Reflections of Evil” after discovering a DVD on their car windshield in 2002, or at a local ATM in Malibu or Pacific Palisades, or stacked up outside the Bodhi Tree Bookstore or countless other places at the time. You could always find one stacked up outside Spielberg’s home on Amalfi Dr., the private security guards would hand out free copies to passing motorists. I don’t think Spielberg ever watched it though, actually nobody watched it at the time, they all thought it was a disc with a computer virus or something. But people loved to use the disc as a coaster, and I still hear about the disc laying on some celebrity’s table, glass rings pressed into it. There were other films like “Apple” (1992), “Dawn of an Evil Millennium” (1988), “Lost in the Thinking” (2004), “SpaceDisco One” (2007) and more recently a live-action adaptation of Miyazaki’s “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (2009), which everyone thought I was out of my mind to attempt. I was sternly lectured intervention-style about this.
What is “Foxfur”? What is it about? What is a Pleadian?
(taking a puff from pipe) Actually “Pleiadian” is spelt with an “ei” but that’s ok I can never remember myself; it is also sometimes known as “Plejaren”. You know you can sometimes find Pleiadian women working at places like Whole Foods Market or Rainbow Acres.
“Foxfur” is about a disturbed young girl and her travails who is gradually transformed into a female Robin Hood. It’s about things like conflicting realities, belief systems and extraterrestrials but essentially I think it’s mostly about ‘The Dead Zone,’ which is the “proposed” period we’re in now. The strange time where everything has reached a brick wall and is recycling itself, turning in circles, desperately cannibalizing itself for even a modicum of inspiration. It’s an end of the world within the end of the world, a “schism” of reality that occurred after 1982, which on Dec 21, 1982 at 11;11am is when the world really came to end.
Since then we’ve been living on the residual fumes of the cosmos, diminishing more and more as the years pass. And now as reality collapses in on itself, it is being replaced. Which is why things are so polarized and convoluted; no-one knows what to think about anything and/or they are experiencing what seems like an ENTIRELY different reality. There are literally two realities now folding over each other in conflict and the new reality is a completely artificial construct.
Where did the idea for “Foxfur” come from?
It’s essentially an offspring of a fantasy film I made years ago called “Apple”. The original incarnation was more sword-and-sorcery fantasy; this is more contemporary spiritual new age. “Foxfur” has taken the place of “Apple.” However it’s also the fusion of another film I’ve wanted to make based on the Billy Meier UFO case and the “Message From the Plieades” contact notes published in the ’80s by Wendelle Stevens. A controversial case if there ever was one, seemingly ridiculously fraudulent on the surface. But there is always more past the surface which most never care to look beyond. In some ways this film is my “2001: A Space Odyssey’; it’s quite epic, if it were made properly it would cost $400 million and run 6 hours. I’d photograph it in 65mm and have roadshow engagements at what remaining opulent single house screens there are.
Hard to say, naturally that all depends on the financial situation. I hope to start this year but the way things have been in recent years it seems remote.
What format/type of camera are you hoping to use for this film?
Honestly have no idea yet, depends on how much I can raise (if anything). If I had the choice I’d shoot in 35mm but I’ll probably have to settle with the Panasonic HVX200 again.
Actually if I had the choice I might try out the new Red Epic (5k resolution)
What problems/concerns do you already have or potentially foresee for the film?
Naturally, not having the money to make it.
One can expect every problem, delay and complication in the book to smother them immediately. And it’s unfortunate when it stifles everything and puts life to a stop, months/years even decades pass and nothing gets accomplished. It becomes impossible to accomplish ANYTHING, even surviving. Life wastes away, the human body withers, the soul slowly loses its lifeforce, you lose sanity and became another cog in the giant insane asylum. Before you know it an entire LIFETIME has just wasted away, and then you die sick and broke. But it’s never an issue if you have enough money (and time). Money is ALWAYS the issue. When I made “Reflections” it took less than a year, and I was taking my time. Yes, every problem, complication and hurdle in the book came tumbling down full speed as always, but it didn’t matter, I had enough money to make the film… to “deliver the goods” (as Spielberg likes to say).
Every other film or video short I’ve made was made for virtually nothing and quite often (unnecessarily) took years to complete. Orson Welles said it, you spend 90% of your life trying to raise money, the rest making films… if you’re lucky.
Is this your first crowdfunded film?
Well if I raise enough to make the film, yes it would be.
Why did you decide to crowdfund your film?
Not many other avenues at present.
Do you have other financial resources or investors in place beyond the crowdfunding?
Not any more.
Why did you choose IndieGoGo over another crowdfunding solution?
Oh, I don’t know, they seemed a bit simpler than Kickstarter. I actually feel guilty using a crowdfunding solution. Many of the supporters and donators are people who are struggling themselves and it just makes me feel guilty. If the cup was fuller I would feel good about supporting a fellow artist and I think it’s a GREAT idea, people do it all the time and raise much larger sums. How, I don’t know, but it’s encouraging. I’m lousy at pitches and outlines and “selling” an idea, it’s not my strength, one just has to trust the final film will deliver and go beyond their expectations. It seems to me large volumes of small donations take MAJOR exposure and advertising, without that exposure one stands little chance. I think most of the money on these fundraisers are raised by a few large donations by deeper pockets; unfortunately the deeper pockets seem to keep a distance from me, or it’s off their attention/interest rada… I don’t know. And I certainly don’t seem to fit into the halls of mainstream Hollywood, but that’s not my reality-creating perception. IF there really IS a large enough audience or market for the kind of films I make (and I would urge those who have a preconceived notion of what that is to excise it) then I WOULD fit into it, but is there? 10-20 years ago I was much more idealistic. At this point, it seems to be completely hopeless, but I emphasize “seems.” All I can do is react to the external world as it is.
Bottom line is if I can’t reach the FULL goal it’s very unlikely I’ll be able to get this thing off the ground. I don’t have easy or free access to equipment/talent/locations/wardrobe/VFX/transportantion, etc and this isn’t the kind of film which can be made under those “go out and do it” conditions. Frankly, even the goal I set is too low.
Where is the crowdfunded money going: production budget, travel expenses, post-production, etc?
Post production is covered. Production will cost a fortune and there’s no getting around that this time. I’ve taken no-budget guerrilla filmmaking to certain limits and I don’t think anyone wants to see those kind of limitations again. Those familiar with my films and the non-linear narrative constructs might know what I’m speaking of. I have no interest in doing another “Star Wars Mockumentary,” “SpaceDisco” or “Lost in the Thinking.” Costs would go into hiring actors, securing permits to specific locations or finding/renting alternative locations, renting equipment, SFX and VFX, props, wardrobe, etc etc
If you do not hit your financial crowdfunding goal, what then? Do you still film the movie?
Very unlikely. If it wasn’t meant to be then it wasn’t meant to be, what can one do? I can only do as much as I know, one cannot FORCE things to happen. Reality bending is a delusory and tricky thing. Things will never make sense as long as they have to.
In a perfect scenario, where are you and your film a year from today?
Shooting a properly backed FEATURE version, 90 pounds lighter, hanging out with John Boorman in Ireland, shooting guns with Dale Dye and laughing about Ball-peen hammers smoking cigars with Sly Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Oh… and paying everyone back with 80% interest, spending secret night’s at Diane Lane’s house.
Why should someone give your production money?
This is a difficult question to answer because it comes back to the issue’s of “market” and “audience.” In the climate 30-40 years ago I would be quite confident of a guaranteed sale and audience, especially for the burgeoning video market. These days… hard to say. I don’t want to make films for a private audience or limited niche exposure, that’s not what I got into making movies for (though I do very much appreciate that ‘private audience’ support). I’d like them to break into a MUCH larger market and make HUGE sums of money and make OTHER people huge sums of money in the process. I’d like them to get a world-wide mass release and BRING BACK all the closed single house cinemas and all the out of work projectionists and bring back 70mm prints and a feeling of excitement and inspiration to the cinema experience and everything else. But is such a thing possible? Is that the world we live in now?
If you’d like to know more about “Foxfur,” or we didn’t ask all the questions you’ve got, go ahead and comment below or head over to the “Foxfur’s” IndieGoGo page and comment there. Next week we’ll be back with a new project for you to check out but, until then, we hope you enjoyed this closer look at Damon Packard’s “Foxfur.”
DISCLAIMER: Donating or investing in a film or film-related project is always a risky endeavor, so it is important to keep that in mind before deciding to get financially involved with any film project. Film Threat, FilmThreat.com and our parent company, Hamster Stampede, LLC hold no liability or responsibility regarding any of the projects showcased on our site, their content or performance or the content or performance of any of the sites linked to in this article. Our involvement with the featured project is strictly what you see here: we find a work-in-progress project that sounds interesting to us, we ask all the questions we’d like to know the answers to and then we share that information with you, the audience. This should not be considered as personalized investment advice. What happens after you read this is your decision, and, again, before parting with any money for any film, think it through and BE CAREFUL. - www.filmthreat.com/
Reflections of Evil (2002)
With usually very little money to work with, underground filmmakers have to come up with ingenious ideas to bring their grand visions to life on the cheap. In that regard, perhaps it was Damon Packard who pulled off the underground film world’s most daring stunt.
Packard’s 2002 film Reflections of Evil is an epic-sized deconstruction and commentary on the world of pop culture, featuring a mish-mash of ’70s ABC TV Movies of the Week, Steven Spielberg adoration, California cults, junk food addiction and more.
To create a nightmare world of existence spiraling out of control in the modern age, Packard filmed several extensive sequences at various Los Angeles area amusement parks, most notably the world-famous Universal Studios.
While the park is filled with attractions that are themed after movies produced and released by Universal Pictures, Packard decided that one Universal film was conspicuously missing from having a ride created after it:
To fill the void, Packard decided to create his very own “Schindler’s List: The Ride.” But, how does one create a Holocaust-themed amusement park ride with no money and no support from Universal?
Packard just had several actors dress up in Nazi-like uniforms and stood them outside the exit of a traditional ride. There, with faux German accents, the actors yelled at the bewildered park guests, herding them like cattle through the turnstiles.
All Packard had to do was capture a few shots of his fake Nazis before park officials shooed them away.
Since none of Packard’s films have received proper distribution — the licensing rights alone would scare away any distributor — he tends to upload his feature-length movies himself to YouTube, but in 10-minute chunks, a time-limit restriction dictated by the video sharing site.
Below is the Reflections of Evil YouTube segment that includes the “Schindler’s List: The Ride” sequence, which is part of a larger, incredibly accomplished segment of the film all produced run-and-gun style at amusement parks. One thing to particularly note is just how Packard is so amazingly skilled at soundtrack layering to build up suspense and enhance the constraints of how and where he chooses to shoot. - Mike Everleth
I found this review I wrote in 2002 or 2003. I did some minor editing it to make the worst spelling mistakes disappear. /FredI think Reflections of Evil is a pure masterpiece of art. Really. I have the deepest respect for this kind of filmmaking.
It’s not horror. It’s not splatter. It’s satire. The best satire I’ve seen in years.
I wrote this just have seeing it the first time:
"Reflections on reflections - Damon Packard, genius or just insane?
One sunny afternoon a strange spam-mail dropped into my mailbox. I first thought had to do with a project I was working with, but I soon realized that this was something completely different. It was about Damon Packard’s epic movie about a man called Bob and his trip through the streets of LA: Reflections of evil.
Damon wanted to give me a copy for free and I mailed him at once. I needed to see this flick. And after studying the very cryptic official page I was going mad. I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!
I’ve never been so curious about a movie like I was this time. When I hadn’t received a copy in almost one week and really felt sick. I wasn’t myself. I wanted to hear the mailman drop the package in my mailbox.
My angst disappeared on Friday morning. The mailman had a gift for me. A DVD from Damon Packard!
A friend of mine got a copy the day before and said that this was a very strange flick, so I just manage to keep away from the movie for a couple of hours. This was something special, and I didn’t want to see it at once. But what the f**k.
This is the story of a slightly tragic salesman. Or is he really tragic? Roaming the streets of LA, furious and clearly out of his mind. It’s like a road movie, but inside the heart of tinseltown. The city of happiness and madness. It’s not only about tinseltown, it’s about the American society, the fury of the people. This is the country that never sleeps and never seems to get some rest. People are furious and sad, confused and obsessed. Some reviewer said it made him think about Apocalypse Now - and I agree. This is the ultimate inner travel I’ve seen in many years.
Slowly the city around Bob is turning very weird. The hate comes out and the paranoia is over us. Helicopters is watching everything, cops are everywhere and people are just insane.
During the time Bob is attacked by homeless people and dogs we’re turning back in time, till 1971. Bob, his mother and older sister is visiting Universal Studios and taking the tour. His sister disappears and get involved with weird sect that makes her one of them. She dies of an overdose (I think). No she want to save Bob from the hell he’s in, from beyond the grave.
Let me say one thing, this is a movie that’s helluva hard to describe. The best way to understand it, is to see it. Get a copy!
Packard shot the movie on 16mm, super8 and Digital8 on a very low budget. But this don’t mean it looks like crap. Packard and his cameraman is clearly very talented and the jumping from documentary dogme-style to classic dolly-shots that works very well. The light is most of the time very tight and moody. Some people seem to be disturbed by the strange and noise soundtrack, but not me.
I know, I’m being hypnotized by this flick. I can’t help it. It had something that spoke to me very clearly. Maybe was it the inspiration from J. Kennedy Tools novel Confederacy of Dunce's or the surreal and unconventional storytelling? You’re pulled into Bob's strange mind and all the people he meet. And it’s impossible to stop.
Packard goes from very cheap physical humour to Woody Allen-esque dialogues, from Jess Franco and Jean Rollin to Herzog and Fassbinder. The inspiration clearly comes from the movies from the sixties and seventies and it works well.
Does Packard want to tell us something with this movie? Maybe I’m very wrong, but I think so. This is a story about a country falling apart. About people who don’t trust the system and the constant “big brother” watching over them. The fear of that somewhere there’s a couple of fat men in expensive suites that makes all the decisions of the country's future.
Packard seems to have a love-hate relation to America, Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. Universal Studios becomes the symbol of the cultural decay of the world and when it almost literary turns into living hell at the end, it becomes clearer. There’s only Damon Packard to make E.T. a terrifying experience. E.T. - the symbol for peace and happiness, cute children and the moral majority.
Probably some of you are just calling this movie crap. Some of you will just throw it in the garbage (please don’t do that) and some people, like me, will love it. Adore it.
Give Packard a movie contract and some money, let him do whatever he want. He deserves it. - ninjadixon.blogspot.com/
Space Disco One (2007)
Ladies and gentleman, presenting the grooviest sci-fi movie ever made! It’s SpaceDisco One, a Bob Ellis Production of a Damon Packard film.
What do you get when you cross a remake of 1984 — ’84 John Hurt edition — with a sequel to Logan’s Run and toss in references to the original Battlestar Galactica, Galactica 1980, Blade Runner, Fox News, backyard wrestling videos, Big Brother the British TV show, Dateline NBC‘s “To Catch a Predator,” Krull and the NeverEnding Story? Well, if you’re Damon Packard, you get about 45 minutes of sheer awesomeness.
Packard recently uploaded the entire film to YouTube. It’s in four 10-minute chunks and one 5-minute chunk, but since I collected them all using YouTube’s playlist feature, if you click the video above, it’ll play relatively seamlessly all the way through. I originally saw the film at a special screening about a year ago and I only meant to watch the first chunk to test it’s quality, but I got sucked right in and watched the entire thing again. I absolutely love this film. And the upload quality is fantastic. Make sure you watch it at full screen.
SpaceDisco One is guerrilla filmmaking at its finest with a totally genius use of actual locations to represent a futuristic landscape. You know how like in Logan’s Run, they wander through a mall in the first half of the film and they act like it’s an advanced future society, but it really just looks like a mall with some sparkly decorations dangling off the escalators?
Packard recreates the low-budget version of that. Instead of an indoor mall, he dresses his actors up in crazy looking uniforms and then sets them loose in Universal City’s Citywalk in Los Angeles to mingle with the tourists. Then these poor guys have to chant at a big screen TV and hang out at a doofy oxygen bar and pretend they’re air traffic controllers. It’s mind-bogglingly surreal.
But, my personally favorite scene is in the roller rink where Logan 7 and Stargirl chase another actress dressed up like Pris from Blade Runner around a roller skating rink, shooting their toy laser guns at each other while the other skaters in the rink look on in bewilderment. No, Packard didn’t film while the rink was closed. He just filmed during regular business hours. Honestly, this just looks like it was one of the funnest movies to work on ever.
The ’70s disco music, the starburst special effects, the breaking of the fourth wall regarding the making of the movie we’re watching, the girls chasing each other around the campus of the Parsons school of design, Winston getting shocked by a baby toy, the dizzying references to “To Catch a Predator,” Big Brother and a dozen other sources– There’s really nothing not to love about this movie. -Mike Everleth
“Spacedisco One” will not only shatter your perception of reality as we know it, it will break it in half ad infinitum, pairs of two, so am I, pairs of two, so are you, until the soul’s binary code is revealed and, biting its own tail, destroyed in the blink of a serpent’s eye. You will melt like a marshmallow in the furnace of hell. And if everything has been said and if everything has been done, we still have the possibility to make a movie about it, a sequel to reality. - davidgryn.wordpress.com/
“Finally… after a long hiatus, director Damon (Reflections of Evil) Packard returns with his epic sequel to Logan’s Run and 1984 combined. A fantastic, lamenting portrait of how the celebrative late 70’s changed drastically beginning in the year 1984, crystallizing by the year 1990, freeze framing and leading us to the hideous present day. Descendants of characters seen in Logan’s Run, Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner, 1984 and Krull are tracking down rogue “replicants” on the orbital platform “SpaceDisco-One”—an interstellar craft whose interior is largely represented by a rainbow-glowing skating rink. Meanwhile, 1984’s Winston Smith has crashed through some kind of inter-dimensional gateway and somehow ended up in the middle of this mess. He finds himself trying to escape from Oceania while StarGirl and Skyla try to rescue Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) from the Big Brother TV show.”—D.P. filmlinccom.siteprotect.net