Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
American Gothic (2004)
Cult Epics | Buy AMERICAN GOTHIC at Amazon.com | Review by Crites

Dead Leaves A tale, of sorts, of violent marital disharmony interspersed with metal videos of giant cockroaches crawling around and giving birth near an undead buried body, odd broads in strange garments, zombie girls at play, an old man painting himself bloody and reading some kind of suicidal be-bop, and... well, that's basically it.

Sort of a beat/goth/Headbanger's Ball kind of presentation this is, featuring lots of stereotypical imagery with CGI effects and scenery (including animation and video collage) over a grind metal soundtrack featuring the likes of Buzzov*en, Mastodon and Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Kind of an interesting presentation, but I don't smoke enough pot to be overly entranced. The redundant statements about death and decay and the abundance of zombie-like creatures may be some kind of statement on modern family life, but this manages to be simultaneously ponderous and fleeting, leaving a hint of dissatisfaction in the viewer. And aside from the spoken word/poetry narration that protracts any project, some of the scenes really do seem to drag on for overly long periods in what is essentially a short (21 minutes) film. So, points on the music, digital manipulation and a few good shots, but as a complete viewing experience AMERICAN GOTHIC still leaves something to be desired.

There are a few bonus shorts though: PUPPADERE is a grainy, solarized Super-8-to-video transfer about a man in a gas mask who drags garbage bags full of animal carcasses out into the woods where a gigantic creature composed of decaying animal bones awaits. (Nice puppetry, by the way.) CHOKE is a brief anti-smoking experiment, and CLONE is a bit of misery and clowns. All come with an optional director's introduction, as well as with some of the bad poetry action as above. Also comes with a gallery of digitally enhanced photographs.

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