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American Asshole and Other Horrors! Print E-mail
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Written by Chris Mayo   
Friday, 11 January 2008

Directed by: Matthew D. Reel
Written by: Matthew D. Reel
Produced by: Matthew D. Reel
Cinematography by: Matthew D. Reel
Editing by: Matthew D. Reel
Cast: Matthew Reel, Aaron Dobkin, James Edward Escalante, Kevin Lessek
Year: 2004
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 24 Minutes

Video: NTSC R0
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Official Website: http://www.cultstitch.com/
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“Cinema Of Attraction… In Reverse.”

American Asshole” comes to a finish with Matthew Reel’s sentiments, “If you have enough footage you can make a movie out of it.  It may not necessarily be a good movie, but it’ll be a movie.”  No truer words could be spoken about this or any other film.  Whether or not “American Asshole” is a good movie or just merely a gathering of enough footage to make a movie, is about to be decided.

American Asshole” is a “Crockumentary” (as titled in the films credits), a self-portrait of newcomer director Matthew Reel.  With an overall running time of just over 15 minutes we get to see a blip in the life of Mr. Reel, who can be summed up in his own words as being a movie fanatic.  “American Asshole” follows Reel on ordinary days, while drinking beer, smoking, and watching cool genre flicks.  We also find out that Reel has a very unconventional hobby for a grown man, which is cross stitch, or rather “cult stitch” as dubbed by the title of his website.  What initially comes to mind when thinking of cross stitch could be old grandmothers, butterfly patterns and doilies.  Upon first glance, seeing Reel at his definitely honed craft, working away with needle and thread, you can’t help but feel a little off.  This is quickly extinguished when the viewer gets a glimpse of his work.  What separates his unique choice of medium from the rest of the world is his ability to produce mind-bogglingly intricate designs of cool genre posters an images, all meticulously portrayed through colorful pixel sized x’s.  Some notable pieces are the Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” stitch as well as Laura Gemser as “Black Emmanuelle”. 

Aside from Mr. Reel’s daily hobbies and routines, we also get a glimpse at his friends, and colleagues.  One of which, is the “oh snap” proclaiming bearded bloke, Aaron Dobkin who is in desperate need for a toilet scrubbing.  His other buddy, Kevin Lessek is also the director of what seems to be an incredibly cheesy and equally unfunny portrait of a homeless wooden duck who is “looking for love in all the wrong places”.  Be weary of this guy’s hi-pitched screeching laughter during the commentary; the volume button will be necessary.  A couple other guys pop up here and there as well.

Inter-cut amongst the footage of Reel and his life are footage from films he loves, or just films he was watching at the time.  Included is Nazi footage from Ralph Bakshi’s “Wizards”, H. G. Lewis’s “Blood Feast”, “A Boy and His Dog” as well as footage from Reel’s own film “Oubliette”.  The young Spielberg sequence from Damon Packard’s “Reflections of Evil” also pops up, which is a must inclusion in “American Asshole” since Reel is obviously influenced greatly by Packard’s work.  There is also a choice selection of genre music you’ll have fun picking out.  You gotta love the inclusion of Riz Ortolani’s theme song to “Cannibal Holocaust”.

Following the main attraction we continue with the 2004 avant-garde, weird-for-weird-sake “October March”.  Shot on 16mm, this 4 minute film is set (for whatever reason) in New Jersey, 2014.  A group of people prance across a field.  A man in a cowboy hat grunts into a walkie-talkie.  A long-haired guy eats lays chips in fast motion as pitchforks dance from behind.  Some great footage is then shown of nuclear bombs exploding spliced with a cheerleader skipping through a field.  The film ends with the lays-lover eating the chips off the ground which spell the title of the film.  “October March” is about a whole lot of nothing.  It’s a bunch of scenes complied together and straight out of Matthew Reel’s mouth “If you have enough footage you can make a movie out of it.”  “October March” is too abstract to call it a movie, or really call it anything for that matter other than weird footage.  There’s something about it however, that you can’t dismiss.  The black and white 16mm looks really cool in all its scratchiness.  I did enjoy the bomb and cheerleader footage and as always, the choice of music and soundscape is praiseworthy.  If the chip eater was killed, the short would be more enjoyable.

Klotho & Widdershins” (an awesome title) is another 2004 experimental film, just shy of 5 minutes long.  A chick walks alone through a wooded area in a white dress with a floral pattern.  Two white masked characters (lets call them Klotho and Widdershins), adorned with garbage bags follow the young lass, and corner her.  They offer her bizarre gifts (to fit further into the “avant-garde” title the film carries), which ends in a stabbing.  Visually and narratively the film works better than that of “October March”.  The masked unknown characters and their mannerisms (particularly one of their walks) makes the film more interesting, and while still avant-garde, follows a more linear form of filmmaking which ultimately works better.  Whether you’re into “October March”, or “Klotho & Widdershins” or not, they are fun to watch and listen to.

American Asshole” does prove that with enough footage you can indeed create a film.  This goes the same for “October March”, or “Klotho & Widdershins”.  This self-portrait is an interesting idea that comes out right.  With a running time of 15 minutes (24 minutes all films in total) it neither gets boring nor wears out its welcome.  While Matthew Reel may not be of interest to everyone, “American Asshole” sets out and successfully accomplishes its goal.  Not only does it portray a peek at Reel’s life, but also a foretaste of his skill as an upcoming filmmaker, with anticipation for his next effort “The Goat Sucker”.

THE DVD

VIDEO:
4:3 Full Frame
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AUDIO:
Dolby Digital 2.0
http://severed-cinema.com/images/full-star.jpghttp://severed-cinema.com/images/full-star.jpghttp://severed-cinema.com/images/full-star.jpghttp://severed-cinema.com/images/zero-star.jpghttp://severed-cinema.com/images/zero-star.jpg

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
- Audio Commentaries
- Shorts: “Tinderbox”, “George B. Rotten
- Lloyd Kaufman Interview
- Behind the Scenes
- “October March”: The Reel Story
- “American Pervert” 4 Minute Promo
- “Duck” Trailer
- Easter Egg

American Asshole and Other Horrors!” contains a ton of extras.  We get commentaries for “American Asshole”, “October March”, and “Klotho & Widdershins”.  The short titled “Tinderbox” is directed by Matthew Reel which is a series of black and white photographs edited together into a story.  A man (Aaron Dobkin) goes through a bunch of hardships, inevitably escaping to the comfort of a bottle of Jim Beam.  The short “George B. Rotten” directed by Bryce Myhre is an intelligent yet comical portrayal of an out of work zombie.  Due to the increasing popularity and use of fast moving zombies in recent films, this traditional zombie finds himself out of work.  “Lloyd Kaufman The Lost Tapes” is an interview that takes place while christening a tromette.  Toxie and Sgt. Kabukiman are along for the show amongst a group of Troma girls where Lloyd talks of “Citizen Toxie”, “Poultrygeist” and more.  Next, “The Reel Story Making of October March” (6 mins) shows just that.  The “American Pervert” promo showcases what I think to be an upcoming film by Reel.  This promo makes use of Vincent Gallo’s “The Brown Bunny” trailer.  Rounding off the extras is a trailer for Kevin Lessek’s “Duck”, and a cool easter egg trailer for “American Asshole” which shouldn’t be hard to find.

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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