Judge Daryl Loomis cools his loins in the sun.
The battle between good and evil isn't just brutal, it's EFFING BRUTAL!
These two discs from Brutal Avantgarde may be loaded, but I'm not sure anything on them could be classified as "avant garde," if the term even holds meaning anymore. That doesn't make them less interesting, though. Self-taught Seattle filmmaker Brian Labrecque has amassed an odd portfolio of films and assorted animated projects, one that will appeal to fans of zero budget material mostly, but still. Of the five films and copious extras presented on Depressing Prospects Ultimate DVD, some I hated, some I thought were hilarious, and one is actually very good. Looking at this when it came in the mail, that last part was certainly a surprise.
It all begins with Far Too Gone, the 2004 45-minute film that started it all. In it, Josh (Labrecque) thinks he's Tori Amos, and a couple of Seattle goth kids, Malaise (Felicia Banegas) and Salem (Robert DeVoe), follow him around while he tries to get other people to believe him. A film crew from New York has come out to Washington to document what they heard about online. This mockumentary isn't anything to write home about, but it's a first film from a guy who knew nothing about making a movie; how good is it going to be? The acting is terrible, but Labrecque's character is occasionally funny and his goons are in line with a lot of people I know in Seattle. Labrecque shows a pretty good spirit in the film, though, which carries over in his later projects.
The second film on the first disc, dubbed "The Toriverse" is a change, indeed. Effing Brutal, from 2009, is by far the best thing in this set and is, perhaps shockingly, a really well done extension of Far Too Gone. Labrecque uses the motion comic format to continue the adventures of Josh/Tori, but with more of a fantastical bent. Josh and his friends all have ridiculous superpowers and are together in a group called "Team Brutal," bent on fighting evil. Without the terrible shooting and performances, Lebreque's sense of humor can come through a lot more clearly, and Effing Brutal is a ton of fun. The characters from his first film are back in voice form to play their roles much better than before, and the new friends are pretty good too. It's pretty ridiculous, but that's clearly the point. Good stuff.
The second disc features three short films, none of which is very exciting, though this group, called "The Psychoverse," has the better extras. Meeting Hillary is the earliest on the disc, from 2006, and is of about the same quality and humor of Far Too Gone, which is not much. It features Molly Sharpe, who plays a role in that as well. She plays a young girl whose interest in witchcraft leads her to a secret meeting with a real witch, but things don't go as expected.
Next, from 2007, is Fear of Lemonade, which has Bryce Gregson (Paul T. Baker) as a homeless motivational speaker who loves drugs and is starting to go insane. Whether the people and his blood covered tuxedo are real or in his head is anybody's guess. This one had its moments, but was a little aimless and a little heavy on the montage. Labrecque seems to have become increasingly pretentious over the passing years, which we'll see next.
The final film, Deliriotic is apparently from 2011, but given the stated release date of this set on Amazon, Labrecque's homepage, and everywhere else, is way back in the aughts, I have no idea which is wrong. Anyway, I found this one a very long 20 minutes, obscure and pointless and boring. It features witches, an interdimensional kidnapping, and a whole bunch of nonsense. Its grainy black and white look of the film and lack of coherence makes it pretty tough to watch.
The two discs are loaded with extras, but even counting all of them into the total running time, it doesn't add up to the stated nine-plus hours…thank goodness. "The Toriverse" mostly features promotional material for Far Too Gone, some in the form of interviews and some additional footage of Labrecque's return as Josh for its first DVD release. We have some behind the scenes footage, music videos, and a few movie reviews from Labrecque of films he hasn't seen. Some of it is funny, but most of it is fairly annoying. Better extras sit on "The Psychoverse." The best thing here is a pair of stick figure animated shorts, totally about forty minutes, which are vulgar and pretty hilarious. With this and Effing Brutal, it seems Labrecque should stick to animation. The disc rounds out with more interviews and music videos.
Depressing Prospects Ultimate DVD gives you everything that Brian Labrecque has ever done on two discs. The collection is worth the price for Effing Brutal and the animated shorts alone; most of the rest isn't worth much at all.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Depressing Prospects Films
• Deleted Scenes
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