Two Independent Films Available from Amazon
Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (April 11/10)
Shot on a shoestring budget, Attack of the Vegan Zombies! follows struggling vintners Joe (Jim Townsend) and Dionne (Christine Egan) as they're faced with the prospect of losing their farm after yet another bad crop. Dionne, out of sheer desperation, asks her occultist mom (H. Lynn Smith) to work up a spell designed to rejuvenate the crop for the next year, with problems ensuing as the plants inevitably come to life and start attacking those who have recently consumed wine. It's an intriguing premise that's initially employed to unexpectedly compelling effect by writer/director Townsend, as the filmmaker's striking visual sensibilities and the almost uniformly strong performances prove effective at compensating for the production's obvious lack of funds. The intermittently suspenseful atmosphere can only sustain one's interest for so long, however, and there inevitably reaches a point at which the achingly deliberate pace begins to overshadow the film's overtly positive elements. Exacerbating the progressively less-than-enthralling vibe is Townsend's disastrous decision to shoehorn a couple of stereotypical nerds into the narrative, as the eye-rollingly hackneyed nature of the characters - they both wear pocket protectors, for crying out loud - casts a pall of amateurishness over Attack of the Vegan Zombies! that it can't quite recover from. The end result is nevertheless a better-than-average micro-budget horror flick, and it'll certainly be interesting to see what Townsend is able to do with more cash at his disposal.
The Definition of Insanity (April 12/10)
The Definition of Insanity is a fake documentary revolving around struggling actor Robert Margolis' ongoing efforts at carving out a career for himself within New York City's cut-throat acting scene, with the movie detailing the character's day-to-day exploits in both his personal and professional endeavors (ie his inability to provide for his family is causing friction with his otherwise patient wife). Though Margolis effectively cultivates a vibe of palpable authenticity, The Definition of Insanity remains an unusually tedious experience for the majority of its running time - as the filmmaker, along with cowriter and codirector Frank Matter, proves unable to entirely transform the protagonist into a wholeheartedly compelling figure. It's consequently not surprising to note that one's efforts at working up any interest or enthusiasm in Robert's various predicaments fall flat on an all-too-consistent basis, with the character's obnoxious and sporadically pretentious demeanor resulting in an atmosphere of aggressive pointlessness that's nothing short of disastrous. Margolis and Matter's erratic use of the documentary format - ie Margolis' wife (Kelli Barnett's Sally) goes from kicking the camera out of her apartment to allowing it in her bed within minutes - exacerbates the movie's myriad of problems, and although the filmmakers infuse the proceedings with some dramatic depth towards the end, The Definition of Insanity ultimately comes off as a tiresome, periodically interminable piece of work that might, admittedly, have a more positive impact on those viewers that are able to relate to the central character's plight (ie struggling actors).