Winnipeg collective Astron-6’s first feature, “Father’s Day,” is a gleefully tasteless quasi-grindhouse nasty that’s funnier than most of the many such parodic cheesefests that have been created since, well, “Grindhouse.” Though the result is inevitably hit-and-miss, its attention to retro cliches and stylistic details, as well as a pretty good laughs-to-groaners ratio, will delight jaded genre fans — several of whom voted it best feature at Toronto After Dark last month. More horror fests and midnight slots are sure to follow; Troma plans a January theatrical launch, though principal exposure is likely to skew toward download and DVD.
Resurfacing of the fabled, elusive Father’s Day Killer — a longtime serial rapist/murderer/cannibal consumer of dads — unites several whose families have been victimized, notably strong silent type Ahab (Adam Brooks), street hustler Twink (Conor Sweeney) and priest Father John (Matthew Kennedy). The B-grade action cliches pile up as the three set out to hunt down the monster, whose current fat-slob form turns out to be just the latest human disguise for a demon whom the protags literally pursue to Hell. En route, we get deliberate continuity errors, imperiled male members, godawful or incongruous soundtrack music, a hallucination sequence and a million filmic in-jokes.
Pic has its roots in a fake trailer (Astron-6 has made numerous shorts in a similar vein) which Troma subsequently commissioned as a $10,000 feature. Resulting homage to ’70s drive-in fare and ’80s direct-to-vid trash comes complete with a station break during which we get another amusing fake trailer (for bottom-rung “Star Wars” ripoff “Star Raiders”).
The script’s amusing arbitrariness and the leads’ comic chops — all actors are members of the highly multitasking Astron-6 quintet (yes, there’s just five) — more than compensate for jokes that eschew a sometimes inspired absurdism for routine scatological humor. Fast pace, colorful location choices and design contributions belie the film’s tiny budget while reproducing the aesthetic of early VCR-era rental gems that seldom cost a whole lot more.