Back of Box:
A fresh bunch of college students head out to a secluded lake cabin for a fun weekend. They were looking for a party,
but what they find is horror! When one of the students, Paul (Brian Kelly, Freakshow), informs everyone of
a grisly occurrence that took place at the cabin years earlier, the fun weekend turns into a bloody nightmare! Crinoline
Head is the definitive Generation X horror film, complete with a liberal dose of both comedy and absurdity!
Plot: A group of teenagers
head out to the lake for a secluded, stress free weekend getaway before college finals take over their lives. What
they don't know is that the cabin they snagged for the weekend has a rather dark past. Fifteen years earlier an eight
year old boy became stranded at that very cabin when his mother died of a heart attack. Cut off from the outside world the
boy did what he had to to stay alive, including eating his own mother. When someone finally found the boy,
he had lost his mind. The boy refused to let go of the crinoline doll skirt his mother had
been working on when she died and he even tried to stab a police officer. They locked him up in the state mental
hospital, but not for long. When the boy was eighteen he escaped taking only the crinoline doll skirt he held
so dear...they never found him. A back story like that gets a thumbs up in my book. I'll admit the film itself
drags a lot, but the characters manage to keep it interesting until someone finally dies. I've definitely seen
worse and this one gets bonus points for being so offbeat and odd. In my book, odd is different and different is
Acting: Before I get
into the actual acting I have to comment on the script. It's a poor script, it's clunky and, at times, a little awkward.
There are a multitude of scenes that felt forced and unnecessary, but, that being said, I think the cast did a great
job. If the script did one thing right it was making the conversations wildly entertaining. It's not just
the dialog either, it's the Valley Girl gangster dialect too (I've never heard anything quite like it in a slasher film).
Jenny (Tracey Powlas) and Bodhi (Tommy Faircloth) are the pinnacle of annoying, but utterly captivating and enjoyable at
the same time because they both embodied this pseudo-NorCal persona. Trish (Cathy Slaminko) is a total bitch but a well
played one that isn't totally overbearing (Although I don't know anyone that would be that mean to a group of people they
just met and had to spend the weekend with). Robyn (Liz Taheri) and Derrick (Richard Abbott) are just boring and
Cathy (Billie Fontanez) and Mark (Steven Lee), although interesting character additions, seem a little out of place.
Greg (David Garone) is a whiny hypochondriac, but he gets my 'Favorite' vote because he's the only actor that seemed truly
genuine. I feel Paul (Brian Kelly) gets too much credit, Jack Nicholson and Christian Slater can make that face
too, and Cootitisha (Wayne Deloria) gets a shout out for just being plain ridiculous. At the end of the day, though, everyone
obviously had fun making this film and not taking yourself so seriously is a must when you're making a slasher
film like this.
Gore: Body Count (6)
This film sports a respectable body count and what it lacks in on screen brutality it surely makes up for in originality.
Sure there are a couple of staples; knife down the throat, throat slit, even getting run over by a car, but this one also
has a few zingers. Ever see someone get a whole head of celery jammed down their esophagus? How about strangulation
by sweater? Didn't think so. Crinoline Head even drowns a girl in a toilet filled with shit (Sleepaway Camp
2: Unhappy Campers comes to mind for that one, though). The point is that there is a lot of fun to be had here.
Suspense: There were
some creepy locations here; the woods, the canyon, the dismembered doll shack, but sadly all of them are underused.
I, personally, think it was a lighting issue. Natural lighting usually doesn't make it easy to film a chase scene
through the woods at night. I wish it had been different because the final chase needed the woods, without it things
ended too quickly and anti-climactic.
Directing: Tommy Faircloth
definitely has an eye for filmmaking. His set-ups are great. The still shots have a certain magnetism that
draws you in with interesting angles and movement within the frame. The moving shots are all very subtle and smooth
(For the most part). If I was going to criticize anything it would be the few scenes I saw where the staging
was a little off; characters might linger in a frame too long or the time frame certain things happen in might be
longer that it should be. Only a small gripe though (Overall my viewing experiences have been more than enjoyable).
Tech: I explained the lighting
issue previously, but not only does it make the nighttime shooting more difficult it makes the daytime over-exposed and washed
out. The audio levels vary depending on the distance of the camera from the actors. There's a good punk/alternative
rock soundtrack that kept things upbeat and moving and the mood music pushed the tempo right along with it. In
the end, the lack of budget really shows here, but it was still one hell of an effort.
Other: The first fifteen
minutes before the opening credits roll are completely unnecessary, all the character introductions and character development
are more than done on the car ride and the first day at the cabin. In a perfect world those minutes would've been a
Dorchester (Crinoline Head's real name, LOL!), back story flashback or at the very least a murder of some
kind (Something so we don't have to wait pert near an hour before a body graces the screen). I get that Faircloth
was going for different, but that is just how I feel. There is no nudity in this film, which I applaud because
not every film needs it and the creepy doll wins bonus points.
Final Word: I honestly enjoyed it.
It truly is a testament to no budget filmmakers and how far one can go with a camera and a crazy idea. It's a shame
it has slipped into obscurity, but I would still recommend to everyone at least once. Take it for what it
is and it might just tickle your fancy.
(VHS copies are still available and, if you're interested, check
out the Crinoline Head Secrets page)