Since 1974, Troma Entertainment has strived to put out the best in voraciously un-PC content it possibly can on as little money as possible and when head honchos Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz wasn’t financing satirical boob and blood classics like The Toxic Avenger, Class Of Nuke ‘Em and Tromeo And Juliet, they were a much needed releasing arm for other independent gut flingers such as Rabid Mothers, Surf Nazis Must Die and Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s debut feature, Cannibal: The Musical.
However, in 2011, Troma would team with Canadian filmmaking collective Astron-6 to release possibly the most extreme title that ever was to lurk in their impressively sleazy filmography – Father’s Day.
Not a sequel to Troma’s own Mother’s Day (or its 2010 remake) and certainly not to be confused with the Robin Williams and Billy Crystal comedy with the same name (always check the synopsis, folks), this ferociously repellent horror/comedy emerged amid that weird Grindhouse homage that occured at the time to viciously beat in skull of all comers – possibly with a dildo.
A murderous serial rapist known as the Fuchman is stalking the city streets just outside of Tromaville and his victims of choice are exclusively fathers who bear the brunt of his animalistic attacks. On his trail is the obsessive, one-eyed Ahab, a man who lost his own daddy (plus his eye) to the hulking sexual abuser and subsequently lost track with his younger sister Chelsea after they both went through the orphanage system together. However, after mistakenly killing the wrong man and doing a sentence of ten years, Ahab lives a reclusive life making maple syrup in an isolated cabin.
Of course that doesn’t mean that the Fuchman is resting on his laurels and has continued to horribly bust in the back door of any innocent father he can lay his hands on, including that of mixed up male prostitute Twink who vows his own revenge on the mauling molester. However, when young priest Father Sullivan is tasked to find Ahab and get him back to the task of finally bringing an end to the Fuchman’s grisly rampage, the cycloptic vigilante is stunned to find out that his little sister has grown up to be a stripper and that there may be more to the Fuchman’s killings than just the actions of a rape-crazed madman.
Teaming up with Twink (a friend of Chelsea’s), Ahab and Father Sullivan embark on a wildly insane adventure that takes in demonic possession, incest, suicide, hallucinogenics, heaven, hell and more self-inflicted genital mutilation than you can shake a lacerated penis at. Hold onto your hats, this movie ain’t for everyone.
So, as usual with everything that carries the Troma banner, if you are easily offended and triggered by any of the subjects I’ve mentioned so far it probably goes without saying that you should avoid Father’s Day like the fucking plague as there’s comfortably something here to outrage everyone. However, if your sense of humour throws back its metaphorical head and brays an obnoxious donkey laugh a taboos, then you’ll probably find that Astron-6’s movie debut is a magnificent find.
Simply put, the massively innovative Canadian filmmaking group simply couldn’t give a single, solitary fuck about offending people and enthusiastically mined all manner of upsetting topics to give you one of the most genuinely wild rides independent movies has given us since Peter Jackson went Hollywood.
However, there’s more at work here than just mindless nastiness and to make something like this funny takes intelligence and genuine wit and its here where Father’s Day taps into that almost innocent, yet still malevolent mischievous humor that Lloyd Kaufman pioneered years ago. Take the nature of the Fuchman (real name Chris Fuchman and host to the vile rape demon the Fuchmanicus), whose nature of victim is mostly middle-aged white men, something that turns out to be refreshingly un-misogynistic in a movie crammed with bare-breasted strippers. Also note how the filmmakers choose to frame the film as if it’s been taped off TV as part of one of those midnight movie screenings on an iffy cable channel that even comes complete with a commercial break for the following movie, a hilarious, threadbare Star Wars rip-off named Star Raiders. It serves to act as a reminder that this literally is only a movie – even in it’s own universe – and that maybe we shouldn’t be taking something as silly as a comedy gore movie too seriously but what also helps with that is that for all its harrowing imagery, Father’s Day is very, very funny.
Although not at first, interestingly. The filmmakers hold off on any broad jokes for about a full fifteen minutes which at first leaves you genuinely unsure with what you’re actually viewing and just when you think you’re watching just another cheap exercise in mean spirited brutality – boom – grotesque hilarity ensues. From some excellent mumblecore absurdity (Twink tries knocking to gain entrance to the Fuchman’s lair) to full on gonzo insanity (Father Sullivan holds an angel at gunpoint in order to escape heaven and join the others in the final battle in hell), the jokes land with an efficiency that defies the minuscule budget and DIY guerilla filmmaking and key players Adam Brooks (Ahab), Matthew Kennedy (Sullivan) and Connor Sweeny (Twink) who all wrote and directed alongside Jeremy Gillespe and Steven Kostanski have a cracking line in nihilistic hilarity.
Issues? – I mean from the ludicrous lack of respect for taboo subjects, which in my book is a big old plus, anyway? A couple, sure, but mostly technical with the chief issue being that the muted sound in some areas means some of the fast paced banter is lost in the rush, but elsewhere the scrapped together visuals only add to the misshapen, midnight movie effect Astron-6 bullseyes so completely. In the the glut of faux-grindhouse flicks that followed in the wake of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, Father’s Day such as Hobo With A Shotgun and Rodriguez’s own Machete spin-offs, Father’s Day easily towers above the lot of them.
So what became of Astron-6? Well, quite a bit actually as the group moved out from under Troma’s embrace for the five various members of the group to collaborate in different collaborations. The whole group conspired to give us Giallo spoof The Editor while other titles such as Manborg, The Void and Psycho Goreman continued to keep that subversive spirit alive while featuring variying members of the quintet.
But it’ll be Father’s Day that’ll no doubt be seen the pinnacle of their various achievements thanks to its frenzied bloodshed (the Fuchman really does unspeakable things I’m stunned the ratings board actually allowed), goofy jokes (Lloyd Kaufman plays God) and a triumphantly morbid final shot that ranks in my all time top ten. It certainly ain’t for everyone, but Father’s Day is worth celebrating.