Thursday, January 7, 2010
... Or maybe not. That was just my initial impression when I stumbled (nay, staggered) upon this below-underground director's mind-boggling work for the first time.
Like Bukowski, though, Packard's work often takes place in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles -- a filthy pit riddled with profanity, paranoia, violence, and insanity. Film critics, for the most part, tend to either worship him or disregard him completely, but everyone can agree on one thing: A Packard film is an experience you won't soon forget.
Packard was born in Ohio in 1967, and during his youth spent copious amounts of time poring over the films of Steven Speilberg and George Lucas. In fact, the American movie landscape of the 70's plays a huge part in his films, from the gritty aesthetic he creates by shooting in Super 8 and 30mm film to the outright theft of 70's film and television clips he sprinkles throughout his movies.
Packard began making short films in his early teens, but his first fully-realized piece was a 22-minute horror epic he called Dawn of an Evil Millenium (above right), a tale of demons, aliens, possession and murder he created as a school project in 1988. Influenced heavily by Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films, Millenium was a non-stop gorefest, financed completely by Packard's shit jobs and featuring some of the most creative editing and sound design the no-budget movie realm has ever seen or heard.
During the late 80's and early 90's, Packard was usually homeless, living out of his car and spending all of his money on his dream of making movies. In 1990, he moved to Hawaii, where he lived in a tent for two years and shot his ElfQuest-inspired fantasy film Apple. After that it was a 10-minute short film called The Early 70's Horror Trailer, which looked so much like, well, an early 70's horror movie trailer that most people were left scratching their heads wondering what the name of the actual "movie" was.
Despite the originality and intensity of Packard's films, he never saw a profit, and continued working crappy jobs to feed his filmmaking addiction. At the turn of the millenium, his finest work was just around the corner...
After the death of a wealthy relative, Packard inherited several thousand dollars, which he used to create his swan song: 2002's Reflections of Evil (left). Casting himself in the leading role as an overweight paranoid schizophrenic in the streets of L.A. selling wristwatches for a living (above and below), Packard unfurled a two-and-a-half hour homage to all things sick, depraved, and gory, invading theme parks in guerrilla filming missions and getting himself in all sorts of trouble along the way.
In the film, Packard's character ("Bob") slowly grows larger and more disheveled as he is killed by sucrose intolerance, facing the harsher-than-real-life realities of day-to-day existence in L.A. as his dead sister Julie tries to contact him from beyond the grave. Tony Curtis and Lana Turner make appearances (through the courtesy of copyright infringement), immense amounts of vomit are spewed, dogs attack, and amusement park rides go horribly wrong as the film lumbers sickeningly toward its finale. Quite simply, Reflections of Evil is one of those "you've gotta see it to understand" kind of movies. It's completely fucked. It's amazing.
When it was completed, Packard made 23,000 DVD copies and gave them away for free, sending a couple thousand to local celebrities. His efforts went unrewarded for the most part, but he soldiered on.
After completion of Reflections, Packard created a half-real, half-staged mockumentary (titled The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary) which promptly got him sued by Lucasfilm. After that it was 2005's Lost In The Thinking and then 2007's SpaceDisco One (below, left), a visionary 70's sci-fi piece that was easily his most well-developed film since Reflections. In 2009, he created a film adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki's manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (right), which he titled simply Tales of the Valley of the Wind. Fans of the original manga were enraged. I say FUCK 'EM.
In the true nature of art, Packard posts his work freely on YouTube (as "pookie67", view his channel here). You can visit his website here, his Myspace page here, or buy a physical copy of Reflections (for only $4.50!!!) here.
Hell, maybe you should drop him an email or something. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.
Dawn of an Evil Millenium trailer:
The whole thing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
The Early 70's Horror Trailer in its entirety:
Reflections of Evil trailer:
The whole thing (via Packard's own YouTube playlist) HERE (Recommended!)
SpaceDisco One trailer:
The whole thing: ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE.
Posted by Shelby Cobras at 1:53 PM