Father’s Day (2011) – By Cary Conley

Astron-6 is a Canadian production company based out of Winnipeg. Formed by two filmmaking friends, Astron-6 has developed into what is now a five-partner production company that has been specializing in campy, retro-80’s sci-fi and horror comedy shorts for the last few years. In 2010, the company produced a fake trailer entitled Father’s Day, which the fine folks over at Troma saw at a film festival. Troma then teamed up with the guys from Astron-6 to expand Father’s Day into a full-length film, which has become a popular fan-favorite on the festival circuit, garnering several award nominations and wins. The film is now in a limited theatrical run and will be coming soon to DVD.

Thirty years ago, a serial killer attacked several fathers, raping, murdering, and cannibalizing them. He came to be known as the Father’s Day Killer. But after several murders, the killer dropped off the face of the Earth. Now, over three decades after the original killing spree, the Father’s Day Killer is back. This causes family members of the original victims to unite to try and stop the new killing spree before the murderer can destroy more families. Ahab, the virile, eye-patch wearing leader of this rag-tag group, teams up with a street hustler and drug addict called Twink as well as a priest, Father John. Together, the trio must track down the killer before he kills again.

Father’s Day is a loving homage to the low-budget genre flicks of the eighties–as well as a cheap rip-off of bigger budgeted homages such as Grindhouse, Machete, Hanger, and Hobo with a Shotgun. Plus, it’s a Troma film, so most seasoned viewers should know what they are getting into from the get-go. The film has been designed to have the "grindhouse" feel, complete with scratches and dirt, several continuity errors that deliberately confuse the filmic proceedings, and yet another fake trailer during the midst of the action (this time for an ultra-cheap Star Wars knock-off entitled Star Raiders). But just as cheap eighties flicks became gorier and more outrageously offensive with every new release (think Pieces, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, Street Trash, and Troma’s own beloved Surf Nazis Must Die and The Toxic Avenger), Father’s Day dishes out the goods. The film is very funny, but the comedy is of the darkly sadistic variety, as are many of the set pieces. Heck, any film whose premise is about a male killer sodomizing fathers before killing and eating them has to be more than a little twisted. There are several hilarious one-liners that made me laugh out loud, but in the traditional grindhouse vein, there are also many comments that are funny just because they are so silly ("You don’t call a man a tree" would be one of those lines).

The special effects are generally very good as well as outrageously bloody. Plenty of guts are handled by the killer, there a couple of brief cannibalism scenes, and a head is crushed to a pulp, among other deliciously gory effects. But perhaps the most disgusting effects are saved for the killer himself, as he is masochistic as well as sadistic, and enjoys mutilating his own penis. There are a couple of close-up penis-mutilations (one using a needle and one using a scalpel) that are genuinely cringe-inducing, although for these effects the boys over at Astron-6 opted to use obviously fake…er, "props" (perhaps they were aware that realistic effects for these scenes might be too much even for Troma!). As many a classic Troma flick has done before it, Father’s Day doesn’t just flirt with bad taste–it seizes bad taste around the neck and throttles it. There is a particularly drawn-out sodomy scene that, while not terribly graphic in its depiction, nonetheless leaves a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth. And the aforementioned mutilation scenes are appropriately tasteless as well.

As with many Troma films, the acting ranges from decent to nonexistent and the story line is less than spectacular. In fact, the film drags a bit in the middle when the action takes a back seat for a few minutes. But, hey–this is a Troma film. We aren’t here for high art; we’re here for mindless entertainment. Father’s Day wasn’t screened at Cannes, folks–for a reason. But once the story picks up again, the viewer is treated to a delirious final 30 minutes as the trio of protagonists discover the killer is really a demon from Hell–and they actually pursue him into Hell! Other production values are excellent, from the special effects to the very effective score. Production design and early eighties costume design (dig those huge eyeglasses!) are also high points.

Sometimes a mixed bag, the film is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended; however, if you cut your movie teeth on crappy copies of outlandishly bloody and totally tasteless videotapes or scratchy, grainy bootleg copies of Rabid Grannies (in French, no less), then Father’s Day will no doubt entertain you.