The Severed Head Network (2000) – By Joshua Samford

 From the fine folks over at Wicked Pixel Cinema comes this assortment of short films on DVD from various contributing members and friends over at WP. Featuring the likes of Jason Christ and Eric Stanze, as well as many others from various projects. Although I have genuinely enjoyed the vast majority of my expedition into the Wicked Pixel filmography thus far, The Severed Head Network was a bit of a letdown for me. Although I find I am open to pretty much anything, SHN is made up of mostly a mixed bag. Some films exceeding expectations, some dropping far below them. After the first few films in the collection I was feeling that I would find no sympathy in the course of the film – but in the end there are a few very well made and concise projects that feel like more than just trial runs.

Vomire by Chad Eivins

I’m not really one to bag on anyone’s work, especially in the independent film world where many are just beginning and trying to find their own voice, but I felt as if Vomire could be seen as a fairly accurate portrayal of your average "art-house" short. You’ve got the christian imagery, check. You’ve got animals being slaughtered (although you could replace this with dying children in some other country, if you’re playing the game at home), check. You’ve got a title that sounds foreign enough to sound smart, check. Then you’ve got ambient noises and enough editing to distort your retinas and confuse even the most sane person. So yeah, I though Vomire was probably the weaker of the shorts, but I will commend the editing of the film and say that it certainly jolts the audience in a big way. It certainly defines horror, but unfortunately seems too tied up in delivering a message few would have the patience to try to unravel.

Faith in Nothing by Eric Stanze

Faith in Nothing is an interesting music video. Although it has little in the way of a plot direction, I will say it offers some interesting visuals among some very nice set decoration. I’m not much for slow electronic music, so it was a little distant feeling for me and a bit overtly long – but hey, Lisa Morrison is quite the visual treat. Especially whilst dancing and stripping in what is a very erotic short piece. Not a favorite of mine, but not much to dislike either. A little too long, but I assume that is the pace of the song.

Satisfaction by Tommy Biondo

Although Satisfaction is probably the most meaningful entry on the disk in terms of theme and meaning, but at 20 minutes in length one can become slightly bored with the ever prolonging situation. Essentially a poem on film, it focuses on a young lady who is having a fling with a lover and at the same time has flashbacks to a time when she was raped. Although the film looks great, is astonishing in its terms of intimacy – it might simply just need to be edited down some so that it doesn’t feel so "softcore" in delivery.

Victim by Jason Christ

Victim is essentially the last act of a horror film focusing on a psychopath in the woods who has apparently mauled a group of teenagers. However, the film focuses only on the twist and actually works quite well – and leaves the audience stunned and simply pondering what they have just seen. It’s a simple short, but very effective.

Unwanted by Todd Tevlin

A very short music video that shows some accomplished editing and an interesting yet brief narrative that simply follows a man while he explodes in rage everywhere he goes. Short, but packed with sharp editing and brutally dark imagery. Another very nice entry for the disc.

Sedgewick by Stephen M Lashly

From what I’ve read, this seems to be everyone else’s favorite short on the disc as well. Even at 20 minutes in length, Sedgewick moves at a brisk pace due to how fantastically interesting and innovative it is. Telling the simple story of an elderly man who goes out to pick up the groceries but suffers from dementia on the way. He wanders into situation after situation where his mental illness becomes more and more overbearing. Full of great cinematography and a very engaging story. Definitely the high point of the disc.

LionTown by Aaron Croziek

Another very well made entry, a musical focusing on a town full of animals (well, humans in costumes) who are tricked to come to Lion Town, a colony that seems like heaven on earth but might not be all it seems. A very funny and fast moving musical comedy that is one of the most impressive looking films on the disc and certainly the funniest. I thought it was great, but not all might share my sense of humor.

Curveball: Pile of Junk by Jason Christ

Another music video, and likely the best of the bunch. Featuring sharp editing and a very dark atmosphere that evokes many of the better heavy metal music videos out there. Eric Stanze is great as the lead character in the piece as well – he looks absolutely unhinged here! A very smart and ambient video that fits the gritty and heavy music.

Although SHN didn’t fill my every wish of what I had hoped it would be, it certainly does have some very high points and I do recommend it for fellow fans of the Wicked Pixel cast and crew as they bring their same level of professionalism to the table and there are quite a few memorable pieces within this disc.