If you’re a serious movie geek and you haven’t dived into the madness of Astron-6 yet, you really need to get your hands on Fathers Day, Manborg, or any of their short films. This is a wildly funny Canadian filmmaking troupe that really knows how to stage a satire. First rule: only poke fun at things you actually like. Second rule: remember what a legitimate genre satire actually looks like. (Hint: think Mel Brooks or the Z.A.Z. team, not freaking Date Movie) Third rule: bring your own unique, raucous, over-the-top style to the party.
So, clearly I’m a fan of the stuff these guys are slinging, and I do believe that The Editor is their best film yet. Best described as a giallo satire that pokes Dario Argento in the ribs more than a few times, The Editor works on a variety of comedic levels. Obviously it’s a silly homage to the best (and sometimes the worst) of 1970s Italian horror cinema, but it’s also a showcase for the gang’s unique style of “sketch comedy” farce. In other words: geeks who know and love films like Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), Deep Red (1975), and Suspiria (1977) will have the most fun with The Editor, while those who are new to the giallo style will still find ample silliness to enjoy.
Half the battle on a broad, goofy satire is casting the thing with people who are actually funny — and I’m of the opinion that all of the Astroneers are very funny guys. Co-director Adam Brooks plays Rey Ciso, a legendary film editor who is forced to work on low-end b-movies after losing a hand in a predictably wacky tragedy, while the other co-director (Matthew Kennedy) portrays a clueless detective who is compelled to investigate a series of horrific murders on the set of Rey’s latest movie.
Just like most giallo films, The Editor has an unnecessarily dense plot for such a simple story, but that’s just another part of the joke. The horror story / mystery movie / crime story mash-up gives the filmmakers ample opportunity to fill the background with a variety of funny characters: Conor Sweeney as an actor whose career opportunities expand with each new murder; Paz de La Huerta as a freaky femme fatale; Laurence Harvey as a mysteriously pleasant priest; and Udo Kier as an oddball doctor who is probably up to no good. Doctors are always evil in these movies.
The coolest thing about The Editor is how the Astron guys jump into the giallo with both feet. This is most assuredly a comedy, in every conceivable fashion, but at moments it actually does sort of work as a creepy, shocking horror flick, too (a really gory one) — and they actually manage to sneak a little bit of mystery into the equation. (I guessed who the killer is early on, but then I switched my guess in Act II, so I was 1 for 2 there.) But obviously The Editor is at its best when it’s being exceedingly ridiculous. Everyone on board earns a few laughs, but I was most taken with Mr. Kennedy’s performance, which could be adequately described as “an impression of a young Donald Sutherland with a very silly Italian accent.”
It’s also worth noting that the score, costumes, and general production design do a splendid job of emulating the mid-1970s Italian exploitation vibe, so there; consider it noted.
Basically, The Editor is an extremely broad comedy made for an extremely narrow percentage of old-school horror geeks, and on the scale it’s pretty great. Whether or not it will play as well for giallo virgins is hard to say. I struggled through bunches of lower-end Italian horror imports in my youth, so I pretty much had a ball with this insane Canadian import.
4 out of 5 Canadian/Italian burritos
[Screened via the amazing Fantasia Film Festival.]