Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wild About Larry

I’m not ashamed to admit that, up until not long ago, I pretty much knew Larry Fessenden exclusively as that guy that makes nap-inducing art-horror -- mostly because that’s how just about everyone comes to know Larry Fessenden. From Habit to the first of his numerous flirtations with the legend of the Wendigo, the one thing I could always grant him was consistency; his movies never failed to, quite literally, knock me out.

But over the summer, as I’ve had to more closely analyze some of Fessenden’s recent work for reviews, I’ve found a new appreciation for him, largely due to the realization that he’s completely batshit crazy.

Do a Google Image search for Fessenden and you’ll note one common characteristic: in all of his photos Fessenden looks remarkably like Jack Nicholson’s grizzled, mid-winter Jack Torrence from The Shining. After researching him a bit, I’m fairly certain this is no coincidence, and that if left in a haunted hotel with only his wife, his son, and his typewriter, Fessenden might very well start kissing corpses in bathtubs. And I love him for this.

Actually, as fringe filmmakers go, Fessenden seems to be a pretty moderate voice. Though his latest film, The Last Winter (left to wander the festival wasteland for nearly two ridiculous years before getting distribution), deals with climate change, ecological disturbances resulting from the quest for oil, and vengeful undead elks, the heart of the film is less concerned with sociopolitical issues and more with believable characters and the realistic interpersonal relationships they share. No hip-hop artists talking to plants, either.

That said, Fessenden’s work does artistically express his beliefs and opinions, whether intentionally or not, but he’s not shackled to his commentary to the detriment of the movies (coughcoughDiaryoftheDeadcoughcough).

Perhaps most endearing of all, I’m pretty sure the Muppet “Crazy Harry” was based on Fessenden. Jim Henson was just never very good with spelling.