MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Unburying Hot Chicks

This already ran on MCN as part of my weekend review of the Los Angeles Film Fest, but the other stuff I covered seems to be getting a lot of attention and this doesn’t. It’s not the best film at the fest, but it is a wonderful project and Chick Tracts (I just bought the entire current collection for under 20 bucks and am looking forward to it arriving on my doorstep) are a great part of Americana. So….
Luke Y Thompson, New Times‘ tallest, most tattooed, most multi-color haired critic and he told me about the film he was most anticipating on the entire schedule… Hot Chicks.

Somehow, as
I was jamming through the online catalog for the festival, I just
went right past Hot Chicks. But had I been paying closer
attention, I would have been almost as enthusiastic as Luke. The
screening was of 9 short films, each based on one of what are known
as Chick Tracts. They are those little cartoon booklets that you
have probably had handed to you on the streets of some part of town
where souls are in need of saving. These mini-comics were all written
and drawn by Jack T. Chick. According to
his website
, over 500 million of these things have been sold
to groups and distributed across the globe. 500 million!

My memory is
of getting these from Jews For Jesus followers. Others remember
other religious groups handing them out. The clever thing is, they
are so cheap to purchase (15 cents) that they make an impressive
handout. And they are all stories of salvation that end with an
admonition to accept Jesus into your life.

So I settled
into my seat at The Crest to see the films and quickly found out
that the folks who made the films were all friends and had all spurred
each other on to make these films over the last 5 or 6 years. Each
film has a distinctly different style, including two of the films
that were made by the same team. One of these films by Rodney
& Syd
recreated the Chick
Tract
"Titanic" using the Jim Cameron film,
Titanic. Their second film, based on the
tract
, Somebody
Goofed
, was one of my favorite of the nine. They essentially
take the drawn images in the Chick
Tract
and bring them to life in very clever animation.

The films that
stuck closest to the tracts were probably my favorites. All of the
films adhered to the idea that Chick’s words would be the script
and that the tracts would serve, to some degree, as storyboards.
But styles varied widely. What was fascinating was how each filmmaker
(many are first time filmmakers) decided to do their interpretation.
For instance, the first film, Bewitched?
(by Tim KirkChick
Tract
), used puppets to tell its story of how television infects
the culture. One of the films, Wounded
Children
(by Todd HughesChick
Tract
), is based on a tract that has been taken off the market
because the morays around child abuse have changed. In that film,
the victimized child is played by a mannequin while everyone around
him is played by adults. Angels?
(by Tommy! – Chick
Tract
), the story of a rock-n-roll dream attained and then destroying
the dreamers, is done in a style best described as post-modern Super
8 by way of Kenneth Anger.

Cleo
(by Bryce IngmanChick
Tract
) is a story about a lost dog who narrowly escapes a dog
pound needle and somehow, amazingly, its owners see this as God’s
intervention and it moves them to being born again. Doom
Town
(by P. David EbersoleChick
Tract
) tells the story of Sodom & Gomorrah. And La
Princesita
(by Jamie Tolbert FranklinChick
Tract
) tells the story of a sick young girl who desperately
wants to go trick-or-treating on Halloween and does and has her
soul saved when one of the neighbors drops a Chick Tract into her
candy bag.

My favorite
of the films, probably because it is most precisely a Chick
Tract
come to life, was Party
Girl
, directed by Anonymous. Why anonymous? Because there is
some fear that Jack Chick, who is still alive at 82, might
get all litigious on their collective asses.

The filmmaker
actually gave me permission – after some pleasant harassment – to
publish her name. But after seeing how often the Chick Publications
sends out cease and desists, I have decided to keep it to myself.
She is an actress, remarkably beautiful, very sharp, surprisingly
unflinching about the truth, terribly well married and, by amazing
coincidence, did a guest spot on a Sunday night primetime TV show
that I Tivo’d.

(In another
odd showbiz small world coincidence, a guy playing in an old friend’s
charity poker tourney on Sunday was pitching a local stage show
starring this woman’s husband. And almost more oddly, I had dinner
with this woman’s ex-husband just a week ago – and I had never before
met this woman or had any social conversation with this man until
these two meetings. High school with money indeed!)

I don’t know
if she has a future as a director based on this short, satirical
film but, like I said before… concept is everything on these
and, to me, she got the inherent joke of Chick Tracts best of all,
so much so that the film could really be seen as a positive and
believing take on a Chick Tract if your beliefs went that way.

The bottom line
is, this group has no interest in distributing their films for any
revenue. (Fact is, very few of them could get clearances on their
pre-recorded music or images from other media.) They aren’t even
posting their films to their
website
. They screened at LAFF and will show again at Outfest
at midnight on July 8. From there, who knows.

Anyway…
I am going to go out on a limb and post a short clip from Anonymous’
film, Party Girl. It is four pieces from her work, slapped
together shoddily via QT Pro. But it’ll give you some idea…
and it makes me smile like crazy. Here
is the 3mg QT file

3 Responses to “Unburying Hot Chicks”

  1. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Two words. Arrested Development. Dave?

  2. David Poland says:

    Not sure what your two words are meaning, JBD…

  3. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Sorry for being obtuse. In regards to anon.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I remember very much the iconography and the images and the statues in church were very emotional for me. Just the power of that, and even still — just seeing prayer card, what that image can evoke. I have a lot of friends that are involved in the esoteric, and I know some girls in New York that are also into the supernatural. I don’t feel that I have that gift. But I am leaning towards mysticism… Maybe men are more practical, maybe they don’t give into that as much… And then also, they don’t convene in the same way that women do. But I don’t know, I am not a man, I don’t want to speak for men. For me, I tend to gravitate towards people who are open to those kinds of things. And the idea for my film, White Echo, I guess stemmed from that — I find that the girls in New York are more credible. What is it about the way that they communicate their ideas with the supernatural that I find more credible? And that is where it began. All the characters are also based on friends of mine. I worked with Refinery29 on that film, and found that they really invest in you which is so rare in this industry.”
Chloë Sevigny

“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier