By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Hardcore genre films done entirely with puppets are few and far between, but when they appear, they’re usually pretty memorable, from Peter Jackson’s MEET THE FEEBLES to Mike Mort’s (sadly still unreleased) CHUCK STEEL: NIGHT OF THE TRAMPIRES (reviewed here). Now FRANK & ZED bids to join that elite, blood-streaked group.
World-premiering at next month’s Nightstream on-line festival, FRANK & ZED was a six-year passion project for Portland-based filmmaker and puppeteer Jesse Blanchard. With a crazy ensemble of handmade puppet characters playing amidst detailed sets and plenty of practical gore and atmosphere effects, it’s an elaborate homage to classic creature features. The synopsis: “Long ago, a foul wizard was cut down by cursed weapons of tremendous power, leaving behind two servants, Frank and Zed. For centuries, the two monsters have survived by working together: Frank hunts for squirrels to feed Zed, and Zed hooks Frank up to a lightning rod to charge. But just as their decrepit bodies crumble beyond repair, a new threat arises in the nearby village. In a dark grab for power, the Lord Regent of the village deliberately triggers the curse by sending innocent civilians into the woods. Frank mistakes the wayward villagers for threats, cutting them down and serving their brains to Zed. This awakens a thirst for human flesh in Zed and stirs memories of his tragic past in Frank. In the ensuing chaos, their friendship is torn asunder. Convinced that killing the monsters is the only way to save themselves, the villagers dig up the cursed weapons and storm the castle. Now, Frank and Zed must come together if they are to survive The Orgy of Blood.”
For more details on Nightstream, which runs October 8-11, head over to its official website.