Midnight Mania: Freaky

Midnight Mania: Freaky
Freaky? More like freakish. This lacklustre collection is misleadingly titled and has few saving graces. The Little Dragon is pure comedy, just not very funny or inventive. A smoke dragon spirit animates a Gumbi-like Bruce Lee doll, which then explores a room full of martial arts geek paraphernalia and fights a toy robot before encountering a videogame version of Lee. It's either amusing or annoying, depending on your temperament.

Still Birds is a curious piece. It's set in a world of children trapped in unevenly angled halls and rooms where only one little girl has the ability left to use language freely, but refuses to utter a word. Nobody can walk properly and there's a kid emitting a scraping feedback sound just to fuck with the others. There's a machine hooked up to steal any remaining scraps of language available from the other kids, who turn on the wilfully silent girl once every other voice is totally drained. It's cheap, choppy and slow, but faintly interesting.

A silent animated short called Clean Carousel follows. Hand drawn and sparsely coloured, a man in the desert takes care of a carousel for little children to ride. Crows keep crapping on it, so he slaughters them with his six shooters, only, all the crow carnage makes the kids puke on his freshly polished ride. So, naturally… yeah, you can guess where it ends up.

The Twin Girls of Sunset Street is more creepy than freaky. This stop-motion short finds two old ladies kidnapping a little boy about to slingshot a cat's ass with a rock. They lock him up with a little girl, who disappears into the evil spinsters' cooking pot, where the boy is sure to follow. Being eaten might be better than what he endures trying to escape: hiding under the bed while the two old bats engage in a little autoerotic asphyxiation. Nasty.

To Kill A Bumblebee takes the prize for most watchable. Two hunters debate the merits of crushing a bee in their vehicle versus rolling down the window. The importance of this act is made clear when a hunting accident steadily spirals out of control, begging the question: how far do you take it if you're trying to leave no witnesses?

More pointless pun than actual film, The Tail Gunner is simply a cat dreaming of being a fighter pilot. What's freaky about that?

Taking up the extra time left by the previous entry, Beauty Plus Pity is a very strange, long-winded slab of philosophy. Extremely annoying, tinny, off-key singing worsens a jarring mix of nature footage, real shots of a hunting party and animation, obscuring the thoughtful consideration about man's connection to wildlife through killing it, however bizarre and off-putting those thoughts are.

Speaking of bizarre and off-putting, The Prince of Milk is more than a little of both. A product of the Tokyo film school, this is poorly shot on cheap film, highly annoying and quite disgusting. A schoolboy gets caught whacking off onto the skirt of a girl he likes, in the classroom (in gory detail). He then walks off the top of the school in shame. Suddenly, he's killing all the girls who caught him jerking it with an umbrella while raving psychotically and spitting milk in their faces. Not too subtle. There's a horrible fake serial killer techno rap and some psychobabble, which is all just a pile of shitty self-therapy.

To end on an unremarkable note, we have Yellow Belly End. Another animated silent feature, this one finds a man in a bird suit watching people in other animal suits jump off a cliff and marking it down on a tally sheet, eating coloured beans that correspond to each animal type. Eventually one of them doesn't jump, leaving a suitcase behind the bird-suited man just has to check out. Overall, this is a pretty sad collection to be flying the freak flag.