Our 5 Choice Indies of 2015

kung-fury
Cinema Crazed is pretty much a one man operation, so as always, we weren’t able to watch every single film sent to us this year. We have so much to do, and so little time to do it in, but we try our damndest to watch everything that comes down our pipe. The year has been good for indie filmmaking, as Hollywood are taking more and more chances on indie filmmakers and budding storytellers.

As with every year, this is a list of the five best Indies we saw in 2015. While there were many A+ Indies, these five stood out and stuck with us for a long time.

While a few of these movies can be viewed online legally for free, we encourage you to buy these films. Buying them helps the filmmakers, it helps them go on to make another movie you might enjoy, and it helps the small companies that are funding these directors and excellent storytellers. The indie film community needs as much support as it can muster up. Without Further ado…

5. Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween
Directed by Dave Campfield
Written by Dave Campfield

(Original Review | Buy It Here)
The horror audience is a fickle bitch. With the horror world pulling in all directions, it’s impossible to find out what will become the next great American horror film. “Paranormal Halloween” is probably the most self aware installment of Dave Campfield’s comedy series. Not only does Campfield put his characters through the wringer on a horror mystery, but he tackles the most popular tropes of modern horror movies and skewers them relentlessly. There’s an inherent frustration behind much of Campfield’s horror satire, as he mocks found footage, lampoons “The Conjuring” with laugh out loud results, and doesn’t mind picking at modern horror audiences and their wildly bipolar tastes and desires for horror entertainment. “Paranormal Halloween” is an admittedly more earnest Campfield using his comedy duo to convey his utter irritation with how horror has changed and audiences’ tastes are impossible to keep up with.

4. The Murders of Brandywine Theater
Directed by Larry Longstreth
Written by Larry Longstreth

(Original Review | Buy It Here)
I’ve been a fan of Larry Longstreth since his days of fan film making, and hilarious short comedies, and “The Murders of Brandywine Theater” is a cinematic investment in a story that is beautifully told. For horror fans that appreciate their genre offerings intelligent, and dwelling on the idea of alienation and isolation, Longstreth concocts a haunting horror film that channels “The Twilight Zone” and “Magic.” Longstreth’s film is meticulously crafted, and it pays off with top notch performances all around, a slick intermission that conveys the lunacy of the premise, and a genuinely heartbreaking human tale. Longstreth also crafts a genuinely creepy villain in the ventriloquist dummy Moxxy. And for folks that like their cult films with some spice, there are some great appearances by wrestlers Diamond Dallas Page, and Dustin Runnels.

3. Redaction
Directed by Tim Sanger
Written by Tim Sanger

(Watch It Now)
The hard truths are ugly and uncomfortable. Maybe if we ignore or can find a way to brush away violence and senseless acts of cruelty, we don’t have to admit that we don’t have the resources to remedy these situations. Or maybe we just want to remedy the situation. Tim Sanger’s short film takes us in to a slimy world where acts of violence are erased from our memories, allowing us to press restart and put a band aid on the larger problems in our lives. As we see in the film with a young woman just beaten by her husband, she’s willing to face her problems head on and wants some justice. Sadly she is coerced by an eager legal team, all of whom are anxious to get her to erase the violent act of abuse from her memory and move on to court cases that won’t garner so much negative press. It’s easier to sweep problems under the rug than try to solve them, but how long until the band aid comes off and we can no longer erase the skeletons from our closet. Sanger’s short film is a masterful, bleak and very relevant look at society’s quick fixes and easy outs for more complex and complicated problems plaguing our world.

2. Kung Fury
Directed by David Sandberg
Written by
David Sandberg
(Original Review | Buy It Here)
David Sandberg’s short action film is a novel cinematic offering that pays full tribute to the 1980’s and never loses sight of its own entertainment value. The kick starter craze of the year that went viral and was supported by indie film lovers of all kinds, Sandberg delivers on the promise of a superb action film. “Kung Fury” thankfully lives up to its hype and surprisingly large coverage, as it rakes in top notch special effects, excellent mind blowing action sequences, and a tongue in cheek tone that is never over the top. Sandberg knows when to deliver hilarious callbacks to the eighties, and knows when to pull back enough before it gets repetitive. For folks that loved “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” Sandberg never relents in paying tribute to the bygone era of film. There are Norse gods, Viking babes, anthropomorphic animal sidekicks, Hitler, giant robots, and of course: Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff even recorded a theme song for the film. “Kung Fury” is a gem that deserves a cult following.

1. The Death of Superman Lives – What Happened?
Directed by Jon Schnepp
Written by Jon Schnepp

(Original Review | Buy It Here)
Somewhere in a parallel universe, we were given “Superman Lives,” a wonky movie starring Nicolas Cage, directed by Tim Burton and penned by Kevin Smith. “The Death of Superman Lives — What Happened?” by John Schnepp is a rather stellar look at the studio system, and how such a universal character can be completely lost in translation. During its entire life, “Superman Lives” went through an array of changes, and alterations, and even went as far as costume stages, but luckily for us, what seemed like one of the most surreal comic book adaptations of all time, never got off the ground. “The Death of Superman Lives” is consistently funny, and always fast paced, prompting some of the most genuinely funny and priceless anecdotes about film development, and how a simple big screen version of Superman became utterly disastrous. Schnepp is very good about embracing the inherent eccentric tone of the entire story of “Superman Lives,” and has a good job creating something of a meta-documentary that could almost be a Christopher Guest mock documentary, with enough tinkering. It’s never boring learning about how little Hollywood understands the comic book medium, and hilariously chronicles a time when comic book movies didn’t just fail to make money, but also weren’t taken seriously by any studio.