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Small Gauge Trauma gives you the goods

Just when you think that summer is over and Fantasia is long gone for another year, Small Gauge Trauma steps in to give you a little souvenir of strange fruit to remember it by. As Fantasia wraps up its 10th edition, this slick DVD of 13 award-winning shorts from the past 10 years of shorts programs, also called Small Gauge Trauma, is definitely worth the price of admission.

Montreal is the hatching ground for Fantasia, and the hometown is repped by Benoit Boucher’s Flat ‘n Fluffy – a psychedelic cartoon inspired by the demented likes of Robert Smigel on cheap acid – and Infini, by Guillaume Fortin, a beautiful-looking, devilishly detailed experimental short in which an overdosed junkie’s life becomes a spliced-together Super-8 dream. Spain, a Fantasia-favoured nation, shows up with Abuelitos, a claustrophobic psychological horror story set in a seniors’ home, and Ruta Destroy!, a demented song-and-dance rave movie about "haircuts in ashtray shape!" and coke-snorting girlfriends in platform shoes. The Latin world is also represented by two other rarities, I’ll See You in My Dreams, a lovely Portuguese zombie joint, and Gorgonas, a flashy animation from Argentinean comic-book artist Salvador Sanz. Most remarkable of these is Amor só de mãe, a gorgeous Brazilian macumba thriller co-written by a real, incarcerated macumba voodoo priest. Scary stuff!

There’s a handful of Japanese offerings, which range from the sublime (Tomoya Sato’s L’Ilya) to the totally ridiculous (Tenkwaku Naniwa’s 30-second Miss Greeny).

Nearest and dearest to my heart, however, are the U.K. offerings, which include Robert Morgan’s haunting stop-motion The Separation, which first played at Fantasia in 2003. And they’ve saved the best for last: Tea Break, Sam Walker’s riveting whack job/riff on industrialism and gore, in which a butcher in an abattoir whose slaughter subjects are living human beings still takes his sandwich breaks when the clock strikes noon. Best of all, Walker and his scriptwriter take the director’s audio commentary where no cineaste has gone before: into an improvised bluegrass reel about how they made the whole thing because they wanted to see their friends naked. This is pure gold, people.

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  • by Pedro Eggers - August 11, 2006, 6:13 pm

    Ok, what’s the point of having a DVD feature if you’re not gonna have it every week? Seriously, every week the market gets a fresh new influx of material to sift through and collectors like myself rely on every little bit of info out there in making our weekly purchases. Take for instance, the recent “V for Vendetta” release; there’s the basic edition, the double disc special edition and if you hike all the way over to Best Buy you get on top of it a super wicked holographic slipcase. To a collector these things matter. May not make the movie any better but it sure is pretty to own.
    Ok, ok, enough bitching. Yes, Fantasia’s “Small Gauge Trauma” is a neat treat to regular attendees of the fest but if you’re on the fence and you’ve got a tight budget keep in mind that the complete Red Dward collection is coming out on Sept. 5th (start saving now!!!) as are the ultimate edition of Blade Runner, Apocalypse, Now and the complete series of Police Squad! (the basis of the Naked Gun series). Oh, and let’s not forget that George Lucas is *finally* releasing the original version of the original trilogy. If you’re a sci-fi geek and you saved up your money get ready to kiss it goodbye!

  • by Zachary Masoud - August 12, 2006, 2:10 pm

    Every single year, I obviously attend Fantasia and every single year, I make sure to check out the Small Gauge Trauma. It is ultimately a myriad of shorts which will surely have you cringing until the very end. It’s something very fun to check out on the big screen and for the little price of seven dollars, it’s definitely worth the money. However, spending over twenty five dollars on the movie is a little too much for me, especially since so many series are coming out on dvd. Honestly, there are so many dvds that come out each and every week and I feel like my wallet is constantly opening up and giving out money. For me, since I am a Simpsons-aholic, I must buy the new season on dvd August 15th, and since I have not yet purchased Apocalypse Now, I must make sure to purchase the amazing edition which is coming out shortly. Oh my, I am surely going to be poor soon.

  • by Eric Bertrand - August 12, 2006, 2:31 pm

    Sadly, this was one of the hightlights of the week DVDwise. I remember most of the films in this collection and I’m not sure that I’d spend my money on this DVD. I’d rather save my money and buy the real good horroe titles out there first.

  • by Mark St Pierre - August 13, 2006, 11:33 pm

    Small Gauge Trauma sounds like a wonderful way to introduce the uninitiated, such as myself, into the surreal and heady world that is Fantasia. Sounds like the shorts pretty much encompass any given Fantasia fest – everything from zombies to funky Japanese strangeness to psychadelic cartoons. And the greatest thing about it, is that you can watch it in the privacy of your home and pull the covers over your face for the really scary/gross bits – the perfect balm for beginners!

  • by Andy Mauro - August 17, 2006, 11:39 am

    Are you guys nuts?
    Seriously, comparing Red Dwarf, and the “real good horror” titles to the Small Gauge Trauma DVD?! George Lucas releases the ultimate rip-off edition of Star Wars, and you save your money for that over a bunch of down and dirty independant shorts? Last time I checked the “real good horror” titles released this week include “Snakes on a Train.” Come on, I expect any lover of cinema to be up in arms to promote originality and vision over yet another superduper5extraminutesofcrapyou’vealreadyseenontheinternet edition DVD re-re-re-release of something we all already own. Would you eat your own barf if someone added the “special feature” of some M&Ms? Probably not, so why keep doling out cash for the studio double dip?
    Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, and Blade Runner are all films that blew minds back in their heyday, but now are just fodder for ripoff artists and hacks; two groups you won’t find well represented on the Small Gauge Trauma DVD. Hell, George Lucas’ original THX 1138 short film could very well have ended up in Small Gauge Trauma if such a thing had existed back before Lucas grew an eggsack in place of his chin. This is the kind of DVD where you discover a new favorite filmmaker you never knew existed, the kind of DVD that makes you realize how much better films could be today if Daddy Warbucks would just give some of these talented bastards a little bit of cash.
    Best zombie movie of the last 5 years…nope, not Dawn, not Shawn, it’s “I’ll see you in my dreams.” Where can you see it…only on the Small Gauge Trauma DVD
    Best stop motion movie, possibly ever…nope, not the Corpse Bride, or Wallace and Grommit, “The Separation” by Robert Morgan…where? Small Gauge DVD.
    I could go on, but I’m out of space…read this review instead…

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