The Canadian filmmaking collective Astron-6 pride themselves on their hilariously postmodern mixture of horror and farce. Directing, writing and starring in most of their work, Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks share a director credit for The Editor – but the group also essentially became their own crew, working with a budget of less than $150,000.
A smart and witty send-up of the late 70s giallo subgenre, The Editor begins as a film-within-a-film, being presided over by Rey Cisco (Adam Brooks). A respected Italian film editor, Rey works to cut his newest film in spite of a mysterious accident which has left him missing his fingers on one hand. When the leading man and his girlfriend are brutally slashed to death on set late one evening, suspicion abounds about the editor.
As the bodies pile up, a black-clad, leather-gloved killer makes appearances, as does a mustachioed, idiotic detective (Matt Kennedy). Meanwhile, Conor Sweeney plays a sociopathic supporting actor; a perverted mix of Leif Garrett and Klaus Kinski. He schemes to become the star of the picture, muddying the waters of motive. But the plot is knowingly lost to the madness on display; the identity of the killer is secondary.
From a cluttered false-start, featuring a nude woman and an axe-wielding murderer, The Editor begins as it means to go on: a collection of references, from De Palma to Argento to Cronenberg. Bathed in soft red lighting and stylized up to the eyeballs, the film boasts a soundtrack from Giallo veteran Claudio Simonetti. It’s even dubbed with clumsy-sounding dialogue, aping the poorly synced English of the original Italian slashers.
The Editor is like a comic B-side to the homage of neo-giallo Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears. Kennedy and Brooks get enormous mileage out of the genre’s convoluted and semi-supernatural narrative twists. They also draw attention to its homoeroticism, and pointedly, its blatant misogyny. Pert, naked women constantly mill about on set, often being slapped in the face for the hell of it. At one point, the detective enters a restaurant to slap Rey’s wife, Josephine (Paz de la Huerta) on his behalf. Josephine silkily chides her husband for not having slapped her sooner: "He’s right, you know. I’m not gonna slap myself."
In another moment, Rey washes his face in the mirror, and there’s the flash of a cue mark in the corner of the frame. He looks up at where it appeared, startled. It can’t get any more meta than that, and like much of Astron-6’s previous output, The Editor is self-aware to the nth degree. But it’s clever without being smarmy, and the gags are top notch.
'The Editor' screens at Celluloid Screams and Mayhem Horror Film Festival this week.