When reviewing a Joe Badon film, words such as “ersatz,” “systematically,” and “avuncular” will never work. Nor will attempting diatribes or didacticism. His films are like surreal gossamer coated with Dadaist treacle. His newest work is the short film The Blood of the Dinosaurs, a prologue to his upcoming feature film The Wheel of Heaven, and it is as mind-blowing as his features The God Inside My Ear and Sister Tempest.
In the first two minutes alone, we are treated to a microbudget cataclysm — to be clear, I’m referring to what happens in the short, not the short itself. “Safe and sane” fireworks crackle and hiss as a meteor crashes into the Earth, bringing an end to the reign of dinosaurs, portrayed here by toys, puppets, and some throwback CG animation. Soon after that, we are treated to the broadcast of a children’s Christmas television show featuring the disturbed and disturbing host Uncle Bobbo (Vincent Stalba) and his young cast member Purity (Stella Creel). And there is more, much more, but who am I to spoil all the fun of this dream-logic dark comedy?
But what about horror? Fear not, The Blood of the Dinosaurs features plenty of it, from giallo references to psychotic breaks to body horror to the existential horror of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, and beyond. And humor? Well, humor is subjective, but I laughed out loud several times and I hope you will too, dear reader. Badon would welcome that, I’m sure.
Badon cowrote both the screenplay and the score with Jason Kruppa, and each is as mad as the other — the screenplay and the score, that is. I’m guessing that Badon and Kruppa are highly imaginative but not actually mad, though the short may have you wondering about that at times.
The set decoration, especially on the TV set — I mean the set for Uncle Bobbo’s TV program, to clear up any confusion, because there is a portable television set that has a decoration on top of it, too — by Derec Donovan and Miles Hendler is outstanding, and Joseph Estrade’s frenetic editing adds extra oomph to the short. Daniel Waghorne’s cinematography captures the proceedings superbly, often bringing us closer to the lunacy than what we might be comfortable with.
High strangeness, hallucinatory images, horrific predicaments, and hilarious consequences — The Blood of the Dinosaurs has all of this and more. Badon consistently shows creativity, imagination, flair, elan, and chutzpah on miniscule budgets. I can’t even fathom what his first larger-budget work will be like because I am a mere average human, but I can’t wait to see the result, because his previous works and this insane short are all face meltingly, mind bogglingly wonderful.
The Blood of the Dinosaurs is currently on the film festival circuit.(4 / 5)