Head, directed by Jon Bristol, who wrote it alongside J.R. Calvo and Brian Woodman, is a tribute to 1970s grindhouse titles and 1980s slashers. The twist, if you will, aside from a script with zero fat to trim, is that the stars of this horror-comedy are puppets. Yes, this Elmwood Productions title joins the ranks of the ever-growing puppet horror subgenre.
Friends Joe (Jon Bristol), Lenny (Ben Farley), Nelly (Sally Arlette-Garcia), Bruce (Mike Finland), and Joe’s sister, Vicki (Manda Vasas), head to the woods for a weekend of camping. After setting up their tents, another camper, Tom (Nick Foreman), stumbles up the group. They all make fast friends, especially Tom and Vicki, who have instant chemistry. But their trip takes a fatal turn when someone begins decapitating everyone in a manner similar to murders that took place in those woods years ago.
“…their trip takes a fatal turn when someone begins decapitating everyone…”
In the pantheon of puppet horror films, Head stands in a unique place all its own. See, the film is a straightforward slasher film with little to no red herrings. Upon learning of the murders, one of the characters posits that it sounds like something cultists and/or Satanists would do. While suspicion is cast upon Tom by Bruce after Nelly’s killed, it does not take long for the truth to be revealed. While this does mean that the characters, aside from Tom and Vicki, are one-dimensional, it also allows for a quickly-paced story that effectively creeps the audience out.
Bristol, directing-wise, plays with the space outside of the frame to help establish the atmosphere. Much like Sergio Leone, if it is not on screen, it does not exist to both the audience members or the characters. This really amps up the stakes, as it means that anyone not currently seen could be next. The filmmaker also balances the tone pretty well, as the horror and the comedy mix well here. In fact, the comedy is a bit more subdued than one might expect. There’s nary a slapstick pratfall or some such to be found.
"…playfully pokes fun at the cliches of the horror titles that influenced it while still being a loving homage..."