Monday, November 19, 2018
THE FUNGUS AMONG US
I can emphatically state that I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Joshua Kennedy's latest film, THE FUNGUS AMONG US. (That statement alone might make some of Josh's fans happy). That fact enables me to write a totally unbiased (yeah, right) blog post about the production.
How creative is Joshua Kennedy? While busy prepping the most important project of his young life--HOUSE OF THE GORGON--Josh decided to make another film altogether. The result is a wild mixture of neo-noir, 1950s low-budget monster movies, "bad girl" flicks, and 1970s grindhouse attitude.
The story begins in Vandorf County, Texas, in the middle of the night, where four brazen young women (played by Stephanie Marie Baggett, Gabriela Pedraza, Jamie Trevino, and Natalie Wise) kidnap an innocent girl (Stephanie Jo Saez) who they believe to be a mayor's daughter. Trouble is, she isn't the mayor's daughter--and a massive rainstorm is heading for the area. The women, and their captive, take shelter in an empty house that is up for sale. The ladies have more moxie than brains, and they are at a loss at what to do about the situation. Soon a tough-talking fellow named Dutch (Marco Munoz) arrives. Dutch is the one who planned the kidnapping in the first place, and the four ladies "work" for him (you can probably guess what their job description is). Like his "employees", Dutch isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and he tries to think of a way how they all can still get some ransom money. But this motley crew has bigger problems--the house is inexplicably filled with cotton candy-like strands of deadly fungus!
THE FUNGUS AMONG US reminded me of a pre-Poe Roger Corman film--it's in black & white, the few characters spend a lot of time arguing with one another, and there is a monster that at first seems ridiculous but is actually quite effective. What's really surprising about the film is that it clocks in at a crisp 40 minutes or so. It's as if Josh skipped all the extraneous filler that one finds in so many low-budget fantastic movies of the 50s and 60s right off the bat and just focused on the "good stuff". There's no sequences of characters relating their backstory, or scenes of the kidnap victim bonding with her captors--and there's no explanation for the fungus whatsoever. The story may be a bit predictable, but because there's no detours along the way, it works rather well.
The black & white photography is very well done, and most of the scenes involving the fungus are tinted a sickly green. I'm not going to dwell on the fungus attacks--I don't want to give too much away--but there is a very nice Freddie Francis-style shot which reveals the fungus' POV!
One thing you can expect from every Joshua Kennedy movie is a cast featuring some very attractive female talent, and THE FUNGUS AMONG US is no exception (Natalie Wise in particular has excellent screen presence). You can also expect plenty of in-jokes and geeky references--I'll let you spot those for yourselves.
THE FUNGUS AMONG US is short--so short that I was left wanting more. It's still a worthy addition to the Joshua Kennedy Cinematic Universe. The movie features a John Carpenter-esque original music score by Tom Milligan, so I assume this means that Josh will be able to release it on home video in the near future.