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AM1200

That title could use some work, but otherwise this 40 minute film is a top-notch exercise in Lovecraftian apprehension that’s gory, atmospheric and impressively cinematic throughout.

The Package
     David Prior is an actor (he played the Alien in ALIEN RESURRECTION) and prolific producer of special edition DVDs, for which his credits are impeccable: he produced the legendary FIGHT CLUB double disc DVD set, which was and remains one of the seminal DVD releases. His primary focus in that area seems to be David Fincher movies, which explains the enthusiastic Fincher blurb on AM1200’s DVD cover: “David Prior, in 40 short minutes, shows why he is the single most promising director I’ve seen in years…”
     To date (mid-2014) this 2007 film is Prior’s sole non-documentary directorial credit (his day job has evidently kept him busy). It has played numerous times at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, whose overseers distribute the film’s DVD--quite simply: you need one!

The Story
     Sam Larson is a businessman who on the bad advice of Harris, an especially amoral colleague, tries to cheat his company out of a large sum of money. The scam goes wrong, resulting in Harris committing suicide and Sam succumbing to a desperate wanderlust.
     While driving through the desert late at night Sam hears a garbled distress signal from a radio station located at AM 1200--mere minutes before a wrong turn deposits him at the front gates of that very station. Forced out of his car by ominous flashlight beams in the distance, Sam enters the station, a dark and seemingly deserted environ--or so it seems until he happens upon a babbling madman handcuffed to a chair. The guy’s blather is tough to decipher, and in any event is cut short when he unexpectedly yanks his hand out of the handcuffs and attacks Sam. A fight ensues, during which Sam beats the man to death.
     From there Sam undergoes a strange sense of dislocation. Seemingly possessed, he drags his attacker’s body to an area of the station with a massive hole in the ground. There Sam dismembers the corpse, and then…

The Direction
     Unlike most short films, this one was done with a great deal of care and attention. Five years(!) in the making, it was painstakingly designed and heavily previsualized via elaborate animated storyboards (a technique used by Brian De Palma and David Prior’s mentor David Fincher).
     The opening scenes bespeak great confidence and skill in their juxtaposition of flashbacks and present tense, accomplished with freeze frames and well-integrated CGI. That technical brilliance is constant throughout the remainder of the film, which is unerringly well visualized. Cinematographer Brian Hoodenpyle provides some excellent Hollywood-worthy lighting, and does wonders with illumination that’s often so dim it borders on unreadable (with many scenes lit solely by a flashlight beam).
     David Prior’s screenplay is admirably tight and concentrated, although it isn’t always as strong as it could have been. Much is left unexplained, including the identity of a distant figure seen waving a flashlight and precisely what happens to the protagonist in the final scenes. The ending, however--in which the term “Lovecraftian” truly comes into play--is GREAT, pure and simple.

 
Vital Statistics

AM1200
DreamLogic Pictures

Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Editor: David Prior
Cinematography: Brian Hoodenpyle
Cast: Eric Lange, John Billingsley, Ray Wise, Stephanie Venditto, Phil Trask Jr., Michael Ambrosini
 

     

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