The Elmwood Puppets Offer Fresh Blood for an Old Style
"Oh, I’ve seen this before.” And that’s exactly what writer-director Jon Bristol wants the audience to say when they watch HEAD, the newest piece by Elmwood Productions, the Plainville, Connecticut-based group that specializes in videos and movies starring puppets.
HEAD is the story of five twenty-somethings who go for a weekend camping trip in remote New England, only to discover that the land on which they're staying was the site of a brutal mass murder years ago. When they meet a mysterious man during their stay, things quickly begin to unravel as they fear they’re becoming the next victims.
While HEAD is the titular feature, it is built within a fictional public access horror program hosted by a pale, gaunt character named Graveyard Gil. Preceding the feature is a four-minute short film from 2013 written and directed by producer Rick Passmore.
“It's very much a tribute old movies. The clichés are all there, in the script on purpose, so that it's a typical horror movie,"1 Bristol states, knowing full well that it isn’t exactly what is on the page that makes the movie special, but how that story is told: From the puppets and their puppeteers. The Elmwood Puppets are all hand-designed and constructed by Bristol, occasionally with help from the puppeteers themselves (Ben Farley, who plays the character Lenny, and Mike Finland voice and puppeteer of Bruce, were Assistant Puppet Builders for HEAD).
The project was funded via Kickstarter during production for $3,300, surpassing the three- thousand-dollar goal set by producers. While some of the financials were spent on distribution for Kickstarter donors and DVD duplication, a majority of the funds were used to purchase equipment for HEAD, as well as future Elmwood projects.
HEAD premiered at the Paris in Plantsville Art Gallery with two sold out shows on March 28th and 29th to positive reactions. “...we heard laughs, gasps, cheering, and more at all the right times! So we're guessing you liked it!”2 Bristol posted on the HEAD production blog after the screenings. While more screenings are being scheduled within Connecticut by Elmwood Productions, the producers are also looking into smaller horror and independent film festivals to submit the movie.