Review: Woodenhead DVD

STUDIO: Olive Films | DIRECTOR: Florian Habicht | CAST: Nicolas Butler, Teresa Peters, Tony Bishop, Matthew Sunderland, Steve Abel, Mardi Potter, Warwick Broadhead
RELEASE DATE: 5/1/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.95
BONUSES: commentary, documentary, short film, soundtrack CD, more
SPECS: NR | 99 min. | Fantasy | 1.33:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

New Zealand filmmaker Florian Habicht’s memorably bizarre 2003 movie Woodenhead receives a repromotion from DVD supplier Olive Films, which should please art house lovers looking for something they might have missed when it was first released.

A Grimm’s fairy tale-like deconstruction, Woodenhead’s strange story concerns garbage man Gert (Steve Abel) who takes on the chore of driving his boss’s (Warwick Broadhead) daughter Plum (Teresa Peters) to her wedding in a neighboring town. When their car breaks down while en route, the pair are forced to travel by donkey, which leads to getting lost in a thick forest and stumbling into the kind of romantic, dangerous and sexual adventures that make for great cult cinema.

Applying all sorts of nifty production techniques to get a desired effect — expressionist black-and-white photography, a pre-recorded dialog track that doesn’t quite link up to the images as they progress — Habicht creates an enchanted landscape filled with forests, cottages and magic beans and populated by characters that have a distinctively modern take on events as they occur.

Though the film immediately calls to mind the work of Guy Maddin (Careful), early David Lynch (Eraserhead) and even once-young New Zealander Peter Jackson (Bad Taste), German-born, New Zealand-raised Habicht’s movie is uniquely his own.

The DVD is overflowing with extras, including a bonus soundtrack CD featuring composer Marc Chesterman’s ominously playful score.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.