Michael Todd Schneider (AKA MagGot)  



A man who seems to live and breathe underground dark cinema, throwing himself wholly at several projects and taking his time to create them his way, which always bear the stamp of his auteurism, dark imagination and energy. In some ways, reminiscent of Eric Stanze in the way he enhances simple low-budget films with a ton of post-processing and editing work, and explores dark subject matter with a variety of colleagues. His focus, however, seems to be on the darkness and atmosphere, and unlike one of his heroes Lynch, doesn't deliver on the writing, narrative or mystery. Definitely a talent, however, when it comes to creating moods, sounds and dark visual experiences. Became more widely known thanks to his collaboration in August Underground Mordum.

Of Some Interest

Double Dose of Terror!!  
Includes an opening short: 'Home Captive', a slightly longer short 'Bowling Night' (both by other directors but produced/edited by MagGot), and then 'Our Devil's Night' by Schneider which was later expanded to a full-length movie. Home Captive features random gay-oriented violence and basement fun and torture, feeling like an intro out of an August Underground flick. Bowling Night is a dull and strangely structured piece with one short burst of surprising violence, but is also quite ordinary and uninteresting. Our Devil's Night, however, is the other-worldly one that sounds boring on paper, but the experience is quite indescribable. It follows two seemingly deranged and lusty cousins and their wheelchair-bound, quiet and masked 'Grandpap' on Halloween night, all costumed and made-up, as they visit some friends at a Halloween party, after which they have random sadistic or deranged fun with the party goers. As with the first two shorts, it's all blurry VHS-quality in monochrome red, with footage, recordings and sounds from other movies intermixed. The party slowly seems to get a supernatural evil life of its own in real-time, like something out of a Lynch movie, with lust, sex, blurry horror-themed costumes and sets, some strange ritualistic carving of meat, and a warped after-party rape involving the cousins encouraging and getting turned on by each other, until someone tries to peer under Grandpa's mask. It's disorienting in the sense that you often can't quite figure out what is going on, with vague evil undercurrents, and the deranged behaviour and natural acting mix with the editing and sound to create general unease. In short, boring, pointless and non-existent as a story, but a gripping and well-made movie experience.

Tribute To Sanity, A  
A 26 minute short included in the 'MagGot Collection' DVD. This is an effective half-hour experiment that explores the mind of a disturbed young man, a disturbing revelation by his father at his death-bed that changed his life, his troubled relationship with his girlfriend, and his cracking mind all causing his psyche to turn to extreme violence. Most of the short focuses on aggressively experimental editing and cinematography and surreal elements which force themselves into the recesses of your mind, surprising you with their effectiveness despite the tired subject matter. He hallucinates, strange Lynchian characters appear with cryptic messages, paranoia and warped reality fill the screen, he runs from himself, considers suicide, but is unable to control his mind, and before he or we know it, violent outbursts lash out at random at people in his life and turn nasty in a climax of surreal madness. The expected gore is only saved for the ending, and the film only benefits from this.

Worthless

August Underground's Mordum
See Fred Vogel.

I Never Left the White Room (AKA My Crepitus)  
Schneider's student film re-edited and re-cut to 'complete the original vision', and, unfortunately, it shows. This is an over-processed film without enough meat to justify its length and even the massive amount of well-done post-processing work can't hide some of the amateurish acting and writing. Jeffrey seems to be some kind of deranged psychopath in an insane asylum tortured by endless visions and nightmares, with vague supernatural undercurrents involving a demon he worships, and a strange controlling mental link with his suffering shrink. There are several random acts of violence against girls which he probably performed in the past, and you can try to piece them together amidst this mess of visions, or simply ignore them as deranged hallucinations. However, the main aspect of this 70-minute piece of headache-inducing insanity is the endless stream of spliced together nightmarish visuals, surreal dreamy encounters, gory visions, bizarre symbolic imagery, lustful masturbatory fantasies sometimes including violence, grating sound effects, eye-slicing color filters, grainy post-editing effects, and so on. It's more like a dark video-art montage than a movie really and I found it mostly tedious, like a stringy piece of meat that has been overcooked, decorated with rotten sauces, and presented as a full course.




2000- by The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre Table of Contents