Underground Film Journal

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Outrageous Short Film: Leperf***

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 31, 2010

Embedded above is, without a doubt, one of the most outrageous things I have ever seen. It’s the short film Leperf**** by Drew Tobia, a film so completely over-the-top — in a very minimalist way — that I can’t even bring myself to write the full title. And, yes, the title is a very accurate description of the film. It’s just the road to get there that’s so terrifying, grotesque and, kinda surprisingly, emotionally devastating, which is probably the key to why it’s such an effective film.

Now, I do understand that not everybody will have the same visceral reaction as me to this film as it does touch an exceptionally sensitive area of my psyche. It’s not even something I can even truly understand or quite know how to articulate. But, I’ll try:

Fans of Italian horror movies might be with me on this one, but I don’t know. However, in ’70s and ’80s Italian zombie movies, they always throw these crappy, completely unrealistic, globby and dripping with bright red fake blood and pus masks on the actors playing the zombies. That’s how we know they’re zombies — they’re wearing masks that look like sides of raw beef that have been pummeled for five hours straight by the Italian Stallion. They’re dumb, awful masks. And they’ve always terrified the living daylights out of me.

You’ll see these masks in classics like Lucio Fulci’s Zombie and The Beyond or Marino Girolami’s Dr. Butcher, M.D. aka Zombie Holocaust. These masks only show up in Italian zombie movies.

And in Tobia’s Leperf*** above. This short film is only kind of hideous during the opening when the main characters go to care for lepers in a leper colony. But, when the leads come home and the male is stricken with cancer, he ends up lying on a couch with a bloody, pus-filled Italian zombie mask. And it revolts me. It sickens me. And it terrifies me.

At this point, the film becomes almost unbearable to watch. It’s one of those films where I have to turn my head three-quarters away from the screen and can only glance back once in a while to witness the horror full on.

However, what really makes this film painful to watch is that there are genuine emotions here. It is, in many ways, devastatingly sad in the way it plays around what feels like could be a very real tragedy. Tobia gussies it all up in gross-out special effects, but this kind of misfortune and hardship happens in real life all the time. No good deed goes unpunished. It may be a cliche, but it also happens to be true.

Leperf**** won the 2009 AUFF The Wall award at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, and it also screened at the 2008 Boston, 2009 Montreal and 2009 Portland Underground Film Festivals.

If you want to learn more about Drew Tobia, please visit the website for his production company Mommy Kamikaze or his Vimeo page.

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