Director: Bill Zebub
Cast: Mike Nastri as Ant-Drew; Jessica Mazo as Ant-Drea; Bill Zebub as Ant-Thony; Miss Lyss as News Achorwoman; Rachel Bulisky as Ant-Marie; Lindsey Jones Winter as Mary-Ant; Erin Anne MacDonald as an Antomologist
Abstract List Candidate
[Major Spoilers Throughout. Also this talks about a lot of tasteless content so just be aware]
We shouldn't even call this a park, we should call this a stolen.
Yes, that title speaks so much about what to expect. This is not surprisingly however since Bill Zebub is a micro budget filmmaker who since 2002 has made over sixty films up to the 2020s at least, with a tendency to make at least four films a year from the start of his career onwards. Figures like Zebub, who has titled films with for more offensive names or ones like Dickshark (2016)1, thrive on what is meant to be shocking, offensive, or funny in the sense of being tasteless and ironic, something which has become more difficult to accept as a defensive force field entirely out of his hands, but has not stopped him from continuing on as he is still making films and clearly able to sustain enough funds to do so.
To those who think this is just going to be another review saying why the film is bad, there are those who have gone out of their way to watch this film and those who have not, even if they have major issues with this type of content. Also, Bill Zebub would hopefully be amused this review exists next to those for Straub-Huillet art films I have also covered, and that I watched Antfarm Dickhole whilst drunk as probably intended to be. And even if it was not an issue here, Antfarm really never gets around to actually following that premise to its fullest either.
Shooting fishes in a barrel would be pointless, but for a film which begins with a man named Ant-Drew (Mike Nastri) being beaten up by a bully in the woods, and getting fighter ants colonise his "pee-pee", Zebub was clearly more interested in other things. Coming from a heavy metal background, as a writer and radio host on extreme metal, he clearly from metal's world of deliberate provocation. He also really loves puns, as every character for the most part has a name he can add "Ant" to the beginning of. In fact, the amount of ant related puns, whether they actually work or not, could fill a book for children.
Antfarm Dickhole is actually tamer than it appears, in context to the extremity of cinema I have never really something gross or mind bending. Yes, do bare in mine I am a rare case as a few of us are as, if you told a work colleague you watched a film like this, and they have no previous history of weird cinema, that title alone would get a reaction from them. This film promised to be weirder than it appears, an intro montage of ants and avian life scored to female voices layered over each other, talking about colours in repetition. No, it's not Einstein on the Beach, actually a film whilst very adult in content instead having a very juvenile air, from the leads Ant-Drew and Ant-Thony (Bill Zebub himself) acting like boys, talking about their "pee-pees" and trying to make pun jokes about everything. The film is also not very interested in actually being a horror film or actually a film most of the time, even if it has a premise most would be fascinated to see play out about a man armed with literal ants in his pants.
That Ant-Drew, already with problems with premature ejaculation even when he masturbates, accidentally kills his girlfriend when, oral sex, the ants reduce her to a prop skelton, this in another person's hands could have been a really perverse but inspired take on the petty male ego, as he decides to go on a rampage against the bullies who have tormented him but targets their girlfriends, and eventually loses his mind when both the ants leave and a firecracker in the (fake) penis makes him impotent. But beyond that, from Bill Zebub instead, this is definitely an extreme in how micro-budget and outsider cinema allows for non-narrative tangents to be indulged in.
Zebub was more interested in writing jokes, even if they never have anything remotely connected to a plot, such as a problematic sweetener named "Butt-partame", just to have the pun, or having a woman in a bikini reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion for reasons never connected to anything, possibly just to show his approval to atheism, but even that is making a rash judgement call to the intent of the scene.
I am definitely able, one hundred percent, to predict that his call to have all his female cast, maybe except a couple, wearing bikinis even if does not make sense to comes from the same reason why Antfarm Dickhole has an insane amount of female nudity throughout. Even if it leads to irrational moments like a female reporter in the woods, claiming you can sunbathe under the trees and the leaves will block out UV rays, it is clearly for titillation. The nudity is surprising to consider as, for a micro budget film, you might not be able to pay for actresses willing to do nude scenes. If anything it leaves me with a respect for the female cast in this film willing to, especially as, when I mean nudity, I mean willing to bare all to the extent, to be polite, a very private body piercing is actually visible, whilst another actresses, when it is considered to fight (fire) ants with (fire) ants, has to produce a vile of them naked, and it is very explicit and real where it is produced from.
It is prurient, and it is the only really strong detail to the film as, as the horror is merely some blood and many prop skeletons, this is not extreme. Even the dickhole is a fake prosthetic, closer to the pegs you use in the modern version of the Game of Life board game, those you add to your plastic automobile, in shape with pound store plastic ants sticking out of a hole carved into its top. Beyond this, Zebub's interest in jokes, even breaking the fourth wall by leaving in the scene where his own chair breaks under him unintentionally, is so more a concern that this being consistent, leading to the results becoming a random grab-bag of vignettes. The only time this film ever considers its premise, in its full tasteless yet perversely intriguing idea, is when Ant-Drew humps a car tailpipe to get his legion of killer ants into a locked car where a bully's girlfriend is, or when the colony try to drag a whole banana back into their new nest. There are also scenes, in their ineptness, which are accidental surrealism, such as the plot point about acquiring an anteater leading to just a) a rucksack claimed to have one inside, and b) a cut out image of an anteater superimposed into one shot.
A lot actually happens, but it is never with anything truly happening, like the pieces of random puzzles. A detective chasing the trail of the murders never has any point to his journey. A female scientist, and love interest to Zebub's character, called Ant-Drea (Jessica Mazo) becomes a major character, but even all her and Ant-Thony's attempts to rid the ants, including insecticide being confused for moonshine, come off as pointless. There are many pointless scenes with that aforementioned news reporter in the woods, also claiming murders do not happen near trees. Many scenes in the woods happen in general, the free zone which micro budget films thrive upon using. Also, there are scenes, even with a fake penis, of the lead actor looking like he is exposing himself, causing one to wonder how no one got into trouble as there are shots in parkland where, not that far away, there are bystanders with their children in the background clearly oblivious to a film being shot in the far foreground.
The term "fag" is used a lot, and there is a lot of gay humour which is the one unpleasant detail of the film. Antfarm Dickhole does bring up the question of political correctness and its place within culture does as, whilst I have as much concern about PC culture cancelling debate rather than tackling tough questions on language and representation for progressive ideals, advocates for the politically incorrect into the mid-2010s onwards have chosen some ill-advised hills to die on, worse as it became a political factor at that time from alt-right wing groups. You do not even have to factor in the people who just want to be derogatory to minorities and hide behind the term "free speech", but people who like to deliberate tread over the line for provocation, who seem more childish in the modern day.
Zebub is not from the political area with this film, clearly meant to be funny and just so, something however which whether it is acceptable to or not, is in itself a hill you may regret planting a flag on if that landmark becomes lame to the culture the decade it had just be occupied in2. It is strange to as, to give him credit, Zebub actually as a performer has a charming charisma, a big teddy bear of a man, yet it feels so out of place even by 2011 to have jokes about Ant-Drew panicking that Ant-Thony is gay, all because his friend is secretly trying to dispose of the ants out of Ant-Drew's pee-pee. Oh, and "pee-pee" and such euphemisms for the penis are used a lot, a lot of childish language between the male characters used.
The sense of the film's tone can just be found in the music, where for all the heavy metal tracks used, including death metal over sensual stripping scenes for some reason, there are also out-and-out comedic songs too. Antfarm, as I deliberately did, is clearly meant to be watched with a few drinks in you inebriated. Bill Zebub is someone in the position that, able to work on so little, he can make the films he wants to a fanbase, to this idea and for his own amusement. Unfortunately, that also means that he is perilously in the area of self indulgence, both in the tasteless humour but also not following sensible routes. Such as ending this film not on the punch line of where the ants next go, but the film as a tale told within another story. That of an anti-bullying lecture which somehow leads to a nude woman being raped by a spider, an actress under a fake giant spider in a corridor as a bored cat cameos, and the introduction of their progeny, a young man who is half man and half spider. The film actually ends setting up for a future Bill Zebub film called "Manspider" which never came about.
Yeah....that concisely shows the problem with Antfarm Dickhole. It is not even weird, just very random, not likely to be for many, offensive in a few ways but also quite inert. None of this is a slight to Bill Zebub because, quite frankly, he is still making films, probably will not see this review, and will not care even if he does. Or he will use the argument that it is intentionally meant to be random, but again, one should never presume a creator's intent. The man goes to horror conventions, sells t-shirts as merchandise for his films, and has even published a book of poems and short stories, so a negative review is about as effective as those rival ants against the antfarm dickhole. What watching the film and reviewing does instead, from the outsider's perspective, is show the likely template of his entire career and that this is likely to be encountered with everything else you could cover in his career.
Abstract Spectrum: Eccentric/Random/Tasteless
Abstract Rating (High/Medium/Low/None): None
1) One, Loving a Vegetable (2015), is sadly from its premise of a woman being permanently disabled into a vegetable state, suggests a really crass film. That title however offers a far more pleasant and surreal tale of a romance with a carrot or that episode of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (2004) I did actually like of one of the male doctors falling in love with a female patient slowly turning into alien broccoli. Zebub could have had a career as a title creator just by itself.
2) It evokes heavy metal's history of deliberately being provocative even for a joke, a great example being the late Peter Steele, lead singer for Carnivore and one of my favourite bands, Type O Negative, where the question of what is just meant to be ironic offensiveness and what is not is a big issue to deal with. This is not a random example to pluck out of the ether either, as for a film Bill Zebub made also in 2011, called Rap Sucks, the DVD release includes an extensive interview with Steele.