When Zits Attack 

The Clinton Shows Off Rusty Nails

Rusty Nails: Retrospective
dir. Nails
Fri May 27
Clinton St. Theater

It's the greatest fear of any teenager: A cantaloupe-sized zit, sprouting from the top of one's head, which then pops in a disgustingly gooey fashion. Those stricken with the ailment aren't cured with a mere zit-popping, however--it gets worse, leaving a giant, gaping, pus-leaking crater in the victim's head.

Such is the premise behind filmmaker Rusty Nails' Acne, a patchy riff on the low-budget, sci-fi horror flicks of the '50s and '60s. When two siblings (played by Nails and Tracey Hayes) discover massive pimples on top of their noggins, they soon find they aren't the only ones who've turned into "zitheads"--all the teenagers in their town are dribbling pus (from both their giant zits and, inexplicably, their mouths) and ransacking convenience stores for chocolate bars, the only thing that can sate their desperate need for oily foods.

I don't want to talk too much shit about Acne, as it is clever at times, and it is funny ("This is not awesome," Nails deadpans when he first discovers his pubescent cranial deformity). But it's also overlong and clunky, and its campy shtick and halfhearted stabs at politics wear thin quickly. In other words, as well as Acne pokes fun at and pays tribute to '50s and '60s horror, it also does a bang-up job of emulating the genre's worst aspects. Still, Acne's worth wading through for some great lines, and because of (or in spite of) its gross-out humor.

Acne, which screens this Friday at the Clinton St. Theater, will be accompanied by several of Nails' more daring and succinct short films, and Nails will be present to answer questions. (I suggest "So, Rusty--why the hell is your name 'Rusty Nails'?") And despite Acne, I don't want to underestimate Nails' shorts--having seen a few of them, the ones he trots out tonight (which include a tribute to the Ramones and the surreal God is Dad) will most likely prove better than Acne--yet will hopefully maintain Nails' clever and subversive tone.

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