Fistful of Shorts

Jim Trainor’s 38-minute animated film The Fetishist manages to be oddly affecting despite its subject. A portrait of Chicago serial killer William Heirens, it uses animation to present Heirens’s strange attractions and behavior: becoming aroused by the sight of an open window, defecating at the scenes of his crimes. Heirens, seen mostly as a boy, is depicted differently from shot to shot, which gives him an evocative instability. His line-drawn figure is often combined with photographic fragments that root the film’s events in the physical world, reminding us that they really happened, while Trainor’s collages remind us that Heirens also lived in his own mind, oblivious to the effects of his actions. Moments as simple as the drawn Heirens bouncing his ball off a photograph of a wall make him seem strangely vulnerable–more a fragile youth adrift in an alien world than a crazed killer. Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt’s Meat depicts a family of cannibals through the eyes of the teenage daughter, who seems to enjoy regular sex with her brother but gets annoyed when her parents butcher her boyfriends. The film strikes a weird balance, treating all this as lighthearted fantasy while also presenting it as real. Corky Quakenbush’s Claymation cartoon Davey and the Son of Goliath parodies the old animated Christian TV show by reimagining its boy hero as the “Son of Sam” serial killer. On the same program: Bowl of Oatmeal by Play Loud! Productions and Shade Rupe’s Penisknifevaginawound. Chicago Underground Film Festival, Theater Building, 1225 W. Belmont, Saturday, August 16, 9:30, 773-327-5252. –Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): The Fetishist film still/ cartoon.