I don’t think I’d heard of Jamie Travis before last night. My loss, because he’s absolutely brilliant! He’s got a sharp eye for ultra-polished visuals with bright lavish colours, juxtaposed with dark humour and creepy mind screws. You don’t watch his movies, you strap in and let yourself be taken on a tour of a delightfully quirky mind. Maybe it’ll make sense at the end and maybe not; either way, you’re in for a hell of a ride!
His work is divided into two trilogies (which apparently weren’t planned, they both just sort of happened): the Patterns trilogy (Patterns, Patterns 2, Patterns 3) is a bizarre tale of love, obsession, nightmares, Chinese food and voodoo dolls, with a nice musical number at the end. The Sad Children trilogy (Why The Anderson Children Didn’t Come to Dinner, The Saddest Boy in the World, The Armoire) consists of three darkly humorous tales of childhood alienation. I understand they were partly inspired by Travis’ own childhood, though he assures us he never murdered anyone.
According to the Q&A with A.J. Bond (co-producer of most of his movies*) and Courtenay Webber (co-star of the Patterns films) the look and feel of Why The Anderson Children Didn’t Come to Dinner was inspired by Edward Gorey. I can see that, yeah: when he wasn’t doing out-and-out horror, Gorey liked to take normal Edwardian imagery and twist it just a little, turning it into something vaguely unsettling and surreal.