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Starfest Report: Horrorfest Premiers

While much of the Denver Marriot blanketed the sci-fi and fantasy-heavy genre celebration, the far right wing of the hotel, draped by dark clouds and ominous sparrows circling, was the base of the relatively new (11-years old) Horrorfest.  What was initially a small addition is now a big event that is properly referred to as “a convention within a convention”.  The Horrorfest has various panels, screenings, off-the-wall events and a focus on new, never-before-seen, independently made horror films.  Of the handful of films that were showcased (not only screened, but had the actors and filmmakers present), Dave and I had the chance to catch Attitude for Destruction, Summer School, The Misled Romance of Cannibal Girl and Incest Boy (yes, you read that right) and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulem.   Here’s a brief rundown of these four (all of which have found future DVD distribution):

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Attitude for Destruction I can’t say I “liked” the movie, but, like Screen Geek Dave, there were things about it I admired and, we can both attest, this nasty piece of work was made by maybe the nicest director on the planet.  We had the opportunity to speak with the director, Ford Austin, actor Simon Burzynski and co-star and horror genre veteran Jed Rowen.  I’ll let the audio interview speak for itself- let’s just say that Austin, Burzynski and Rowen couldn’t possibly be cooler and their thoughts on the movie were both illuminating and bang-on funny.  As for the movie itself (sort of a cross between “The Crow” and “Trick or Treat”), I can’t quite recommend it (some will love how far the movie goes but the extreme opening scene completely put me off and took me out of the movie).  On the other hand, the soundtrack IS terrific and the film’s grim parody of rock band politics and excess is spot on.  Austin, Rowen and Burzynski are such awesome guys and clearly talented- I’m completely on board for whatever project they take on next.

 

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Summer School

No, this isn’t a remake of the 1987 Mark Harmon comedy.  Actually, this uneven but stunningly made horror anthology is an impressive, creepy ride.  The movie looks and feels so genuinely like a ‘70’s movie, that, visually, it can be compared to both Grindhouse and Zodiac.  The filmmaking is that good- this is a dazzlingly stylish and playfully written movie.  We spoke with Lance Hendrickson, Ben Trandem, Mike Nelson and Troy McCall, who collectively co-wrote, produced, directed and acted in the film; the

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y were a lively, quick-witted bunch who passionately spoke of giving the film its distinct look and adding elements of the genre they love into the movie’s twisty narrative.  As for the film, the pacing is a problem (like a ‘70’s movie, the film is authentically slow-going at first, which won’t work for everyone) and not all of the vignettes work.  On the other hand, it frequently surprised me (that includes the well-done final twist) and makes a distinct impression.

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The Misled Romance of Cannibal Girl and Incest Boy

This gleefully grotesque but undeniably tender-hearted, 13-minute short film was written and directed by Richard Taylor, a wildly enthusiastic and excitable Lloyd Kauffman protégé.  He gave Dave and I a scene-for-scene commentary of his movie, which, like an early John Waters film, is a mixture of knowingly campy, gag-inducing gross-outs and deceptively sweet moments (it’s a silent film, effectively made to look like a Super 8 underground film).  The film wears its Troma studio influence on its sleeve:  Troma founder Kauffman himself has a hilarious cameo at the beginning.  The audience for a movie like this is both scarce and safely locked away at an asylum, but you can’t deny that Taylor has made something that most will find unwatchable and disgusting, YET, a work that Waters, David Lynch, Luis Bunuel, Alejandro Jodorowski and Carrot Top would probably love and call high art.  Taylor has the step-right-up-and-I-dare-you-to-watch-this panache of a sideshow carnie, which is fitting, as his movie is a cinematic circus freak.

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Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum

Dave will post his extensive review of the film this week, so I’ll just briefly mention this 7-minute short by Ray Harryhausen protégé Marc Lougee.  This wonderful stop-motion animation film is a hauntingly beautiful, exquisitely detailed and surprisingly tender depiction of Poe’s story and, along with the recent Tim Burton-produced stop motion films, is one of the best examples of its type I’ve ever seen.  Lougee is a jovial and extremely learned filmmaker; Dave and I were grateful for the chance to meet him and view his film, which is remarkable and will find an appreciative audience when it becomes available on DVD soon.

We apologize to the filmmakers of You’re Next 3: Pajama Party Massacre, Urine Trouble, Backwoods, Backwoods 2 and the other various horror feature films and shorts that premiered at Horrorfest (Dave and I, unfortunately, only had so much time to do as much as we did this year.  Next year, we’ll try to cover a great deal more.  Screen Geek Josh saw a few of the films we missed and may be posting reviews of them on this site in the near future).

Overall, Horrorfest delivered some memorable new films, introduced us to some extremely talented, incredibly accommodating and all-around cool filmmakers and proved to be a most memorable event.

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