Think of Terror in the Aisles as a miniature Music Box Massacre: a triple-feature instead of a 24-hour marathon, and held (usually) at the Portage Theater in Chicago’s Six Corners neighborhood instead of at the Music Box in Wrigleyville. (I seem to remember one Terror was held at the Vic Theatre, though.) As with the Massacre, it’s programmed by indie filmmaker Rusty Nails on behalf of the Movieside Film Festival, so you get the same goodies: personal appearances, Trailer Trash (vintage trailers), indie trailers, shorts, merch tables, and auctions (proceeds benefiting Vital Bridges, an AIDS/HIV assistance charity).
The seventh Terror in the Aisles, held on Friday, December 3, featured on the lineup:
- Day of the Dead (25th Anniversary of Romero’s Classic!)
- Black Death (Brutal Medieval Madness!)
- If a Tree Falls (Canadian Exploitation Shocker!)
Special guests were Lori Cardille and Gary Klar, who played Sarah and Pvt. Steele in Day of the Dead.
A full review of Day of the Dead will appear next week, and I may properly write up the other two films in the future. (It doesn’t seem that either film is available on DVD at this time.)
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I didn’t see any trailers that grabbed me the way Terror at the Haunted House and Blood Freak—whose trailers were screened at this year’s Massacre—did, but there were some good ones here nonetheless. Favorite: The Headless Ghost. Others screened: The She-Creature, I Bury the Living, A Bucket of Blood, Horrors of the Black Museum (with Michael Gough!), How to Make a Monster, Circus of Horrors.
Trailer: Eye of the Sandman
I’m not sure how to describe what this one is about judging from the trailer, so I’ll just quote the log line from the official website: “Just days before her wedding, a one-eyed bride-to-be develops an obsession [with] a mysterious stranger that may cost her her marriage, her home, and her other eye.” Looks to be a supernatural mystery with an endearingly quirky low-fidelity aesthetic, with Der Sandman as a source. Best dialogue exchange:
Man: I’ve just inherited this house.
Woman: No. I’ve just inherited this house!
I’m looking forward to seeing this, eventually. IMDB’s year of release is listed as “2009,” but I don’t see it on Amazon or Netflix, and the website doesn’t have purchase information, so I have to assume it’s not available on DVD yet. (Mental note, though…look into this.)
Trailer: Heaven is Hell
“The twelve most faithful are now the twelve most wanted.” A great idea for an action movie: Highlander with Christ’s twelve disciples instead of immortals, and guns instead of swords. Hopefully they won’t botch the execution.
Music Video: Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Shine”
The song is cute and bouncy. The video is also cute and bouncy, and then turns fairly violent. The tone of the two don’t really match, but it’s a lot of fun anyway.
Short Film: Dead-ish (Nate Mack, 2009)
Ten-minute-long short about dimwitted friends formulating a plan to escape a town overrun by zombies. Features a great informational film-within-a-film on the subject of surviving a zombie apocalypse, in which we are specifically told not to use lamps as weapons. Overall, highly amusing.
Day of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1985)
I’m not going to go into too much here, since I’ll be doing a full-length write-up next week, but just one quick thing: like a lot of fans of Romero’s zombie movies, I didn’t like this the first time I saw it. I’ve gradually warmed up to it over the years, but the thing I realized when I saw it at Terror was that it really does work best if you can see it on a large screen. There’s a lot of subtlety here that I never noticed before.
There was a quick merch auction, and I managed to score a copy of Anchor Bay’s 2-disc Divimax release of Day, autographed by…
Day of the Dead’s Lori Cardille and Gary Klar
…who also did a Q&A. The usual things: how they got involved with acting (Klar played pro football for about a week before a career-ending injury, so he drifted into acting), how they got involved with the production (Cardille has known Romero since she was a child—her father’s in Night of the Living Dead—but the idea of the two working together didn’t come up until he saw her in a Broadway play. This came up just as he was “scaling down” the screenplay from its original form and he rewrote Sarah with Cardille in mind), various production questions, stuff like that.
Klar’s got a lot of respect and love for the craft of acting, and one thing he said that’s going to stick with me is that acting’s as much about the things that aren’t said as it is about the things that are. Furthermore, you gotta respect the guy—and indeed, the entire cast—for not getting steamrolled by Joe Pilato and Richard Liberty.
I got a chance to speak with Klar after the Q&A, and he’s a helluva nice guy. We talked very briefly about the acting in Day. Also, as my favorite Romero film is Martin, I had to ask what it was like working with John Amplas (who played Ted Fisher in Day), and I got the heartening news that Amplas has started doing events. (Amplas teaches theater in Pittsburgh and often stars and directs plays, and I get the idea that he’s much happier doing that than doing film or TV.) So hopefully I’ll be able to meet him one day.
Had hoped to talk to Cardille, but ran out of time. While she wasn’t promoting her book (a memoir about her experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse), I think she was selling and signing copies of it. For the record, she’s frickin’ gorgeous.
Short Film: Sawnnimon Toast (Zoran Gvojic, 2010)
Hilarious quickie (less than two minutes) about a toaster with the personality of Jigsaw. “You are the worst Christmas present ever!”
Black Death (Christopher Smith, 2010)
I liked this one a lot. It takes the same starting point as The Wicker Man (that is, Christianity vs. paganism) and transplants it to a medieval setting. It’s got a lot of solid things to say about religious faith (and while it’s fairly critical of Christianity, “witchcraft” isn’t given a free ride). Great camera work, beautiful locations, and a wonderful cast with Sean Bean, David Warner and a completely unrecognizable Tim McInnerney. (By the way, projectionist: some of us actually want to watch the closing titles—so would it have killed you to showed them in their entirety?)
The film lost sound during an early scene involving a girl accused of witchcraft. The audience decided to make their own soundtrack, mainly consisting of Holy Grail references.
Quick appearance by a couple of people involved in making If a Tree Falls
Director Philip Carrer was definitely one of them. I think the other guy was producer Chad Archibald, but I’m not sure. Might have been Ryan Barrett, the writer/star. (The Facebook event page for Terror 7 stated that Carrer, Archibald and Barrett were all supposed to appear, but only two people were introduced.) I ran to hit the concession stand while they were talking, so I caught almost none of what they said (and in fact missed the first couple of minutes of the movie). The only thing I caught was that they hoped we would enjoy their movie and maybe laugh at it a bit.
If a Tree Falls (Philip Carrer, 2010)
Well, I guess they can’t all be winners.
This is a Grindhouse-style “exploitation” flick. (Note that I’m not comparing it to genuine grindhouse cinema; I’m comparing it to Planet Terror and Death Proof. Faux-grainy film stock, “missing footage,” stuff like that.) The problem with this one—other than the Grindhouse stuff, which gets distracting—is that once it gets going, it’s genuinely creepy and unsettling. But it’s a hard, long slog to get to anything I might actually care about. The obnoxious characters don’t help, and neither does the shoddily-constructed script. And the ending makes no fucking sense at all. Cut this down to 30 minutes and it’d be really, really good. Cut it down to a fake trailer and it would be even better.
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This is when I took off. Things seemed to be over and the theater was thinning out. The program ran behind schedule (Tree was supposed to start at midnight; I think it was about 12:30 when it started) and there was a winter weather advisory (i.e., the first significant snowfall of the season), so I didn’t feel like sticking around.
There might have been some stuff afterwards—the Facebook event page states that another short called Blood Kin was on the program, but I don’t remember seeing it. Maybe it was run after Tree, or maybe when I was talking to Gary Klar, or maybe it wasn’t run at all; I dunno.
Anyway, great time all around. Two damn good features, some entertaining shorts, and Gary Klar and Lori Cardille. Not a bad way to spend a Friday evening.