I’ve been attending Movieside events (Massacre/Drive-In Massacre, Terror in the Aisles, Sci-Fi Spectacular) for almost four years. Whenever I attend one, the thing I look forward to the most is almost always the short film program. Not only have the shorts introduced me to some of my favorite local indie filmmakers, they’ve also given me a fresh appreciation for what one can do within the medium and genre.
The only thing that could be more exciting than watching some shorts at a Terror or Spectacular is an entire evening of genre shorts, and that’s exactly what Movieside presented at the Davis Theater in Lincoln Square, Chicago, on Saturday, July 12. While there were a few repeats from previous events (mostly fake trailers entered into Roger Corman ’50s Trailer Contents), most of these shorts were entirely new to me.
I was very impressed with the overall program; there were only a couple of duds. As with my Spectacular 2014 writeup, the capsule-review ratings (pro, con, and mixed) apply.
* * *
The first guest of the evening was Tony Wash, producer of an upcoming anthology package entitled World of Death, presenting some of the films slated for inclusion. According to the project’s website, the aim is to “…[bring] together the talent of over 200 filmmakers from 25 different countries in a compilation of short horror films that will terrorize, astonish, disturb, and excite genre fans.”
One of the things you’ll notice is that most of the shorts I cover first have titles starting with the letter “M.” That’s because they were submitted to a contest held by the producers of the upcoming ABCs of Death sequel; the winning entry would be included in the anthology in the “M” slot. It looks like many of World of Death’s segments are non-winning contest entries. Wash even made one himself, M is for Muck, which wasn’t screened here (I saw it at the most recent Terror in the Aisles) but will apparently be part of World under the revised title The Muck.
Mother (Jacob Regul)
The character interactions are a bit stilted, particularly during the dinner scene. Other than that, I really liked it. I really appreciated how the high-pitched drone sound is used. Pro.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgvE3EPiJ2Q#t=11]
Margaret (Amanda Eastman)
I don’t think this one works quite as well as it should. The basic premise is solid, but the finished product could stand a bit more ruthless editing. Several sequences, including the flashback (I think it’s supposed to be a flashback, at any rate) and the final scene, could use a bit of trimming. Mixed.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_pC_dOfYC8]
Psychedelia (Bryan Wolford)
Why does it seem that everything involves shrooms these days? First A Field in England, now this. It’s a lot of fun, though, and the cutting actually made me squirm in my seat. Pro.
Apparently the original title was M is for Mushroom.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE-LHbMghjE]
Mime Time (John Borowski)
I was surprised that this one as funny as it is, because I mainly know Borowski as a documentarian who specializes in profiles of historical serial killers (his subjects include Carl Panzram and Albert Fish). But it’s absolutely hilarious. Pro.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAgD258go2A]
Mastication (Tim Wolak)
A fun little exercise in creepiness. Plus, cute girl in her bra. Pro.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzA6rhDPgEI#t=28]
Trailer: Still (Jason Coffman)
This is a new trailer for Coffman’s feature-length début, which he describes as “a cross between La Jetée and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.” I’m not sure that there’s much new footage in it, though: I didn’t recognize the bridge scene, but everything else is familiar from previous trailers, as is the music. Really, really looking forward to this one.
I covered the Kickstarter campaign for Still in a Support Indie Horror installment on Forced Viewing last fall.[vimeo http://vimeo.com/99732547]
Music video for the song “Reptile Walk,” by Cemetery (Josh Stephenson)
Another great feature of Movieside events has been the occasional inclusion of music videos; Terror in the Aisles introduced me to Black Moth Super Rainbow and Opeth. Here’s a song from Cemetery, a local goth-ish, punk-ish band. I’ve been listening to a lot of dark, harsh music lately–the inevitable side-effect of a new Swans album and tour–so this one’s right up my alley. Reminds me a bit of Pop. 1280. Pro.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxCWCiLa-RU]
After These Messages: “Call of Cthulhu,” “Crooked Wood Depot,” “Disco Werewolf P.I.” (Chad Byers)
Slave Girls of the World of the Weird Monster Planet (Chad Byers)
I’d never heard of the World of the Weird Monster Show before this year’s Spectacular; they submitted Slave Girls of the World of the Weird Monster Planet to the ’50s trailer contest for that event. I was much impressed by it. Even better are the trio of fake commercials which preceded Slave Girls here. Sadly, only one (“Crooked Wood Depot”) is available online. “Disco Werewolf P.I.,” a fake trailer for a ’70s exploitation/martial-arts flick about a werewolf crime-fighter and his karate-chopping sidekick, is an absolute gem. Pro.
Blood (Zach Lorkiewicz)
I really liked this one, but it’s very new and not available online yet. Very good psych thriller with shades of Maniac (or at least I thought it had shades of Maniac), with a wonderful lead performance by Dave Belden. You can visit its Facebook page. Pro.
Straight Razor (Andrew Chase Ziemba)
Another neat little psych thriller with great atmosphere and use of black-and-white. Pro.[vimeo http://vimeo.com/72691209]
Invasion (Christoph Angehrn)
This was my favorite of the night, which means, of course, that it’s not available online. It’s an animated science fiction piece with a “retro-futurist” vibe about saving the planet from War of the Worlds-style alien invaders, but that simple summary doesn’t even come close to describing what this film is like. (This animated GIF of an early scene gives you a better idea.) It’s delightful, engrossing, and entirely unique. Pro.
Corn Stalk (Von Bilka)
The Man Machine (Von Bilka)
Corn Stalk is one of the highlights of the Corman contests, but The Man Machine couldn’t be more different. It pairs up rather nicely with Invasion because they’re both black-and-white silent films and have world-of-tomorrow vibes. Combine Metropolis with the cover of the Queen album News of the World and you get The Man-Machine. It occasionally has trouble balancing its kitschy elements with its dead-serious tone (I really, really felt sorry for Liam) but for the most part I really dug it. Pro.
* * *
At this point there was an intermission, during which part of the following was screened:
The Real Ghostbusters: “Ghostbuster of the Year” (partial)
When I was a kid, I saw a couple of episodes of The Real Ghostbusters and they confused the hell out of me. I like the movie but it isn’t as pivotal a part of my pop-cultural paradigm as it is for others of my generations. Also, I didn’t get why the show was called The Real Ghostbusters when none of the characters looked or talked like they did in the movie (Spengler was a blond with a Flock of Seagulls haircut, and Venkman sounded like Garfield the Cat as both characters were voiced by Lorenzo Music). And DiC’s house art and animation style annoyed me for whatever reason.
At any rate, I’m pretty sure I had stopped watching in-production cartoon series by that point (classic cartoons–Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, stuff like that–are another matter), so I didn’t continue on with it.
“Ghostbuster of the Year” is the first episode I’ve seen since the ’80s. I’m sure it’s a decent ep, but I still can’t get past Spengler’s hairdo, Venkman’s voice and the art/animation. However, no rating, as it wasn’t screened in its entirety.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrFUsZkU3GI]
* * *
Probably about halfway through the episode, they cut it and introduced Zoran Gvojic, whose Lowcarbcomedy shorts are a mainstay of Movieside events.
Deleted: Batman (Zoran Gvojic)
The Fourth Rule of Gremlins (Zoran Gvojic)
Kusper on Ice (Zoran Gvojic)
Schrödinger’s Mummy (Zoran Gvojic)
Attack of the Cosmic Frank-Einstein from Haunted Space and the Moon (Zoran Gvojic)
If you’ve read my Forced Viewing event writeups you will recall that I’ve mentioned Zoran about eleventy billion times. This guy does funny, funny stuff.
Schrödinger’s Mummy and Attack of the Cosmic Frank-Einstein… are familiar from previous Movieside events, while Deleted: Batman and Kusper on Ice were new to me. (I featured The Fourth Rule of Gremlins in my Massacre 2013 write-up because Schrödinger’s Mummy wasn’t yet available online and Fourth Rule was most recently posted.) They’re all pretty brilliant, although I have to mention that the version of Cosmic Frank-Einstein is somewhat different from what was originally screened last year: there’s more Oil Baron Slappy, and C.U. Tuesday’s response to hearing the news is different (originally, he took out a gun and shot himself; now he says “Oh my cunt” very slowly).
Pro, all of it.
I mentioned Schrödinger’s Mummy and Fourth Rule in my writeup of the 2013 Massacre. I mentioned Cosmic Frank-Einstein in my writeup of the 2013 Sci-Fi Spectacular, both published at Forced Viewing. I later featured Mummy as part of Forced Viewing’s short-film feature Blood on the Net.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kGVAzz7xgM] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agQT2TjDoHo] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aiz5bDkTB4Y]
Trailer: Final Girls (Matt Storc)
Oh geez, can’t we give the whole “final girl” thing a rest? No? Oh well…in that case, I do have to admit this looks interesting, like Kill Bill crossed with The Powerpuff Girls crossed with a slasher movie.
Incidentally, the trailer below wasn’t the one that was screened. Can’t find the screened one online. Facebook page for the project is here.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwnSz6ahMnA]
The Pool (Red Clark)
Another one I can’t find online, which sucks, because I loved the living shit out of it. What puts it over the top for me is the way it uses the Sparks classic “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us.” Pro.
Phantom of the Park (Anthony Cooney)
Not the Kiss TV-movie, and it probably deserves a Pro for that alone. I think the beginning drags a bit, but other than that I really enjoyed it. Plenty of fun.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss3Tx6qyxeA]
Trailer: Point of Terror
Another standard feature of Movieside events is “Trailer Trash,” which consists of–you guessed it–trailers of classic genre and exploitation films. This is the only trailer for an older film they ran here, though. It looks like it might be worth a track-down and watch, even if I have doubts that it will actually be any good.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HxeswcL8lY]
Trailer: It’s My Party and I’ll Die if I Want to
It’s My Party… is a “choose your own adventure” horror flick that Tony Wash (see above) made a few years ago. Sounds interesting, and I’ve heard a bit about it, but I’ve never actually seen it. I think the Drudgeon has a copy; maybe I should browbeat him into picking it for a podcast sometime.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mSc1sARioA]
Run, Run, Radiation (Bernard Anthony Lewandowski)
This was the dud of the night for me. It didn’t seem complete to me, and it had too much footage of the guy running, which I found dull. More than likely I just didn’t get it. Con.
Can’t find the full video online, so here’s a trailer:[vimeo http://vimeo.com/98747317]
Pity (John Pata)
Visually I really liked this one; lots of great moody “decaying urban wasteland at night, in the rain” shots. Unfortunately, the lead actor delivers his lines like he’s doing an impression of Christian Bale in the Nolan Batman movies, and that really killed it for me. Too bad, because I really wanted to like it more. Mixed.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqD8iWIvltU]
Idol Threats (David Schmidt)
Screams from Planet Zero (David Schmidt)
House on Nightmare Lane (David Schmidt)
Schmidt entered a couple of videos into previous Corman contests (Screams from Planet Zero was one of my favorites from its contest; I didn’t like House on Nightmare Lane as much, but it’s still good), but I think Idol Threats is the first straight-horror thing I’ve seen him do. I liked it a lot, particularly because the main characters are middle-aged professionals. I’m so sick of seeing horror movies about frigging teenagers. Unfortunately, cannot find it online. Pro.
I mentioned Screams from Planet Zero and Fourth Rule in my writeup of the 2013 Sci-Fi Spectacular, published at Forced Viewing. I mentioned House on Nightmare Lane in my writeup of the 2014 Sci-Fi Spectacular.
Reefer Madness: Redux (Nathan Waters)
The last short of the evening was this interesting take on the drug-panic formula, with police-prodedural and slasher elements. It turns out that smoking weed can turn you into a vampire: who knew? Sadly, not available on the net either. Pro.
* * *
And that about wraps it up for the Short Cuts program. I expect I’m skipping Flashback Weekend this year, or possibly only going on Saturday. So I think the next event on the calendar is this year’s Drive-In Massacre, to be held once again at the McHenry Outdoor Theater on August 29 and 30. So far they’ve announced the 40th anniversary restoration of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the finest horror film ever made) and Return of the Living Dead for the program; last year’s was a quad-feature, so Movieside should announce two more films. Special guest is Return star and legendary ’80s scream-queen Linnea Quigley.
R.I.P. Thomas Erdelyi, AKA Tommy Ramone[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLfb3N3NI00]