Friday, October 05, 2007

Atlanta HorrorFest - Day 2

The Festival League continued the Atlanta Horror Fest in the creepy basement-ballroom of the Highland Inn, Atlanta, Georgia. Tonight began with a shorts program, followed by four features, of which I saw the first three. Also, attempts are being made to quiet the crowd on the other side of the suitably campy dividing wall! Woo hoo!

First the four shorts:

THE LYCANTHROPE (dir. Lucas Peltonen, TX, 10 min) Though effectively performed and executed, this little tale about a suicidal werewolf just seemed a bit... well, I don't want to say 'annoying' but that seems to be the best term I can come up with. Dramatically, it breaks one of improvisations first rules: "Do not resist the situation." It might have been more effective had the tension between the characters revolved around HOW to successfully kill rather then the constant begging. To maintain dramatic tension in the denial of the deed, it would have involved a lot of script work to develop a debate as to why to do it.

MONSTER MOVIE INSURANCE (dir. Paula Haifley, CA, 4 min) CUTE. And you know that I hate "CUTE". It was also sort of silly. It's a television ad for "monster movie insurance".

THE CRAVING (dir. Kenneth Hurd, AL, 26 min) This could really be developed into a full length feature, as the dilemma of the two characters (werewolf meets suicidal woman) is explored in back-story. The climax was sort of breathtaking. I think director Hurd could really flesh these two out and their final act would be cathartic!

A DARK AND LONELY KNIFE (dir. Rusty Robot, WI, 13 min) What a HOOT! Basically, a take off on all those 'evil dolls are coming to kill me!' flicks, featuring a "Kevin Smith" comic store guy who does his damnedest to be the next 'scream queen'!

The features began with the documentary, BLOOD, BOOBS, AND BEAST (dir. John Paul Kinhart, MD, 74 min), which interviews and explores the life of Don Dohler, who could be considered the Invisible King of the B-Movies of the 80's and 90's. (He died during the making of the documentary.) Though he didn't have the entertaining personality of Ed Wood, he did have just as much drive to make films under the harshest conditions and lowest of budgets. What also gives an unexpected weight to the film, is following Dohler's career from B-flick horror into exploitation, which bordered on soft-core porn to fill the direct-to-video market. There is a Faustian moral to be found even as remote as Dohler was from the 'Hollywood machine'.

STOMP! SHOUT! SCREAM!! (dir. Jay Wade Edwards, GA, 90 mins) (This was a last minute replacement for "GRITOS EN EL PASTILLO (GOING NUTS)", which was an unviewable.) Festival director Eric Panter could not have chosen a better follow up to "Blood, Boobs and Beast" but to screen this hoot of a salute to the 'beach monster flicks' of the 50's and 60's! This was beautifully shot and meticulously designed! The performances actually surprised me at how skillfully they navigated the fine line of pastiche while retaining a genuine honesty to the characters. The plot involves a trio of girls, who are a rock band and who are stranded in a small beach town, which is presently terrorized by some sort of limb dismembering creature. (Alex Orr, director of "Blood Car", is the first victim!) The songs the girls perform are as much a part of the parody as well! The lead singer's self-reflective walk on the beach is hysterical! Apparently, the dvd is available at their website (, and I must have it!

BADLAND (dir. Ron Mclellen, GA, 88 min) This is an effectively creepy and violently edited, locally produced flick about a group of college kids who are disposed of by a group of 'hillbillies' in the Ozarks. Not exactly "Animal House" meets "Deliverance", but you get the idea. What was most remarkable about Mclellen's flick is his digital remastering of the frame rate, a la "28 Days". Without resorting to buckets of gore and internal organs, Mclellen uses the frame rate to visually shock us. He also has an unnerving performance by Scott Hodges as this MANIAC! (Josie Lawson gives an unexpected boost to the proceedings as his mother, too.) He could have been your garden variety psychotic in the woods, but Hodges uses his screen time to actually flesh out (heh!) some truly disturbing character mannerisms. I don't know whose idea the ventriloquist dummy was, but it is used to nearly brilliant effect here! If there is any negative criticism due, it would be that it could tighten up just a wee bit. (I.E., a passing by truck leads to nothing.) Also, the motive behind the hillbilly family's actions needn't be that explained. Without that motive, the film plays as effectively as "The Hills Have Eyes" set in the Ozarks.

Maxxxxx says
re Horror Shorts Day 2: "Breakfast!"
re Blood Boobs Beast: "Such a good bird"
re Stomp! Shout! Scream!: "Doobie doobie doo-ooo!"
re Bad Land: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"

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