Day 3 of the Buried Alive Film Festival turned out to be the strongest day yet courtesy of some extreme (yet very creative) feature horror offerings from Spain and Japan, and a block on surrealist horror from the imaginative minds behind the TV series EyeSlicer.
SHORT PROGRAM #3: IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START DIGGING GRAVES
Entropia (Marinah Janello, USA)
An elderly woman (Sissy O’Hara) has developed an unhealthy obsession with youthful vanity and begins going about extreme measures to reverse the aging process. The woman’s sweet demeanor quickly devolves into insanity. We see her try gross arcane rituals like stuffing dead butterflies in her vagina then sewing it up. Later, she takes disposed tampoons out the trash and drinks the blood.
Disturbing commentary on our obsession with youth.
Mamma’s Boy (Samantha Kolesnik, USA)
This film focuses on a damaged young man/sex worker who slowly begins to confront the trauma of his childhood. We watch this process unfold between the dehumanization he feels in his job as a streetwalker and when he comes homes to his dead mother, who he keeps in the house and talks to ala Norman Bates. We discover it was his mother that sexually abused him, leading to a mental break and murderous results for the man’s clientele.
Enjoyed this one a lot and particularly how in showed the far-reaching effects of childhood abuse to adult life.
The Chairman (Frank White, USA)
The Pantheon Group is a clandestine entity that conducts experiments on those with telepathic abilities. Joy, and her ruthless supervisor Vincent, torture a man by forcing him to unveil his daughter’s telepathic ability by reaching out to her. The alternative is being forced to watch her drown in a nearby lake. But the tables soon turn on Joy when the session is interrupted by Pantheon Group’s mysterious leader “The Chairman,” who requests Joy’s presence to explain herself.
From our brief view of said chairman, it’s clear that he’s some type of supernatural entity. But even at 20 minutes, we don’t get many answers as his appearance is saved for the end. Definitely well-shot and intriguing, but feels like an extended preview for a longer work rather than a self-contained project.
Who’s that at the Back of the Bus (Philip Hardy, UK)
Alone on the bus, the elderly Joyce is confronted by a deadly apparition. Turns out this evil entity is a killer penguin, who then proceeds to butcher a loud-mouth guy sitting close to her. Short on logic, but hilarious.
Future Self (Sean Lewis, USA)
A twist on serial killer stories where VHS tapes and cute dogs are used to lure unsuspecting victims. Well-shot and a premise that could work in a feature. It plays with what your expectations are for a killer’s demeanor. Also, it begs the question of what’s scarier — someone unhinged or cold and calculating?
Rosalina (Fredrik S. Hanna, Norway)
Vinny is the top criminal in the underworld. But on his 50th birthday, he has a tense heart to heart with his brother on lost love and the emptiness in his life.
No supernatural elements are needed here as Vinny (Kristoffer Joner) and his brother Hjalmar (Oliver Hohlbrugger) do a masterful job is telling a story of envy and regret between family members. Hjalmar got out of crime and lives a content family life while Vinny is haunted by his decisions and briefly goes into a rage, believing his brother has abandoned him.
Another one with feature potential.
Flytrap (Connor Bland, USA)
College student Charles has become irate at the bad cleaning habits of his roommate. We hear him narrate his frustrations after his attempts to mediate are ignored by the roommate and school counselors.
However, we soon learn that Charles might be the unhinged one, making his recollections unreliable. Furthermore, the building anger and word choice in his rant start to closely lean towards justifying premeditated murder.
It would be in the roommate’s best interest to get a dorm transfer ASAP.
Shoes (Ray Karmini, Belgium)
Shoes can be deadly! We find a young woman being stalked by a ghostly child’s voice and small red shoes. While only 5 minutes, the underground setting goes a long way to making this one creepy.
[Review] Framed (Marc Martinez Jordan, Spain)
It’s an understatement to say our world has developed an unhealthy obsession with social media. A group of friends find out firsthand how deadly this obsession goes when their farewell party for a friend is interrupted by a trio of killers who live-stream their horrific acts.
Their chosen platform is a controversial app called Framed which allows users to live stream any content of their choosing. Soon, the murder and mayhem is picked up by news networks and adoring fans descend on the house to watch the events like a compelling sporting event.
The group of friends center on Alex, who is moving away the next day, and his little sister Claudia. Smaller subplots include his ex attending the party and bringing a handsome date.
The deaths here are brutal and highly sadistic. The handsome date mentioned earlier doesn’t die but spends the majority of the film in a child-like stupor due to a protruding butcher knife to the skull. The ex gets her arm sliced off by buzzsaw then cut up the middle. Another woman is forced to have sex with one of her captured friends. As she rides him, one of the killers forces her to ingest bath salts, causing a murderous reaction where she bludgeons her sexual partner to death while eating him and herself.
The mastermind behind all this is simply known as Invader 1 (Alex Maruny) and plays his role as a Joker-like agent of chaos. The film thankfully isn’t heavy-handed with its social commentary but shows enough of his post-death celebrity to drive home the thin-line the media treads when showcasing depraved crimes.
THE EYESLICER SHOWCASE
The Eyeslicer is a TV series that presents the best in mind-bending, surrealist horror. I wasn’t aware of them previously and was pleasantly surprised by this presentation. Here are their most memorable films.
Great Choice (Robin Comisar)
This one flips an old 80s Red Lobster commercial into a demonic time-loop where a woman is trapped. Every loop gets more warped and violent before the woman can escape. That shrimp platter did make me hungry, though.
Fry Day (Laura Moss)
On the night of serial killer Ted Bundy’s execution, a young girl taking paid photographs has her night take an unexpected turn at the hands of an old classmate.
This is a coming of age/loss of innocence tale at its core. While everyone was celebrating the death of this overt monster in Bundy, we often ignore the “small crimes” of those in our midst. In this case, the crime is the classmate and his friends driving the girl out to an abandoned area and robbing her of the photograph money she’s accumulated.
Instead of it just being a hard lesson learned, we see in the final scene that her trust is forever shaken.
Allen Anders Live at the Comedy Castle (Laura Moss)
Everyone gets the Monday blues as Allen Anders deftly points out during his comedy routine. We soon discover that applies to him more than anyone as he’s stuck in a time loop of repeating the same routine literally just as he walks off stage. And the audience remains oblivious even as Allen’s appearance becomes more haggard and his words stilted.
There can be a few different interpretations on this one, but I took it as showing no matter how exciting and fun a job can look on the outside, it can still be a monotonous spirit killer.
Ghosting the Party (Carlos Lopez)
Two best friends hit acid at a Halloween party and sexual hijinks ensue. One of the women is a mime and decides to hook up with a guy who’s costume is nothing more than a sheet with two holes in it. They get it on right on the dance floor with the “under the hood” shots making it seem like they have an entire room to themselves. Just as the man is about to climax, the mime “ghosts” him, leaving the guy to spray cum all over the aghast party-goers. And yeah, it’s one of those cumshots for the record books.
[Review] Violence Voyager
I feel very confident in stating you’ve never seen a film like this your life.
Violence Voyager is a twisted journey from the mind of Ujicha, who utilizes a hand-drawing style known as gekimation (“manifesto animation”). But don’t for a second believe these drawings prevent Ujicha for showcasing massive amounts of gore and violence as the trailer indicates.
The story revolves around American-born Bobby, who is searching for adventure with his best friend Akkun now that school is out. Their journey leads them to an amusement park that’s actually a cover for the experiments of Koike, who abducts children to keep alive his monstrous son Takashi.
Bobby, Akkun and his loyal cat Dereck are soon in a fight for survival as they discover other trapped kids. Ujichi’s drawings and the excellent voice acting pull you into this universe. You’ll be wincing at the acid attacks, severed limbs and other horrors that befall the kids and animals on this journey. And there’s enough comedy sprinkled in the dialogue to keep it fun.
For those into the weird and imaginative, look no further than Violence Voyager.
Lost Boys Screening with Blast off Burlesque
Would you believe it’s been 31 years since The Lost Boys was in theaters? For this special evening screening, the Buried Alive Festival enlisted the help of Blast-Off Burlesque, who brought the characters to life using an assortment of vampires from history (Count Chocula, Nosferatu) to battle Corey Haim and Corey Feldman’s characters. The crowd loved it and was especially thrilled when we got the big finale of a costume-depiction of the muscle-bound saxophone player Tim Cappello taking out the vampires with his sax gyrations.
It was a fun setup that got everyone amped to rewatch this 80s classic.
[Review] Dead by Midnight (11pm Central)
The evening concluded with a midnight showing of the aptly titled Dead by Midnight (11pm Central).
As the title implies, this a campy anthology of horror tales from the mysterious Mistress of Midnight (Erin Brown) who’s taken over the airwaves of WKIZ. Think of her as Elvira but more menacing. Once the WKIZ staff starts disappearing one by one, it’s up to producer Candice (Hannah Fierman) to put an end to the madness.
Although most of the tales are light-hearted, they cover a wide range of plots. “1984” has a young girl and two waitresses on the run from a killer gargoyle. “Creepy Dolls” covers the consequences of invading a haunted house infested by murderous dolls. Others include a predatory laundry monster that steals socks to feed its young.
The best of the short stories happens to be the only one that takes a serious approach in “Day Three.” A young woman is aghast at the prospect of an unplanned pregnancy. The doctors and the state government won’t allow her to the abort the child. Slowly, we see this isn’t a regular birth as the “child” slowly transforms the host/mother into an orc-like creature. I liked the deeper commentary presented here on how the health of mothers is often disregarded in abortion debates.
Dead by Midnight has lots of potential as a series should veteran scream queen Erin Brown continue on as our Mistress of Midnight. If a sequel happens, I’m hoping they consider more serious horror as the one we see here works so well.