The 2018 Buried Alive Film Festival gave their event a satisfying conclusion yesterday with a collection that included a cult film history documentary, a short film block on cannibals and an awards ceremony. Here’s how it went down.
[Review] Survival of the Film Freaks (Bill Fulkerson and Kyle Kuchta, USA)
This insightful documentary explores the phenomenon of cult films in America and the future of the subgenre in the 21st century.
Focusing on the 1970s through today, the doc will be nostalgic for those who came of age in those decades. Grindhouse cinema is traced back to its NYC, 42nd Street roots and the thin line often tread between cult films and outright smut. There’s extensive clips of seminal B-movie programs like USA’s Up All Night and Joe Bob Briggs’s Drive-In Theater. Briggs is also one of the film’s speakers and it’s enjoyable to hear his genuine love for cult film culture.
Other notable contributors include actor/director Ted Raimi (Evil Dead II, Darkman), Greydon Clark (Satan’s Cheerleaders), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma) and Kurando Mitsutake (Gun Woman, Samurai Avenger), giving the viewer prominent insight into the culture for each generation and also internationally.
The most interesting aspect of the film comes when the discussion turns to the internet and illegal downloading. It’s not surprising to hear most of the older filmmakers, particularly David Lynch, are vehemently against it. Those in their mid to late 30s, the last generation to remember a world before the internet explosion, had a more positive approach in believing positive word of mouth eventually helps them get more funding for future projects. Neither side is truly wrong in their stance as it largely depends on your business model and how quickly an investment return is needed.
With a topic this big and expansive, missed opportunities are unexpected. A few more women in the discussion would have been great to balance out the commentary. Elvira’s contributions to the genre was noticeably absent. Also, streaming was touched on but I would’ve liked to hear more discussion on the potential challenges that could face indie filmmakers as Netflix and other platforms corner the market and become just as powerful as traditional studios.
That aside, Survival of the Film Freaks is a great trip down memory lane for the hardcore audience and accessible enough to interest casual fans.
SHORT BEFORE THE FEATURE: The Bloody Ballad of Squirt Reynolds (Anthony Cousins, USA)
This homage to 80s slashers like The Burning introduces us to the tragic legend of Squirt Reynolds, a kid from Camp Nawgonamakit who was bullied and horribly scarred with a Burt Reynolds. He now stalks the camp looking for revenge.
The effectiveness of this short comes comedic campfire-telling of the legend morseo than Squirt’s eventual appearance (who by the way looks like a demonic Freddie Mercury.
SHORTS PROGRAM #4: Why bury good meat?! Vampires, Zombies and Cannibals. Humans taste so good
Tales of Gluttonous Revenge (Sam Comer, USA)
After several submissions of “respectable” films to festivals, the director admitted to going full-on exploitative grindhouse in this three-minute fake trailer for an anthology film of the same name.
Surprise surprise, he then promptly won an award for this in his native Tennessee. But when your fake trailer consists of a bloodthirsty, hot woman who kills victims by devouring their vaginas (“Cannibalingus”), and a zombie Mexican immigrant who steals jobs rather than eats brains (“El Zombrero”), what’s not to love???
Riley Was Here (Jon Rhoads, Mike Marrero, USA)
Never put yourself between a mother and her child…especially if said child has been dead for several years. Riley Was Here brings a unique twist to the zombie apocalypse plot in having a survivor named Junior (Julio Trinidad) agree to a controversial medical treatment with Raquelle (Elena Devers).
What makes the treatment dangerous is it temporarily infects you contagious blood. Junior is in it for the “high” while Raquelle, who’s using the blood of her dead son, wants to briefly “see” her son return in Junior’s zombie eyes. For Raquelle, who links her mind with the subject, there’s the danger of sudden death from an aneurysm.
The effects are in the vein of 28 Days Later and both actors do an excellent job of conveying the despair of their situations. Once the treatment goes awry, you find yourself hoping for Junior to reach the cure serum and prevent complete contamination.
Mrs. Oldina Goes Shopping (Felipe M. Guerra, Brazil)
This made me realize that we’ve never really had a zombie film completely from the perspective of the elderly. We’re introduced to sweet old Mrs. Oldina, who has to venture into the zombie apocalypse to get some groceries. Her age results in a funny moment when the zombies are moving so slowly that Oldina’s measured pace is enough to outrun them. And our heroine also has a freaky side – we later discover a tied up zombie in her bedroom with a dildo attached to his waist.
An old gal still has needs.
Once Bitten… (Pete Tomkies, UK)
Martha (Lauren Ashley Carter) has watched a few too many paranormal shows and is now paranoid her plumber might be a vampire. I found Carter adorable and believable as a shut-in woman with an overactive imagination. But we do discover that there was one urban legend she should’ve keep an eye on.
Tick (Ashley Wassel, Canada)
My favorite flick in this block. A young vampire is forced into hiding when her sister is killed. In this world, the humans are the oppressive regime that hunts and enslaves them. A supernatural twist on the concept of “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.”
The set design in the forest and the final showdown in the truck go a long way to sucking you into this dystopian world.
Friendsgiving (Samantha Kolesnik, USA)
You can’t eat everyone’s food, especially when you’re the invited Thanksgiving guest of a bunch of cannibals! I enjoyed Kelsey Andrae’s turn as Rita, the unsuspecting next-door victim. Her expressive eyes and growing nervousness was effective in showing how delayed our reactions can be when faced with terrifying situations. And Sami Griffith (Tina) and Nathan Ludwig (Dave) deserve a shout for their ominous turn as the evil hosts.
Pie (Adria Tennor, USA)
Revenge doesn’t have to be a cold dish. You can make it a homemade cherry pie filled with the chopped up loins of your cheating husband. Carol does just that before feeding it to her friend Annette, who was creeping with said cheating husband. But instead of just revenge, the women find common ground and a new enemy.
For that to happen, that pie must have been really good.
Lunch Ladies (Writer/Creator Clarissa Jacobson, Director J.M. Logan)
I raved about this one at last year’s Atlanta Horror Film Festival. Two Johnny Depp-obsessed cafeteria ladies are struggling to keep their jobs to earn enough money to meet their beloved idol. Turns out the secret recipe the ladies needed was human flesh (provided by the school’s stuck-up cheerleader). The ladies (Donna Pieroni, Mary Manofsky) were hilarious and played off each other perfectly.
Praise for the film has grown over the last year and you can now stream it on Amazon Prime. Enjoy your special recipe pot pie!
We Got a Monkey’s Paw (Aaron Pagniano, USA)
Having an odd roommate can be annoying, especially when said roommate has an unhealthy obsession with the occult. Zack (Zack Ogle, also co-writer) is that roommate and his antics pull Jakki (Jacqueline Jandrell) into a succession of troubling scenarios after they make wishes on a magical monkey’s paw. From zombies to body doubles, the pair have their work cut out if they hope to survive the night.
From their banter, you couldn’t tell me Zack and Jakki weren’t real roommates and you can tell they had a blast making this.
Gut Punch (Chance White, USA)
A group of guys looking for a good time at a sorority lake house bash find themselves in nightmarish fight against shapeshifting fish witches. Yes, you heard me right. This is one of the few films that attempts to deliver big special effects as the witches summon a tentacle monster from a thunderstorm. The guys’ frat humor work in this atmosphere as they humorously struggle to keep their libido at bay when the witches are in their “hot chicks” form.
From the cliffhanger ending, this might be getting the full feature treatment.
Gentlewoman’s Guide to Domesticity (Dayna Noffke, USA)
Although only four minutes, this one gives you a glimpse of what Misery could look like in the Victorian Era. The dim lighting comes only from candles and give this an unsettling look that’s amplified by the subdued terror in the husband’s eyes and the overly pleasant demeanor of the psychotic wife.
With so much talent on display, the judges had their work cut out for them in selecting the below list of winner. But you won’t find much disagreement from me as all these projects were memorable and elicited big reactions from the audience.
Sinema Challenge Runner-up: One Piece
Sinema Challenge Winner: Ouija Bored
Best Local Short: Homesick
Best Short Runner-Up: Baghead
Best Short: Post-Mortem Mary
Best Special Effects: Framed
Best Feature: Framed
The WTF Was That?! Award: Violence Voyager
That’s all for this year’s 2018 Buried Alive Film Festival. Thanks for reading and leave feedback on what you want to see next year!