After losing nearly two years to the pandemic, the Buried Alive Film Festival made its long-awaited return with the Day 1 kickoff Sinema Challenge and a first-ever audience and judge award sweep for Shannon Ford Chamlee’s The Fangover.
The festival’s Sinema Challenge tasks filmmakers with creating an original film over 14 days after selecting two random drawings to determine their genre and “wild card” topic (also known as the “Card Against Humanity”). This leads to some wild combinations. For example, The Fangover had to combine vampires with being passed out and hungover behind a Denny’s parking lot. While another entry, Escape for the Weekend, had to incorporate murderous rednecks and a nature setting with a $4.99 local shrimp meal.
The Fangover had its strongest competition from Fae, a short in the “little creatures” category that featured a teenage friends being stalked by an evil fairy. Although you only see glimpses of the monster, the use of Nosferatu-style fingers and red eyes was effective in stripping away our usual Tinkerbell idea of fairies. And with a plot of teens being stalked after violating a forest shrine, Fae is the film with the most potential for a feature-length adaptation.
There was a sudden death tie on the judges’ end between The Fangover and Fae, with the former edging it out after an additional judge was brought for a final verdict. Although unconfirmed, it’s this writer’s belief that Jennifer Lynn Smith’s funny and relatable depiction of the hungover vampire and the affectionate rapport with her male roommate (played by Jason Thompson, who ad-libbed much of his back and forth banter) is likely what gave Fangover the slight edge.
Fangover director Shannon Ford Chamlee gave a joyous and emotional acceptance speech, highlighting the various shooting challenges her team faced such as 27 degree weather and breaking her hand in three places after an on-set fall.
“I couldn’t walk away from this team,” Chamlee reflected. “I went through the pain… I was crying. Working with these people, when I say I’m the director, these are my FAMILY.”
Tunda of Terror: A surreal animated short featuring a revolving door of ill-fated pilots who must survive a mission despite being shot at by an enormous eyeball and a stalking Yeti. Their wild card was “Mason jar shoved up your anus,” so you can use your imagination on how that turned out for the pilot.
You Set My Soul on Fire: This short featured a witch conducting a virgin sacrifice on an unsuspecting suitor. For fans of 80s camp when it comes to dialogue and music, this was your film.
Poor Mary: A hitwoman on the run after a botched kill is interesting enough, but when your wild card topic is “mouth herpes” you can already imagine how off the wall this was. A cool visual trick that made this unique was the deep hues used in the desolate street settings ala Night of the Comet.
Contestant #7: Could you survive a madman’s three questions if you needed only one right answer to live? Most would like those chances, but unfortunately it isn’t easy when you’re dealing with a killer who’ll deliver scatter-brained questions ranging from the start date of the 15th century Wars of the Roses to guessing a number between 0-100. Probably the funniest offering of the challenge but still with enough macabre gore to be unsettling.
The Buried Alive Film Festival continues on Friday at 7pm ET with a block on short films (“Deep and Decaying”) and the U.S. premier of the German found footage film Duyster. Check back here for daily recaps and reviews of each film through Sunday. Click here for the entire Buried Alive film schedule.