Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jason previews upcoming events--Dead Channels

Those who read the last post carefully will notice that I said there were a couple of film festivals coming up that I'm excited about, and then I went on to only talk about the SF Jewish Film Festival. The other upcoming event, right after Jewfest, is Dead Channels, the San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film. Their schedule just came out, here.

Dead Channels is the brain child of Bruce Fletcher, former programmer of Indiefest and Another Hole in the Head festivals. I've enjoyed his programming over the years, so I'm very excited to see what happens when he has full, unfettered control and is programming only horror/fantasy/sci-fi films. Plus, he's the guy who programmed Indiefest so it's possible--but not easy--to see everything. I assume he's done the same for Dead Channels. More info on that soon, including my planned schedule.

A couple of extra news bits. Dead Channels are teaming up with the Thrillpeddlers before, during, and after the festival. Although I don't see it on either website yet, starting next Wednesday, July 18th, and every Wednesday leading up to the festival they'll be showing "Live Acts and Dead Channels" at the Hypnodrome. Earlier I reviewed Hypnodrome Head Trips and bemoaned the fact that I saw it near the end of their run and therefore didn't have a lot of time to tell everyone to see it. Well, they're reprising the longest of the plays from that show, "The Revelations of Jean Vadim: The Oracle of the Cephalic Vivarium", and showing a different cult film every night, as follows:
July 18th: Terror of Tiny Town
July 25th: Witchcraft Through the Ages
August 1st: White Zombie
August 8th: Creation of the Humanoids

Plus during the festival they're hosting two nights:
August 13th will be "Spookshow Salute!" featuring Dick Newton, an original spookshow cast member of "Dr. Ogre Banshee's Chasm of Spasms" ('47) and "Den of Living Nightmares" ('48), followed by a screening of the Boris Karloff film, "The Sorcerers".

August 15th will be "Thrilpeddlers Flashback" featuring a reprise of another "Hypnodrome Head Trips" play, "The Empress of Colma" with some psychadelic shorts of some sort. This is a fundraiser for their trip to Burning Man. Awesome, I hope I see you guys there!

And finally, they're hosting a post-festival "Rock n Roll Wrap Party" on August 17th, with glam rock and a screening of the Brian De Palma classic re-working of the more classic "Phantom of the Opera", "Phantom of the Paradise".

And, of course, the festival features gobs and gobs of films. I know a bit about some of them, but for now I just want to mention one of them--the opening night gala presentation of "Postal" by Uwe Boll--the crapmeister behind "House of the Dead", "Alone in the Dark", and "Bloodrayne" has allegedly made a great pitch black politically incorrect comedy, and he'll be there for the screening. I've heard this from multiple sources now, so I'm holding out hope. We'll see. But more importantly, you have to understand the history behind this. You see, back in 2003, before anyone knew who he was, he came to Indiefest to present his high school shooting drama "Heart of America: Homeroom" and the World Premiere of the uncensored director's cut of "House of the Dead", and I was there to see it. Now I know this was a) cut down from the version I saw, and b) went on to be one of the most universally reviled films ever. Now I didn't know b) would happen when I saw it, but in that spirit I reach waaaay back into my archives to find out what I wrote back then. I'm afraid to look:
Then I went to the world premiere of "House of the Dead", based on the Sega video game of the same name. This was directed by Uwe Boll, who also did "Heart of America: Homeroom", and I think it's wonderful that he can do a thoughtful, political movie like "Heart of America" and follow it up with a brainless shoot-em-up zombie movie. "House of the Dead" is very close to a deal for distribution (if they haven't signed by now), and I'm sure when it's released, it'll be savaged by the critics. I don't think it's entirely unfair, it is a pretty brainless movie, with little plot and even less character development. But I believe video game movies should be held to a different standard (that is, if you accept the dubious prospect that they should be made at all). You don't make a video game movies for the plot or character development, you make video game movies to recreate the fun of playing the video game in live action. "House of the Dead", the video game was about zombies jumping out of everywhere and you shoot at them. "House of the Dead", the movie, had zombies jumping out everywhere, and the heroes had to shoot them. Perfect. One thing I'll note, like "Hell's Highway" [author's note: think the original "The Hills Have Eyes" with raver kids], the heroes were a bunch of raver kids (this time the zombies attack the rave, instead of them getting lost on the way home). The ravers in "Hell's Highway" were a lot more convincing. "House of the Dead" had raver "kids" who looked more like young adults on their way to a cocktail party. Oh, one other thing of note, Uwe Boll used a lot of the same actors in both movies, including Jurgen ("Das Boot") Prochnow and Clint (brother of Ron) Howard. Clint Howard (along with Uwe and a lot of the cast was at the Q&A session afterwards), and he was pretty funny.
So, that gives you an idea of my compulsion to find something nice to say about any movie, and hence I've now lost all credibility as a critic. So what, I've never claimed to be a real critic. But if you want to see me really lay into a crappy film, remind me to dig up my review of "Bettie Page: Dark Angel".

See you at Dead Channels!


Dan said...

There are a lot of coincidences in this post.

1) The first horror film I saw in a theater was The Phantom of the Paradise. I was 6 or 7 when I saw it and it gave me nightmares. I still remember when the guy's face was disfigured in the press. I haven't seen it since. I wonder how scary Paul Williams was in that role. Would I consider it more of a campy comedy now?

2) I was at the IndieFest screening of Heart of America. That was the year I became a fan of IndieFest but sadly, I think that year was the apex of their programming. I recall Uwe Boll took a few questions from the audience and launched into an attack on the Bush administration and their Iraq policy. He drew parallels to Serbia. I wanted to remind him that Clinton acted in Serbia without a UN resolution and that I found it ironic that a German was lecturing anyone about nationalistic aggression. I didn't have the balls. It's not that I was disagreeing with him but I just found his tenor and the venue he chose to express his political view to be offputting. I've never seen another Boll film - not because of resentment but because it looks like he has made nothing but horror crap since then.

3) "Jewfest" - I like that. I'll be there. There is a boxing motiff in 4 films that I'm interested in (including a silent film). BTW, on Fridays, Jewfest goes dark (it is the sabbath after all). On Friday, July 20, there is a Midnights for Maniac triple feature at the Castro that I'll be at (partly). I'd think it would be your cup of tea - Little Darlings(with Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichol), Meatballs, and the wonderfully cheesy looking Revenge of the Cheerleaders (wasn't that one of the previews they showed at Sleazy Sundays?).

4) You keep forgetting to mention the SF Silent Film Festival (July 13-15) at the Castro. I bought my festival pass; how about you?

puppymeat said...

Hey dan,

I did mention the SF Silent Film Festival, in my intro to the previous post. I even had a link, but also mentioned that I'll have to miss at least Friday and Saturday (and now it's looking like I won't be able to make Sunday, either). I like silents, but this year the timing just hasn't worked for me.

Hope I see you at Jewfest, but as I said I'm out of town for the first week, so I'll probably be catching all the shows in Berkeley.