Three more movies on Friday, starting with the DIY punk doc, Let Them Know: the Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records. It all started in the late '70s/early 80's in Los Angeles with the Stern brothers--Mark and Shawn. The punk scene was notorious for riots and getting into fights with (getting beaten up by) the LAPD. That's when Mark and Shawn of the band Youth Brigade founded BYO--Better Youth Organization. At first it was just to organize events. At a time when traditional venues wouldn't host punk concerts, they booked their own venues and held their own concerts (and again, got hassled by the cops all the time). This DIY attitude carried over to everything they did--scheduling their own tours (and at a time when long distance calling was expensive, they couldn't do that without stealing calling card numbers) and eventually producing their own album. The first one was a compilation of southern California punk, but the second was their own Youth Brigade album, followed swiftly by albums from other punk bands. Today they still live as one of the oldest and most influential independent punk rock labels. Now I personally am not big in the music scene, but I can appreciate the rebellious nature of punk, and definitely appreciate the DIY spirit. In this age when the Internet makes DIY so easy, it's nice to see a compelling memoir of when it was hard (and therefore, only happened when it was really worth it). Oh yeah, and of course the story ends the best way possible--with bowling!
Next up, sadly, was the first (hopefully only) really big disappointment of Indiefest, Make Out With Violence. It should've been great, a dark comedy rock & roll zombie teen romance flick. And the problem isn't that they mixed genres--that totally works for me. The problem is that the performances were pretty universally flat. I think they were going for an enigmatic Twin Peaks kind of feel, but instead it was just a "bad acting" feel. It's narrated by a young boy named Beetle, with his elder twin brothers Patrick and Carol (his parents weren't ready for twins, they had one boy's name and one girl's name ready). Patrick likes Wendy, but Wendy has gone off to boarding school and started dating Brian. More importantly, Wendy has completely disappeared, and the authorities have just given up the search. Meanwhile Carol likes Wendy's best friend Addy, but Addy likes Brian, too. Addy's friend Anne Haran (always referred to by both names) likes Carol. Now re-introduce Wendy back into the mix. She's found, and is a barely re-animated zombie (not a threat, and barely moving at all). The brothers keep her in a friend's house (the family is gone for the summer and they're dog-sitting). As I said, even writing this up the idea still intrigues me, and there are isolated scenes I liked (The underwater kiss is impressive, and the line "Let's get awesome!" drew laughs. And the term "comfort sleaze" for sympathetically seducing a grieving friend was clever.) But for the most part it was just flat and uninteresting. As one friend said afterwards, "There was no violence. And hardly any making out!"
But then, it'll be playing at SXSW, a festival with a pretty good reputation, so what do I know?
And then the midnight movie, which was good, kinda cheesy fun. First the short Murderabilia, about the dangers of selling serial killer memorabilia. Oh yes, the top collector will get his comeuppance. And the DP was longtime Indiefest and Holehead alum Jay Lee (Slaughter, Zombie Strippers)
Then the feature, I Sell the Dead opens with notorious grave-robber Willie Grimes (Larry Fesenden) getting the old extra-close shave courtesy of the guillotine. His partner Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is interrogated by a monk (Ron Perlman). He tells the story of how he became a grave-robber, but insists he was framed for murder. He apprenticed himself to Grimes at a young age, acquiring corpses for Dr. Vernon Quint(Angus Scrimm of Phantasm fame). There good money to be made in dead bodies, but even more to be made in undead bodies. Oh yes, it's a zombie flick. But moreover it's a well-crafted and funny medieval comedy, with a stellar craft. And when the grave-robbing competition enters the picture, it gets good and wild. Lots of fun, a great cast, and a nice way to end the night.