Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jason goes to Holehead--Opening Night

3 solid weeks of horror in San Francisco started last night. And yes, that's Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Thanksgivukkah. And 3 weeks means it takes us right up to the last week before Christmas. Heck of a way to spend the holiday season, and I promise that is the last time I will complain about it (complaining about the quality of movies--and the goofs in running the festival--will continue as usual.)

So the festival kicked off with STALLED. As in, a bathroom stall. As in, trapped in a bathroom stall when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Janitor W.C. goes into the ladies room for some maintenance during the company Christmas party. While in the stall, two women walk in. And instead of announcing his presence he just hides in there...and watches them start lezzing out. Then one of them bites the other one, and she turns into a zombie. Then the title comes on screen and I think 'Ha! What a funny little short!' Then the damn thing goes on for another 80 minutes. There are funny bits sprinkled throughout, but basically it's one joke spread waaaaaay too thin. Which, come to think of it, is kind of typical of a Holehead film.

Then it was time for the official opening night film, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE THE BATTERY. Okay, it was supposed to be ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, but due to a DCP festival management error, we switched it with next Thursday's film. So everyone who was eager to see THE BATTERY next're out of luck. Everyone who was bummed they couldn't make it to ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE last night (maybe you're still doing Thanksgivukkah stuff?) you're in luck, it'll play 7:00 next Thursday.

Anyway, THE BATTERY was a pretty damn good movie anyway, so it was a fine replacement for opening night. We start firmly within the zombie apocalypse this time, and it the sparsely populate New England woods. There Ben and Mickey are a duo staying on the move, killing whatever zombies they find (well, Ben does, Mickey sort of lives inside his headphones) and surviving however they can. We find out that they were minor league ballplayers, Ben's a catcher and Mickey's a relief pitcher. And the scenes of them working out their stress by playing catch are some of the finest in the movie. And that's the key to the movie, that the stress of the post-apocalyptic world is more dangerous than the actual zombies. At least, Ben dispatches zombies pretty easily. Mickey still has problems. Ben has adjusted well, with his huge mountain-man beard and live-in-the-moment attitude. Mickey is still grasping for whatever comforts he can find of the old world--especially sleeping in a real house. Ben knows that's a dangerous idea, you can get trapped inside a house pretty easily. Only in the final scenes do the zombies become a real danger, and without giving too much away that's actually because of what living humans do. This definitely subscribes to the Romero philosophy that the real danger is fellow survivors, not the walking dead. Anyway, the characters are well developed, and the story of two guys bonding on an aimless trip through the woods is engaging enough that the zombies are just kind of icing on the cake.

And then the late show was THE SHOWER, a funny little story of struggling entertainment industry friends who are at a baby shower when everything goes wrong. Nick is a screenwriter/unemployed waiter. His wife is 8 months pregnant, and they're having a baby shower with all their friends--mostly waiters/actors who have been in a few commercials. The hostess is a former child star turned talent agent. One guy there actually has a starring role in a TV show. And one has an actual job--she's a doctor (her husband played a doctor in a commercial once.) Well, she get calls in to work because of some outbreak--foreshadowing! Shortly after she leaves, we find the whole neighborhood is cordoned off by the police and people just suddenly snap and start attacking. The clown who was hired to entertain the kids turns homicidal, etc. Not zombies exactly, more like homicidal rage, which will subside temporarily before they go right back to attacking everyone. A lot of the fun is trying to distinguish if people have actually "turned" or if they're just selfish southern Californian entertainment industry types. But there I'm showing my Bay Area bias. I'll just cut that short by saying the movie was a lot of fun, and made by a group of friends for a surprisingly low budget.

There ended up (accidentally) being a theme of the night--facing the apocalypse (zombie or otherwise) non-heroically.

Total Running Time: 252 minutes
My Total Minutes: 342,945

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