JULY 17, 2011
I have been working on a little animation for Chillerama lately, which kept me from making too many advanced plans, but luckily I finished it in time to make it down to the Cinefamily for this year’s Viscera Film Festival, a horror fest featuring female driven productions. Not sure if this was the case last year, but there were only shorts and trailers (plus a Q&A with several of the filmmakers), so there was nothing to give a full review to. However, I was quite impressed on a technical level with all the shorts – first timers and vets alike produced some quality efforts, and the presentation was professional as well. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than seeing some blown up Youtube quality video projected on a theater screen (and I have, on several occasions), so kudos to the fest organizers for actually implementing a bit of quality assurance.
I also really enjoyed quite a few of the pieces, and thus wanted to highlight a few that you folks should check out if they come to your local fest (or make their way online). Luckily, I had only seen one before (“Short Lease”), and didn’t downright DISLIKE any (though a couple were too close to art school nonsense for my tastes), so overall I had a good time watching the screen, which is key at the Cinefamily as those seats and my ass are not compatible in any way shape or form. Satan himself would feel awful at making someone sit on one for more than a half hour or so. But anyway, on to the recap!
Possibly my favorite of the shorts, as it combined two of my favorite things: stop motion animation and murderous children! Using the basic rhymes of Little Miss Muffet, Jack and Jill, and others, the piece followed the violent exploits of Little Bo Beep, who was on a quest to kill everyone in Fairyland. Delightfully mean-spirited (even the end credits were cruelly hilarious) and employing appealingly simple (but toy-worthy!) designs, I had a big smile on my face for the entire thing, and kudos to Laura Whyte for her wonderfully sick sense of humor. Oddly, I came THISCLOSE to missing it as I was hungry and had wandered outside for some food, but ended up going back in quickly as they were actually trying to put the food away at the time. Well played, Viscera volunteers.
Full disclosure – a lot of my Hatchet pals were involved in this one’s production, but I was already enjoying it before I realized that, so there! Inspired by Seth and Richie’s constant arguing in the early parts of From Dusk Till Dawn (one character is named Quentin, in fact), Mae Catt’s piece is funny and quick and builds toward a pretty great twist, as well as hinting at either a series of shorts or maybe even a feature set in this world populated with murderers who seemingly all live together.
The Ghost And Us
Not really horror per se, but a charming tragicomic tale of a woman who is “haunted” by the ghost of her boyfriend’s first wife. Not sure if I got the point of the multiple waking up scenes (was half of it a dream or did it take place across several nights?) but the two females had a fun chemistry as they fought over which one the guy loved more, and director Emily Carmichael handled the ghost effects quite well (love the attempt to “fade” her out). There’s a really touching bit where the two “share” a late night snack that almost got a tear out of me, and I actually liked that it never turned into a typical haunting tale. Good stuff.
I shifted in my seat a bit when the title card promised us “Three Shorts about eating”, thinking that I was in for some 30 minute “short”, but ultimately I wish it had gone on longer, considering how damn good it was. Featuring the best sandwich based sight gag in history (including features) and a hilariously nauseating “bath” scene, I look forward to more from Kate Shenton.
This was a long form “trailer” for a slasher about a killer Easter Bunny, and I swear if I had the dough I would put it up to make the feature right now. Molly Madeis won me over not just with her clear appreciation for slasher flicks, but also her know-how of motion graphics, as the whole thing was presented with cut n’ paste style animation (think the way they do Saddam or Mel Gibson on South Park, only more complicated). And she nailed the tone of the sort of Grindhouse-y trailers that some of those old slashers had, which got me even more excited to see the real thing. Hopefully she plans to do that (trailer below!).
The Blood Shop
Another disclosure – friends of mine worked on this as well, but as it was a trailer for a hardcore slasher featuring a killer using power tools, I hardly need a bias to want to see a full length version. Another trailer that perfectly captured the feel of 70s/early 80s horror spots.
You Can Execute Her But You Can’t Kill Her
I ASSUME this was a trailer for a full length doc? It was pretty long and it had a song credit, so maybe it was just a music video of some sort. When I Googled director Jasmine Hirst it turned up info about this but said it was 8 minutes, so maybe this is all there is to it. Anyway, it’s about Aileen Wuornos, the serial killer who was portrayed by Charlize Theron in Monster. As they apparently had access to Wuornos and other figures, it seems like it might be a pretty interesting doc (that I don’t know too much about Wuornos – I haven’t even seen Monster – makes it all the more appealing to me), but with a date of 2004 and no IMDb page or anything, I am guessing that this is all there is to it, which is a bummer. But it inspired me to look into the story, so there’s something.
Again, I didn’t downright dislike anything I saw, but these were the ones that caught my fancy or appealed to my sensibilities (animation, slashers, sandwiches...). Since most shorts are designed to flex the muscle a bit and/or attract financing for the feature version, the women behind these pieces are the ones I hope to see more from in the future.
Note – the Viscera festival is not restricted to Los Angeles, so keep an eye on their official site for info on when it may be coming to your area. I believe they also put together DVDs of the lineup, so that’s another option to consider.
What say you?