Tuesday, October 22, 2013

East Bay Indie Scream Film Festival

(2013)

Johnny Sweatpants' rating: ****

Crystal Math's rating: ****1/2

Hours before the BART strike Crystal and I were lucky enough to catch the first of what will hopefully be an annual indie horror film festival at the hip New Parish in Oakland. The movie screen in a bar setting was the perfect way to showcase local film projects and they had my favorite beer on tap to boot!

The festival consisted of 14 shorts each running around 10 minutes long. During the intermission we were treated to a burlesque show featuring women depicting iconic horror figures getting naked and bloody. First Sumara from The Ring crawled out of a television set before performing a sexy twitchy dance. The biggest scare I received during the evening was when the dancer dressed like Pinhead startled me from behind. Crystal pointed, I turned around and screamed, and everyone had a good laugh.  

Disappointingly a good number of the shorts aimed for laughs rather than scares. In Saw 69: The Fuckening, two girls chained together are forced to make out with each other as Jigsaw watches. The funniest of the lot was Damn Dishes, in which a fed up wife plants a bomb in the kitchen. If her husband doesn't clean up the mess before the timer goes off then he'll be blown to pieces.

The ballot.
The short that stood out to me as head and shoulders above the competition was titled Breathing, where 16 people wrapped in plastic sit on chairs in a 4 x 4 formation. The eerily calming sounds of their breathing are periodically interrupted by gun shots, and each person is murdered one at a time. After thinking about it I realized later that what bothered me most was the complete absence of screams and panic among those involved in the massacre. It was as though they were all willing participants in some messed up cult. After checking out the director's website I learned that this was one of five connecting shorts that form a (seemingly) cohesive story.
Unfortunately we had to leave before the winners were announced, and I still have been unable to ascertain who won. The guest of honor on the judge’s panel was Victor Miller, screenwriter of the original Friday the 13th, so I suspect that one of the more traditional (lamer) shorts took home the prize.

Crystal Math's bit: Sorry I was busy writing another review while JSP was composing the thoughtfully researched description of the East Bay Indie Screamfest. It seems like every year we strike gold with new and unusual events to attend! (Stay tuned for this weekend's happenings!)

Given the terrifying nature of the event photo, I was expecting to scream and sleep with all the lights on. It was a mixed blessing that this was not the case: I got a full night's sleep, but on the other hand, I didn't scream. Once. Among my favorite horror-shorts were Damn Dishes, Darkness of Night, and Operhator, though I concede that Breathing was the creepiest and looking at that photo of someone's head in a plastic bag sends chills up my spine.

Scream on, East Bay!

4 comments:

Octopunk said...

Way to skirt the BART strike! I mean, you know, power to the people and everything...

Sounds like a good time and wish I could've joined you. I still do miss The Bay.

I bet if you're working with a short running time it's a lot easier to do funny than scary.

If anyone cares, I just tonight caught up on a few days' worth of comments (going back to JSP's Come Out and Play review).

Catfreeek said...

Sounds like a blast, hopefully I can assemble a post from this years Rock n Shock at some point today.

JPX said...

That's so great that you guys did that! I bet you will be able to find these films on You Tube pretty soon.

A few years ago I attended one of these in R.I. and I recall it being a mixed bag. The most annoying thing was it was not in a movie theater but in a local hall and the people sitting in front on me noisily ate a feast the entire time - how rude!

AC said...

what an awesome event! so glad at least jsp got a chance to scream out loud this october.