Greetings, readers, Bill here with the best continuing coverage the Blood Sprayer can bring you on the Buffalo Screams film festival. Today’s theme was Zombies; with everything from chemically-altered ghouls to Romero-esque gutmunchers in attendance.There was also a costume contest, which I’ll cover in a bit, with people attending in full zombie regalia being eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes.
Our first film was the short THE DUTY OF LIVING, written and directed by Brandon Hunt, in which a young man serving in the military in the war against the undead reflects on his last days at home before shipping out to serve. There was a theme of service and familial piety throughout, with a strong emphasis on the notion that fathers raise sons to take their place. I think Robert A. Heinlein would have appreciated this.
Following this came full-length feature RESIDENT HORROR, an affectionate spoof of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill video game franchises. Written and directed by Tim Ekkebus and Rory O’Boyle, it follows the Super Police Action Rescue Squad as they battle the undead in a fashion reminiscent of Low Budget Pictures’ style, though with a stronger emphasis on dry wit. Some of the “we’re in a video game” jokes were really spot on.
Next came the short RISEN. Written and directed by Gregory G. Kurczynski, this was a creepy little gem that relied less on zombies as a source of horror, and more on mortals as something to be afraid of. Excellent theme of “Suffering for a Reason” throughout.
After a short break came the French short film CABINE OF THE DEAD from writer/director Vincent Templement, chronicling a man’s struggle to survive inside a phone booth surrounded by the living dead. Only 8 minutes long, it nevertheless reveled in an Ionesco-esque sense of the absurd.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED. See it. Contributing animator Mike Boas was on hand to offer some insight into the artwork’s creation.
DAVIS, another short, was conceived, shot, and edited in 48 hours as part of a local filmmaking exercise, and is an absolutely wonderful reminder that sometimes, less really is more. Written and directed by Aaron Doolittle.
Following this was squeezed in a trailer for Mike Boas’ current project, a dreamy “Monster from the Id” film by the name of MINDRIP. I’m excited. Plus, more faux-Grindhouse!
ADRIFT, from writer/director/festival director Emil Novak, was another new twist on an old favorite, turning a familiar cabin into a small boat drifting down the Erie Canal, beset on all sides by creatures not technically undead, but no longer fully human, either. Think Huck Finn meets George Romero, giving ADRIFT something of an “Essential Americana” feel to it. One thing to check though: The opening title crawl needs to be re-proofread.
The final film of the evening, DEFILED, from writer-director Julian Grant, was a hell of a thing. Reading about the film while writing one of my lead-ups here, I wasn’t sure if this would be something I would enjoy or not. Turns out, I really did. Opening on a look at daily life in Post-Mortem America (think Leave It To Beaver, in the woods, with Bill Hinzman replacing Hugh Beaumont), it quickly becomes a nihilistic struggle for survival…though not in the sense you’re maybe thinking. Role reversal plays a big part here, and the non-verbal storytelling is amazing, reminding one of CARNIVAL OF SOULS. One thing, though: I think it meanders a little too much, and would have benefited from slightly tighter editing.
The night ended with the zombie costume contest, of which this never-humble journalist was one of the judges (a fact I was informed of roughly a minute before I was called upon to start judging). We had five entries, and I’m not even going to pretend I’m sure about the spelling of contestants’ names, so I’m going to list them by characters: The Bride and Groom, a couple’s costume; Johnny Gruesome, an original character of Festival Organizer Greg Lamberson’s; an Insane Zombie, complete with straight-jacket; Military Zombie; and Snow White. After expedited deliberation from the panel of judges, the Bride and Groom took home the grand prize (copies of the Walking Dead graphic novels, copies of Pulp Art Comics from the dealer’s room, and politically-charged zombie film FEEDING THE MASSES, if I remember it all correctly), though no one left empty-handed.
Alright, readers, I’m gonna pass out, I’ll see you all tomorrow!
Tags: adrift, Blood, Buffalo NY, Buffalo Screams, cabine of the dead, cannibal, davis, Debbie Rochon, Emil J. Novak, Events, Film Festival, George A. Romero, Gore, greg lamberson, Grindhouse, Horror Movie, horror-comedy, Indie, Low Budget Pictures, night of the living dead, resident horror, risen, The Defiled, the duty of living, Video Games, zombie, Zombies