Greetings, readers, Bill here with continuing coverage of the First Annual Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival, with today being “Monster Saturday.” Being the devotee of old school monster flicks that I am, this was the day that I was most excited about. This festival has become something of an ego booster for myself as well, for example walking in and having Debbie Rochon compliment me on my write-up of the night before. I’ll try to keep my head from expanding too much — lord knows I have enough trouble with hats as is.
The festival started off with the short film A STUDY IN RED, a title that pleased this Sherlockian. Written by Blaise Hartman, Benjamin M. Pauly, and Dan R. Kelly, who also directed, this nonverbal, giallo-vibed spin on the ol’ COLOR ME BLOOD RED “homicidal artist” story is a clever little treat. I particularly like the extremely-limited color palette.
Following this was Kevin McGuiness’ short film, RED, which brought a noir sensibility and aesthetic to the story of Little Red Riding Hood for a “breadcrumb budget,” as McGuiness put it.
Next up was full-length feature WEREWOLF FEVER, from writer/director Brian Singleton. This was just a really fun take on the classic “teens stuck in an isolated location with a killer outside” storyline, with some little comedic touches that this viewer really appreciated. I thought the titular werewolf looked a little too lion-like, but overall I can’t complain.
Following this we were treated to two minutes of test footage from the in-production vampire film DUSK, by Buffalo’s own Donald Pleasence, Michael O’Hear, who not only appeared in at least one film each day of the festival, but volunteered to help work it as well. All I can say at this point is that DUSK is the antithesis of TWILIGHT, with the added benefit of sapphic overtones in what we were shown.
After this came the short THE GALLERY, from writer/director Matt Pennington. I’ll be honest, this one left me a little cold, though I was impressed with the cinematography.
Next up was the feature-length HOUSE OF HORRORS: THE MOVIE. Daniel Monroe wrote and directed, centering it around a local annual “Haunted House” attraction. While it’s a clever twist on the standard haunted house movie, the Catholic Sex Scandal jokes wore thin very quickly, and overall I didn’t find this one too enjoyable.
DAMN YOUR EYES: PART 1, the beginning of an ultraviolent serialized Western from writer/director David Guglielmo, was excellent though, drawing heavily from the two Big Sergios: Leone and Carbucci, with a dash of 42nd Street excess and a sense of humor, not taking the tale of vengeance by The Man With No Eyes too seriously.
Following this came MOLD!, a tribute to late-1970s-1980s-style sci-fi horror, reminiscent of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN. The make-up effects…well, to call them delightfully revolting would be an understatement. I was really impressed with this film, written by David Fogerson and Neil Meschino, the latter of whom also directed.
Then we got a bonus short film, SUPERSEX. Forgive me, but I failed to record the names of the writers and director. If you’re familiar with Larry Niven’s essay, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex,” you know what this is about.
Next up, BY HER HAND, SHE DRAWS YOU DOWN, written and directed by Anthony G. Sumner, from a story by Douglas Smith. It’s an impressive take on the notion that a perfect image, such as a photograph, steals the subject’s soul. Here, it’s a boardwalk portraitist. There’s an interesting morality vs. instinct interplay here as well.
Following this, feature film SLIME CITY MASSACRE, sequel to 1988’s SLIME CITY, both by writer/director/festival organizer Greg Lamberson. This is the second time I’ve seen SLIME CITY MASSACRE, and I have to say it is a fantastic film in it’s own right and an excellent follow-up to the original. I love the GODFATHER II twinned story-arc style, and the inspiration drawn from classic apocalyptic science fiction such as THE OMEGA MAN and BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES. Plus, sharp-eared fans of Greg’s body of work can catch a reference to his newest novel, DESPERATE SOULS, showing just how much of his work Greg has mapped out in advance.
Next, an amazing Australian film, EL MONSTRO DEL MAR!, from writer/director Stuart Simpson. The only way I can describe this film is as if Russ Meyer, fresh off his success with FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! decided to adapt H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Yeah, you heard me. Now go change your pants. One thing that caught my eye, however: in EL MONSTRO DEL MAR!, all three bad girls are genuinely evil; whereas in FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, the characters Rosie and Billie relatively passive, only really becoming bad girls under the direct influence of the evil Varla. An interesting difference, I thought.
The night ended with HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE, a biopic documentary on the cinematic exploitioneer and marketing mogul who invented the modern gore flick. If you want to know where bloody movies got their start, see this documentary. If you want to know the history of nudie-cutie skin-flicks, see this film. If you’re at all interested in the history of cinema, see this film. And if history isn’t enough to satisfy you, there’s plenty of brilliant crimson gore and wiggling naked women on the screen.
Tags: a study in red, Blood, by her hand she draws you down, damn your eyes, Debbie Rochon, el monstro del mar, Emil J. Novak, Events, exploitation, Film Festival, Gore, Gregory Lamberson, Grindhouse, H.G. Lewis, Horror, Horror Movie, house of horrors: the movie, Indie, John Waters, Mold!, red, Short Films, Slime City, Slime City Massacre, supersex, the gallery, Werewolf, Werewolf Fever