Tuesday, September 16, 2008


While scurrying up Bay Street in Toronto I was hailed by Bruce Fletcher to come join him and friends at an outdoor table to lift "twobeer"; a welcome invitation on a humid afternoon. Bruce introduced me to "Ant" Timpson, Executive Producer of Head Strong, a feature film development company out of New Zealand; Ian Rattray, the Co-Director of London's Film4 Frightfest; and James Faust, Senior Programmer for the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. After achieving a perfect buzz, we stumbled into a press screening of Sauna, but not before Bruce gave me the heads-up on the line-up for San Francisco's upcoming Dead Channels: Festival of Fantastic Film to be held October 3rd-9th, 2008 at San Francisco's Roxie Film Center and on October 9th at Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy. This year's Festival will showcase 20 feature films and 20 short films from 10 countries and it includes exclusive world premieres, cutting edge women directors, classic repertory picks, amazing animation and much more, guaranteed to blow your mind!

The Opening Night Film on Friday, October 3 at 8:00PM is Tomas Alfredson's Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In (Låt den Rätte Komma in). Winner of the Best Narrative Feature award at the TriBeCa Film Festival and the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Fantasia Film Festival, Let the Right One In comes highly recommended by Twitch teammates Todd Brown and Ard Vijn. Todd writes: "The film is beautifully shot and anchored by very strong performances from its young leads and stands quite easily as the most compelling new entry into vampire mythos in … well, as long as I can remember. An exceptional piece of work." Ard writes: "[O]ut of all the gory movies I've ever seen, this one is without a doubt the sweetest. And out of all the sweet movies I've ever seen this one is without a doubt the goriest!"

The Closing Night Film on Thursday, October 9, 8:00PM will be Jennifer Chambers Lynch's Surveillance, produced by her father David Lynch, and starring Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Michael Ironside, and French Stewart. Todd announced this one at Twitch back in May along with the trailer. As Bruce explains, "Everyone is lying. Witnesses fabricate stories for two FBI agents (Ormond and Pullman) who arrive to investigate a brutal murder spree that may involve members of the corrupt local police force, headed by the legendary Michael Ironside. Jennifer Lynch's follow up to the much maligned Boxing Helena is an action-packed, clever, violent, strange and cruel, neo-noir FBI procedural thriller. It'll get under your skin."

Dead Channels will feature three world premieres, including Justin Paul Ritter's A Gothic Tale, narrated by Roddy (They Live) Piper. A Gothic Tale is a clever, horrific melting pot of three classic (and notoriously morbid) gothic tales: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Markheim". Justin Paul Ritter's follow-up to KatieBird is an over-the-top, old-school, and bone chilling night at the movies that will haunt you long after you exit the theater. Screening at the Roxie Film Center on Sunday, October 5, at 10:00PM, and Monday, October 6, 6:00PM.

David Gregory's Plague Town is the second world premiere. Gregory, producer of Jim van Bebber's The Manson Family, hits the bull's-eye with his narrative directorial debut. Plague Town is a scary, gory, freaky old-school horror movie about a family that gets lost in the rural countryside in Ireland. Fangoria's Michael Gingold offers a preview: "Even as it has become a cliché of the new horror wave for filmmakers to say that their projects aim for the spirit of '70s chillers, movies that genuinely evoke that veneer are few and far between. There's a certain vibe about the decade's drive-in fare that's hard to define and harder to capture... One new production that gets it, and gets it right, is Plague Town." Plague Town screens at the Roxie Film Center on Friday, October 3, 4:00PM and Saturday, October 4, 8:00PM.

The third world premiere is Jimmy Creamer's Reality Bleed-Through. This movie is really out there. It's an indescribable live action-animation hybrid that plunges headlong into madness, magick, mayhem, cults, pharmaceuticals and an Apocalyptic War on God. And you'll learn to love the Suicide King! The year is unknown. The government has been overthrown by a Sun-Worshipping drug cult. The environment is damaged and the Sun kills. Plagues kill millions. The end of the world will be a relief. This is Reality Bleed-Through. Black magic, psychic driving, flashbacks, harmful and subversive subliminals, hands, cut-ups, no hands, good drugs, Wars on God, deprogramming, live action, dead stasis, bizarre animation, inter-dimensional rips, death-trips, tritones, set the controls for the heart of the sun, mutilation, suicide fuck, reality cult, psychotic break, psychotic break, psychotic break. Screening Saturday, October 4, 6:00PM at the Roxie Film Center.

Dead Channels will also feature the U.S. Theatrical premiere of Nicolas Roeg's Puffball, starring Kelly Reilly, Miranda Richardson, Rita Tushingham, and Donald Sutherland. Nicolas Roeg, the legendary cinematic architect of mind-bending, sexually charged classics such as The Man Who Fell to Earth, Performance, Walkabout, Insignificance, Eureka, Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession, and Castaway finds fertile material for his unique sensibility in his latest work. Puffball, adapted from Fay Weldon's book by her son Dan, is concerned with fertility, witches, family and the Old Gods. The film also reunites Roeg with Donald Sutherland for the first time since their collaboration with Julie Christie in the masterpiece Don't Look Now. Screening Sunday, October 5, 8:00PM at San Francisco's Roxie Film Center and Thursday, October 9, 6:30PM at Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy. The trailer can be found on YouTube.

Another Dead Channels U.S. theatrical premiere is Johnny Kervorkian's The Disappeared, an intelligent suspenseful thriller starring Neil Murphy, Harry Treadaway and Tom Felton. This tragic tale of a family's loss is emotionally heart-wrenching, extremely well-acted and scary as Hell. Teenaged Matthew has lost his mind. He is directly responsible for the disappearance and probable death of his younger brother, Tom, and he can't bear the responsibility. It's cracking him apart. When Matthew returns home from the Hospital, his father Jake valiantly attempts to contain his anger; but his calm façade is beginning to crack. Then young Tom returns from the grave and he's not alone. Screening at the Roxie Film Center on Monday, October 6, 8:00PM and Thursday, October 9, 6:00PM.

As if all that isn't enough, Dead Channels will also feature four other highlights. Frank Henenlotter, the director of cult classics Brain Damage, Frankenhooker and the Basket Case trilogy, returns to the big screen with Bad Biology, a terrifically twisted tale of sex, evolution, masturbation, procreation, God and monstrous genitalia. Welcome to Frank Henenlotter's amazing world—straight up, no chaser. Screening Friday, October 3, 10:00PM at S.F.'s Roxie Film Center and Thursday, October 9, 9:15PM at Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy.

Canadian directors Darren Curtis and Pat Kiely offer up Who is KK Downey? Not long ago, the Art World was enthralled with (and scandalized by) J.T. Leroy. Now it's KK Downey's turn! This may be the funniest film of the year and particularly relevant to San Francisco audiences. Who is KK Downey? is the story of two low-rent artistes who decide to make a name for themselves. Terrance wants to be a Rock Star, while Theo dreams of publishing Truck Stop Hustler—a sordid look at the street-life of KK Downey, an abused teenaged junkie male prostitute. Screening at the Roxie Film Center on Sunday, October 5, 6:00PM and Tuesday, October 7, 6:00PM.

Yoshihiro Nishimura's Tokyo Gore Police is the most talked-about genre film of the year. Put on a bright red raincoat and brace yourself for this relentless new high-water mark for stunningly beautiful, jaw-droppingly perverted, hyper-kinetic Japanese cyber-punk carnage. Mere words can never do this justice—you have to see it to believe it. Unforgettable and beautiful set pieces litter the screen. Tokyo is burning! Set in a future-world where the police have been privatized and bitter self-mutilation is so casual that advertising is often specially geared to the "cutter" demographic, this is the story of samurai sword-wielding Ruka and her mission to avenge her father's assassination. The Tokyo Police Corporation is locked in a bloody war with the "Engineers." These unstoppable, genetically modified super-criminals can biofuse their open wounds with weapons, turning self-mutilation into a deadly combat form. Screening Saturday, October 4, 10:00PM at the Roxie Film Center. We wrote this one up earlier at The Evening Class at its Another Hole in the Head appearance. Kudos to Dead Channels for bringing it back!

John Bergin wrote, directed and animated From Inside, a darkly surrealistic, almost hallucinatory adaptation of his graphic novel of the same name. He worked for 2½ years to put his vision in motion on screen, and Dead Channels is honored to present the final result—a beautifully animated, yet often disturbing, epic post-apocalyptic science-fiction tale. Screening at the Roxie Film Center on Friday, October 3, 6:00PM and Sunday, October 5, 2:00PM.

A chill is in the air (and the snails on the move) as unrequited, obsessive love is swept up in a sea of blood. Dead Channels is delighted to present Epitaph, the internationally critically acclaimed, stunningly shot and directed, Korean box office sensation from the Jung Brothers. The year is 1942; the Korean capital of Kyung Sung is occupied by the Japanese; and the Anseng Hospital lies in the center of the city, representing the twin glories of Japanese Imperialism and Western modernization. But mysterious things are happening at the hospital: An intern, romantically drawn to a corpse, is instead bound by his parents to marry a girl whom he has never met; a traumatized little girl, the lone survivor of a horrific car crash, is tortured by bloody visions; and a married couple, who are doctors, desperately try to manage their colleagues' behaviors but find themselves investigating a series of brutal murders. As the stories unfold and secrets are revealed, the hospital and its staff descend into a dark abyss from which they may never return. Screening one night only at the Roxie Film Center on Tuesday, October 7, 8:00PM.

Dead Channels kicks off its midnight series with Ryan Nicholson's Gutterballs, a crazy throwback to 80s wanton bloody excess! Hold ON!!!! A brutally sadistic rape leads to a series of bizarre gory murders during a midnight disco bowl-a-rama at a popular bowling alley. One by one, players of two teams meet blood-drenched gruesome deaths at the hand of a black bowling-gloved masked killer. By sunrise, this alley runs red with blood. WARNING: this film is fiercely politically incorrect, gory, tasteless and often extremely hilarious. However, it may also be considered terribly offensive by the humor-impaired (and the particularly devout will recognize it as a sign of the impending End Times). Screening Friday, October 3, 11:45PM at the Roxie Film Center.

An homage to German Expressionist silent films, Karla Jean Davis's feature film debut Golgotha is the memoir of an evil sorceress's life at the top … alone. Once the most powerful sorceress of all time, age has reduced this once-feared sorceress to a sick, old woman on her deathbed. In a rare moment of candor (and humility), she confesses her life story to a goblin named Minion, the last of her loyal footservants. The story's end might be more than she bargained for. Golgotha is a reverse fairytale on a particularly expressionistic stage and a hand-crafted epic labor of love. Screening at the Roxie Film Center on Saturday, October 4, 2:00PM and Wednesday, October 8, 6:00PM.

In conjunction with Dead Channels, Cosmic Hex is offering screenings of four fantastic vintage classics. The first is Joseph Sargent's 1970 Colossus: The Forbin Project. This is the granddaddy of all computer run amok films. The film's climax is unsettling, but no more so than the actual state of world affairs in 1970. Charles Forbin designs the "first" Artificial Intelligence. Shortly after being turned on, it detects Guardian, its previously unknown Soviet counterpart. The computers insist that they be allowed to communicate. What happens when two supercomputers get together and realize just how sad is the human race that they serve? The logical conclusion, of course! The best way to defend humanity is to protect it from itself … by ruling it. Colossus: The Forbin Project will be presented in full cinemascope and blinding technicolor. Screening Sunday, October 5, 4:00PM at the Roxie Film Center.

The second is Condenados a vivir (Cutthroats Nine, 1972) by Spanish director Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent. Commonly referred to as "The Most Violent Western EVER Filmed", this incredibly hard to find film would feel more at home with the title, "Most Vicious Western." Gold hunting, double-crossing, robbing, raping, arson-loving, chain ganged criminals face off with the last vestige of law and mother nature. The superb filmmaking of this obscure 1972 exploitation film puts it head and shoulders above the rest—stop crying and run home to your mommy with your "G" Rated Fulci westerns! Screening Tuesday, October 7, 10:00PM at the Roxie Film Center.

The third is Robert Ground's 1967 Weird World of LSD. Part Drug Scare "information" façade with promises of titillating glimpses into the forbidden … part something else. It would have been utterly disappointing if this tent road show picture on the horrors of LSD had been just a clone of past reefer and cocaine exploiters. It's something else all right! Hold on for seemingly endless gratuitous scenes demonstrating how cosmic and magical the world can be on a few tabs. Drop out, but not too far—feel the green, taste the purple! Screening Saturday, October 4, 11:45PM at the Roxie Film Center.

Last but not least is Elio Petri's 10th Victim (1965) starring Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, and Elsa Martinelli. Sean Axmaker writes: "It's like Fellini gone ballistic." What happens when drugged-out '60s swingers in a totalitarian future play "The Most Dangerous Game"? Your mind could never envision the description-defying scenarios that unfold in this unclassifiable gem. A nearly impossible to find film print that almost defines "Must See!" A dark, psychedelic, scifi, comedy trip! Screening Thursday, October 9, 10:00PM at the Roxie Film Center.

So is all of this fantastic enough for you? And I haven't even mentioned the shorts programs and the Thrillpeddlers and the parties, oh my!! For starters, why not show up this Saturday, September 20, 9:00PM at the Vortex Room at 1082 Howard Street (between 6th & 7th) to witness the unveiling of the Dead Channels 2008 Festival Program? Be the first to taste and smell the 2008 programs HOT OFF THE PRESSES!

Cross-published on Twitch.