So I was consulting the Squid List, a local Bay Area e-mail listing of independent and underground art happenings around town, when a small Film Festival caught my eye. It was the 4th CINEMUERTE INTERNATIONAL HORROR FILM FESTIVAL. The festival is based out of Vancouver, but the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco asked if they could showcase six of the films. The actual festival is small, but shows some pretty crazy films. The organizer labels them Transgressive Horror films. She started this small festival 4 years ago with no real sponsors or backing, just a love of the genre. Vancouver had a larger line-up than S.F., with films such as Jeff Lieberman’s “Blue Sunshine” and “Squirm,” and Claire Denis’ “Trouble Every Day.” Being a big ass horror geek (Editor’s note: I’ve known this guy for twenty years, and I can attest his not big. However, he is a real Dick.), I thought to myself cool, I am going to check out a couple of these sick puppies.
It’s opening night and they kick things off with Stuart Gordon’s “Dagon.” Let me tell you baby, Mr. Gordon is back and back with a vengeance. Mutated humans, big-ass sea monster/god, boobies and some well-placed nervous slapstick humor make this outing a fun trip for the whole family. You see, a nouveau-riche couple and their business partners are on a sailboat somewhere off the coast of Spain. A storm jumps up and they become shipwrecked in a small fishing village – then it begins to get really weird and super creepy. The town is filled with zombie-like fish creatures that need to sacrifice humans in order to appease their God, Dagon, and live for all eternity at the bottom of the sea. Whew! Stuart Gordon + H.P. Lovecraft = some very fucked-up shit. I must be up front with you, I am a huge fan of Gordon and I admit that I even liked Robot Jox, so I may be a little biased here. But then again this is only my opinion of the film and like I always say, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one!” The movie slows down in the middle to give us some back story of the fish people and the village’s involvement in human sacrifice, but kicks into high gear with various car and on foot chases, live face skinning, human sacrifice, and did I already mention boobies. It was a fun film with not too much plot to get in the way of the story. Stuart Gordon is the H.P. Lovecraft king and should continue to adapt more Lovecraft stories, because he was born to direct them.
A couple of days later I dragged my girlfriend Jennifer to see a new Scottish werewolf movie. She normally does not dig horror films, but this one pleasantly surprised her. What can I say about “Dog Soldiersr” This movie was so good it is a crime that no US distributor wanted to touch it. It was only released on the Sci Fi Channel and will most likely go straight to DVD. This film bites you in the ass and will bite you hard. During a routine Scottish military exercise one team of soldiers discover what is left of the other team, and let me tell you – not much is left. Being the soldiers that they are they do not cry over strewn entrails. With a bad moon rising they are attacked at nightfall by something big, mean, hairy and vicious. It seems that the full moon has brought out some big-ass werewolves, which the troop has to fend off and finally seek refuge in a very recently abandoned farmhouse. “Who has been sleeping in my bedr” comes to mind. If only they can make it to daylight… This film is grabs you by the throat, lifts you up, shakes you around, throws you across the room and then comes at you again for another swipe. It is extremely fun, fast-paced and frightening, and with enough well placed humor to ease the tension. The tag line reads “Six Men, Full Moon, No Chance.” You will have to go into the woods to find out for yourself.
Next year I am going to try to get to more of the films brought to Cinemuerte. Hopefully the SF lineup will expand to the size of Vancouver’s. It may not be a large festival, but the programming has guts when it comes to presenting new and classic horror films. Check these two films out if you get the chance.