Mixing comedy and horror is a tricky proposition. For every Shaun of the Dead that hits, there are what feels like dozens of other films with the same idea that step up to the plate and whiff like a chubby asthmatic kid on his first at bat (not asthmatic, but I know a thing or two about being chubby and bad a baseball). Hence, putting together an entire festival of such films is a daunting task, but for the last five years, the BoneBat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival has done just that. The latest installment, Bone Bat V, went down last weekend and, as with previous years, it was a total blast.
The warped brainchild of Steve and Gord of the BoneBat Show podcast, the fest is a day-long affair, bursting with more than 30 short films, a couple of features, music, and general mayhem. How else do you convince a couple hundred Seattle horror enthusiasts to spend an otherwise lovely Pacific Northwest afternoon hunkered down in the dark, welcoming confines of Central Cinema? Oh yeah, there’s beer, which never hurts.
Shorts are always a mixed bag, but even when they don’t hit, at least they don’t last too terribly long. Broken into roughly feature-length chunks, this years entries, culled from more than 1200 submissions, run the gamut from animation to live action; wildly hilarious to deadly serious; and some look slick and professional, while others look like you and your buddies made them in your garage one rainy afternoon. You got zombies, creepy kids with muddy feet, murder pacts, weird priests, and serial killers in bunny suits, among many others.
Some of the highlights include The Bright Side, which shows the dire consequences should the army of desk lamps ever rise up and revolt against their masters. Black Forest is an intricately detailed knights and wizards and witches fantasy epic with crazy cool creature design and a star who looks like a hunky Spanish Wolverine. Then there’s Good Hands, a story of the worst babysitter ever, and The Grey Matter, which gives a whole new meaning to the term “working stiff.” You even get a couple of Lovecraftian tales with Escape From Midwitch Valley and The Terrible Typewriter. But there’s also a wide enough array that there’s something for you whatever your particular tastes.
For my money, however, the best (at least the one I voted for at the end of the day) was Supervillain by Spanish director Joaquin Lora Jimenez, which also happened to make it’s American premiere at Bone Bat V. Skewing wholly on the horror side, this is a small, simple, terrifying story that shows what you can do with a clever narrative, mood, and atmosphere without relying on special effects and a big budget. Supervillain is dark and disturbing, and sticks with you long after it wraps up.
On the feature side of the program, BoneBat V had two offerings. First up, early in the day, after the initial block of shorts, was Fear Town, USA, a cheap, schlocky send up of just about every last horror trope you can imagine. There’s not much story to cling to as you traipse through lampoons of damn near any slasher cliche you can name—including the mysterious redneck local, a lake with a sinister backstory, a holiday party, and even the devil himself. It’s also a total, ridiculous blast that ratchets up the preposterous action exponentially throughout its runtime.
The headliner of the evening was WolfCop. Simply based on the title, you probably already know whether or not you want to watch this movie, and whatever your stance, you’re right. (If you are interested, it’s currently streaming on Netflix, just going to throw that out there, and if you’re still on the fence, check out the trailer.) Given the amount of beer and tasty food ingested over the previous ten hours or so, this was an ideal choice to wrap up the night.
As far as the musical side of BoneBat V went, there were two acts. First up was Lester T. Raww’s Graveside Quartet, a kind of gypsied up Tom Waits with an accordion, what appears to be an electric ukulele, and more kazoo than you expect from any grown up musical performance. Where else are you going to hear songs about surgically inclined teddy bears? Later in the night, the Pine Box Boys took the stage—also fronted by Raww—for a set of bluesy, rockabilly influenced murder ballads.
So there you have it, a quick hitter rundown of the 2015 edition of the BoneBat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival. This goes down every spring in the Seattle, and, if any of this sounds like a good time, and you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to add it to your itinerary when next year rolls around.