Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bone Bat Comedy Of Horrors 6: Zombies, Lovecraft, And Uncomfortable Toothbrush Placement

It's a pleasant, warm, moderately sunny spring Saturday afternoon in Seattle. This is the kind of weather that, when it hits, people run around the city sans shirt, because that’s just how we roll. There may be some rain in the forecast later on, but I won't know about that. I'm about to head indoors and spend the next 12 hours watching horror movies with a bunch of other vitamin D deficient weirdoes at the Bone Bat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival. And I would have it any other way.

And there's beer. The beer flows freely, which only enhances the amicable, gore-soaked vibe of the afternoon. Which is already a damn fine time. This is one of strangest, most unique film events in town, and, like every other year, 2016 was a goddamn blast.

For it’s sixth year, the Bone Bat moved its digs, trading in the cozy confines of Central Cinema for the more spacious environs of SIFF Cinema Uptown. There may not be as much food, but don’t worry, there’s still beer, and horror movies, so they’ve got the most important parts covered for an afternoon full of short films and features and even a little bit of live music just to keep things interesting.

Mixing horror and comedy is a tricky proposition during the best of times. For every Shaun of the Dead, there are dozens of half-baked attempts that face-plant on the sidewalk. The same can be said of short films. There are great examples of the form, but often you have to wade through the dreck to find the shiny golden nuggets.

Sure, there were a few duds among shorts at Bone Bat 6, but perhaps most impressive is that, of the more than 30 entries screened, most are solid. They run the gamut from cheap and schlocky, looking like something you and your buddies made in high school, to slick, professionally made work. There’s murder, monsters, gore for days, a few animated flicks, the obligatory Lovecraft-inspired tales, and, well, a toothbrush inserted somewhere don’t normally want to put a toothbrush.

Some of the films are clever, some are creepy, and some are both, like Party Animals, which combines spooky masks, animal subtitles, and surprising murder games. Others are over-the-top absurd, like Dickproof 2. Escargore features the most adorable animated slugs you’ve ever seen. In Running the Gammatar, a giant, guy-in-a-rubber-suit-style monster has way more impact on the love life of a young couple than you would think possible.

One way to get me to interested in your short film right off the bat is to put badass stunt performers like Zoe Bell and Heidi Moneymaker in your movie, which is what No Touching does, and they kick all of the ass. The fact that it also stars Jake Busey and Doug Jones is just icing on the cake. And what if your dad was a zombie? How would you react? And, more important, how would your new girlfriend, meeting your parents for the first time, handle the situation? That’s the question posed and hilariously answered in What’s Eating Dad?. Those were two of the highlights of the fest.

On the feature side, Ava’s Possessions tells the story of a young woman putting together the pieces of her life after being possessed by a demon for a month. The fact that it’s played totally straight makes it even funnier. In Patchwork, three young woman wake up from a night of hard partying to find that they’ve been sewn together, Frankenstein’s Monster-style, and embark on a hilarious, gore-fuelled revenge ride.

Yet again, for the umpteenth year in a row, I won nothing in the raffle. Granted, I’ve never won anything in my life, from pull-tabs to slot machines to a soda (seriously, of all the thousands of bottles of soda I’ve consumed over the years—an ungodly, unhealthy amount—I’ve never won a damn thing). Still, given the sheer amount of swag they handed out, my number never came up (I had my fingers crossed for a copy of Gina Wohlsdorf’s novel Security, but alas). I’m starting to sense a conspiracy. Looking at you, Steve and Gord, looking at you.

All joking aside, and there’s a shit ton of joking to be had, the Bone Bat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival is a damn fine time each and every year. You get to watch a bunch of crazy nonsense you won’t run into anywhere else, check out some up and coming talent, and drink too much. What’s not to love? If you’re in the neighborhood, and that sounds like your cup of tea (or pint of beer), hit it up when year seven rolls around.

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