Monday, April 15, 2019

BoneBat Comedy Of Horrors Film Festival 9: Zombies, Vampires, Metal Girls, And Murder Squirrels

demons eating popcorn

Sure, it’s spring, but the Seattle weather edged towards the crappy side. So there weren’t any pangs of guilt about lawns left un-mowed or yard work left un-yard worked this past Saturday. And that’s good, because I wasn’t going to do that shit anyway. Nope. Instead, I hunkered down all day, and part of the night, in a dark movie theater with a few hundred like-minded weirdo horror enthusiasts for the ninth—I can’t believe it’s nine—BoneBat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival.

Every year, Steve and Gord, the duo behind the BoneBat podcast, host a day of guts, gore, and laughs in the form of 40+ shorts and features. And there’s music. And there’s beer. And there’s an epic raffle. Fun fact: The five or six times I’ve attended, I’ve never won a damn thing, and we’re talking a raffle where roughly half the audience goes home with prize. (Truth be told, I had to duck out just beforehand this year, so I can’t be certain if this was my year or not, but my track record is not great.)

But for all the surrounding theatrics and bonus features, the films are the main event, and BoneBat 9 didn’t disappoint on that front. Synthesizing comedy and horror can be a dicey proposition. (My go-to comparison is that for every Shaun of the Dead there are dozens of atrocious knock-offs.) But they always present a solid selection of shorts. 

The U.S. was obviously well represented, but this year there were films from the U.K., France, Spain, and even Finland. They always take care to include a local contingent as well, and it’s always fun to see the Pacific Northwest filmmakers and friends hoot and holler as their work comes up on screen. 

As usual, the shorts run the gamut from slick and professional, filmed with a budget, crew, technical know-how, and a plan, to quick and cheap and filmed with whatever and whoever was available on the day. Some are clever and insightful, while others go more for blood and shock value.

Highlights for me this year include the twisted, darkly comic French animation, The Kiter. Laurell Vail’s What Metal Girls are Into skews towards the feminist, heavy metal, serial killer side of things, all with a killer soundtrack. Locals Cascadia Dread offered up their zombie-centric Fixer Upper style home improvement show with Fix This Up! With Handyman Mike. Mr. Eckles drops a creepy take home invasion horror. Keloid puts a horror spin on just the worst damn movie break up you’ve ever seen. Just brutal. The dumping, not the movie. Okay, the movie is brutal, too. And you might also enjoy Wild Love, a lovely animated film about the beauty of nature, and angry squirrels exacting horrific revenge on those who wrong them.

Beyond that, there were evil mimes, cautionary tales about selfies, updated urban legends, throwback B-movie grindhouse thrillers, a very dedicated junkyard guard, and more. If you were there are few years back and remember, Gwilliam also made a…triumphant—is that the right word?—return to the fest. Memorable, maybe memorable is the right word.

old lady with a machine gun

Eat Local

Most years, BoneBat features, well, two features. This year, however, was just the one, the Seattle premiere of British Eat Local. The story of a council of vampires who meet twice a century, and are hunted by nefarious government forces, it also represents a Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels reunion of sorts. 

Directed by Jason Flemyng, in his first effort in the big chair, it also has appearances by Dexter Fletcher and Nick Moran. And if that’s not enough, Jason Statham stopped by to choreograph the fight scenes just for kicks. (Both literal and metaphorical.) Watching the film, it’s readily apparent where he lent his skills. 

Uutside of that, Eat Local is also a ton of fun. It starts out with a very Dog Soldiers vibe, and stars Charlie Cox from Daredevil and Boardwalk Empire, Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean), Tony Curran (Deadwood), and a bunch more. It plays out like a one-night, vampire-gangsters-under-siege story, and it’s as much damn fun as that sounds. And there’s an old lady with a machine gun, what’s not to love?

And as if the movies aren’t enough, BoneBat brought back frequent musical guest Lester T. Raw and the Pine Box Boys, and their various friends and co-conspirators. They play a brand of spooky up-tempo hillbilly corridos that definitely fit with the overall vibe. 

In short, BoneBat #9 was, yet again, a damn fine way to spend a day. You get horror and music and beer. And maybe some prizes if you’re luckier than I am. And when you support indie horror, you never know who or what you’ll see. A few years ago, Dennis Widmyer’s short Curtain played the fest. His adaptation of Pet Sematary, which he co-directed, just opened in theaters. Just goes to show…

You can find a ton of these films and filmmakers online, so do it. It’s well worth the time!

1 comment:

Laurel Vail said...

Glad you liked the short! What Metal Girls Are Into is up on Amazon now too.