Kool Kat of the Week: Holy Gut Punch! Producer Kendall Keeling Screens Her First Feature THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE at Buried Alive Film Festival 2019

Posted on: Nov 13th, 2019 By:

Kendall Keeling and the poster for THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE. All photos are provided by Kendall Keeling and used with permission.

From festival judge to producer screening her first feature, Kendall Keeling is no stranger to Buried Alive Film Festival, Nov. 13-17, 2019, at 7 Stages. The ‘60s giallo-fueled THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE screens Sunday Nov. 17 at noon. Based on a novella by Thomas de Quincey (CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM EATER) and written and directed by Kool Kat Bret Wood (THE UNWANTED [2014]), this incessant thriller subverts the formula of the revenge film, its “hero” Jonathan (Joe Sikes) enacting brutal crimes in the name of justice goaded by the cold-hearted spirit of his dead ten-year-old sister Berenice (Alice Lewis [MALICE OF ALICE photo series]) and also features scream queen Lynn Lowry (THE CRAZIES [1973], SHIVERS [1975] in a key villain role.

A longtime aficionado of horror film of the most vicious variety, Kendall Keeling cut her producing teeth with the extreme zombie short film ABED (2012), from director Ryan Lieske, who she met at Buried Alive 2010, and Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Elizabeth Massie. Next, she co-produced the horrific CRAZY2CRAZY, written and directed by Greg Daniel (currently in post-production). Keeling acquired a taste for producing, and then applied her lessons learned on these films (#1: don’t be afraid to show it, squeamish people can look away if they need to) on THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE. She also contributes movie reviews for new horror releases to STOMP AND STAMMER magazine.

So basically Kendall is a natural/unnatural ATLRetro Kool Kat of the Week, and we were dying to ask her how she discovered horror, why she has a special fondness for Buried Alive, go behind the bloody curtains of THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE, her recent recommended films, and what’s next for this cutting edge horror movie producer!

ATLRetro: What’s the secret origin story of how little Kendall got hooked on horror movies and what are a few films that had an early impact on you?

Kendall Keeling: As far back as I can remember, I have always loved horror movies and scary things. When I was about 6 or 7, I watched Friday Night Frights every week on [Atlanta’s] Channel 17. They played tons of Hammer and AIP films. I remember being obsessed with HOUSE OF USHER [1960] and the other Roger Corman Poe movies. About a year later, my dad found out that Vincent Price was going to be speaking at Emory University. He took me to see Price speak and then took me backstage to meet him after the show. He was just the most wonderful person. After that, the horror compulsion just continued to gain steam.

Kendall Keeling and Bret Wood at Buried Alive Film Festival.

You’ve attended a lot of Buried Alives and even been a festival judge. What stands out about this festival and why should horror fans be sure to attend?

I think of BAFF as family, almost. The horror community in Atlanta is just fantastic and everyone is really supportive of each other. Buried Alive is like the Christmas Dinner of horror. I have met so many amazing people at the festival over the years, most who have become friends. Blake [Myers] and Luke [Godfrey] really have a passion for the subject matter and it shows. They work very hard to keep the line-up fresh and interesting.

We’ll get to your film in a moment, but what else are you most excited about in this year’s festival line-up? Anything you think readers should definitely not miss?

What I look forward to the most every year are the shorts blocks. They are, without a doubt, my favorite thing about Buried Alive. There are always one or two that really stick with me. The features are always badass, but there is something special about seeing a 7-minute film that blows you away.

You’ve said that you only work on “films that leave you feeling gut-punched.” Can you explain what you mean by that?

I watch a lot of horror movies. I like about 70% of what I see. The 10% that I adore are the ones that stun me in some way. If I find myself saying “holy shit!” at any point in a movie, that’s a keeper. A great example of that would be Gaspar Noé‘s work. For all of the work that goes into filmmaking, I wouldn’t want to bother with something that doesn’t at least aspire to disturb or upset people.

Bret now has a number of features under his belt. Did you particularly want to work with him on a project?

Definitely. I first met Bret at a Splatter Cinema screening of Takashi Miike‘s ICHI THE KILLER [2001]. A few months later, we both ended up on the jury for BAFF. We became friends, and it was clear that we shared a taste for subversive films. We first discussed working together when he was beginning THE UNWANTED [2014]. It just wasn’t the right time or fit, so we decided to do something else once that was completed. We talked about a number of different ideas and themes, and then he showed up with a script! And here we are!

Alice Lewis and Joe Sikes in THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE (2019).

The giallo aspects of the movie (cinematography, bloodletting, music!) imbue it with that retro quality that we love while also being very contemporary, delving into returning vet Jonathan’s memories of the Iraq War and Middle East terrorism. Can you talk a little about that aspect and balancing then and now in the film? 

Well, the revenge facet of the story lends itself perfectly to the giallo style. But Bret did a great job weaving in Jonathan’s war memories and their role in the obligation he has to fulfill to his sister. Jonathan wrestles with both his decisions during the war and his inability to resolve his family crisis.

The casting also was spot on—especially Alice Lewis and ‘70s horror demi-goddess Lynn Lowry in the pivotal roles of mercurial little girl Berenice and aging, bitter Justice Merrill. Any anecdotes about how they got cast and working with them on set? 

This was Alice’s first real acting role. Bret found her a on a casting website and she was the only young girl who was scowling, so that was exactly what he was looking for in Berenice. With Lynn, that was a decision made after we started the film. In fact, the role was originally written for a man. Bret decided to rewrite the character for Lynn after meeting her during an interview, if I remember correctly. They were both fantastic to work with. On set, Alice would be laughing and playing cards with Joe (who plays Jonathan) one minute, and then snap right into Berenice and be creepy as hell the next minute. She never got tired or bored or complained. Totally professional out of the gate. Lynn really brought it for every scene she performed. She delivered a nasty, unlikeable villian and I can’t even imagine that role being filled by anyone but her now. And Lynn is so nice in real life that it makes it even more impressive.

Lynn Lowry and Kendall Keeling on the set of THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE (2019).

Loved your cameo. How did you keep your cool, sipping wine casually in the foreground while the film’s two young…er…protagonists…get to know each other?  

I was totally unprepared for that, as you can probably tell from what I am wearing. We had shot the scene with Joe and Rachel a couple of times already when Bret said he needed something in the foreground. That something ended up being me. He handed me his phone to read and I remember being appalled that he had 1000 unread emails—I am pretty neurotic, so that drives me crazy! I also remember that I drank almost two glasses of wine before he was happy with the shot.

How was the film funded and what’s next after it plays Buried Alive?

Most of it was funded through Bret’s company Illustrated Films, LLC. We also raised about $10k through Kickstarter to complete it. We are submitting it to festivals through next spring and then expect a commercial release next summer, if everything goes as planned.

You’re also a film reviewer and you watch an astounding number of horror films annually. What trends and directors are pushing the envelope now, in your opinion? A few film recommendations for our readers?

I mentioned Gaspar Noé earlier, and his film CLIMAX was my favorite one so far this year. And although it was released last year, I have gotten a lot of traction out of Coralie Fargeat‘s REVENGE. I have shown it to a ton of my friends and everyone is always cheering before it’s over. It has a lot of “holy shit!” moments. I still really like anything that smells like French Extreme, but I have also enjoyed some domestic films this year. CRAWL by Alexandre Aja was so much fun. Well, he is French, but the film isn’t.

Kendall Keeling and Angus Scrimm.

You’ve attended a lot of horror cons and met so many of the actors and filmmakers behind horror classics. What one or two encounters stand out and surprised or delighted you the most?

I love going to horror cons and I am a total fangirl. Two of the absolute sweetest guests I have met are [actor] Angus Scrimm (PHANTASM[1979]) and [director] George Romero (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD[1968]). Angus had each person he met sit down with him and just talk for about 10 minutes. It was so lovely and so wonderful seeing him enjoy all the fans. Romero is such a legend that I was about to pass out by the time I met him. He said that I had a great name and that I should be an anchorwoman. I don’t remember anything else about our conversation, but I was floating on air after that.

George Romero and Kendall Keeling.

What’s next for Kendall Keeling, film producer?

I am currently working on a screenplay for an idea I have had hanging around for about a decade now. I am also thinking about directing a music video for a kind of a horror song I wrote. I play survival horror video games whenever I can, so I am trying to work on these other things when I get the chance.

 

 

Find the full schedule and purchase tickets to Buried Alive Film Festival 2019 here.

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The 2019 Buried Alive Film Festival Raises Hell in its 14th Year and Gores it up with Five Days of the Best Global, US and Local Indie Horror Treasures!

Posted on: Nov 11th, 2019 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

This haunted holiday season is alive and kicking as the Buried Alive Film Festival (BAFF) kills it with another year of hellacious cinematic treats! BAFF is brought to you by Festival Director, Kool Kat Blake Myers and Event Director, Kool Kat Luke Godfrey and a helluva killer team of mad scientists working behind the scenes. Gore it up with five blood-filled days (November 13-17) of film terror, including 8 features, 51 short independent horror films from around the globe, and two extra special events, bringing its sinister shenanigans for a fourth year to 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points.

BAFF kicks off Wed. Nov. 13, at 8pm, with the ever-popular BAFF Sinema Challenge, giving local filmmakers the opportunity to bring to life a horror film in 13 days. Production starts on November 1 and films are screened on the festival’s opening night. The contest is judged by co-creator and exclusive programmer for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) weekly late-night cult movie showcase TCM Underground, Kool Kat Millie De Chirico and “Archer” animation director and Atlanta-based filmmaker, Marcus Rosentrater.

Thursday night kicks off with Shorts Program #1: First Shovel in the Grave is always the best!, which includes Ujicha’s [Director of BAFF 2018’s VIOLENCE VOYAGER] TEMPURA (Japan) about man’s best friend; David Bornstein’s UNHOLY MOLE, where selling one’s soul for guacamole is where it’s at; German Sancho’s FEARS (Spain), delving into a little girl’s frightening world; Miao’s I LEARNED TO DRIVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (China) and so many more! The Opening Night Feature is Michael Laicini and David Amito’s ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST MOVIE EVER MADE (2018), a film about a cursed ‘70s film that finally has come to light. Watch if you dare!

Tricks ‘n’ treats abound as Friday brings you Shorts Program #2: Grave worm’s Finest, which includes Tyler Martin’s creepy crawly short, HATCH (USA); Jeon Jinkyu’s THE DEATH VENDOR (Korea), with death for sale; get exorcised with Steven Stull’s D IS FOR DEMON (USA); fight for your life with Kate Trefry’s HOW TO BE ALONE (USA) and more! Stick around for the 8pm Feature as punk mutants take on Vietnam vets in Joe Begos’s VFW (2019), preceded by James Sizemore and Tim Reis’s psychedelic short, BUDFOOT (USA/Local), shot at Kool Kat Shane Morton’s Silver Scream FX Lab! And of course no respectable horror film festival would be complete without screening a few horror classics, and ATLRetro loves all the special events chosen this year, including a special screening of Andrew Lemen’s 2005 silent film, THE CALL OF CTHULHU with a live soundtrack by Atlanta-based jazz group Samadha, followed by a special midnight grind-house screening of Ben Winston’s ‘70s-esque biker flick HELL BOUND (2018)!

The heads just keep rolling as Saturday brings you Shorts Program #3: Who Said Robbing Graves Wasn’t Fun! including Neal O’Bryan and Chad Thurman’s tasty TOE (USA); Jill Gevargizian getting twisted with ONE LAST MEAL (USA); Trevor Mirosh’s intergalactic EXHIBIT MAN (Canada); Tony Reames terrorizing the babysitter with PLAYTIME’S OVER (USA/Local); Stacey Palmer’s toothy gore, TOOTHACHE (USA/Local) and more followed by a 4pm Feature, dishing out sex education at its most sinister with Keola Racela’s PORNO (USA), preceded by Elwood Quincy Walker’s KISSED (USA). At 6pm, BAFF brings you Shorts Program #4: Dig the Grave Deep So They Can’t Crawl Out, featuring some #METOO horror with Yfke van Berkelaer’s LILI (Netherlands); Mia’kate Russel’s MAGGIE MAY (Australia); Ferris Wheels and strange creatures with Carlos Baena’s LA NORIA (Spain); Tomi Malkki’s SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET (Finland) and more! At 8pm get ready for another hellacious Feature with Brett and Drew Pierce’s boy vs. 1000-year old witch, THE WRETCHED (USA), preceded by Rich Ragsdale’s THE LOOP (USA)! And to top off the evening, BAFF offers a special treat at 10pm with a screening of Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s splatter classic, THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984), hosted by Atlanta’s award-winning Blast Off Burlesque, who will stage one of their signature TabooLaLa events including a performance inspired by the film before the screening! Last but not least is a midnight screening of local Tony Reams’ (et al) DEAD BY MIDNIGHT (USA).

For those early birds, Sunday kicks off with a 12pm feature of Kool Kat Bret Wood’s THOSE WHO DESERVE TO DIE (2019) [keep your eyes peeled for our Kool Kat of the Week, Producer Kendall Keeling coming soon], preceded by Joshua Giuliano’s IN SOUND WE LIVE FOREVER (USA), followed by a 2pm Feature screening of Sandy K. Boon’s documentary, J.R. “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIOUS (USA), exploring the phenomenon of two self-proclaimed weirdos from Ft. Worth who created their own cult following, preceded by Alastar Train’s ALL STRETCHED OUT (UK). At 4pm, BAFF treats you to another feature with Kool Kat Daniel Griffith’s creaturific documentary, MARK OF THE BEAST: THE LEGACY OF THE UNIVERSAL WEREWOLF (USA/Local), preceded by Josh Gould’s MEAT WAGON (USA). Shorts Program #5: The Toll of the Death Bell promises a monstrous good time with screenings of David Oesch and Remo Rickenbacher’s DEAD ANIMALS (Switzerland); Dante Vescio and Rodrigo Gaasparini’s DEAD TEENAGER SÉANCE (Brazil); Charles de Lauzirika’s LOVE BITE (USA), and more! And finally, the closing ceremonies and awards show begins at 8pm!

The 7 Stages Theatre is located at 1105 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. Individual program block tickets are $12, and five-day festival passes are just $120.

For more information and the complete Buried Alive Film Festival schedule, visit the website here. And view the official 2019 BAFF bumper here.

 

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Kool Kat of the Week: Too Many Freaky Roles: Actor William Tokarsky Cooks, Talks Tapioca, and Shares an Earful about the Buried Alive Film Festival 2018

Posted on: Nov 15th, 2018 By:

That time ATLRetro took a top secret AdultSwim behind the scenes tour and thought our goose was cooked when William Tokarsky boarded the bus!

At Buried Alive Film Festival 2018 (Nov 14-18, 7 Stages) William Tokarsky acts it up in THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR, the festival’s first feature, which plays Thursday Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. Directed by Joe Baden, the movie about a young woman who hears voices has been a hit on the festival circuit, winning a bunch of awards. Critics call it “trippy” and “surreal.” Sounds like a Tokarsky movie to us!

You may or may not know his name, but if you’re into weird cult horror and comedy movies and television, you know William Tokarsky. You’ve seen his pretty face in AdultSwim’s YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL. He romanced a Goblin in Kool Kat Brian Lonano’s (CROW HAND[2014]) notorious award-winning short GWILLIAM (2015) which grossed out audiences at Buried Alive 2016 (Look for twisted “sequel/spin-off” GWILLIAM’S TIPS FOR TURNING TRICKS INTO TREATS in The EyeSlicer shorts segment Sat. Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.). If you don’t know those, he became an Internet sensation as the serial killer who cuts into the sitcom-intro-parody TOO MANY COOKS!

We cornered Tokarsky, checked carefully for sharp blades, and asked him nicely to divulge a few down and dirty secrets about his film and TV roles and why you should get the Hell down to Buried Alive 2018!

ATLRetro: Why should folks come out to the Buried Alive Film Festival?

William Tokarsky: All the cool kids will be there.

You were a judge for a previous BAFF. What was the most fun part of this task?

Judging is a lot like horse trading … everyone has his favorite.

Tell us about THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR and your role in it!

THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR is a creepy physiological thriller,  and you will only see my alter-ego on screen!

You became an Internet superstar for your–shall we say “memorable?!–role in TOO MANY COOKS?! Can you tell our readers how you landed that role? Did you have any idea you were doing something that would go so viral? Any “top secret” on-set anecdote that we can convince you to share with our readers?

I creeped out Casper Kelly on the set of YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL, and he just wanted to creep out the rest of the Internet. I told Casper “COOKS would go viral or just die on the 4 am time slot”—one or the other. I was amazed at how fast it went viral! The sweater I wore in COOKS was put in a cardboard box and lost…so keep an eye out at your local Goodwill store!

You seem to be getting a reputation for being a go-to actor for humorous horror! Another memorable role of yours was in GWILLIAM, which was featured at BAFF. How did that happen and any behind-the-scene anecdote about that experience?

Ah, yes, GWILLIAM, the sleaziest film ever made. Everyone that read for it was sober and need I say more. And it was TAPIOCA…just TAPIOCA.

With Georgia becoming “Y’allywood,” you’re showing up in all sorts of features. Any other recent roles you’d like to talk about?

I have been working on a role in Savannah on a new TV show where I am the degenerate alcoholic stepfather of the bi-racial female lead  married to her black mother it’s all about drugs and poverty. It’s a COMEDY. I can’t say what it is, but just check my IMDb page and you can figure it out. 

William Tokarsky action figure! Just watch out for that tiny blade!

Any advice to aspiring actors? Either in general or locally in Georgia?

Be nice to everyone you meet and whatever you are doing … do it so good that eventually someone will notice you.

What’s next for William Tokarsky?

My next goal is to be flown First Class to LA to deliver about five lines of dialogue in the next big blockbuster!

Finally gotta ask, what is your favorite RETRO horror movie that you’d recommend to our readers?!

My favorite retro horror is the original THE BLOB (1958).

Read our full Buried Alive Retro preview by Melanie Crew here! Buy your Buried Alive Film Festival festival passes and advance tickets to individual screenings here or at the 7 Stages box office. 

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The 2018 Buried Alive Film Festival Raises Hell with its Lucky 13th and Gores it up with Five Days of the Best Global, US and Local Indie Horror Treasures!

Posted on: Nov 12th, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

This haunted holiday season is alive and kicking as the Buried Alive Film Festival (BAFF) kills it with another year! BAFF is brought to you by Festival Director, Kool Kat Blake Myers and Event Director, Kool Kat Luke Godfrey and a helluva team of mad scientists working behind the scenes. Gore it up with five blood-filled days (November 14-18) of film terror, including 7 features, 59 short independent horror films from around the globe, and four extra special events, bringing its sinister shenanigans for a third year to 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points.

BAFF kicks off Wed. Nov. 14, at 8pm, with the ever-popular BAFF Sinema Challenge, giving local filmmakers the opportunity to bring to life a horror film in 13 days. Production starts on November 1 and films are screened on the festival’s opening night. The contest is judged by co-creator and exclusive programmer for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) weekly late-night cult movie showcase TCM Underground, Kool Kat Millie De Chirico and “Archer” animation director and Atlanta-based filmmaker, Marcus Rosentrater.

Thursday night kicks off with Shorts Program 1: For the Love of the Undertaker, which includes Kool Kat Dayna Noffke’s TEASER (USA) where death is a dance; Tyler Macri’s creaturific short WHAT COMES FROM A SWAMP (USA); Ilja Rautsi’s horror comedy where a woman must survive a horde of men’s frail egos in HELSINKI MAINSPLAINING MASSACRE (Finland); Daniel Stankler’s SHOULD YOU MEET A LADY IN A DARKENED WOOD (UK) and so many more! The Opening Night Feature is Joe Baden’s psychological weirdness, THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR (2017) featuring our Kool Kat of the Week William Tokarsky (interview coming soon) screening at 9pm, preceded by the short film BAGHEAD (UK), directed by Alberto Corredor Marina.

Tricks ‘n’ treats abound as Friday brings you Shorts Program 2: Bury Me with My Favorite Films, which includes Lorene Yavo’s animated supernatural short COUNT YOUR CURSES (Belgium); Kate Dolen’s cheap thrill(er) CATCALLS (Ireland); Joshua Long’s award-winning POST MORTEM MARY (Australia) and more!  Stick around for the 8pm Feature, Jason Trost’s THE FP2: BEATS OF RAGE (USA) for a bloody good time! And of course no respectable horror film festival would be complete without screening a few horror classics, and ATLRetro loves all the special events chosen this year, including a special screening of Carl Boese and Paul Wegener’s THE GOLEM (1920) with a live soundtrack by Atlanta-based jazz group Samadha, followed by a special midnight grind-house screening of Kool Kat James Bickert’s AMAZON HOT BOX (USA), preceded by Jill Gevargizian’s sinister short, 42 COUNTS (USA).

The heads just keep rolling as Saturday brings you Shorts Program 3: It’s Never Too Early to Start Digging Graves including Marinah Janello’s ENTROPIA (USA), a search for beauty at all costs; WIHFF co-director Sam Kolesnik’s award-winning MAMA’S BOY (USA); Fredrik S. Hanna’s crime-laden ROSALINA (Norway) and more followed by a 4pm Feature, Marc Martinez Jordan’s twisted film FRAMED (Spain), preceded by Guillem Dols’ short PSYCHO KINO (Spain). At 6pm, BAFF gets wickedly weird as they team up with The Eyeslicer, featuring shorts by Kool Kat Brian Lonano (CROW HAND (2014)/GWILLIAM’S TIPS FOR TURNING TRICKS INTO TREATS) and more! At 8pm get ready for another hellacious Feature with Ujicha’s torturous VIOLENCE VOYAGER (Japan), preceded by Laura Sparks’ short MADDER ISLE! And to top off the evening, BAFF offers a special treat with a screening of Joel Schumacher’s cult classic, THE LOST BOYS (1987), hosted by Atlanta’s award-winning Blast Off Burlesque, who will stage one of their signature TabooLaLa events including a performance inspired by the film before the screening! Last but not least is a midnight screening of local Tony Reams’ (et al) DEAD BY MIDNIGHT (USA).

For those early birds, Sunday kicks off with an encore presentation of Carl Boese and Paul Wegener’s THE GOLEM (1920) with a live soundtrack by Atlanta-based jazz group Samadha, followed by a 2pm Feature documentary, SURVIVAL OF THE FILM FREAKS (USA), where Directors Bill Fulkerson and Kyle Kuchta explore the phenomenon of cult film and film fanatics, preceded by Anthony Cousins’ short THE BLOODY BALLAD OF SQUIRT REYNOLDS (USA). Shorts Program 4: Why Bury Good Meat?! Vampires, Zombies and Cannibals. Humans Taste So Good! promises a monstrous good time with screenings of Dayna Noffke’s GENTLEWOMAN’S GUIDE TO DOMESTICITY (USA); Felipe M. Guerra’s MRS. OLDINA GOES SHOPPING (Brazil); Pete TompkiesONCE BITTEN (UK); Sam Kolesnik’s FRIENDSGIVING (USA) and more! And last but not least, BAFF presents the World Premiere of Todd SheetsCLOWNADO (USA) at 6pm as the Closing Feature, preceded by Brian Lonano’s BFF GIRLS (USA)!

The 7 Stages Theatre is located at 1105 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. Individual program block tickets are $12, and five-day festival passes are just $120.

For more information and the complete Buried Alive Film Festival schedule, visit the website here. And view the official BAFF bumper here.

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The 2017 Buried Alive Film Festival Gores it up with Five Days of the Best Global, US and Local Indie Horror Treasures!

Posted on: Nov 14th, 2017 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

The Buried Alive Film Festival is back for its 12th chilling year, brought to you by the Buried Alive team of Kool Kat Blake Myers, Luke Godfrey, Mark Malek and Alyssa Myers, with five killer days (November 15-19) of film terror, including six features, 54 short new independent horror films from around the globe, and three extra special events.  Its sinister shenanigans return for a second year to 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points.

This year’s festival features five brand new movies, including our Kool Kat of the Week, Ashley Thorpe’s BORLEY RECTORY is a documentary feature (rotoscope/animation), described by Thorpe as “an ultrasound of a haunting” (see ATLRetro’s exclusive interview with Ashley here). The opening (Thursday) night feature is the latest from director Mickey Keating (POD; DARLING; CARNAGE PARK), a bloody tale of seven serial killers and their deadly agendas as they cross paths over one night, PSYCHOPATHS, which premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival earlier this year. Other feature films include AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: THE SONG OF SOLOMON, a story of satanic possession and the clergymen who confront it directed by Stephen Biro (AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK); WHO’S WATCHING OLIVER, the tale of a mentally unstable loner and his killing spree directed by Richie Moore (CRAZY MEDICINE); and the World Premiere of BB, a provocative psycho-sexual thriller outlining the dangers of technology and who just may be peeking on the other side directed by CJ Wallis (DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK[editor]).

This year BAFF features will go beyond the usual horror narratives and include documentaries. FOOLISH MORTALS: A HAUNTED MANSION DOCUMENTARY explores the fan culture surrounding Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride from director James H. Carter II featuring interviews with Disney legend Rolly Crump, artist Topher Adams, AMERICAN MARY’s Tristan Risk, Robert Kurtzman, SpookyDan Walker and more.

Buried Alive also continues to show its love for the local Georgia horror scene. This year’s festival includes six local shorts, with two  directed by our very own Kool Kats Dayna Noffke (UNDER THE BED about a girl and her favorite monster fiend) and Vanessa Ionta Wright (I BAKED HIM A CAKE). Other local shorts include AHEAD IN THE ROAD about three college girls learning the dangers of “the middle of nowhere” directed by Walt Guthrie and Matt McGahren, WEED WHACKER MASSACRE about a grumpy old man-turned-deadly machine vs. the HOA directed by Benjamin R. Dover, MONGO’S GOT A SPIDER GUN changing the world one arachnid at a time directed by Tim McGahren, and SKY TRIPPER featuring ancient artifacts and perilous actions directed by Philip Freeman.

Back by popular demand is the BAFF Sinema Challenge, which challenges local filmmakers with the opportunity to make a horror film in 13 days. Production starts on November 1 and the films will screen on the festival’s opening night, Wed. Nov. 15, at 8 p.m., judged by co-creator and exclusive programmer for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) weekly late-night cult movie showcase TCM Underground, Kool Kat Millie De Chirico and “Archer” animation director and Atlanta-based filmmaker, Marcus Rosentrater.

One of the real strengths, and our favorite part, of Buried Alive Film Fest is the shorts programs. This year brings five shorts sets (The Groundkeeper’s Faves; Cult of the Grave Worm; Weirdness from 6 Feet Under; If These Tombstones Could Make Movies!; and If this is all there is my friend? Then let’s keep digging.) presenting 54 new films that will enlighten, scare and disgust you to the fullest extent. A few highlights from the selections include Huseyin Hassan’s 2AM about a middle-aged man, a white rabbit and supernatural events, the American premiere of Finnish animator and Buried Alive awardwinner Tomi Malakias’ THE ZOO and Mathew E. Robinson’s RIGOR MORTIS about gory and guilt-ridden sibling rivalry. 

Finally, no respectable horror film festival would be complete without screening a few horror classics, and ATLRetro loves the two special events chosen this year. On Friday night at 10 p.m., BAFF will present a special screening of Robert Wiene’s silent horror classic THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1921) with a live soundtrack by Atlanta-based jazz group Samadha! And on Saturday night at 10 p.m., BAFF offers a special treat with a digitally remastered Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, the 1994 biopic starring Johnny Depp, Martin Landeau (as Bela Lugosi) and more. The screening will be hosted by Atlanta’s award-winning Blast Off Burlesque, who will stage one of their signature TabooLaLa events including a performance inspired by the film before the screening. With Plan 9 Graveyard photo-ops, auditions for ED, drag races for prizes and costume contests…let’s just say, things will get wonderfully bizarre.

The 7 Stages Theatre is located at 1105 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. Individual program block tickets are $12, and five-day festival passes are just $100.

For more information and the complete Buried Alive Film Festival schedule, visit the website here. And view the official BAFF bumper here.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Ashley Thorpe Summons the Spirits of BORLEY RECTORY, Britain’s Most Haunted House, at Buried Alive Film Festival 2017!

Posted on: Nov 13th, 2017 By:

Filmmaker Ashley Thorpe.

In 2010, a trio of English filmmaker Ashley Thorpe’s short animated movies so captivated audiences at the fifth annual Buried Alive Festival, that they created the Visionary Award just for him. Ashley alas can’t make it back across the pond for the 12th annual Buried Alive (Nov. 15-19 at 7 Stages), but his Carrion Films‘ first feature BORLEY RECTORY is a much-anticipated festival highlight, screening Saturday Nov. 18 at 8 pm.

Ashley’s previous works formed a portmanteau of supernatural legends from Devon, where he resides with his wife Sue who played the femme fatale of “Scayrecrow,” a haunted highwayman’s revenge tale with a distinctly Hammer Films vibe. Also played at Buried Alive 5 were “The Screaming Skull” and The Hairy Hands.” BORLEY RECTORY is an eerie documentary chronicling the historic paranormal investigations of an Essex manor nicknamed “The Most Haunted House in England.” The unique look and high quality of his earlier works allowed him to expand the production to his most ambitious yet and attracted the star power of a who’s who of British character actors including Julian Sands (GOTHAM), Reece Shearsmith (LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN), Nicholas Vince (HELLRAISER), and Jonathan Rigby (ROUND THE HORNE…REVISITED). In the past few years, Ashley also realized a lifelong dream to become a cover illustrator and interviewer for Fangoria, the seminal horror movie magazine for anyone who came of age from the ‘70s onward.

ATLRetro caught up with Ashley to find out more about his quest to summon the specters of BORLEY RECTORY and more macabre matters.

ATLRetro: You grew up on Hammer Horror and your shorts have a bit of a Hammer look, even with some cameos” as I recall in Scayrecrow.” Did Hammer movies inspire you to be a filmmaker? Which is your favorite and why?

Ashley Thorpe: I’ve always loved Hammer horror. It was the Universal classics of the ’30s and Hammer horrors that were the first horror films that I felt brave enough to watch as a kid. I thought they were glorious. I was actually inspired to become a filmmaker via animation, so weirdly it was artists like Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay and David Lynch that made me believe that this was a medium that could really express the things going on in my head. The influence came back when I was producing “Scayrecrow,” a tale of a ghostly highwayman, and started imagining what it would have been like if Hammer had produced it, full of blood and thunder!

How did you first learn about Borley Rectory and what about it, other than the obvious most haunted house in England,” inspired you to make a film about it?

I discovered the story in the USBOURNE BOOK OF GHOSTS at the local library as a boy. I was very susceptible to frightening material when I was young—due to suffering from night terrors—but there was something especially haunting about this one story and I just kept going back to it like a tongue probing a bad tooth. I loved that moniker “The Most Haunted House in England.” This wasn’t just “a” haunting, it was “THE” haunting.

The story is replete with such delicious gothic imagery—a nun bricked up within the walls, a phantom carriage driven by a headless coachman, cold spots and spectral messages scrawled upon the walls. Wonderful material. It also represented the beginning of that blend of scientific method meets the supernatural which, of course, was such a huge influence upon things like Shirley Jackson‘s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and Richard Matheson‘s HELL HOUSE. At the time it was quite groundbreaking. Now, of course, it all seems so archetypal. Its fascination also lies with the people. All the major players in that case were curious characters. They’re all quite mercurial and mysterious so at the end of the case you’re left with more questions than answers. In fact, the ghosts are far easier to pin down than those investigating them!

Is it correct that BORLEY RECTORY started out as a short but expanded into a full feature? Can you talk about why you decided to take that bigger plunge with this particular project and how the finished film differs from your original concept?

Incredibly the thing developed organically. It wasn’t initially a conscious decision until quite late into the project. As each cast member came on board—from Reece onwards—I amended the script to give more interesting scenes, better dialogue, all without even considering how this would affect the running time! They were so good I wanted to give them more material. Seems obvious now, but at the time I was so buried in the practicalities of animating, trying to earn a living, looking after my then baby daughter, the day-to-day things, that it wasn’t really until I cut together the first seance scene last year that I realized that there was no way that this would be a 30-minute film.

Surprisingly though the finished film doesn’t really differ from the original concept at all. Another thing that I hadn’t really anticipated was how the pacing would affect the overall running time. Again it sounds ludicrous. I wanted BORLEY RECTORY to harken back to an earlier age of cinema, far from the machine gun edits and gimmicks of modern horror. I wanted long slow takes, so your eyes can explore the frame and realize that you’ve been staring at a ghost all along. One of my favorite sequences lasts for about two minutes and consists of about four edits intercutting between a little girl staring into the darkness at the end of her bed and what she sees there in the shadows.

L-R: Reece Shearsmith. Ashley Thorpe, Jonathan Rigby.

You have some pretty prominent British character actors involved, some of whom like Julian Sands and Nicholas Vince, are familiar to US horror fans. Any stories about how they became involved and what it’s like to work with them?

I worked with Nicholas—albeit briefly—on “The Hairy Hands,” wherein he contributed the voice of one of the radio callers and we kept in touch hoping to work together again. I met Julian initially via a retrospective that I wrote for Fangoria on Ken Russell’s GOTHIC (1986). Julian found my short films online, loved them, and after watching them asked if I was working on anything currently. As it happened I had just finished the script for BORLEY RECTORY. So we recorded Julian’s narration around Christmas 2011 and then some additional passages at Trident Studios last year. Both Julian and Nicholas are wonderful, genuine, sincere people. They’ve both been so supportive and done nothing but sing the praises of the production since it started. Whenever we meet it really is like meeting old friends. My children pretty much consider Nicholas a part of the family!

And Steven Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees was to do the soundtrack. How did you meet him and what happened with his illness?

Again Steven Severin became involved with the project due to a Fangoria interview. He was touring VAMPYR [(1932) silent film soundtrack] and performed in my home town, so I grabbed the opportunity to interview him about his work both past and present. We kept in touch and I suppose Steven must have looked into what else I did apart from the Fangoria journalism and came straight out and asked me if I was working on any animations and would I consider him scoring my next venture. I’ve always been a huge Banshees fan so I was over the moon.

As to how it was working with him, I haven’t really had much of an opportunity.  The curse of Borley struck again. Steven has been in consistently poor health since recovering from a kidney transplant while we were shooting. For a while it looked as if he was going to be fine and was keen on cracking on with the scoring. Around the time that the first cut was sent over early this year Steven suffered a major pulmonary embolism and was rushed to hospital. So, after discussing it with Steven and agreeing it was definitely the best plan until he could complete or create a companion piece, the remaining scoring duties were completed by my long-term collaborator Mick Grierson who did an amazing job at scoring the film beautifully under ridiculous time constraints.

Although he is still recovering Steven has stressed that he is still planning on finishing the special music for the pledged vinyls, but until he is out of hospital I cannot unfortunately give a concrete date as to when this will be. It’s all been a bit of a car crash really, and it’s been down to Mick that the film even reached completion when it did.

L-R: BORLEY RECTORY Producer Tom Atkinson, Julian Sands, Ashley Thorpe.

Financing an independent film is always a huge challenge. You did two Indiegogo campaigns, as I recall, and had some prominent supporters like best-selling author Neil Gaiman singing your praises. Did you also have private investors? How did you do it?

Yes, the project was financed via two Indiegogo campaigns. The first one raised just shy of £7K back in 2013 which—although about £3K short of our target—allowed us to get the production underway in the summer of 2014 and shoot the majority of Reece’s sequences as his involvement had raised the profile of the project tenfold. Once I’d animated that central montage of the journalist essentially telling us the legend, we rolled out a second campaign that raised a further £13K in the end. The campaigns themselves were a huge amount of work but I was lucky on the second one to have a team behind me led by my producer’s wife Alice Bonasio. She stressed that I should concentrate on generating media to share while she and a small team “got it out there.” It was very successful.

The money raised was channeled directly into the production: hiring the studios, equipment, costumes etc. I did have a couple of private benefactors who put extra money into the production, and it was due to them that I was able to continue working on the film as although the production was financed I was made redundant [laid off] pretty much at the start of production and essentially lost my livelihood. These people kept me going at a time when it seemed as if everything—redundancy, family illnesses, burnt-out Macs—was loaded against me finishing it.

Your previous films have all had a distinctive look, i.e. animated but not necessarily what the average viewer would expect as an animated film. Can you talk a little about the effects you employed for this film to make it…dare I say…genuinely scary?!

Yes, they’re not your traditional animation. They are a collage of a number of different techniques really. The actors are all filmed against green screen and then rotoscoped whilst the backgrounds are all digitally painted and animated over. There’s a little traditional animation in there—some of the ghosts are painted—and a little 3D stuff done in After Effects, such as the aerial shots of the Rectory, but my aim was to take the footage of the actors and make them resemble the look of the “painted” backgrounds as much as possible. I also spent a great deal of time working into the footage to take the digital shine off of it using masks with various strengths of blurring to emulate  a depth of field that we’d really struggle with doing live at the green screen composite level. BORLEY RECTORY has pretty much every technique I know applied in it in some way.

Seance scene in BORLEY RECTORY.

BORLEY RECTORY has already screened at a number of festivals and has a few awards under its belt. Where has it screened so far and have you been pleased with the audience response?

Response so far has been staggering really. It’s not an easy sell or an obvious “crowd pleaser,” it’s what I call a “Marmite film,” but it’s been snapped up by the festivals and feedback has been very positive. I think we’ve played 14 so far with more coming in weekly and all those initial festival appearances were by request rather than us having to submit via normal channels which is incredible. We premiered at GrimmFest in Manchester October 8 and then played Cinemagic in Belfast, Dead of Night Southport, Telluride Horror Show in Colorado, Celluloid Screams in Sheffield, Horror-Rama Toronto and the Folk Horror Revival in Edinburgh. Last week we won “Best Animated Feature” at Buffalo Dreams and after Buried Alive in Atlanta, we’re set to play Sydney, Australia at A Night of Horror festival. One of my favorite responses was from Lisi Russell, Ken Russell’s wife, who wrote a lovely review online. She adored it.

“Thorpe’s vision of the legend is elegant, meticulously cinematic, beautifully spooky, atmospherically enveloping. The detailed and seamlessly inter-woven animation and rotoscope by multi-talented Thorpe is hypnotic, shocking, visually stunning–each shot an artwork. This is a film for film noir lovers as well as haunted house and psycho-horror fans, conjuring up echoes of classic early British horror films like THE INNOCENTS, THE HAUNTING, PSYCHO. Asks important and unusual questions about what we need from ghosts as well as what they need from us. This film is very, very different. Ken Russell seal of approval.” – Lisi Russell

You came to Atlanta in 2010 when Buried Alive screened three of your shorts and I believe you have a certain fondness for this festival. Is it special to you that it’s screening here and what can you say to anyone on the fence about attending Buried Alive?

I had enormous fun when I came across in 2010. It was actually my first bonafide horror festival and I didn’t really know what to expect, but the team behind it were so passionate about what they were doing and really made me feel special. So many great memories. The festival itself is wonderfully eclectic as well. They program every aspect of the genre, so there really is something for everyone. The genre should be about diversity—there should be room for every style, every era—and Buried Alive reflects that beautifully. I really wish that I could have made it out there to attend in person, and with my film’s production history in mind, the fact that my film has been programmed right before a screening of ED WOOD is genius.

Nicholas Vince in BORLEY RECTORY.

You also are an artist and have done a bunch of Fangoria covers, as well as writing articles for Fango. What was that like and how do you feel about the recent demise of that seminal horror movie magazine?

Well. Fangoria was a big part of my youth. I fell in love with it at high school back in the ’80s, and growing up in a small British town it was something of a revelation. Pre-Internet, these films and their production felt a million miles away, so finding Fangoria on the newsstands was incredibly exciting. At school, it felt like an outlaw magazine. So you can imagine how excited I was to be asked by [then-editor] Chris Alexander to both write and eventually produce covers for it. As a result, I got to meet wonderful people like John Hurt, Peter Sasdy, and, of course, it put me in touch with people like Julian.

How it all collapsed is really sad. You could see that there was serious trouble brewing when the payments became few and far between and contributors started bailing. I’m still owed hundreds of dollars which I’m sure I’ll never see, and judging from some of the vitriol online, my story is not an uncommon one. The publisher ran it into the ground and destroyed it. So sad.

What’s next for Carrion Films?

Apart from touring and then sourcing distribution for BORLEY. I’ll be catching up on some illustration work and looking towards the next project. We have a couple of options. A script for SPRING HEEL JACK exists in an early form which would be a Victorian melodrama. I also have HELL TOR which would be an Amicus-style portmanteau based upon Dartmoor ghost stories. Although there looks to be a chance that my next project may be adapting a popular British genre screenwriter’s novella. We’re in talks with the agent at the moment so we’ll see what happens next.

Purchase advance tickets to BORLEY RECTORY and passes to Buried Alive Film Festival here.

All photos provided by Carrion Films and used with permission.

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Vampire Clowns, Buckets of Blood and ’80s Cult Movie Mayhem: An Interview with Mitchell Altieri, Director of THE NIGHT WATCHMEN, World Premiere at Buried Alive Film Festival Thursday Nov. 17

Posted on: Nov 16th, 2016 By:

night watchmenTHE NIGHT WATCHMEN (2016) Dir: Mitchell Altieri. Starring James Remar, Matt Servitto, Tiffany Shepis. Opening Night Feature, Buried Alive Film Festival. Thursday Nov. 17. 9 p.m. 7 Stages. $12. Trailer here. ]]

Put together vampire clowns, buckets of blood, four bored security guys and their corporate gal crush and a trippy ’80s-sounding soundtrack set in Baltimore and you have THE NIGHT WATCHMEN, which has its U.S. premiere Thursday night at 7 Stages as the opening feature of the 2016 Buried Alive Film Festival. Which is to say that we enjoyed the hell out of it.

We caught up with director Mitchell Altieri to go behind the coffins and see how something this crazy and retro got made in the 21st century. Oh, and what it was like working with James Remar of THE WARRIORS!

ATLRetro: How did you guys get the idea to mix clowns with vampires?

Mitchell Altieri: Hello Anya, thanks for having me at ATLRetro. When I was hired to direct the film, the script was already written. Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca came up with the story and Dan and Jamie Nash wrote the script. The script went thru a few different drafts and incarnations and when I came on board there were no clowns in the script, but during pre-production Dan and Jamie mentioned that they had a version with clowns. And I was like, “yes, please.” It just really fit with the fun story we were filming!

Anything else you’d like to add about THE NIGHT WATCHMEN’s genesis?

Go see it! It’s a real fun ride, with lots of action and scares but I’d like to let the movie to speak for itself.

The movie has an ‘80s horror movie vibe down to the soundtrack. How intentional was that, and do you have a particular affinity to ‘80s horror movies, and maybe some favorites?

Yes, it was definitely intentional! I love those ‘80s horror films that you rented on VHS from the local video stores, films like THE NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984), FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) or KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988). And that’s what I wanted to do with our film, make it super fun and scary, even silly at points like those ‘80s films.  

Loved the soundtrack. Can you talk a little about it?

Our composer Kevin Kerrigan out of London, ate it up… he had a blast scoring the music! He was so excited to do such a retro score. And the guys who wrote the original songs, Fake Figures, loved it just as much. They are an actual band that wrote and recorded these songs while on tour, so it was a fun break for them. I really wanted the score and soundtrack to make you instantly get that 80s feeling, even though it’s a film set in present day, I want the audience also think that it can easily take place in the 80s.   

Mitchell Altieri with Tiffany Shepis, Diona Reasonover, Cheryl Staurulakus, Rain Pryor & Donald Imm. Photo credit: Herbert Mann.

Mitchell Altieri with Tiffany Shepis, Diona Reasonover, Cheryl Staurulakus, Rain Pryor & Donald Imm. Photo credit: Herbert Mann.

There’s a hell of a lot of blood in this movie. How much did you go through?

Let’s just say we ran out of blood like five or six times. We used a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever run out of that much blood before.

Hopefully this isn’t too spoilery but the main five characters could have just been stereotypical, they had little touches to them that both defied the usual tropes and enhanced the humor. And you scored a great ensemble with a real chemistry who seemed to be having a great time. Anything you’d like to share about that?

Yeah, I agree. I really value strong characters in films. Even if it’s a straightforward film, you can never go wrong with interesting, bold characters. I was very pleased with the cast. Ken, Dan and Kevin Jiggetts all have worked together many times before so it was dynamic when they worked against Kara Luiz who plays the journalist and Max Wilbur, the young rookie. I challenged them and they challenged each other and had a great time with it.

Again without giving too much away, the film is full of fun scenes. What was the most fun to actually film and why?

There were a few scenes I remember just laughing out loud and not being able to stop laughing. It was mainly when the actors just started riffing off each other, adlibbing, etc, The entire crew would be in stitches from laughing. Well, you can really laugh out loud during a take, so you would look around and people’s faces would be buried in their jackets or whatever they had in their hands so they wouldn’t ruin the scene. That was always fun. I personally ruined a scene or two from not being able to stop laughing but it comes with the territory I guess.

(L to R) Kevin Jiggetts, Dan DeLuca, Kara Luiz, Max Gray Wilbur, Ken Arnold. Photo credit: Robert Neal Marshall.

(L to R) Kevin Jiggetts, Dan DeLuca, Kara Luiz, Max Gray Wilbur, Ken Arnold. Photo credit: Robert Neal Marshall.

Did you face any challenges while making the movie?

A film is a challenge from beginning to end. It is exhausting work! But for this particular set, the most challenging thing I faced was I got sick. We shot in Maryland and it was their worst winter in 76 years. I never have been sick on set but I guess the cold got me this time. But as a director on set you don’t really get sick days, so I had to push through. It was brutal. I was very thankful for an amazing crew that helped pick up the slack those few days.

OK, being a big THE WARRIORS  fan, gotta ask James Remar shared any anecdotes on the set?

I’m a huge fan of THE WARRIORS as well, so yes it was very cool to have him on set. I mean he was Ajax! He would tell great stories about different films, and how the sets were, or working with different people. We all got a good kick out that.

What’s next for you?

I’m attached to a couple projects right now that I can’t really talk about, but I also did five feature films in a row, one a year basically, so I’m also enjoying taking a little time off, traveling and just plain relaxing!!

 And finally, your favorite flavor of cannoli? 

Question should be which flavor don’t I like. Thank you for the interview. I appreciate it.

Category: Features, Retro Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Lot More Fear and Loathing: 2016 Buried Alive Film Festival Expands to Five Days of the Best Global, US and Local Indie Horror!

Posted on: Nov 15th, 2016 By:

buriedalive2016The 2016 Buried Alive Film Festival is bigger than ever, expanding to five days (November 16-20) with 10 features and 75 short new independent horror films from the around the globe at 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points.

“Everything about this year takes Buried Alive to a new level–the same high-quality horror movies but more of them, and our move to 7 Stages means a whole new level of entertainment, dining and bars for attendees and filmmakers alike,” says Blake Myers, Buried Alive’s festival director and ATLRetro Kool Kat. “We’re excited also that Atlanta Pro AV will be supplying the most pristine image quality of any projectors on the market today.”

The 11th annual festival features nine brand new movies, including two hit films from SXSW, Bobby Miller’s THE MASTER CLEANSE (starring Johnny Galecki and Anjelica Huston) and ANOTHER EVIL directed by Carson D. Mell (screenwriter, EAST BOUND AND DOWN and SILICONE VALLEY). The opening night feature is the U.S. premiere of vampire-clown-’80s-cult-homage (ATLRetro got a sneak and we loved it!THE NIGHT WATCHMEN from director Mitchell Altieri (THE HAMILTONS) featuring James Remar (THE WARRIORS), Matt Sevitto (THE SOPRANOS) and Tiffany Shepis (TROMEO AND JULIET). (Read an exclusive ATLRetro interview with Mitchell here). Other feature films include HERE ALONE, a survivor’s story of a quiet and bleak existence in a decimated future directed by Rod Blackhurst (AMANDA KNOX Netflix Series), and FOUND FOOTAGE 3D, which provides a great new twist on the found footage genre from director Steven DeGennaro and producer Ken Henkel (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EATEN ALIVE).

night watchmenThis year BAFF features will go beyond the usual horror narratives and also include a documentary and an animated sci-fi movie. SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT  is a documentary about “one of the most dangerous satanic cults in America” from director Neil Edwards, featuring interviews with John Waters, George Clinton and original cult members. NOVA SEED is a fully 2D hand drawn science fiction  adventure directed and animated by Nick DiLiberto.

Buried Alive also continues to show its love for the Georgia horror scene. This year’s festival also has more local films than ever with six shorts and two features James Bickert’s 35mm Grindhouse epic FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS and Tim Reis’s amphibious werewolf BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE which will be our closing night feature on Sunday.

New to this year’s festival will be the BAFF Sinema Challenge, a challenge for local filmmakers to make a horror film in 13 days. Production starts on November 1 and the films will screen on the festival’s opening night, Wed. Nov. 16, at 8 p.m. We’re super excited to have Mindy De Chiciro, co-creator and exclusive programmer for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) weekly late-night cult movie showcase TCM Underground, as our Kool Kat of the Week. Read our exclusive interview here.

sympathyOne of the real strengths, and our favorite part, of Buried Alive Film Fest is the shorts program. This year brings seven shorts sets presenting 75 new films that will enlighten and disgust you to the fullest extent. A few highlights from the selections include Calvin Reeder’s THE BULB about two strangers experiencing an alien phenomenon through the public access in a motel room, the American premiere of Finnish animator Tomi Malakias’ VOODOO RIGHTS and the award-winning THE STYLIST by director Jill Gevargizian making its Atlanta premiere. The festival also includes a few animated shorts such as the stop motion masterpiece, UNDER THE APPLE TREE, by Erik van Schaaik, and the amazing strangeness of James Siewert’s THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT.

Finally, no respectable horror film festival would be complete without screening a classic, and ATLRetro loves the one they picked. On Saturday night at 10 p.m.,  BAFF will be showing the 40th anniversary digitally remastered bluray of Brian DePalma’s CARRIE, the 1976 classic adaptation from Stephen King’s novel starring Sissy Spacek, William Katt and P.J. Soles. The screening will be hosted by Atlanta’s award-winning Blast Off Burlesque, who will stage one of their signature TabooLaLa events including a performance inspired by the film before the screening. With a ´70s photo-op and costume contest…let’s just say, there will be blood.

foundfootageThe 7 Stages Theatre is located at 1105 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. Individual program tickets are $12, and five-day festival passes are just $120.

For more information and the complete Buried Alive Film Festival schedule, visit www.buriedalivefilmfest.com. View the official BAFF bumper here.

Category: Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Kool Kat of the Week: Cult-Film Fanatic and Queen of the TCM Underground Millie De Chirico Bloodies it Up with the Buried Alive Film Festival Family at 7 Stages

Posted on: Nov 14th, 2016 By:

by Melanie Crewuse
Managing Editor

Millie De Chirico, co-creator and exclusive Programmer for Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM) weekly late-night cult movie showcase, “TCM Underground,” returns to Buried Alive Film Festival’s (BAFF) bloody ranks as a hand-picked and well-sought after  juror for BAFF’s Sinema Challenge, a horrorific and spooktacular extra added to this year’s festival! Competitors’ films for the 13-day filmmaking competition will screen Nov. 16 at 7 Stages (7 p.m./ 9 p.m.), kicking off the 11th Annual Buried Alive Film Festival (Thursday, November 17, 7:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Friday, November 18, 6:00 p.m. – 2:05 a.m.; Saturday, November 19, 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.; Sunday, November 20, 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.;  7 Stages; Tickets $12 per screening block / $120 all access pass [includes film blocks and special events]; Schedule for each screening block here; Tickets here)!

De Chirico, a Georgia State University (GSU) film major and cult-classic connoisseur has been a member of TCM’s Programming Department for over a decade. While TCM Underground is her cult-film love-child, she’s also spearheaded several successful TCM initiatives, including TCM’s Summer of Darkness featuring films of the noir persuasion; Condemned, “A festival of films Condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency”; and the TCM Imports Showcase. De Chirico is no fledgling when it comes to independent film, as she’s sat on juries for Austin’s Fantastic Fest and Buried Alive. Recently, she held a week-long programming residency at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. And in 2016, De Chirico was given an enviable opportunity to be involved with programming content for TCM/Criterion Collection’s new streaming service, FilmStruck!

ATLRetro caught up with Millie De Chirico for a quick interview about her cult cinema obsession, especially obscure films showcasing girl gangs and basically ladies who kick ass; being a part of the Buried Alive Film BAFF Film Challenge LogoFestival family; and exposing rare and bizarre films to the masses via “TCM Underground”!

ATLRetro: “Queen of the TCM Underground”! What a killer title! Can you tell our readers how you earned such a moniker and how you helped create TCM’s late-night cult movie franchise, “TCM Underground” in 2006, originally hosted by Rob Zombie?

Millie De Chirico: Well, becoming the “Queen” was incredibly easy because I’m the only person who works on it! There was another person involved in the very first year, a guy named Eric Weber who no longer works at TCM. We worked on it together at first. After he moved to another department at Turner, I was the only one left to do it, and that’s how it’s been for the past 10 years.

Stanley Kubrick was sort of your gateway drug into the land of cult film at the tender age of nine, with his 1971 classic, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Besides Kubrick, who influenced you the most in your love of cult cinema? And why?

Russ Meyer‘s FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!  was probably the biggest influence on me. It totally blew my mind when I first saw it. I can’t tell you how amazed I was to see Tura Satana, a half-Asian woman just like me, being such a dynamic badass. I’d never seen anything like that before. After that I really fell into the rabbit hole. John Waters and Herschell Gordon Lewis movies were also my early cult cinema education. They are canon at this point, but will always be influential to me.FasterPussycatKillKillFeb2014LCS

Your job is a dream come true for cinephiles the world over. As a kid, did you ever imagine you’d get the opportunity to educate the masses on the wonders of the most obscure films? What’s a day in the life of Millie De Chirico like?

As a kid I had no idea you could even have a job doing something like this. When I was a kid, jobs were like firefighters and whatever you learned in elementary school, and women were always secretaries. Every day I go into work and get to talk about and think about movies, so I’m very fortunate. I see what I do less about educating and more just about sharing movies with people. Anyone that gets paid to share what they love with others is a very lucky person.

Do viewers get to request films to be screened for “TCM Underground”? If so, what is the most bizarre request for programming you’ve received?

I love to hear ideas from viewers. I think everyone in the Programming Department at TCM does. I don’t know if I’ve gotten a single bizarre film request; it’s more that the people making the requests are the interesting thing. For example, I learned recently that TCM Underground has a pretty big following among prisoners. They’ve sent a lot of letters and I have to say, the requests are really interesting and a lot of times actually underground, like DEEP stuff. Also, I sat down with John Carpenter once a few years ago and he mentioned he’d seen Underground, and image1then rattled off a bunch of movies he wanted to see. My brain pretty much exploded after that.

How exciting to be a part of TCM/Criterion Collection’s new streaming service, FILMSTRUCK. Can you tell us a little about the service what it means to you to have opportunity to help with the programming and content?

I think I’m most glad I get the opportunity to flex a different programming muscle with FilmStruck. A lot of people assume I just like cult movies and that’s it. I’m actually a fan of lots of different types of films. I still program for the network and love classic Hollywood movies. With FilmStruck I get to program foreign, art house, and indie, which are all genres I greatly enjoy. Plus I get to work really closely with the folks at Criterion Collection, a company that I’ve had a crush on since I was in college when they were only making laserdiscs — it’s basically a dream come true.

You’ve been a juror for several film festivals across the country, including Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX and Atlanta’s own home-grown horror film festival, Buried Alive Film Fest (BAFF). I’m going to assume it’s nerve-wracking, but what’s it like getting to judge the creative harvest of filmmakers across the world?

It’s pretty thrilling to get to see really new movies, by people who’ve never made one before a lot of the time. You’re kind of there at the creative gun blast, which is very cool! The year I did Fantastic Fest I was on a jury that got to watch IT FOLLOWS and SPRING and a bunch of other movies that were unknown, but ended up being big hits.

What is your favorite American cult film? Foreign cult film? Favorite cult film genre?

You should know better than to ask film people about a single favorite movie! Admittedly I have about fifty and they change daily. But if I must choose, my favorite American cult film would be the aforementioned FASTER Switchblade SistersPUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is a very close second); foreign cult film would be THE ROAD WARRIOR. Favorite cult genre would be anything involving girl gangs, like SWITCHBLADE SISTERS or DARKTOWN STRUTTERS. What can I say; I love ladies who kick ass.

Can you tell us how you got involved with Buried Alive Film Festival and the killer Kool Kats running the show?

I went to film school at GSU with Blake, one of the founders, and I’m friends with most of the people who run it. Atlanta’s film community is fairly tight knit and I’m always happy when we get to work together in any way.

As one of the judges for BAFF’s Sinema Challenge, how does the competition look? Anything horrific and exciting you can tell us at this time without giving anything important away before the BAFF opening screenings on Nov. 16?

I actually haven’t seen them yet. I have no idea what to expect but I know I’m super excited!

What are you looking forward to most at BAFF 2016? Anything fangtastic we should know about?

I think everyone should see the shorts. They are always a blast and the BAFF folks always put together really great shorts programming. I’m also really looking forward to seeing SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, the documentary about the Process Church of the Final Judgment (I will basically watch any documentary about cults or religion). And they’re doing a screening of CARRIE, an all-time favorite of mine, which I’m sure will be super fun.

image4What exciting and cinematically cultish things do you have planned in the near future?

I’d really love to do screenings in Atlanta. I’m always jealous when I go to cities like L.A. or Austin that have really cool, interesting cult or repertory film scenes, partially due to the fact that they have so many theaters that will do them. I’ve been talking to folks in town about this for a long time, so maybe something will finally happen…

What obscure piece of cult cinematic history can our readers look forward to in upcoming “TCM Underground” programming?

I’m really excited to be playing TERMINAL ISLAND by the great Stephanie Rothman, one of the only women who directed cult films and worked for Roger Corman for many years. I got the chance to meet and hang out with her last year and she is unbelievably nice with amazing stories to tell.

And last but not least, what question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

Question: Who my favorite cult actor or actress? My very quick answer is: Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s and 1970s. She made some really bizarre movies during this period and I’m kind of on a quest to get everyone I know to watch them.

Photos courtesy of Millie De Chirico and used with permission.

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RETRO REVIEW: Giallo Magnifique: Dario Argento’s DEEP RED in Rare Italian Cut Screens Saturday at Buried Alive Film Festival

Posted on: Nov 13th, 2015 By:

Profondo_Rosso_posterBuried Alive Film Festival and Splatter Cinema Presents the rare Italian original cut of DEEP RED (1975); Dir. Dario Argento; Starring David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi; Saturday, November 14 @ 10:00 p.m.; Synchronicity Theater; Tickets $10 (or included with a $50 festival pass) here; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

As part of the Buried Alive Film Festival, Splatter Cinema will be hosting a 40th anniversary screening at Synchronicity Theater of what is, quite simply, one of the greatest thrillers ever made: Dario Argento’s groundbreaking giallo DEEP RED. To miss this in its rare Italian original cut (22 minutes longer than the US version), would be to offend the very gods of cinema, so it would be best to play it safe and plan to attend.

From the late 1920s forward in Italy, a series of cheap paperback editions of murder mysteries featuring eye-catching artwork was issued by the publishing group Arnoldo Mondadori Editore. The success of these editions led to other publshers to also release mysteries under their own banners while imitating Mondadori’s cover designs. The common design element? The color yellow used as a background. As a result, over time all murder mysteries in Italy would come to be called “yellow.” Or, in Italian, giallo.

Mario Bava set in stone the tropes and archetypes of the cinematic giallo in the early 1960s with films such as THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and BLOOD AND BLACK LACE. The wild success of these films—and their blending of brutal violence with stylish camerawork and set design, all set to equally stylish musical scores—led to a whole host of other filmmakers jumping on the giallo bandwagon and establishing themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the Italian film industry. Antonio Margheriti, Umberto Lenzi, Riccardo Freda…all dipped their toes into the waters of the giallo and built careers off their early successes. But none of them took the genre to new extremes like one particular filmmaker: Dario Argento.

schultz-figueroa-web2Beginning with his “Animal Trilogy” (THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, CAT O’ NINE TAILS and FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET), Argento took Bava’s sense of visual style to a whole other level. Deep focus, graceful camera movements, exquisitely detailed set design and carefully crafted compositions were the hallmarks of his aesthetic. His impossibly twisty plots and outstanding soundtracks worked hand-in-hand with his visual style and led him to be regarded as the Italian Hitchcock. But his work on the Animal Trilogy was merely a prelude to his masterpiece: DEEP RED (aka PROFONDO ROSSO).

Jazz pianist Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) witnesses a woman’s murder, and decides to investigate the case himself after realizing that a painting he saw in her apartment is now missing. Accompanied by reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi), he tries to tie together the loose clues he has assembled and the one detail he cannot quite remember, while other women across the city are being murdered and he himself is targeted.

All of the elements are in play here. The black-gloved killer. The half-remembered detail. The outsider protagonist dismissed by the police as a troublemaker. The meddling reporter. The brutal violence. But Argento assembles these key tropes into something wholly new and original. Visually, Argento uses art in general, and painting in particular, as a recurring thematic element. Beyond a painting holding a key detail that is needed to solve the mystery, key plot points are revealed via artwork. Argento even gives us a life-size, live-action depiction of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks early on to establish the importance of the visual arts and their accompanying artifice in the film’s world. In a word, the visual style is audacious.

But not as audacious, perhaps, as the film’s musical score. After having worked with the celebrated Italian film composer Ennio Morricone on the Animal Trilogy, Argento wanted something contemporary. He initially turned to jazz musician Giorgio Gaslini for the film’s music, but was unhappy with the results. Instead, he decided to go in a progressive rock direction and eventually found kindred spirits in local band Goblin. Their remarkable score winds up being incredibly catchy, complex, sinister, subtle and bombastic—somehow all at the same time. Their music ended up being the perfect complement to Argento’s visuals, managing to capture the essence of one medium in another. The reception to their breakthrough work was so intense, and the pairing of group and filmmaker so perfect, that Goblin (or the band’s leader, Claudio Simonetti) would continue to work on-and-off with Argento through the decades up to his latest film, DRACULA 3D.

Argento would return to the giallo again several times over the course of his career, most notably in films like TENEBRE and OPERA, but none of his work within the genre comes close to this masterpiece. It’s nearly flawless. The only complaint that I have with it is that the humorous and romantic scenes between Hemmings and Nicolodi tend to dissipate the building tension felt throughout the film. But that is such a slight complaint in comparison to the riches on offer in this brutal but beautiful movie. To see it at all is a rare treat. To see it in its original Italian cut on the big screen is a thing that should not be missed by anyone interested in seeing a director firing on all cylinders, at the top of his game, regardless of genre.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com.

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