Comic-Con is a fun event for film fans hoping to get their first peek at upcoming blockbusters and the stars behind them, but I’ve always been a lot more partial to film festivals. Why? Because film fests are all about actually watching films. (Yes, I know studios have recently started hosting screenings during Comic-Con but they still number in the single digits and they’re always future wide-release movies anyway.) Trailer previews and scenes are fun to watch at the Con, and while I won’t be attending this month I hope to get back again with the FSR crew next year. But a solid film festival trumps everything the Con has to offer by virtue of the number and variety of films available. The best fest, hands down, is Austin’s Fantastic Fest (which I’ll be eating, drinking, and breathing this September), but it’s not the only one worth watching…
San Francisco doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves when it comes to its love for film, but the city is home to multiple film festivals including the SF International Film Fest, the SF International Asian American Film Fest, and a very special one that starts this coming weekend… SF Indiefest’s Another Hole In the Head. I say it’s special because unlike most fests (but like Fantastic Fest) this one is all about the genre films. Horror, exploitation, sci-fi, and more from the US and around the world are the only types of movies that play here. I was lucky (and thrilled) to catch Tokyo Gore Police on the big screen here a couple years ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing something equally bizarre and kick-ass this year… and my money is on A Serbian Film being the one.
Take a look at the official press release and film listing on the next page >>
SF Indie Presents: The SEVENTH Annual Another Hole In the Head Film Festival
Celebrating the Dark Underbelly of Cinema – July 8th through July 29th
Another Hole in the Head, San Francisco’s premiere film festival dedicated to the celebration of bizarre and most decidedly underground horror and grindhouse returns for its seventh year with three weeks of celluloid mayhem not usually found in your local cineplex. The festival runs July 8th through the 22nd at the newly remodeled Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St. in San Francisco and July 23rd through July 29th at the VIZ Cinema, 1746 Post Street in San Francisco. Advance tickets are $10.00 and $11.50 at the door. The HoleHead Pass, good for admission to all films at the festival as well as the Opening Night Party, is $130. The festival also offers a 5Film PunchPass for $50 and a 10Film PunchPass for $90. For tickets or more information call 415–820–3907 or www.sfindie.com
Opening and Closing Night – Two Ridiculously Bloody Affairs
Celebrate the start of Another Hole in the Head with the West Coast Premiere of MUTANT GIRL SQUAD (Japan-2010), directed by Noboru Iguchi (MACHINE GIRL – HoleHead 2008), Yoshihiro Nishimura and Tak Sakaguchi. Rin is a bullied teenager who receives an unexpected birthday gift when she turns 16 – her arm has mutated into a razor-sharp weapon! Suddenly a shadow government organization is hunting her down, slaughtering her parents in the process. But Rin is saved in the nick of time by a super-powered being called “Hiruko”. Soon, mutants from all over Japan are gathered together and begin militant training to overthrow the government. Meanwhile, Rin is fitted with a special iron mask and begins her life as a “battle girl”, utilizing both her mutant powers and acrobatic abilities to fight against mutant-hunting Special Forces. After the film celebrate the kick-off of three weeks of bloody mayhem at our opening night party, being held in a Secret Underground Venue!
The festival comes to a close on July 29th with the West Coast Premiere of FUTURE X-COPS (Hong Kong 2010; dir. Jing Wong). Determined to regain control of the world’s energy, a ruthless oil cartel sends its cyborg assassins back in time to 2010 to kill solar energy scientist Dr. Masterson as a teenager. Now with the fate of the future in his hands, Policeman Andy (Andy Lau) must follow the assassins back in time to protect the future savior of planet earth. But the only way he stands a chance against the super powered cyborgs is to relinquish his humanity and become one of them.
Cabaret Takes the Stage at Our Centerpiece Screening
Another Hole in the Head is pleased to present its kick-ass Centerpiece Showcase on July 22nd at the Roxie Theater.
Thrillville, the roving cult movie cabaret hosted by Will the Thrill and Monica Tiki Goddess, presents the West Coast premieres of two all-new ultimate lucha monster movies, both starring Mexican icon, Mil Mascaras. In MIL MASCARAS VS THE AZTEC MUMMY (US-2007; dir. Jeff Burr and Chip Gubera), our masked hero faces off with the ambitious undead villain, aided by fellow legends, El Hijo del Santo, Blue Demon Jr., and others; in the follow-up, ACADEMY OF DOOM (US-2008; dir. Chip Gubera), Mil comes to the aid of his female masked protégés as they tangle with brain-sucking beasts, a mysterious baron, and their nefarious nemesis, Luctor. With prizes, surprises, and live Latino-surf music by Oakland’s Carne Crude, this is sure to be an event you won’t want to miss!
Rock Out at the Roxie with METROPOLIS – ’80s Style!
In 1984, Fritz Lang’s classic silent sci-fi hit Metropolis was reissued in tinted color and sporting a rock and pop soundtrack – METROPOLIS 1984 REDUX (US 1984; dir. Giorgio Moroder)! While many serious silent films may consider this a blasphemous take on Lang’s film, it has developed a cult following, with the blue, green, violet, and red tints, along with a host of songs written by Giorgio Moroder of Donna Summer fame, and the one who gave Berlin their only #1 hit. Most of the songs have an industrial type sound blare with synths that either pulse or are awash like the red of a glaring sunset.
Local Filmmakers Invade San Francisco
Concord native Sean Cain presents us with SILENT NIGHT, ZOMBIE NIGHT (US-2009). A week before Christmas a viral outbreak turns the citizens of Los Angeles into the walking dead. On the brink of severing ties with both his wife and longtime partner, L.A.P.D. officer Frank Talbot finds himself suddenly trapped with them both. As death closes in their survival is further threatened by the fact that both men love the same woman.
A domestic landscape of dreary obscurity laced with incest and brutality becomes the breeding ground of conflict in this terrifying and visually beautiful FELL (US-2010), directed by Napa filmmaker Christopher Rusin. Leah was horribly abused as a young child by her now-deceased father while her mother stood by. Now an adult Leah has tried to make sense of her violated existence. But all her dates end in murder and her anger at her mother is reaching a tipping point. But is Leah justified in her killings? Or is she a psychopath developing an addiction for murder?
East Bay Filmmaker René Perez takes us back to the oft-forgotten period of California history when Zombies roamed the hills in the World Premiere of THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED (2010). It is 1849 in Jamestown, California and the Gold Rush is in effect. The local miners are eager to search everyday hoping to come out on top with the best and most gold from the hills and valleys. During an expedition the miners stumble upon a fallen meteor and they bring it into town and unknowingly release deadly spoors located inside. Soon the town’s population begins to turn into deadly blood thirsty Zombies and Mutants. Will the remaining townsfolk survive this unspeakable event?
San Francisco filmmakers THE BUTCHER BROTHERS return to the silver screen with THE VIOLENT KIND (US – 2010). Troubled Cody (Cory Knauf), a second-generation member of a violent and notorious Nor-Cal biker gang, rides out with his friends to party at a cabin located deep within the redwood forest. At the end of the wild evening, things take a turn for the worse when Cody’s ex-girlfriend Michelle (Tiffany Shepis) is discovered wandering aimlessly and covered in blood, screaming and convulsing as if she were possessed by something unworldly. Cody and the others try desperately to help Michelle while stuck in the middle of nowhere, but their plans are quickly ruined when another malicious gang, seemingly from the 1950s, shows up “looking for a few kicks…the violent kind.” However, this ominous “Rockabilly” gang is not there to pick a fight. They want what’s mysteriously growing inside of Michelle – something very evil and powerful – and they will stop at nothing to get it!
More on the next page…
Five Midnight Movies Serve Up Deliciously Frightful Nights
Part modern horror documentary and part old school monster movie, JIMMY TUPPER AND THE GOATMAN OF BOWIE (US-2010; dir. Andrew Bowser) is an innovative and quirky film that challenges the notion of found footage and what it means to be scared in the woods. Jimmy Tupper is a no one, he’s nothing. He spends his days working at a Starbucks in suburban Maryland and spends his nights drinking and playing Rock Band. His friends see him as the resident stoner and waste of space. One night they decide to pull a prank on poor Jimmy, and while he is passed out drunk they leave him in the middle of the woods. The next day Jimmy is nowhere to be found. When he finally emerges from the woods he is beaten and bloodied and making outlandish claims. He claims to have seen a monster, the famed “Goatman” of Bowie. His friends believe this to be the drunken ramblings of an over excited nitwit, but Jimmy knows better. He heads to the woods determined to capture footage of the elusive creature. Was Jimmy only dreaming? Did he really see a monster? Only time, and Jimmy’s video camera, will tell.
What would Another Hole in the Head be without a shameless rip-off of a popular movie? In LADY TERMINATOR (Indonesia – 1988; dir. Jalil Jackson) the spirit of an ancient supernatural siren possesses the body of a young anthropological student, who then goes on a murderous rampage. Her target: Erica, the great-granddaughter of the man who originally bested and killed the sexy siren. Collecting an arsenal of weapons and killing anyone who gets in her way, this supernatural assassin absolutely will not stop until the target is eliminated. Erica’s only hope for survival is her elderly uncle, a shaman with knowledge of the Queen’s magic powers, and Max McNeill, top cop in Jakarta’s “Speshal Sekuriti” Squad who naturally falls in love with her. Countless bullets fly and multiple explosions bloom before the final, ultimate confrontation.
The crime-ridden streets of New York City circa 1980 are alive and well in the cult classic THE EXTERMINATOR (US) by famed schlock-master James Glickenhaus. When John Eastland’s best friend, Michael Jefferson, is mugged and left permanently crippled, he decides to do something about it. Jefferson had saved Eastland’s life in Vietnam and now it’s time for Eastland to get revenge for his friend. Using his old Army gear he sets out on a crusade to clean up the streets of New York using the name “The Exterminator.”
In the absurdly satirical and comedic TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL (US – 2010; dir. Eli Craig) two hillbillies are suspected of being killers by a group of college kids camping near the duo’s West Virginian cabin. As the body count accidentally climbs so does the fear and confusion as the college kids try to seek revenge against the pair, who believe that the kids are on some sort of suicide pact. Preconceptions and misunderstandings abound as horror and hilarity occupy the screen side by side.
Yojiro Takita’s SEXY TIMETRIP NINJAS is a classic of the Japanese “pink movie” genre. A feudal samurai and ninja fall through a wrinkle in time and are transported from ancient to modern Japan. SEXY TIMETRIP NINJAS puts both the male samurai and his arch enemy, the sex kitten ninja, on public transport. This elegant ‘pink film’ weaves a ribald tale of humor as the two learn the tricks of the trade in dealing with modern day life in Tokyo. Along the way they are exposed to everything from love hotels to brothels and all the sexually hyper active dwellers of modern day Tokyo. SEXY TIMETRIP NINJAS is in a class of it’s own and perfectly weaves erotic scenes that move from arousing to humorous and back again without batting an eye. If only riding MUNI could be so entertaining!
The Return of Takeshi Miike Plus A Full Slate of Japanese Cinema
Prolific director and Another Hole in the Head alum Takeshi Miike (CROWS: EPISODE 0 and DETECTIVE STORY – HoleHead 2009) brings us his newest creation – YATTERMAN (Japan-2009). Based on the popular anime of the same name, the film follows toyshop owner Gan and his cute assistant Ai as they battle the evil Dronbow gang. Led by femme fatale Doronjo and her henchmen, Boyacky and Tonzra, the Dronbow gang is looking for the Skull stone, which is said to grant its owner any wish.
Another Hole in the Head continues to bring the WTF to San Francisco film lovers with the trippy and visually stunning SYMBOL (Japan – 2009). Director Hitoshi Matsumoto stars as the central character, a man who wakes up and mysteriously finds himself trapped in an empty, white rectangular room, wearing clownish bright yellow polka dot pajamas. Where is he? Who did this to him? How did he end up here? Will he manage to make him escape to safety? Meanwhile, in a Mexican dusty town, a green-masked wrestler known as Escargot man prepares for an important match. As the nameless prisoner appears closer to escape and Escargot man steps into the ring, filmmaker Matsumoto amplifies the baffling yet suspenseful atmosphere to a crescendo of ridiculous excess.
Following in the footsteps of MACHINE GIRL is Director Noboru Iguchi’s newest B-movie masterpiece: ROBOGEISHA (Japan-2009). Clumsy Yoshie is forced to work like a slave as an assistant for her big sister Kikue, a beautiful geisha. Hikaru Kageno, who is the scion of a steel company, begins courting Kikue but when he meets Yoshie his attention shifts. The sisters enter into a competition for the young man’s affection, and soon the two are undergoing mechanical engineering to enhance their abilities in an escalating arms race to see who he’ll choose. This continues even after the man kidnaps the pair and begins to train them to be assassins and Yoshie begins to learn the truth behind their assignments. Soon the sisters find themselves heading towards a final confrontation!
Kengo Kaji, writer of TOKYO GORE POLICE (HoleHead 2008), hops into the director’s chair for SAMURAI PRINCESS (Japan-2009), a genre-bending sci-fi/fantasy splatterfest that pits an android assassin against mutant madmen in an alternate universe version of feudal Japan. In this version of history, train yard duels, detachable chainsaw limbs, and breast grenades are commonplace occurrences, while mad scientists twist the laws of nature to create sentient robots that can pass as human and crave souls. Enter an android warrior with a penchant for bloodletting (adult video starlet Aino Kishi) and her human partner (Dai Mizuno), whose eardrum-crushing electric guitar riffs are so loud, they’re literally weapons of mass destruction. When our heroine is infused with the souls of eleven of her fallen sisters, she uses their combined power to take down anyone who stands in the way of her quest for humanity. The result is a nonstop geyser of gore, with skeletons popping out of torsos, every imaginable appendage removed from bodies and one particularly angry man-eating phallus.
Another graduate of TOKYO GORE POLICE, special effects genius and director Yoshihiro Nishimura goes for something decidedly more slapstick with VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (Japan-2009). Co-directed with Naoyuki Tomomatsu of STACY, ZOMBIE SELF DEFENSE FORCE and EAT THE SCHOOLGIRL fame and based on a manga by Shungiku Uchida, this delicious drama tells a tale of two schoolgirls who pine for the same man. Young Mizushima is a handsome fellow with floppy locks who cuts a dashing figure in his school uniform. On Valentine’s Day, Mizushima is presented with a single chocolate by new transfer student Monami. However, Monami has added a special ingredient to the chocolate – her blood! And eating it causes Mizushima to experience a hallucinogenic trip. It is at that moment, when Mizushima is freaking out most mightily, that Monami opens her heart: she is a vampire and wants the two of them to live together forever as vampires. But Mizushima already has a girlfriend! Keiko! And she’s pissed! Fortunately she’s got a mad scientist dad, with a secret laboratory on school property, and he turns his daughter into a Franken-Keiko Monster made of bits and pieces chopped from the cooling corpses of her classmates. As we all know, this kind of vampire vs. Frankenstein conflict can only be solved by fighting, beating, stabbing, chewing, clawing and a showdown high atop Tokyo Tower.
Whereas HOSTEL was for kids, GROTESQUE (Japan-2009; dir Kouji Shiraishi) is definitely for adults. This was billed as the “cruelest Japanese splatter movie ever” and it truly lives up to that title in a torture porn genre that has largely taken over the horror field. No CGI effects here, just sadistic violence that rarely flinches away, use of excellent makeup and prosthetics and shot very convincingly. Needless to say, in the finest tradition of Japanese gore cinema, the plot is minimal, with a young couple played by Adult actress Nagasawa Tsugumi and Kawatsure Hiroaki being snatched off the street, only to wake up shackled in a grimy basement. Without even having the decency to explain why, a particularly sadistic madman proceeds to degrade, torture and mutilate them. This film is not for the faint of heart.
Shot in Awesome High-Definition Terror(!), DEATH KAPPA (Japan-2009; dir. Tomoo Haraguchi) pays homage to GODZILLA and other retro monster movies. The story revolves around failed pop star Kanako, who returns to her hometown to live with her beloved grandmother. Yet no sooner does she return home than a couple on a drinking binge run over and kills her beloved grandma! With the old woman gone, Kanako takes to running the family only to have the same drunken killers disturb that structure – which is the keeper of Kappa, one of Japan’s many Yokai creatures. Lucky for Kanako the Kappa is a benevolent, humanlike turtle and is quickly welcomed into town by the villagers. However, unbeknownst to anyone, Yuriko, the granddaughter of a long-dead mad scientist has chosen to continue her ancestor’s twisted experiments and develop a half-human/half-fish supersoldier. All hell breaks loose when Yuriko’s plans are thwarted, and she detonates an atomic weapon that causes both the kappa and one of the gill men to grow to monster-sized proportions. It is at this point that the showdown begins between the enlarged gill man, known now as Hangyoras, and DEATH KAPPA!
In the West Coast Premiere of ALIEN VS NINJA (Japan – 2010) Director Seiji takes us to Chiba, Japan to a band of great Ninja warriors led by Yamata called Iga Ninja. One day they witness a flash in the sky and a roaring giant ball of fire crashes into the distant forest. The warriors rush into the deep woods in an attempt to identify the mysterious fireball. There, instead of finding predictable enemies, they are stunned to face never-seen-before creatures with claws and fangs – aliens! The hungry brutal aliens start to savage and feast on the Ninja warriors, leaving only a few to survive. Yamata and his warriors swear to avenge their comrades’ deaths and risk their lives to challenge the aliens. However, none of the Ninja weapons, neither their swords nor their throwing stars, has any affect on the alien warriors. Now the Japanese greatest Iga Ninja face the biggest challenge ever!
But wait, there’s more. On the next page…
It’s a Bloody World After All – Cinema from the U.S. and Beyond
Taking the retro approach to filmmaking has – not surprisingly – shambled into the zombie film genre. DR. S BATTLES THE SEX-CRAZED REEFER ZOMBIES: THE MOVIE (US-2008; dir. Bryan Ortiz), filmed in black-and-white, features that curious mixture of 1950s celluloid gormlessness and modern cynicism that is becoming a subgenre in its own right. With a definite Iron-Curtain-era, B-flick feel to it (with a dash of ’30s reefer madness), the film follows a heroic scientist as he takes on zombies spawned through Government experiments to produce the ultimate weapon against the Russians.
STRIGOI (UK-2008; dir. Faye Jackson) is a movie that goes rigorously back to the roots of the vampire mythology of Romanian folklore. Shedding a fantastic light on post-communist Romania, we are introduced to Vlad who is investigating a mysterious death in his grandfather’s village. The trail points to ex-communist bully Constantin Tirescu and his wife, but when Vlad confronts them, he discovers that the richest landowners in the village have become real bloodsuckers.
What would you do to bring someone back? How far would you go? PHASMA EX MACHINA (US-2010; dir. Matt Osterman) explores the grey area between life and death and how science may be the bridge between the two. A young man named Cody, tasked with raising his younger brother James after the death of their parents, plunges himself into the murky science of the supernatural. Ignoring his responsibilities as a caretaker, Cody invents a machine he intends to be a conduit to the other side. In his pursuit to build the device he befriends an affable electrical engineer named Tom who has his own tale of love and loss. Cody eventually reaches an unintended level of success that not only threatens his safety, but also the well-being of James and Tom. He quickly learns that the supernatural isn’t all that super and human nature can even be worse.
SATAN HATES YOU (US-2008; dir. James Felix McKenney) is inspired by Christian “scare” cinema of the 1950’s through ‘70’s and tells the tale of two troubled teens who find themselves on the fast track to losing their immortal souls! This film takes the audience to hell and back with TV evangelists, Dungeons and Dragons geeks, a lesbian tarot card reader, born again church goers and an absolute odd couple of bible thumpers who run the local motel called “The Viking.” Nothing is sacred here and SATAN HATES YOU takes that path to damnation and showcases every aspect of sinning, beatings, rapes and blood splattering murders possible. A straight-up brutal film from start to finish!
After pushing the boundaries at SXSW, A SERBIAN FILM (Serbia-2009) will continue its taboo-shattering narrative experience at this year’s festival. The film centers around a veteran porn star named Milosh who, in order to take care of his family, returns to the business to star in a progressive work of pornography by a supposedly genius filmmaker. When he shows up on his first day of shooting, he is followed by bodyguards holding video cameras and reluctantly subjects himself to a few despicable acts only under the assumption that everything he’s involving himself with is staged, but he quickly finds himself in too deep in a plot by the director to manipulate Milosh into performing horrendous acts that that re-define the term “unspeakable.” Director and screenwriter Srdjan Spasojevic describes his shocking film as an angry reaction to the country’s rampant censorship laws and that the film, which has yet to play in its native country, was born of nearly 20 years of conflict, genocide and a systematic military campaign of rape as a tactical weapon.
MACABRE (Singapore 2009; dir. The Mo Brothers) follows two newlyweds Adjie and Astrid who, along with 3 of their best friends decide to have an interstate road trip as a last attempt to reconcile Adjie with his estranged little sister Ladya. Their trip is abruptly interrupted when they run into Maya, a strange girl out of nowhere, who wanders aimlessly into their path. “I’ve been robbed” is all she has to say. The friends unanimously decided to give her a ride to her isolated house by the end of the woods. Maya introduces Adjie and friends to her blue-blooded mother Dara, a woman of ageless enigma and few spoken words. Dara insists that their kindness should be repaid with a dinner feast. This is where the night turns into a crimson-hell for the 6 friends, who find themselves trapped and hunted down by Dara and her cult-like family of her three deadly protégés, born and raised to systematically eliminate unsuspecting passers-by for one nefarious reason. Slaughtered one by one, everybody will bleed, the darkest of nights never looked so red.
Girls just want to have fun, and God help anyone who rains on their parade in TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES (US – 2010; dir. Israel Luna). A group of transgender women are violently beaten and left for dead. After regaining their consciousness the violated vixens turn deadly divas and with their new-found confidence and courage, slice their way to vengeance. A homage to the exploitation films of the 70’s, this film sets out to create a new and unique genre called transploitation. Loaded with titillating dialog, bodacious bods and extreme violence, this fantasy film shows that it takes balls to get revenge.
In SHADOW (Italy-2009; dir. Federico Zampaglione ) a young soldier returning from Iraq goes on a high mountain adventure in a desolate place in Europe to forget his past. However, he gets more than he bargained for as he learns truth about a mysterious local legend and discovers that reality can truly be sicker than nightmares.
On the heels of THE COVE comes REYKJAVIK WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE (Iceland-2009). Part BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, part TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE but with the humor of EVIL DEAD, Director Júlíus Kemp’s epic tale follows an unsuspecting group of tourists who set sail in hopes of setting their sights on some of Iceland’s legendary whale population. But when they run into a family of crazed “Fishbillies,” things take a decidedly bloody turn as the fishbillies are so distraught over the death of the whaling industry they have taken to killing off any and all tourists and activists that cross their path!
Two Twisted Docs Show a Twisted Society
NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE: THE EVOLUTION OF THE AMERICAN HORROR FILM (US-2009; Andrew Monument) is a feature-length documentary based on the book of the same name by Joseph Maddrey. It examines the idea that horror films reflect the times and places in which they are made – illustrating how classic monster movies exploited the anxieties of war-time generations, and how more savage modern horror films stem from the psychic fallout of America’s counterculture movement and the subsequent rise of increasingly political forces. At the same time, the documentary explores the timeless, universal appeal of horror movies by examining the pervasive theme of The Outsider. From the silent films of Lon Chaney to the box office reign of Hannibal Lector and his peers, the history of the horror film is a story of the individual at odds with any organization that threatens his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Also representing in the documentary category is AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE (US-2009; dir. Elijah Drenner). The documentary utilizes interviews with genre luminaries including Joe Dante, John Landis, David Hess, Herschel Gordon Lewis, and many others to take a long and detailed look back at the history of exploitation cinema, from its earliest days to its triumphant resurgence in the last decade, and shows how it is really the history of all cinema. Covering a wide array of exploitation sub-genres, including film noir, teen beach party films, nudie cuties, gore and blaxploitation, AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE is a documentary not to be missed!