The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

The ZRC at Horror Society Film Festival, Overview

I spent a large part of this day sleeping off the driving, and then we had a desk to assemble for the Artistic Director to draw more Tims upon (whether she likes it or not), so it’s been a light day around the old ZRC compound, agitation-wise.

However, I can now present a quick overview of the Horror Society Film Festival, as well as a few choice shots from our new ZRC recording device extraordinaire!

It’s nice to be able to take pictures again.

Once again, this relatively mild October weekend found the ZRC going to the Portage Theatre in windy Chicago for a day of films and frivolity, interrupted only briefly by a trip to IKEA for the art director’s new office furniture that ballooned into a three-hour purgatory of traffic jams and detours.

Ahem. I’m a little bitter.

The rundown (detailed reviews of Zombie-relevant films to follow later)

TXT: The Movie
The latest from the man behind great indie film The Landlord, TXT was described after the film by creator Derek Dziak as a slasher film in the style of Airplane. Bizarre bloody slapstick, nothing to do with Zombies, but some truly great sight gags throughout reminded me of why I love really good horror comedies. Watch for a great appearance by First Jason frontman Ari Lehman.

Cabine of the Dead
–Not Zombie friendly at all! Completely unlike my fond hopes of earlier posts for a tale of Zombies denied public services by a fearful and prejudiced human, this is a Zombie Apocalypse flick gussied up with French art film trappings and the twist of being stranded in a phone booth, leaving many younger audience members no doubt asking: “What’s that strange glass box he’s stuck in, and why does it have a giant cell phone glued to the inside?”

I jest.. slightly.

Lonely
–Billed as a story about ‘even’ Zombies needing love (thanks for the concession!), Lonely features a pair of characters wandering the abandoned streets, engaged in the same activities, one human, one a ‘Zombie’. This might be endearing if it wasn’t clear with every scene that the ‘Zombie’ is meant to be a crude and horrifying mockery of human existence, failing comically at mimicking the actions of the Living. The surprise ending doesn’t help much.

SubHub
–A mock commercial for a product to turn disloyal or inattentive husbands into dedicated Zombie love-and-chore machines, SubHub is transgressive film at a minimum, featuring as it does… how to put this… Living-Undead carnal relations. While Zombie hubby comes off better than Living Hubby, I’m not sure if this is an avenue toward greater Zombie acceptance that the ZRC wants to pursue.

There’s a joke in here about it being unfair to exploit Zombies in *marriage* but I’m going to forgo attempting it as a gesture of good taste.

Chopping Mall
–Oh wow. This might be the ultimate 80s horror flick. One part Terminator, one part Dawn of the Dead, five parts earnest stupidity, three parts unnecessary female nudity, featuring adorable killer robots. Not to be missed. Has absolutely nothing to do with Zombies; so what? You’ll laugh until you cry.

Slices of Life
–A new anthology/compilation series from director Anthony G. Sumner, featuring ZRC friend and ally Marv Blauvelt in a key and classic Dual Citizen role, Slices of Life is actually quite the movie – pity it falls prey to using the ‘Zombie’ label as an epithet in one segment, W.O.R.M.

Does W.O.R.M. actually feature Zombies? I’m agnostic on the question. The nanotech spawned creatures strongly resemble the criminally-underseen (at least in America) Demons, the classic Argento-Bava movie that can serve as a handy touchstone, not to mention hyperstylish exemplar, of the blending in European horror films between religiously inspired creatures and Zombies. I wouldn’t be inclined to call them Zombies at all, except that the film does itself, both in promotional materials and in the form of a newscaster within the segment who uses the term.

Given an opportunity I’ll see if any of the cast or crew can clarify the matter for the ZRC.

Outside of W.O.R.M., Slices of Life features a number of very successful reimaginings of classic horror tropes tied together with an atmospheric and ingenious framing device. If, in fact, it does feature somewhat negative images of highly-atypical Zombies, then it’s minimally offensive and goes down as an enjoyable experience in spite of that.

A bonus, as this was the World Premiere of Slices of Life, it was accompanied by a lively Q&A session afterward, with questions fielded by the cast and crew. One of the best Q&As we’ve attended, as a matter of fact, informative and funny.

A Serbian Film
–I blogged about this film previously, and urged people to see it in support of free expression, greatest tool in the Zombie Rights arsenal. After having viewed this serious, brooding, artful and truly horrifying piece, I can offer it a heartfelt recommendation on critical grounds too. A Serbian Film plumbs depths of disgust and, well, horror that most films in the genre would never dare to imagine, in pursuit of a serious discussion about the nature of victimization. The film’s screenwriter had this to say about the themes of the film:

“This is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government… It’s about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotize you to do things you don’t want to do. You have to feel the violence to know what it’s about.”

I’m not sure, after having seen it, if this is self-justification, historical revisionism/apologia about the collective responsibility of Serbian society for the hellish violence of decades of bloodshed, or an honest discussion about the nature of guilt under truly despicable coercion. What A Serbian Film is not, however, is crass, or exploitative, or meaningless, or even damaging to your ‘soul’, except in that it might reawaken and deepen an understanding of just how twisted and wicked people can be to one another. I think that’s an awareness adults have a duty to cultivate anyway.

It is deeply unpleasant to watch, of course. If it wasn’t, either there’d be something wrong with the viewer or the filmmaker.

Every adult, and every fan of intellectually stimulating theatre, every student of the human condition, could probably gain from seeing this film. On the other hand, if you do, it’s only fair warning to say the things you see will be very hard to put behind you, and people of good will may not be able to physically sit through the entire film.

If you’re up for the challenge, and get the opportunity, by all means go. I’m deeply and sincerely grateful to the Horror Society for giving us the opportunity.

That’s it for the quick overview of the Horror Society Film Festival. Pictures and more in-depth reviews of Zombie related films to come in later posts, plus some ZRC news about The Dark Carnival Film Festival and other events to come.

Thanks to Dr. Calamari, The Dark Carnival Film Festival, the city of Chicago and most of all, a very special thanks to the Horror Society for having us. It was a blast and a learning experience.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.

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