Poor me because I have to sit back and watch all my pals in L.A., New York and even Texas get to see all the cool movies! Although my beloved city of Philadelphia is certainly rich in pretzels and cheez whiz, it’s got little to brag about in the movie going options department. So thank God for the glass of Gatorade in a smoldering Sahara that is PUFF (Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival)! And extra props to them for spinning their web so close to Kindertrauma Castle (at both the awesome CINEMUG (a video store/ coffee joint!) and ADOBE CAFÉ (which is kinda like the cantina from STAR WARS) rather than forcing me to travel to some scary part of the city (anyplace more than 5 blocks away). Before I say something that gets me run out of town, here are four fine flicks that I was lucky enough to catch!
DEAD BODY (2015) (TRAILER)
This one was irresistibly billed as a cross between FRIDAY THE 13TH and CLUE and that’s a fair assessment that makes me want to redundantly add it’s got a strong APRIL FOOL’S DAY vibe as well. Anyone who grew up watching VHS rentals of assorted couples fleeing a faceless killer in the woods will feel snug as a bug in a rug. My only problem with this enjoyable throwback is that the identity of the killer is kind of obvious from the get go. I’m not saying that to impress you with how smart I am because I’m not smart. I’m actually really gullible when it comes to being out maneuvered by a movie. Unfortunately, all of my wishes that I wasn’t right and all of my prayers that I’d ultimately do a spit take and fall off my chair were in vain. Still, there are plenty of twists and surprises to keep you on your toes and I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed a nail-gun being used to such grueling effect before.
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016) (TRAILER)
This movie is a disgusting, boldly repulsive potato sack filled with vile, stinky, politically incorrect garbage- I loved it! Strange, I know. And my positive reaction makes even less sense when you consider that this deadly sexually transmitted disease flick doesn’t operate much unlike your standard contagious zombie stomp. But I have to say, something about the consistency of this oddity’s brazenness won me over. Even though it often skates thin ice with the subject matter, it never comes off mean spirited and its devotion to nausea keeps it from feeling too skeevy. Yes, the filmmakers obviously have it in mind to shock and gall the viewer but not in the condescending way I tend to hate. It’s almost TROMA-esque in that regard. More importantly for my special effects loving heart, the goopy and gory NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE excels at the same fantastic, freakishly fluid paranoid silly-putty body horror that drove such classics as THE THING (1982) and SOCIETY (1989). It’s exactly the type of rib tickling, stomach churning mayhem that fans often beg for but seldom get.
BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE (2016) (TRAILER)
I’m not sure I understood everything that happened in this movie but I am very sure that at one point somebody turned into a slimy giant were-frog creature and proceeded to chase a panicked kid on his bike down a suburban street. Spoiler Alert: It’s not the slimy were-frog creature that ends up croaking (slapping my knee). There’s a sweet, mad-science comic book vibe hopping on this lily pad and the buzzing retro score is out this world. It’s hard to argue with a film that’s got the good taste to pay tribute to the fluorescent works of STUART GORDON while balancing horror and humor in the style of JOE DANTE (or so I’ve been “toad”… Hahaha… help me).
WE GO ON (2016) (TRAILER)
I had to see this one, it’s from the same folks (JESSE HOLLAND and ANDY MITTON) who did YELLOWBRICKROAD, a movie that gave me plenty to gripe about (as you can see in this review HERE) but ended up haunting me anyway. I’m happy to tell you that WE GO ON is exactly what I‘d hope for as there are far less issues for me to bark about and yet the nagging uncomfortable existential dread that chilled me in YELLOWBRICKROAD is back and then some. This here is just a wonderful ghost story that remarkably pushes the ancient art form into spaces I have never seen it occupy before. It’s all about the pluses and minuses in believing in the great beyond and it pushes the idea that the further you step into the unknown the more you may find your safe seat of sanity dissolving in this plane.
Most importantly, WE GO ON features the immensely talented ANNETTE O’TOOLE (CAT PEOPLE). If anybody reading this is in the business of nominating actors for their work in genre films, let me tell you, O’TOOLE deserves accolades and a half for her flawless work here. She’s so darn good and she’s in some fine company; CLARK FREEMAN and LAURA HEISLER who were both in YELLOWBRICKROAD are welcome returners and as if we could dare ask for more, living legend JOHN (GREMLINS 2) GLOVER is on hand to steal a few scenes too. If you prefer the chilly, cerebral, slow boil side of the horror bed you should tuck yourself into WE GO ON as soon as you can. It has so much more to offer than scares, it’s the type of horror movie that keeps you up at night trying to close the doors it opened in your head. Personally, I can’t wait to see what path these two filmmakers take us down next.
Hey, it looks like I enjoyed all four films with some extra affection for NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE’s flippant midnight movie lewdness and WE GO ON’s stellar acting, profound themes and lingering chills. If you’re keeping score that’s four movies in one weekend festival that were more satisfying than the last four hype-scams I caught in the local multiplex. Oh, and I got to drink beer and eat nachos too! Thank you PUFF for advancing the Philly movie scene or for at least greatly elevating my pre-Halloween horror film intake! What would I have done without you?