Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Viscera 2008 - 2009 Film Festival DVD (2010)

The Viscera Film Festival returns! Finally, the 2008 – 2009 collection of short horror films from women filmmakers is available on DVD! Featuring 10 female directed and/or produced horror films ranging from Confederate zombies to blind dates gone bad to lesbian vampire Barbies, this selection of films has something for everyone!

The Chainsaw Mafia, founded by Shannon Lark, has been hosting the Viscera Film Festival for the past several years, and it seems that each year I am more and more impressed with the female filmmakers the festival brings to light. 2007′s installment introduced me to the films of Heidi Martinuzzi (Wretched), Victoria Waghorn (When Sally Met Frank), Michelle Fatale (The Cleaner) and many more! So I very much looked forward to the 2008 – 2009 selections…

Below please find each short films synopsis as well as my reaction to each film. They are listed in order of best to worst (my humble opinion, of course).

The Best:

Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day – When an unexpected snow storm strikes Seattle, the dead rise from their graves to prey on the city’s hapless citizens. From the confines of the living room, a group of unlikely heroes must rise to stop the flesh hungry hordes, only to discover that zombies aren’t the only evil they are up against.

This was my absolute favorite! Written and directed by Faye Hoerauf and Jessica Baxter, this horror comedy was gut-wrenchingly hilarious! From the Publisher’s Clearing House zombies and pizza delivery zombies to the hilarious finale at a TV news station that controls the weather (“production assistants attack!”) and ensuing zombie slaughter, this short had me in stitches the entire time. Its witty satire, great performances and fun tone makes this the best of the Viscera crop!

Confederate Zombie Massacre – Love and gore in the Civil War!

Filmmaker Devi Snively’s 2005 zombie short is another fun and hilarious short that I very much enjoyed! It’s got a bit of a slapstick feel and begins with a great concept…I mean zombies during the Civil War? Love it! It gets a bit cheesy in times (“I’m a tapper, not a fighter!”), but overall it’s great fun and has great comedic timing. I always enjoy Devi Snively’s films, and Confederate Zombie Massacre is no exception!

Fantasy – Marc and Chantal have nothing in common but for a peculiar fantasy. Tonight they meet for the first time.

This is a beautifully shot film courtesy of French filmmaker Izabel Grondin. I loved the suspense of the short, because we don’t know what the “fantasy” is in first few scenes. When it’s finally revealed things get uncomfortable fast! Despite a confusing ending, Fantasy is an intriguing short film that makes me interested to see what Grondin does next.

Taste of Flesh, Taste of Fear – The only thing better than B-grade lesbian vampire movies is a B-grade lesbian movie made with dollar store imitation Barbie dolls! After a horrifying accident on a dark, deserted road, Laura and Eve find themselves under the spell of the mysterious Lady Mortidella. How long can they resist her seductive gaze?

Another hilarious horror comedy courtesy of Stacie Ponder (aka Final Girl)! A whole horror short acted out with (imitation) Barbies featuring bad voice over work (Laura sounds like one of the Chipmunks and Eve sounds like a dude)?! I am so there! And I was, completely enthralled in this silly send-up of lesbian-tinged vampire flicks!

The Date – A blind date goes terribly wrong.

This was the winner of the Viscera Award and made completely by women – specifically Jennifer Gigantino and Natasia Schibinger. It uses an old ’50s dating audio track to accompany a blind date…that ends rather horribly. A bit surreal, a bit retro and entirely disturbing, The Date clocks in at under three minutes but sticks with you long after viewing it.

Don’t Lose Heart – An old lady struggles to survive the zombie apocalypse. She is okay in her home, but soon food and water run out forcing her to try and leave her barricaded sanctuary and she must confront the hordes of zombies and fight for her life.

This was an emotional, heartbreaking short from Talieysn Brown. We really come to care for the lead character as she struggles to survive in the zombie-infested world. I also found it refreshing that an older woman was featured as the lead character, something that is very rare in any film, but especially in the horror genre! Furthermore, the zombies look terrifyingly great!

The rest of the films were pretty mediocre to flat-out horrible, but here they are!

The Rest:

Lip Stick – A lonely woman with an overwhelming obsession of masturbation must extricate herself from what consumes her every moment.

This short set in a dingy hotel showing the lead character’s (Shannon Lark) descent into obsession and madness (plus the copious shots of her masturbating) just didn’t do it for me and it didn’t seem this short really went anywhere or had a point. I was pretty disappointed considering it came from Lark and Stacie Ponder.

Sisters – Two sisters hiking in the woods fall in a vast underground cavern and soon discover they are not alone.

The Descent this definitely isn’t. It clocks in at under four minutes, and yet despite its short running time I still got bored of watching this pointless flick from Belinda Green-Smith. It never really develops anything and all that happens is the two sisters screech whenever they hear something growling in the cave.

Deadly Beauty – A blond beauty gets revenge on the man responsible for murdering and raping her young daughter.

This film by Chandeline Nicole was nearly impossible to watch because of it’s grainy, low-budget quality. I watch low-budget horror all the time, but this seriously looked like it was filmed via web cam way back in 1993. Sadly, that wasn’t the only thing that annoyed me – the story was stereotypical, predictable and boring. The acting was atrocious and I never felt sorry for the woman we are supposed to feel sympathetic for.

Hollow Halls - They thought the prison was abandoned, but five kids on a dare will learn soon enough that someone or something walks the halls and is soon killing them off one by one.

This was one of first films I saw, and what a sorry choice to kick off the Viscera DVD. Again, this was boring, predictable and stereotypical…which would be sort of ok if any of the characters were likable…which they weren’t. And the “surprise” “twist” ending? Ya, saw it coming a mile away. For a slasher, the kills are pitiful and no care was taken to develop a killer who would actually be scary. Avoid this short from Ebony Winston at all costs.

Not all the films from the Viscera Film Festival 2008 – 2009 DVD are keepers, but half of them are definite crowd-pleasers and definitely worth a look! And you can’t go wrong with an hour and a half of independent films by women for only $10 (Buy it HERE)!

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