Adventures at ICFLM – Part 2 – By Brian Morton

Last month, I told you briefly about the It Came From Lake Michigan Film Festival and what a great time it was. This month, I thought I’d take up some space and tell you about the great movies I had the chance to see, and there were a lot of them, my ass is still sore from sitting on those damnable metal folding chairs for so long. But, my personal pain aside, I did see some great movies and here now is a look at what I saw and how you can see them too! And just to be fair, I’m listing them in the order I saw them in!

Hellraiser: Prophecy – This fan film combines the Clive Barker Hellraiser series with the Christopher Walken Prophecy series…a great concept! Here’s the story: Lucifer is on the run from the forces of good, who are winning the war between Heaven and Hell, and he needs reinforcements. Lucifer decides to use a mortal to lure the Cenobites into our dimension and ask them for help. He has to use a mortal because, in order to use the Cenobites famous puzzle box, you have to have a soul, which he is lacking. The problem with this short is that it over-reaches itself. The acting is a little stiff in places and the special effects are pretty rough. Now, I can forgive all that, considering that it’s a fan film, but it seemed like Jonathan Kui would really like to take this idea a bit further, and I’d like to see what he could do with this concept and a bigger budget! One last thing, and I know this is just me, but Lucifer’s beard is so obviously glued on, it really distracted me!

David’s Demon – This short film was probably the funniest movie I saw at the ICFLM festival. The story of David, who decides to summon a demon, but has problems when it’s not the demon he’s summoning that appears, but one of that demon’s assistants! This blue demon is truly the ‘roommate from hell’, he annoys David, runs up credit card bills, calls in hookers and generally makes a pain in the ass of himself. And, David can’t rid himself of the demon, it’s what the demon calls a ‘kind of reverse restraining order’, David can’t be more than twenty feet from the demon. While this is pretty short, it’s not short on laughs. I’m giving David’s Demon four out of four cigars, it knew it was a one-joke movie and didn’t drag that joke on and on, like most movies would do, and the closing joke is one that we were all quoting for the rest of the weekend.

Bone Badge – This weird combination of horror and comedy was a pretty good movie. The story of an author who buys a remote cabin, despite the stories of a creature named Bone Badge who stalks the area. The creature is called Bone Badge because he wears the bones of his victims! The author, who’s a huge asshole, has planned on using the superstition to get rid of his wife, doesn’t plan on there being a real creature in the woods, or that it has supernatural powers to boot! Bone Badge was probably the best combination of horror and comedy that the ICFLM had to offer.

The Egg – This short is, on the surface, about a hillbilly who finds an egg while out burying a body. He takes the egg back to his shack to hatch it. When it hatches into a monster, the hillbilly puts it in a jar for later examination. While he’s sleeping the monster breaks out of the jar and bites the hillbilly, transforms into the physical appearance of the hillbilly and kills him. Then, we see what looks like same hillbilly out burying another body. Is this the monster burying the original hillbilly? Will he find another egg and begin the cycle all over again? And how long has this been going on? This movie circles back on itself and asks you to do a little thinking, I thought it was a great movie, well thought out and executed and considering that it was all shot by one man, with one camera on a tripod, that’s pretty amazing!

Whackjack – This isn’t really a movie, it’s a series of serialized segments about a puppet secret agent. Now, that might sound strange to you, and reading it back I have to admit, it looks a little strange, but this was really good! Here’s the story: Jack Whacker was a secret agent, but now he’s an art teacher. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he’s drawn back into the game. This was a series of five episodes, each a cliffhanger that led into the next. The main characters are puppets, but the rest of the cast is human, or people in strange masks or with their heads replaced digitally with doll heads. It looks very cartoonish, but it’s written in such a way to play on the cartoon aspect of the series that makes the effects a part of the joke. And you won’t want to miss the ninja bunnies, or bunjies as they’re called, never has something so cute been so very deadly! I can’t recommend Whackjack highly enough, and if this isn’t given a chance on Comedy Central or Spike TV, then the executives there don’t really understand good entertainment!

Seasons Of The Dead – This movie begins after the zombies have overrun humanity. This story of a man on the run takes an interesting turn, when he finds a ‘zombie safe house’. The only stipulation for staying there is, you have to help forage for food, water and booze, the essentials of life. When our hero hears strange noises coming from his hosts private quarters, he discovers that his host lures in unsuspecting people to feed to his son, who has become a zombie! Now, you’d think that once the bad guys are dispatched and the hero moves on the movie would be over, but that’s where you’d be wrong. This movie tacks on an ending about a nuclear plant meltdown that feels added on and doesn’t really add anything to the movie. This movie was a little uneven, the acting was good and the first part of the movie was interesting, but the ending took away from the impact of the story.

Deadlands: The Rising – Deadlands: The Rising was probably the best feature film I saw at the ICFLM festival. This story of the beginning of the end of the world is the tale of a family and what happens to them after a nuclear attack spawns a rising of the undead. While there’s plenty of zombie gore here, with the recently deceased attacking people who are lined up in a traffic jam trying to escape the bigger cities, the real tale here is about Michelle, Brian and their family, who leave town separately and wind up at Michelle’s brothers home in the deep woods. There are a couple of unfulfilled storylines, we meet a man who is in a supposedly safe place, protected by the National Guard and Homeland Security, that is overrun by zombies, but we never find out what happened to him and the end is left as a cliffhanger for what is sure to be a cool sequel! Deadlands: The Rising is a thinking man’s zombie movie, if you’re just expecting gore and guts and nothing else, you might want to look elsewhere, this is that rare things, a zombie flick with a plot!

The Life And Death Of A Pumpkin – After a couple of zombie movies, it was nice to see this horror/comedy about a pumpkin. We follow the pumpkin as it’s ripped from the loving arms of it’s family and handed over to a family of maniacs who proceed to ‘rip it’s guts out’ and ‘carve an evil visage’ into it’s flesh. Then, as if the physical torture isn’t enough, our hero is then placed on the front porch to be mocked by little demons who are given treats for mocking it. Played totally seriously, the strength here is the narration. The voice over work is so serious, even dire sounding at times, that it adds immensely to the ‘horror’ that the pumpkin is going through. Everyone in the room this was screened in was laughing as they left, and I can’t really give a better comment than that.

Zombies By Design – With all due respect to our dear editor, Duane Martin, who loved this movie, I thought it was less than spectacular. The concept here is interesting, when a mad scientist, who is working on resurrecting the dead to use as soldiers for the government, wins a contest to have his home redesigned by one of those TV shows, all hell breaks loose when a zombie gets loose in the house. And, while that’s not bad enough, our mad scientist is watching the whole thing on live TV, he even planned the entire thing to gain international attention to sell his zombies to the highest bidder! The concept and story here is great, the acting is superb, but the sound mix really distracted from the proceedings, there were times that you could barely hear the actors over the ominous music, and the use of totally cheesy computer graphics distracted from the story. While Zombies By Design is a great idea, it deserves a bigger budget to make it a great movie.

The House Call – This was probably the most cerebral short I saw at the ICFLM festival. This story of a physician who encounters a female vampire is almost a silent movie, and what dialogue there was is in Romanian. The filmmakers went light years out of their way to make this as historically accurate as possible. The acting is great, the story is good, but the end left me wondering what happened and what would happen next. The House Call looked great and was one of the better movies at the fest, but I thought it could have been a little longer and maybe given the audience a bit more detail.

Dr. Horror’s Erotic House Of Idiots – Well, with Debbie Rochon in attendance at the ICFLM festival, how could you not go out of your way to see one Debbie Rochon movie? And, Dr. Horror’s Erotic House Of Idiots is a great movie, a little long, but really funny. This story of washed up horror actors who are house-sitting for a psycho-sexual therapist is laugh out loud funny, but it felt like it was about ten hours long. We all laughed through the first half of the movie, but I heard more than one person asking ‘How long is this?!?’ before the movie was over. That being said, I would recommend this movie to anyone who’s a horror fan who likes to laugh. Most of the movie was great, the acting was superb and I got the impression that the cast was having as much fun making the movie as we, in the audience, were having watching it.

Dead End – Another zombie movie, this time set in what appears to be a hotel. When a staff member shows up having been bitten by some ‘weird chick’ on the bus, you just know that the zombie onslaught is on the way. This short however keeps the action in a single room, two employees on a break are in the room when the man bitten on the bus turns and attacks them. While short this movie had it’s charm, in the end, we hear shooting, sirens and then, from a distance, an explosion that we assume is from the hotel. This movie was like the prelude to a longer film, and I’d be interested in seeing where the filmmakers would go next.

October Moon – This is a movie about love and obsession was probably one of the strongest entries in the festival. The story here is basically a love triangle, Corrin and Jake, a gay couple in a committed relationship for many years. Enter Elliott, a man who is still in the closet who becomes obsessed with Corrin after he begins working with him. Corrin’s kindness in accepting Elliott for who he is, is confused by Elliott with love, and when Corrin ultimately rejects him, Elliott’s confusion turns dangerous. This is a gay themed horror movie, but don’t let that put you off (if it would), this is a great horror movie, you might call it a ‘gay Fatal Attraction’, although this ends far more horrifically than that movie could have dreamed of. If you like your horror with more of a psychological bent, then you’ll love October Moon!

A Dark And Lonely Knife – This short could have been called, Revenge Of The Horror Models. The story here is about a horror geek, who’s building models. As we watch him scrape and gouge one of his models with several instruments (they look like dentist tools), we see that he has dozens of horror figures around him. When one of the figures comes to life, our modeler’s evening is ruined! I won’t give away too much, or I’d ruin the ending, and I wouldn’t want to do that. This short is the perfect movie for any model builder, and it may be something that they’ve actually had nightmares about!

A Bowlful Of Happiness – This short is from the same people who made A Dark And Lonely Knife, but A Bowlful Of Happiness is a little more complex. This is the story of Geoffrey, a ‘special’ guy who lives in his mother’s basement. When looking for friends, Geoffrey (pronounced Joff-rey) sends away for sea monkeys, which are described on the box as a ‘bowlful of happiness’. Well, try as he might, Geoffrey can’t get the sea monkeys to grow, that is, until he accidentally feeds them some blood! Now the sea monkeys grow and they also demand more blood, until soon Geoffrey is out looking for ‘donors’ to keep his sea monkeys fed! This movie made it’s debut at the ICFLM festival and I’m proud to say that I was the first person to buy a copy of the DVD from Rusty Robot Productions, and it was well worth the price, A Bowlful Of Happiness is certainly a movie that will make you smile.

Bait – This was the movie that won the ‘best in show’ award at the ICFLM fest, and it’s a great movie. The story is pretty simple, a man, lost while driving in the boondocks, comes across two garbage bags. When he discovers that one of the bags has a corpse
in it, the other begins moving! There’s a girl who looks as if she’s been traumatized and had, who knows what, happen to her. When our hero takes the victim to a local bar to call the cops, the tables are turned and he becomes the definition of ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. Bait is a great movie that I wish had been longer. I’m hoping that this is a short that has a longer script locked away somewhere that Autumn Night Productions will make eventually. If you want a taste of what a great short movie can be, Bait will satisfy that hunger.

So, there you have it, 16 movies in less than three days! I know that’s probably not a record, but if the movies hadn’t all been so good, I might not have sat in those hard metal folding chairs until my ass ached for a week afterward. It’s a testament to Wayne Clingman, who I talk to elsewhere in this issue, that he brought together people from all over the country and all walks of life who shared one common interest, independent horror movies! Not only did I enjoy the movies, I really enjoyed meeting the people behind them all, and I can’t wait until next year to see these people again, and make some new friends too! Hellraiser: ProphecyDavid’s DemonBone BadgeThe EggWhackjackSeason Of The DeadDeadlands The RisingThe Life And Death Of A PumpkinZombies By DesignThe House CallDr. Horror’s Erotic House Of IdiotsOctober MoonA Dark And Lonely KnifeA Bowlful Of HappinessBait