A geek's guide to the Starz Denver Film Festival
Do you like movies? Of course you do. What geek doesn't? The good news is that for the next ten days the Starz Denver Film Fest, one of Denver's premiere cultural events, is going to be bringing a lot of movies to town for you to watch. The less good news is that this year, for the first time in a long time, there's no Watching Hour program at the SDFF. The perennial geek-favorite program of the festival is on hiatus this year, due to the departure of longtime Denver Film Society programming manager and Watching Hour founder Keith Garcia. There's some reason to think it may return in the future, but regardless of what happens in years to come, this year the SDFF is without a dedicated genre programming block. That's a sadness.
In years past, The Watching Hour was almost like a genre fest hidden within the larger fest, and it always delivered a handful of memorable films. I'm not sure I would have come across quirky horror gems like The Revenant or End of the Line, to name just a couple, were it not for The Watching Hour. Its absence this year is keenly felt, as the lineup looks a lot less inviting to fans of space opera, arterial spurt and/or the undead. Luckily, it's not all doom and gloom for geeky cinephiles. I've gone to the trouble to dig through the enormous program of almost 200 films and unearth a handful of likely suspects. While it's not quite the smorgasbord of unearthly delights we've had in years past, there are a few geek-friendly selections -- some horror, some animated stuff, and a few films that are just strange enough to appeal to geek sensibilities despite falling outside the technical boundaries of genre film.
EAT What is it? It's a horror film about a troubled actress with a penchant for auto-cannibalism. That means she eats her own flesh, in case you didn't get that. It's not a typical genre film -- no werewolves, vampires, or other bumps in the night -- but it's a pretty wild premise and should have a decent amount of gore. Plus, it's made in Colorado, so there's that. Geek Rating: Three out of five Texas Chainsaw Massacres -- likely to please fans of blood and guts, and make you laugh a time or two, even if it isn't a typical horror movie.
Lady with Flower-Hair
Shorts 1: Close Encounters of the Animated Kind What is it? As the name suggests, it's a program of animated short films, and what geek doesn't love cartoons? This program includes a film about a girl made of rubber bands (A Girl Named Elastika), a woman with flowers growing out of her head (Lady with Flower-Hair) and a film that most any geek can appreciate, History of Virginity, plus more than half a dozen more. Not all will appeal to geek sensibilities, but with most of them weighing in at less than fifteen minutes, you won't have long to wait if one isn't quite clicking with you. Geek Rating: Two out of five Ren and Stimpys. I'll be honest -- this one is a mixed bag, but there's enough intriguing stuff to get my ass in a seat, especially since it's all animated.
An Evening with Lewis Klahr What is it? An exhibition of the works of collage-animator Lewis Klahr, considered one of the top experimental filmmakers working today. He cuts up old magazines, comics and the like, then animates them into odd short films. It's perhaps a tad more arty than your typical geek fare, but very cool. It earns its spot here thanks to the inclusion of Pony Glass, a fifteen minute film that looks at Superman sidekick Jimmy Olsen's secret life as he attempts to resolve a sexual identity crisis. That's right, kids -- sexy Superman fan fic featuring Jimmy Olsen, animated by one of America's premiere experimental filmmakers. That's pretty goddamn geeky. Geek Rating: Four out of five Superman fan fics. Seriously, how can any self-respecting aficionado of weird, sexual superhero fan fic not see this?
The Demon's Rook What is it? It's a weird story of a boy who's kidnapped by a "good" demon (who kills his parents) and trained to keep the balance of good and evil in the universe. Naturally, that doesn't work out quite as planned (what fun is a movie where everything is in balance?) and he returns to his hometown with demons hot on his tail. There are also some zombies, a hell of a lot of blood and gore, and boobies. So, B-movie heaven, in other words. Geek Rating: Five out of five Mystery Science Theater 3000s. This is the pick of the litter, folks -- if you only see one demon-haunted, zombie-filled redneck B-movie at the festival this year, make it this one. That should be easy, because there is literally nothing else like it showing.
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