Sunday, March 16, 2008

BUFF and IFFBoston are at it again, Pt. 1 -- The Boston Underground Film Festival

The Boston Underground Film Festival and the Boston Independent Film Festival are widely considered the only two interesting film festivals in town since the Boston Film Festival whithered and died (yet once a year around September it involuntarily spits out something like Beatrix Kiddo in a coma) on the vine about ten years ago. The only troublesome part about this is for film geeks on a strict budget like myself is that BUFF and IFFBoston hit you up a month apart from each other like a one-two punch to your wallet. Last year I passed on the BUFF with the romantic notion that I'd buy one of IFFBoston's hundred dollar passes. Even that didn't jibe with my bank account at the time and considering this month's RFC HQ-US relocation costs, I doubt it will this time around. So I'll be making a valiant effort to dip into both of these fests this time around.

The BIFF starts up next month from 4/23 - 4/29 and the schedule should be released within the next couple weeks so we'll get back to that when the time comes. Meanwhile, the BUFF packs its punch in one 4 day weekend from 3/20 - 3/23 -- so let's take a look at what BUFF has to offer:

The main attraction is clearly The Wizard of Gore remake (from an Emerson grad no less) featuring the remarkable eclipsing of the bizzaro powers of Crispin Glover, Jeffrey Combs and Brad Dourif. If channeled properly this could be something very special indeed. Taken from Herschell Gordon Lewis' 1970 feature of the same name, it's based around the premise of a Glover's Montag the Magnificent's dismemberment tricks not being so tricky after all. It's the opening night feature and even from the not so inspired trailer it looks like it should offer a fun ride for Glover and Lewis fans. Taking a look at the talk on imdb shows that some Lewis fans already seem fed up with the remakes of his low budget blood feasts (even though the remake scores a higher rating) but what else would you expect. I would think Lewis himself is probably giddy at the fact his work is being considered the stuff worthy of remakes.

The Wizard of Gore isn't the only movie his year with some name recognition. Otis features the indie stalwarts Illeana Douglas and Kevin Pollack, along with Daniel Stern, in a dark comedy serial killer picture. The description reminds me of Andy Richter's character on 30 Rock where he thinks he's perpetually headed to a high school ski trip. In this case we have a serial killer who thinks he's perpetually headed to his high school prom and kidnaps young women to take as his date and keeps them alive as long as they play the part. I'm always in the mood for some good Illeana Douglas and have nothing but respect for ol' Daniel Stern. Kevin Pollack on the other hand, even in his most palatable role in The Usual Suspects I wanted to slap that fuckin' stupid hat off his head and hold the gun while Kaiser pulled the trigger. The fact that it's directed by a longtime producer would usually give me shivers but since Tony Krantz's producing credits vary from David Lynch to MTV it's anyone's guess how this one will turn out. Since we're dealing with a premise that seems to takes some digs at the darkness under suburbia's facade we might be dealing with the Lynchian side of Krantz's brain. I'd say this one's worth a look.


Pop Skull looks to be the wild card in the BUFF features department. A supposed $3000 film that could be the next Pi or just a low budget style over substance calling card. If the budget is true it's an interesting movie nonetheless.

Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story could be a real joy of a documentary. I was (one of the only?) a fan of Joe Dante's Matinee with John Goodman as the William Castle surrogate. He was the man who created numerous gimmicks like the buzzing seats and the insurance policy audience members could use in case they got scared to death watching one of his productions to make the b-movies he released better than they actually were (check Herschell Gordon Lewis' promo for the original Wizard of Gore down below to see him employing the Castle created hoopla). In a time when people are deserting the theaters and preferring to watch movies on their computers or home theaters, the time is ripe for an examination of Castle who played a big part in making movie going as much about the experience of a live audience than the movie itself. He deserves that lovingly remembered documentary now more than ever.

The short films at the BUFF are the meat of the festival -- I'm sure that's how the festival got started as there's always a need for these films to find a place to show off. And there's no less than 99 of them playing over the course of these 4 days so you could very easily devote your time exclusively to the shorts and still not see all of them. Like a good film fest they are showing some before the features (like the regular cinema's should get back to doing instead of the 20 minutes of commercials) so I hope to catch a few. Hell, I hope to catch one of the short movie showcases but my ambition rarely catches up with my achievements so we'll just have to wait and see how this turns out.

I'll chime in with the results and a look at the IFFBoston when they release their schedule.

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