The sun beat down on Louisville last Friday with a vengeance. The city burned like a moist oven, even in the evening. Although the wisest thing to do was to dress as lightly as possible, it was a different story at the Galt House Hotel downtown. There I witnessed people in capes or cloaks, dressed as pirates or citizens of Middle Earth, and even a furry. Thus was my first sight of this year's Fright Night Film & Fandom Fest.
After braving long lines at check-in, I entered the melee and was immediately greeted with the sight of a mass of tables and booths and wares for sale; wherever I turned there were depictions of blood, gore, zombies, vampires, and all things horrific. There was no time yet to stop and stare, however; I had a movie to catch.
I had seen the trailer for Zero Killed and was intrigued by the premise: in the words of the filmmaker, Michal Kosakowski, “Since 1996 I've been asking people with different backgrounds about their murder fantasies. I offered them the chance to stage their murder fantasies as films. My only condition: they had to act in the films themselves.” This all occurred as part of an art project; 10 years later, he met with the participants and interviewed them about the experience and their ideas on violence. The result is this incredibly fascinating—and chilling—pseudo-documentary which covers such topics as violence in the media, the death penalty, the torture debate and the idea of revenge. The interviews were interspersed with scenes of murder which were staged, but unflinching – a man hacked up by a machete, a woman trapped in a coffin, a boy shooting up a high school. The film is a look at the dark side hidden inside everyone. As one of the interviewees says, “People afraid of their inner abyss refuse to see it.”
The film over, a world of vendors and booths awaited my inspection. Happily, I found that my friends at the Movie Meltdown podcast (in which I've had the pleasure of participating many times) had set up their table quite close to the screening rooms, so I stopped to say hello to Bryan and Greg before plunging into the depths of the convention.
Posters, DVDs, figurines, jewelery, books, comics, movie props, and so much more were all available for purchase. On one side of the ballroom sat the minor celebrities: artists, illustrators, make-up and effects specialists, and the occasional actor. I must confess that I recognized no one—except for Sid Haig (Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects) with whom I locked eyes for a moment before moving on (I didn't want to pay $20 for an autograph).
Naturally, I found myself most interested in the filmmakers' tables. I spoke briefly with Mike Lombardo, director of the short film Long Pig, which screened Saturday. According to flyers, the film is “a life-affirming tale of friendship... and cannibalism,” and so at the booth Lombardo wore an apron and was covered in blood—just like a real chef!
I made sure to stop by the table for Dead Weight since I intended to attend its screening that evening (I, however, didn't make it). I spoke to Joe Belknap, lead actor of the film, who, when asked if the film was good, shrugged and said, “Well, I liked it.”
Nearby was David Brewer's booth. Regular readers will recall my interview with Brewer about his film Nothing in the Flowers and my subsequent review following the debut at Headliners. Brewer had DVDs of his film for sale, and he had quite a surprise for me: a quote from my review had been used as a blurb on the back. For someone who just loves to write movie reviews and was lucky enough to find an outlet to occasionally do so for a little profit, it is beyond exciting to see my words used as a blurb, even if it's just a small, local release. It makes one feel quite professional.