(awesome 3D photo by Mark Spieckerman)
Zipped down, parked, and then walked under the blazing sun to the brunch. Enjoyed the effort that went into the benediction. I shot some video of our High Priest doing his own riff on "Imagine", but it didn't turn out so hot, alas. Hello, the Future occurred. Next were the author readings. I drew the short straw and went first. I think it went reasonably well, but nerves are an issue. My idea of performance is to peck away at a keyboard in the safety of my own home, with no one around. But I got a couple nice comments about the reading, so I'll say it went well enough. Denise Dumars and Bryan Thao Worra are much better at working a crowd. I think my favorite reading was Denise's poem "EVP".
Then we had our panel, and the above were joined by Cody, Skipp and artist Mike Dubisch. We bandied 'cosmic horror' about, and I think it was really a high point of the brunch. At least for me. People who know their shit had some complementary and contradictory discourse about Lovecraft in the modern age. I said some things that charitable people would consider profound.
During the subsequent schmoozing, I got to make the acquaintance of about-to-be-honored Michael Reaves, who I have just now learned shares my birthday. I started off on the wrong foot, since I was unaware that he suffers from Parkinson's. Production of speech is difficult for him, but through the good graces of his daughter Mallory (whom I know tangentially via Wyrd Con, of all things) we had a good conversation. He was a bit miffed, I think, that we on the panel had not mentioned his script for The Real Ghostbusters. I fell back on the very true statement that it hadn't yet screened at the fest.
And indeed, "The Collect Call of Cathulhu" was up next. The Real Ghostbusters was pretty much the end of my watching of Saturday morning cartoons. I can remember as a very small tot making a resolution to never stop watching cartoons... that I would never get over Saturday morning cartoons. My self-sworn oath has undergone a slight modification. Saturday mornings are now a wasteland, but I have moved on to anime and other forms of animation that still do absorb my interest. But to get back to me slagging The Real Ghostbusters... I can imagine having Bill Murray phone it in, but having a Bill Murray impersonator phone it in just was insupportable. Possibly Bill could have gotten away with the material, but ersatz Bill hadn't a hope and I gave up on the show as a whole. Nevertheless, this particular episode has good points, particularly a nice showdown with Great Cthulhu at Coney Island... the first appearance of Cthulhu himself, I think, on any screen, little or big. [He's namechecked in Night Gallery's Professor Peabody's Last Lecture.]
This was followed up by "The Shrieking Madness," an episode of a modern version of Scooby Doo with 'HP Hatecraft' (voiced by Combs, natch) and, playing himself to great effect, Harlan Ellison. I'm afraid I gave up on the franchise with the introduction of freaking Scrappy (circa 1979), but I was pleasantly surprised.
After a break, the first block of shorts. First up, My 5-Year Old Niece Explains Cthulhu is sortofan ad for the Kickstarter for "Call Girl of Cthulhu" (incidentally one of the 4 finalists for the screenplay award (that I judged)).
Space Bugs was nicely realized. Alien invaders attracted by sound. I dug it... more than I dug the next two bits, in 3D, by the same director.
"George Jones and the Giant Squid" really really impressed me. Particularly for the anti-religious subtext. But even on the face of it, it's a great tale. If it had been more Lovecraftian, it might've been my favorite, but apart from a coincidental cephalapod, it wasn't.
"Artifact" was a semi-animated Yiggy story. I wasn't thrilled with the story, but technically, it showed that Dr. Pookie could do the festival circuit with perhaps a half-step upgrade to her own semi-animated features.
The Music of Jo Hyeja is (obviously) an adaptation of "The Music of Erich Zann". And it's great. Not a literal, period, adaptation, but I approve of the adaptations, and can't complain about the change of setting to Korea. It became my favorite, and everything afterward had to compete with it in my mind. One detail that interested me (but had nothing, I hope, to do with my judgment) was that one of the protagonist's young college age female friends looked a lot like Soo Jung, my friend from long ago in the dorms at UCLA.
"Bedtime for Timmy" probably did have the greatest enjoyment per second ratio. Click the link and watch, though it looks so much better on the big screen.
The Captured Bird looked amazeballs. And I never say "amazeballs". But it was more of a vignette or a mood than a story. After watching it, I thought 'that's a great video 'calling card' to show to people in the industry' and then I saw how many industry people were involved in creating it. It also had the longest credits, including oodles of financial contributors. Not a dig, just an observation.
And then there was Doctor Glamour. This is really two half movies glued together. The first is a curious steampunky story told almost (?) entirely in pantomime. Seriously, if you served up 78 minutes of that, it would make a bajillion dollars. But then it warps into something that too obviously wants to be the next Rocky Horror. I was willing to roll with it, but after the song and dance continued for a while I was literally thinking, "I want this to end now. Now. OK... Now." It did ultimately lead to an enjoyable climax, but I didn't enjoy most of the road to get there.
Break for dinner. OK, I'm getting tired, so these may get pithy (catty).
Feed A started with some ultra-realistic SWAT team procedures and banter. I was sold completely. Utterly. Then it devolved into shouting and shooting and dudes in suits.
"In(B)etween" was In(C)oherent
Gamma features some great footage from the environs of Chernobyl, incorporated into a futuristic story. Wasn't my favorite, but still very good.
The stop-action work in Odokuro is fantastic. I was utterly unaware (though I have no excuse, it seems) that Voltaire did stop action work, but it's of really high quality. But the work was far more beautiful than the story, and "Jo Hyeja" still reigned supreme.
Seizures succeeded at disorienting the audience with its time-fragmented protagonist. But almost as a corollary of that success, it has no hope of clicking with a wider audience. But the audience at the festival reacted positively, and I enjoyed talking to Nicolas about his film, even if it was not my favorite. (Zann/Hyeja still winning)
Stay at Home Dad" has some great flashes of humor AND horror, but the whole mix just didn't quite gel for me.
The Shunned House started out strong. If they had showed 5 minutes of that creepy mailbox, it might be my favorite of the fest. But then my disdain for modern day ghost hunters kicked in. And then it turned into some monologuing. And then it ends abruptly.
A brief break, and then the unearthed "Evil Clergyman" segment of the never-finished Pulsepounders anthology. The classic 80's Lovecraft line-up of Combs-Crampton-Gale, accentuated by David Warner. There are some great things about it, above and beyond Barbara Crampton's magnificent breasts, but ultimately it might be best left buried. And though I like the shout out to David Gale, I doubt this is how he wants to be remembered. (It would be a step up to be remembered as a decapitated head trying to go down on Barbara.)
Then on to the afterparty, where a gift was secretly bestowed, and I squeed at getting to hang out with Voltaire.
Many thanks to Aaron for putting this nonsense on, and inviting me to participate, and to Kirsten and the other volunteers, and all the other guests and helpers and staff and guests and filmmakers that make it all worthwhile.