By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The Hexploitation Film Festival returns to Canada for its 10th year next month, and we’ve got the exclusive scoop on the complete lineup of fearful features and shorts playing there.
Hexploitation (previously known as Fright Night Theatre) runs February 21-23 at the Staircase Theatre (27 Dundurn Street N.) in Hamilton, Ontario, featuring themed parties, filmmaker Q&As and other events. “I’m incredibly proud to have been involved with this festival for the past decade,” says festival director/lead programmer Aaron Allen. “In a time when streaming distribution culture has eroded the communal magic of the theatergoing experience and theaters are dominated by big-studio fare, the Hexploitation Film
Festival continues to dedicate itself to preserving the best parts of the theatergoing experience by seeking out unique horror and cult exploitation films and providing an intimate and interactive theatrical experience that brings emerging filmmakers together with the local arts community and our great genre fanbase.”
The features playing at Hexploitation 2019 are:
- CREATURE FROM CANNIBAL CREEK (Canada; dir. John Migliore; world premiere): Nature spawns a creature driven by vengeance to destroy a group of cold-blooded cannibals! From the director of EXORCISM OF THE DEAD and POLTERGEIST ENCOUNTERS comes a film that recalls the dingy reels of low-budget exploitation and monster movies of the seventies. CREATURE FROM CANNIBAL CREEK comedically combines the cannibal horror of THE HILLS HAVE EYES with the monster mayhem of SWAMP THING.
- CRYSTAL EYES (MIRADA DE CRISTAL; Argentina; dir. Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano; Canadian Premiere): Buenos Aires, 1985: It’s the first anniversary of the tragic death of supermodel Alexis Carpenter, who went out in blaze of glory when she was accidentally set on fire while closing an upscale runway show. Lucia L’Uccello, the editor-in-chief of the most important fashion magazine in Buenos Aires, chooses two rival supermodels as cover girls for the next issue commemorating Alexis’ death. The night before the photo shoot is to take place, Alexis’ original dresses that were going to be used for the shoot are stolen. From that moment, members of the important fashion magazine and agency begin to disappear, one by one, at the hands of a stealthy, sinister female silhouette in a long black leather raincoat. Is someone seeking revenge? Or has Alexis returned from the grave?
- FP2: BEATS OF RAGE (U.S.; dir. Jason Trost; Canadian premiere): Legendary Beat-Beat Revelation warrior JTRO gave his home of Frazier Park everything he had, but his challenges aren’t over. After giving up on Beat-Beat, the deadly dance completion game used to settle disputes, he must journey into the destruction of The Waste to rekindle his passion and win the ultimate Beat-Beat Revelation tournament to fulfill his dance destiny. BEATS OF RAGE is MAD MAX meets MORTAL KOMBAT meets FOOTLOOSE.
- FRAMED (pictured above; Spain; dir. Marc Martínez Jordán; Hamilton premiere): During a farewell party attended by friends, three psychopathic invaders infiltrate the party with only one goal: to play a series of twisted games involving kidnapping, torture, mutilation and murder, all while they stream it and turn the brutality into a social media sensation. Featuring astounding gore effects, FRAMED is definitely not for the weak of stomach or faint of heart.
- THE ISLE (UK; dir. Matthew Butler-Hart; Canadian premiere): On a remote island off the west coast of Scotland in 1846, a heavy storm hits, causing a ship to sink. Three survivors row through a thick early-morning mist before coming upon a shrouded island. They soon discover that it is almost abandoned except for four sole residents: an old harbor man, a farmer, his niece and a young madwoman…with no way off. When they begin to investigate the myth of a ghostly siren haunting the island, they are led to uncover a truth that may cost them their lives. Stars GAME OF THRONES’ Conleth Hill (Lord Varys).
- JOHNNY GRUESOME (U.S.; dir. Gregory Lamberson; Canadian premiere): While on a drunken joyride with his friends, rebellious high school rocker Johnny Grissom is murdered. After those involved cover up his death to make it look like an accident, Johnny’s classmates start to turn up dead. Johnny’s best friend Eric begins to suspect Johnny has returned from the grave to wreak havoc on those who wronged him. Stars Anthony De La Torre (Young Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES) and Michael DeLorenzo (NEW YORK UNDERCOVER), featuring an original song by Robby Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls.
- WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS (U.S.; dir. André Gower; Canadian premiere): A feature film documenting THE MONSTER SQUAD’s 30-year impact on the horror genre and its fan base, from script to cult classic. Directed by MONSTER SQUAD star Gower (Sean) and featuring castmates Ryan Lambert (Rudy) and Ashley Bank (Phoebe) as well as interviews with Fred Dekker (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, ROBOCOP 3), Shane Black (THE PREDATOR, THE NICE GUYS, IRON MAN 3) as well as horror icons and fans like Adam Green (HATCHET), Zach Galligan (GREMLINS), special effects and makeup legend Tom Woodruff Jr. and many more! If you love THE MONSTER SQUAD, this doc’s definitely got some serious nards.
The short film lineup is:
- BINGE (Canada; dir. David J. Fernandes)
- BITTEN (U.S.; dir. Sarah K. Reimers)
- THE BLOODY BALLAD OF SQUIRT REYNOLDS (U.S.; dir. Anthony Cousins)
- THE BLUE DOOR (UK; dir. Paul Taylor)
- CHOWBOYS: AN AMERICAN FOLK TALE (Canada; dir. Astron-6)
- DAWN OF MAN (U.S.; dir. Victor Ridaura)
- GRIDLOCK (Ireland; dir. Ian Hunt Duffy)
- HAMMER DOWN (U.S.; dir. Dan Pasto)
- MAW (Belgium; dir. Jasper Vrancken)
- MILK (Canada; dir. Santiago Menghini)
- ROAD TRASH (U.S.; dir. Natasha Pascetta)
- SPLIT DECISION (Canada; dir. Scott Riopelle)
- TIME HEALS NO WOUNDS (Canada; dir. Jordan Barnes-Crouse)
- THE WHISTLER (Canada; dir. Jennifer Nicole Stang)
- THE WORLD OVER (U.S.; dir. Heath C. Michaels)
For more info and to order tickets, head over to the fest’s official website.