The 2019 Buried Alive Film Festival wraps up this weekend at the 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, and there’s plenty of great features and shorts to see. Over the next two days, BAFF offers five feature films and five short film blocks, plus a Troma-themed burlesque show! With a wealth of cinematic riches, MMC! is here to point the way with ten films to watch out for this Saturday and Sunday!
1. J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the Subgenius (Sandy K. Boon, 2019)
One of MMC!’s BAFF favourites, Sandy K. Boon’s J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the Subgenius examines the countercultural religion of “two self-proclaimed weirdos in Ft. Worth, Texas” and their crusade against normalcy. This documentary features wonderful interview subjects, including Richard Linklater, Penn Gilette, and Nick Offerman, as well as an array of Bob followers providing thoughtful reflection on 40 years of protecting their slack against the conspiracy. Subgenius is an intriguing companion to another popular 2019 portrait of an alternative religion, Penny Lane’s Hail Satan?, as both the Subgeniuses and The Satanic Temple embrace an absurdly theatrical image, however Boon’s film offers a mature reflection on cult’s complicated history that contrasts Lane’s earnestly sanitized presentation of the Temple as it searches for legitimacy. Preserve your slack and check out J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the Subgenius at 2:00 on Sunday!
2. Porno (Keola Racela, 2019)
Porno follows five teenage employees in a small Christian town’s movie theatre and their discovery of a strange film and a dangerous succubus. I must admit that I haven’t seen Porno but my colleague Jim Morazzini at Voices From the Balcony has. In his positive review, Jim expresses his admiration for how Keola Racela manages to sneak in a humane and intelligent story of teens coming to terms with their own sexualities without compromising Porno’s horror-comedy nature (and is quite complimentary to Katelyn Pearce’s “incredible performance” as the silent succubus Lilith.) Take Jim’s word and check out Porno on Saturday at 4:00!
3. Mark of the Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf (Daniel Griffith, 2019)
Daniel Griffith’s feature length documentary traces the history of the werewolf through the films of Universal Studios. From Stuart Walker’s Werewolf of London (1935) through to Joe Johnston’s The Wolf Man (2010), Griffith sheds light on the studio’s creation of the modern werewolf mythology, on Lon Chaney Jr.’s ongoing relationship with the Wolf Man role, and with Universal’s various monster cycles. The result is quite polished, thanks in no small part to a great cast of talking heads that include John Landis, Joe Dante, David Naughton, Mick Garris, John Goodwin, and others. Mark of the Beast plays on Sunday at 4:00!
4. La Llorona (H.J. Leonard, 2019)
Perhaps my favourite short of the Buried Alive Film Festival, H.J. Leonard’s La Llorona transposes its titular Latin American ghost to present day India and creates a brief, meet-cute romantic comedy that is surprisingly charming. The short film matches Pranay, a drunk young man frustrated by news that his girlfriend is cheating on him, with an undead bride preoccupied with despair and murderous revenge. La Llorona features great onscreen chemistry and wonderful long-take tableaus set amid some grubby, late-night streets. Don’t worry though; people still die.
5. Dead Animals (David Oesch and Remo Rickenbacher, 2019)
The Swiss short Dead Animals offers a strange take on pets, death, and taxidermy, one that blends deadpan humour and morbid absurdity. BAFF attendees looking for options for accessorizing their lost animal or providing an extremely odd re-imagining of a Viking funeral should consider Dead Animals essential viewing.
6. Lili (Yfke Van Berckelaer, 2019)
Lisa Smit gives an impressive array of performances in Yfke Van Berckelaer’s Lili, playing an enthusiastic actress caught unawares in a casting director’s predatory game of cat and mouse. The short is a #metoo micro-portrait of revenge against female exploitation at the hands of men in positions of power. Lili’s single-take format is bold, unsparing, and confrontational and Van Berckelaer creates a tightly wound and efficiently told short that is confidently of its time.
7. Love Bite (Charles de Lauzirika, 2019)
Charles de Lauzirika’s Love Bite takes masculine fragility into the zombie apocalypse and posits that there is no depth men won’t sink to in order preserve the illusion of authority. Managing to be grimly funny and ironically tragic, Love Bite’s drooling undead are appropriately gross and its relationship is solidly dysfunctional.
8. Toe (Neal O’Bryan and Chad Thurman, 2019)
BAFF attendees who long for the twee-goth horrors of Tim Burton (before he was captured in the snare of live-action Disney adaptations) will no doubt want to see Neal O’Bryan and Chad Thurman’s Toe. In the short, a starving boy discovers a toe sticking out of the ground and finds himself haunted by something that invades his home later that night. O’Bryan and Thurman’s stop-motion animation manages to somehow be both endearingly primitive and surprisingly polished, making Toe arguably MMC!’s favourite animated work at BAFF.
9. MJ (Jamie Delaney, 2018)
Jamie Delaney explores a world of social media isolation in MJ, where a young millennial woman’s obsession with online acceptance leads to real life violence and death. Shot in a bleakly realist style, the film is despairing in its tone and content, yet provides an intriguing reversal by having its female figure assume the role of threat within a world of swipe-right blind dates. MJ’s crowded London locales and off-the-cuff look contrasts with much of BAFF’s closed set horror productions and makes it a distinctive film experience at the Fest.
10. The Loop (Rich Ragsdale, 2019)
Slashics fans at BAFF will be interested in Rich Ragsdale’s ’80s horror pastiche The Loop. Tommy’s older brother arrives home with “the scariest movie ever made” and drops into the family’s top-loading VCR, only for Tommy to find himself stalked by the enigmatic video-killer The Loop. Ragsdale obviously has a lot of fun recreating his version of the supernatural slasher film and fans of the genre will particularly enjoy alternative model/burlesque performer Mosh in the role of the hairsprayed, cropped topped “Video Vixen.” Slash, Scream, Repeat.
And there you have it: ten reasons to get Buried Alive this weekend! Congrats to everyone at BAFF for another great year and here’s looking forward to 2020!