ENTER THE DEN OF SIN:  CINEMUERTE '05 Image

Okay, so I’m sure some of you (okay, one of you) has been wondering what I’ve been up to lately, since I obviously haven’t been writing. Well, while I can’t give you a good answer the entire length of my absence, I can tell you where I was recently: Cinemuerte! Vancouver’s very own International Horror Festival. It was a bittersweet year, as it will be the last for the festival that Kier-La built, but then again you never know. And so begins a tale of booze, name-dropping, and freaky, freaky film.

Wednesday Oct 26/05
Traditionally, Cinemuerte kicks off with a Gala screening for volunteers & passholders. A great movie, free beer & kickin’ tunes always make for a good time, and this year was no exception. Like most years, I had no idea what the opening film would be like & let me just say I was blown away. I’m usually rather leery of French films (don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite films are French, but you know what I’m talking about) however, let me just say that Calvaire is a stunning piece of terror francaise. Kind of like a creepier French version of “Deliverance,” with a dash of “Misery” thrown in for good measure. The film is infused from the first frame by a claustrophobic sense of dread, and although the progression of events is fairly predictable (the English title is “The Ordeal”), the sadistic depths to which it dives are more than enough to keep you riveted. As close to hell as you are likely to get in a film this year. After the film was done, my hubby & I had to get to work pouring that free beer & minglin’ with the horror folk

Thursday Oct 27/05
Although I wasn’t on the schedule to volunteer, I spent some time selling tickets before the first film of the night, the Japanese nunsploitation epic: “School of the Holy Beast.” Although we had actually screened it as “Convent of the Sacred Beast” as part of the Den of Sin, the opportunity to see it on the big screen was almost enough to make this pinky-fan pee herself with delight (If you get the joke, you get it. If you don’t, see the movie). Got into a bit of an argument with Robin (Bougie, creator of the fabulous trash film zine Cinema Sewer) before the film started over whether the hockey team at the beginning was in fact the UBC Thunderbirds. I swore that it was since we’d actually freeze framed it when we watched it at the Den, but he wasn’t convinced. Now seeing it in 35mm, I think Robin owes me an apology. Once that was done with, we had to prepare for the highly anticipated (and totally sold out) Buffy Sing-Along. Goodie bags were assembled by the entrance to the theatre, and volunteers were stationed at both doors to deal with the seething mass of Buffy Fans gathered out in the cold Vancouver night. Despite some high tensions due to the fact that it was sold out, and the Globe & Mail apparently advertising it as a “free” event, everyone got into the theatre without a hitch. After all that, we volunteers decided to head to the Side Bar (unofficial bar of Cinemuerte) to deal with the stress & hang with Wiley Wiggins who was in town to judge the Bloodshots 48 Hour Filmmaking Contest. Around midnight, we started to wonder where Kier-la had gotten to, since the screening would have long since finished and she had yet to meet us. Robin & Danielle went back to the Cinematheque to check on her, and their news was not good: apparently some gooberheaded Buffy Fan had decided that it would be a good idea to polish off a bottle of wine with her companion, in the theatre. They then proceeded to get so unruly that the manager had to be called down multiple times & they were eventually ejected from the theatre (an act that resulted in cheers from the audience). However, on their way out of the theatre, gooberhead pulled a juice bottle from a trashcan and threw it at the Cinematheque, smashing one of the windows. Amusingly enough, gooberhead was a Bloodshots contestant & her information was forwarded to the police.

Friday Oct 28/05
Being that the only thing we were that interested in seeing was the 12:30AM screening of “The Thing,” we decided to take a little break from Cinemuerte. I consumed the first of two energy drinks with my dinner, the trundled downtown & set up shop at the Side Bar. This was my second mistake of the night. The rest of our volunteering pals, much more sensibly, did not join us for a drink & instead we met up with them for some poutine before the film. Killed some time hanging out in the lobby with everyone & consumed my second energy drink just before the movie started. Hubby was feeling tired & oogy & had to work the next day, so he decided to skip the movie and go home to sleep. What can I say about “The Thing?” I love it (despite having only seen it for the first time recently, I know, I know…) & seeing it on the big screen was a real treat. The print was also in great condition (probably because it was a collector’s print). Wilford Brimley is so creepy & I will always be impressed by Rob Bottin’s special effects.

Saturday Oct 29/05
Thanks to my actions the night before, my stomach had been transformed into a churching pit of acid & I’m pretty sure I s**t out my stomach lining shortly after breakfast. Managed to haul my a*s to the Crowne Plaza for a panel discussion Kier-la had organized on Canadian Horror: The Tax Shelter Years. For the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday, it was pretty well attended, although that wasn’t that surprising considering the speakers included Bob Clark (“Black Christmas,” “Porky’s”) & Tom Drake (“Terror Train,” “The Keeper”) and was moderated by Caelum Vatnsdal, author of “They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema” which had served as the inspiration for the discussion. Got Bob Clark to sign my copy of the book & spent some time after the discussion chatting with Caeleum who encouraged me to write a book on Maple Syrup Porn after I confessed my interest in the subject. Although I hadn’t really planned on it, I ended up taking in most of Casuistry, a documentary about Jesse Power, Anthony Wennekers and Matthew Kraczorowski, the three men who filmed themselves killing a cat and called it “art”. Although not that great a film in and of itself, it was nice to see someone attempt a balanced examination of the events, & it was somehow comforting to hear Mr. Power admit that they had essentially failed in what they had attempted & that he accepted his punishment willingly. Next on the schedule was “Night of the Living Dorks,” a horror comedy that comes off kind of like an odd German version of “American Pie,” but with zombies. A huge hit on the festival circuit (Cinemuerte included), I recommend it only if you’re cool with really goofy humor as it was a little light on gore for my taste. However, I do have to admit that I laughed quite a bit, especially when the Goths talk about resurrecting Kurt Cobain so that he can be their own personal troubador. After that, it was time for the Exploitation All Nighter & my cue to jump back behind the ticket counter. Ended up skipping out on “Class of 1984” so I could sell tickets, a move I kind of regret, but honestly, how many movies can a girl watch in 6 days? Snuck back in for “Creep,” a laughably sub-par (sorry Kier-la) slasher with an absolutely brain numbingly bad performance by Franka Potente. In fact, I was so underwhelmed that I slept through most of the film. Luckily my nap perked me up enough that I could get into “Vice Squad,” and although not as good as the trailer, it was again a treat to be seeing it on the big screen. Wings Hauser is amazing, and he did the themesong! After that, it was time for the all you can eat cereal breakfast, but after two bowls of sugary goodness, my husband & I decided to concede defeat and skip out on “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” so that we could go home & get some much needed sleep.

Sunday Oct 30/05
And a good thing that was too, since we had to get our place in shape for our “celebrity house guest”. Since my husband had to volunteer, Wiley & I hung out and watched our newly acquired DVD of “School of the Holy Beast,” since he had missed it on Thursday. Sadly, this also meant that we missed the Canadian film “Sigma,” which I had been looking forward to. Oh well, hopefully there’ll be a DVD release soon. Feeling some guilt over this, we headed down to the theatre just in time for “The Birthday,” a film I had originally intended on skipping. Boy am I glad I didn’t. The singular vision of Spanish wonderkind, Eugenio Mira, any attempts to accurately describe the film will fail miserably. Let’s just say that Corey Feldman gives the performance of his life (by channeling Jerry Lewis no less), it involves an apocalyptic conspiracy, and Eurotrash superstar Jack Taylor is in it! We were even more impressed when we found out that Eugenio had composed the excellent score to the film himself!
Decided to skip “Malefique” so that we could hang out with Jack Taylor and Eugenio.. Met up with everybody at Two Parrots for more beer & fried food & then shuffled home so that we could make Wiley watch “Dangerous Seductress,” which while not as uniformly great as “Lady Terminator,” the first 20 minutes do rival those of any film made before or since.

Monday Oct 31/05
Started the day with breakfast at the Dutch Wooden Shoe with Wiley, Kier-la, Eugenio & Danielle, then, Eugenio insisted we all take part in crafting a new “masterpiece” with him, something that involved me smearing his face with BBQ sauce. Managed to get in one more drink before “Trouble,” which could be described as an even more disturbing French take on “Dead Ringers” with a twist as surprising as “Haute Tension,” only this time it manages to work with the film & not just piss everyone off. Also, Benoit Magimel is super dreamy. A little slow moving, the twist really does make the movie & it seemed an appropriate way to cap off a great year for the festival. Then, a caravan of cabs was arranged to take us to the karaoke after-party in Uranus (tee hee). It was an absolute blast.

A huge, huge thank you to all of our friends, old and new. I hope you had as much fun as we did and for God’s sake, let’s keep in touch!

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