Chicago might not be your first thought for a summer getaway, but if you’re a horror fan, the third annual Cinepocalypse film festival is opening the gates of Hell to entice you towards the Windy City this June. There’s a mad buffet of one-of-a-kind cinematic delights on offer, with some unique events to whet the appetite of even the most rabid genre fan.
This year’s installment of Cinepocalypse includes high-profile screenings like the much-anticipated The Lodge from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the creators behind 2014’s breakout Goodnight Mommy, new films from Lucky McKee, Joe Begos, and Gigi Saul Guerrero, and international offerings from Morocco, Poland, Argentina, Russia, and Mexico. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the feature debut from Misfits founder and lead singer Glenn Danzig called Verotika. No one really knows much about the plot, other than it’s an anthology that’s based on Danzig’s Verotika graphic novels, but count on this screening to be the hottest ticket at Cinepocalypse this year.
In addition to the new films being screened at the festival, there’s a Joel Schumacher retrospective with screenings of Flatliners and Falling Down (in 70mm and 35mm, respectively) with the director himself in attendance. Also present at the festival is Michael Ironside, here to accept an achievement award and to present a 70mm screening of Total Recall. Finally, and most interesting to me, Cinepocalypse has gotten their grubby paws on a true rarity, an R-rated “gore cut” of Stewart Raffill’s 1994 Jurassic Park-meets-Frankenstein oddity, Tammy and the T-Rex, featuring early roles for the late Paul Walker and Denise Richards. This was already a total fever dream of a film, so I can’t wait to see what the R-rated cut includes.
On top of all this, there are some interesting events planned for the annual festival that don’t (strictly) involve sitting in a dark theatre with dozens of your fellow genre fans. There’s a tribute to GWAR, with screenings of their insane short films, and a screening of the 1987 Canadian horror, Rock n’ Roll Nightmare, with GWAR in giving it the MST3K treatment. And if that’s not enough of a party, horror renaissance man Graham Skipper has put together a Child’s Play-themed speakeasy with all sorts of maniacal treats, including themed drinks, decorations, and who knows what else!
Here’s the full screening lineup for Cinepocalypse:
Achoura, dir. Talal Selhami (Morocco, North American Premiere)
Four childhood friends are reunited when one of them re-surfaces after 20 years, forcing them to confront a creature straight out of a spine-chilling Moroccan legend.
Attack of the Demons, dir. Eric Power (USA, World Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
Three friends must use every skill their minds can fathom to stave off a legion of mutating demons overtaking their community. Move over SOUTH PARK, this gore-soaked film is done entirely in hand cut-paper animation.
Belzebuth, dir. Emilio Portes (Mexico, North American Premiere)
After losing his family in a most horrific way, a special border agent must investigate a series of deaths involving young children, possession, and an ancient demon named Belzebuth.
Bliss, dir. Joe Begos (USA, Midwest Premiere)
A brilliant macabre painter facing the worst creative block of her life turns to every vice she can to complete her masterpiece, spiraling into a hallucinatory hellscape of drugs, sex, and a whole lotta murder.
Hulu’s Into The Dark: Culture Shock, dir. Gigi Saul Guerrero (USA, Special Presentation – Filmmaker in attendance!)
This thriller follows a young woman in pursuit of the American Dream, who crosses illegally into the United States, only to find herself in an American nightmare.
Darlin’, dir. Pollyanna McIntosh (USA, Midwest Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
A direct sequel to 2011’s cult classic THE WOMAN, star Pollyanna McIntosh takes over the director’s chair in this coming-of-age shocker with a horror-tinged twist.
Deadcon, dir. Caryn Waechter (USA, World Premiere)
The horrors and isolation of being a social media influencer run rampant in DEADCON, when a collection of Youtube and Instagram stars soon discover there are things scarier than thousands of teenagers armed with phones asking for selfies.
Falling Down, dir. Joel Schumacher (USA, Retrospective – Filmmaker in attendance!)
An unemployed defense worker, frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society, begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them. Presented in 35mm.
Flatliners, dir. Joel Schumacher (USA, Retrospective – Filmmaker in attendance!)
Five medical students experiment with “near-death” experiences until the dark consequences of past tragedies begin to jeopardize their lives. Presented in 70mm
Ghost Killers Vs. Bloody Mary, dir. Fabrício Bittar (Brazil, North American Premiere)
In this horror-comedy bloodbath, four Youtubers with expertise in supernatural events seek recognition from their viewers while solving the urban legend of Bloody Mary. Prepare yourselves for gut-busting hilarity and gore-soaked chaos.
GWAR Showcase (USA, Special screening – Guests in attendance!)
A retrospective of GWAR’s blood-splattered iconic heavy metal career, including the Grammy-nominated PHALLUS IN WONDERLAND, followed by a Q&A!
Hot Dog… The Movie, dir. Peter Markle (USA, 35th Anniversary 4K Producer’s Cut Restoration World Premiere)
Kindred Spirits, dir. Lucky McKee (USA, World Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
In the latest twisted work from the director of MAY and THE WOMAN, stars Thora Birch, Macon Blair, and Caitlin Stasey shine in this unapologetically dark thriller about a deeply disturbed young woman with a sinister agenda.
The Lodge, dirs. Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala (UK/U.S.A, Midwest Premiere)
In this psychologically unsettling slowburn, a young woman and her soon-to-be new stepchildren find themselves snowed in at a remote winter cabin. Of course, strange and frightening events take place concluding in a final act that will leave you shaken.
The Lurker, dir. Eric Liberacki (USA, World Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
A group of high school theatre students (led by Scout Taylor-Compton), celebrate their final performance of Romeo & Juliet by dying at the hands of a savage killer, in this Chicago-set slasher that gives new meaning to the expression “the show must go on!”
Mope, dir. Lucas Heyne (USA, Midwest Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
The tragic and very icky true story of two best friends and low-end Mopes (slang for wannabe porn stars) who sought fame but gained infamy in a 2010 murder at a San Fernando Valley porn company’s warehouse.
The Mute, dir. Bartosz Konopka (Poland, North American Premiere)
Two knights set off to christen a small pagan village hidden deep within the mountains, using vile methods to take control of the foreigners’ minds and souls. THE MUTE is a spectacle made of visuals and atmosphere combined to create a thrilling, savage, and mystical epic.
Punta Muerto (Dead End), dir. Daniel de la Vega (Argentina, North American Premiere)
A mystery writer is suspected of murder when a colleague turns up dead in the exact way that is laid out in his latest, highly praised book. To prove his innocence, he must find the real killer, in this stunning B&W throwback to ’40s mysteries and film noir.
Rock N’ Roll Nightmare, dir. John Fasano (Canada, Special live movie riff event with members of GWAR)
At a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, a hopeful hair-metal band seeking inspiration to record their new LP will soon find themselves in a furious confrontation with the Prince of Darkness himself, as well as GWAR!
Satanic Panic, dir. Chelsea Stardust (USA, Midwest Premiere)
A pizza delivery girl at the end of her financial rope has to fight for her life – and her tips – when her last order of the night turns out to be to a group of high-society Satanists in need of a virgin sacrifice.
The Swerve, dir. Dean Kapsalis (USA, World Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
Holly seems to have it all, but there are troubling signs that all is not right as her life begins to spiral out of control. Both a stellar portrait of depression and a horrific drama, this haunting update on a classic tragedy comes from a new writer/director raised on the films of Bergman, Polanski, and Hitchcock.
Tammy & the T-Rex, dir. Stewart Raffill (USA, Original R-rated ‘Gore-Cut’ 35mm World Premiere)
From the director of MAC AND ME, comes a love story like no other. Starring Denise Richards and the late, great Paul Walker. Oh, and of course a T-Rex.
Total Recall, dir. Paul Verhoeven (USA, Retrospective – Film Guest in attendance!) Presented in 70mm.
“See you at the party, Richter!” Villain extraordinaire Michael Ironside in attendance for one of the greatest sci-fi action films of all time! From filmmaker Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenneger. You know this one!
Verotika, dir. Glenn Danzig (USA, World Premiere – Filmmaker in attendance!)
Featuring a plot shrouded in secrecy, a soundtrack composed entirely of new Danzig music, and based on the output of his long-running, mature comic book publishing company, Verotik—a compound of “violence” and “erotic”—this feature film anthology is Glenn Danzig’s directorial debut!
Villains, dirs. Dan Berk & Robert Olsen (USA, Midwest Premiere)
When a pair of painfully amateurish criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret in the basement that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out in this black-comic thriller.
Why Don’t You Just Die, dir. Kirill Sokolov (Russia, Midwest Premiere) – Presented by L’Étrange Festival
A detective brings together a terrible group of people in his apartment, each one of whom has a reason to want revenge. With plenty of dark Russian humor, this rip-roaring rampage of violence and gore plays more as an evil Looney Tunes than your basic gross-out experience. Presented by L’Etrange Festival in Paris.
Cinepocalypse runs from June 13th to June 20th at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre, and tickets are on sale at noon Central time this Friday May 10. You can get more festival details and ticket information at cinepocalypsegenrefest.com. If you can’t make it in person, watch this space for Biff Bam Pop’s coverage of all the carnage!