Your SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL Hit List Sorted!
SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL (SUFF) returns for its eleventh year from September 14th to 17th for four days and nights of features, shorts, workshops and a whole lot more. To make your life easier and as genre-packed as possible, we’ve put a together a hit list of everything you need see!
A DARK SONG | Friday September 15th 10.30pm & Sunday September 17th 1pm
Dir. Liam Gavin | Horror | 100mins | Ireland | 2016 | Sydney Premiere
An unusual story of a single black magic ritual that takes place over the course of six months, A DARK SONG heralds the arrival of an individual and idiosyncratic voice within the horror genre. Structured around a single, grueling ceremony, the film follows two strangers as locked in a remote house, testing the limits of their physical and mental breaking points by trying to conjure a guardian angel who will grant them each an impossible wish. Catherine Walker stars as Sophia, a woman drowning in her grief over the death of her young son.
ASSHOLES | Friday September 15h 6.30pm & Sunday September 17th 3pm
Dir. Peter Vack | Comedy | 74mins | USA | 2017 | Sydney Premiere
From the brilliantly twisted mind of multitalented actor-cum-director Peter Vack (I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS, M.F.A) comes debut feature ASSHOLES, a low-fi masterpiece destined for cult status. Ushering mumblecore into the realms of not only the weird but also the outright perverse, the film follows Adah (Betsey Brown) and Aaron (Jack Dunphy), recovering drug addicts who remain trapped in the lifestyle of hard partying and hedonistic temptation that they’ve built for themselves.
THE CRAZIES | Saturday September 16th 10pm
Dir. George A. Romero | Horror | 130mins | USA | 1973| Australian Premiere (Restoration)
Celebrating the life and work of horror maestro George A. Romero (1940 – 2017), SUFF is proud to present the Australian premiere of his restored cult classic THE CRAZIES. Set in the small suburban town of Evans City outside of Pittsburgh (a signature locale in almost all of Romero’s films), his unnerving effort charts the aftermath of an accidental release of a military biological weapon that transforms normal citizens into violent homicidal maniacs. Bouts of insanity quickly lead to murder and rioting, until the US army turns up – and things really start going to hell. Ambiguous to the end, The Crazies is a vastly under-appreciated work in Romero’s oeuvre — a brilliant allegory that doesn’t distinguish between the madness induced by infection, and the mass hysteria caused by martial law and the military’s shoot-to-kill measures. As in so many of the horror maestro’s movies, the most alarming aspect is the fine line between sanctioned and deviant behaviour, and between us and them, themes still as pertinent today as ever before.
THE ENDLESS | Saturday September 16th 12pm
Dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead | Horror | 111mins | USA | 2017 | Sydney Premiere
After narrowly escaping a UFO death cult as children, brothers Aaron and Justin (directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) are still living hand-to-mouth almost a decade later. When they receive a mysterious message in the mail that seems to be from their former ‘family’, Aaron insists that they investigate — even though the protective Justin remains reluctant. Soon, Aaron is drawn back under the thrall of the cult’s intensely magnetic leader Hal (Tate Ellington), while Justin is still uneasy. Then inexplicable happenings begin to occur in the group’s desert encampment, forcing both Aaron and Justin to conclude that the cult’s strange and supernatural axioms might just be proving true. The question is: will they unearth the cult’s mysterious secret in time to prevent history from repeating itself? Following their breakout Resolution and sleeper hit Spring, Benson and Moorhead’s The Endless is this year’s most chilling, intensely original genre hybrid — a part-horror, part-sci-fi package of creeping dread that skirts the supernatural – this will keep you guessing right until the very end.
THE EVIL WITHIN | Saturday September 16th 10pm & Sunday September 17th 5pm
Dir. Andrew Getty | Horror | 98mins | USA | 2017 | Sydney Premiere
With an origin story almost as whacked out as the film itself, The Evil Within is an equally hilarious and confounding, discombobulatingly singular vision that has to be seen to be believed. Directed by Andrew Getty, the unemployed, meth-addicted heir to the five-billion-dollar J. Paul Getty oil fortune, it represents his attempt to fulfil a life-long dream to become a legendary horror filmmaker. Self-funding the movie to the tune of $6 million dollars, shooting began in 2002 and stretched out over five years, with Getty personally creating all of the sets, camera rigs and elaborate animatronic robots. Post-production then lagged for almost a decade as the eccentric wannabe director laboured over every single frame before an overdose in 2015 ended his life. Inspired by the debilitating nightmares Getty experienced as a child, the story centres on Dennis, an intellectually impaired man who is compelled by his own demonic reflection to kill everyone around him. The Evil Within is a drug-fuelled, politically incorrect trip down the rabbit hole. Imagine a surreal fever dream that merges the narrative stylings of Tommy Wiseau with the visual ambition of David Lynch, and you’d start to get close to the one-of-a-kind viewing experience that is THE EVIL WITHIN.
FAGS IN THE FAST LANE | Saturday September 16th 2pm
Dir. Josh ‘Sinbad’ Collins | Comedy | 90mins | Australia | 2017 | Sydney Premiere
Fans of trash-art lo-fi cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School will fall head-over-studded-stiletto heels for the debauched deviant charm of Fags In The Fast Lane. When Beau and his Herculean sidekick set off to avenge a spree of violent attacks on their fellow gays, they’re waylaid on a vital mission from his beloved mama, Kitten. It turns out her GILF bordello has been robbed by the giantess leader of a grotesque burlesque show, and Beau must set things right. With the help of a lethal cross-dressing Persian Princess and a Bollywood eunuch assassin, this unlikely team of avengers set off to retrieve Kitten’s beloved jewels and magical golden phallus in a full-throttle, rock ‘n’ roll feast of camp destruction and dangerous dance numbers.
IT STAINS THE SAND RED | Saturday September 16th 6pm
Dir. Colin Minihan | 92mins | USA | 2017 | Sydney Premiere
On a lonely, two-lane highway in southern Nevada, Molly and her boyfriend Nick have put Las Vegas – and the encroaching zombie apocalypse – in their rearview mirror. Alas, during an unexpected stop, a lone traveler stumbles into sight, and Nick scrambles for his gun in the glove compartment. Poor aim, an empty clip and a rut in the sand leave the couple trapped in their car, and face to face with their darkest fears. When things take a turn for the worst, Molly will have to summon the strength she never knew she had to face both the zombies and the demons that have chased her all her life. As she’s pursued by the threatening yet slow-moving creatures relentlessly on her trail, the film becomes a character study of victims, both monster and human — a zombie humanised with a happy past, and a woman desensitised by a more troubled one. Featuring a powerhouse performance from lead Brittany Allen, writer-director Colin Minihan, one half of the Vicious Brothers (GRAVE ENCOUNTERS), offers a unique and visceral take on the classic zombie narrative.
KFC | Friday September 15th 8.30pm & Saturday September 16th 8pm
Dir. Lê Bình Giang | Horror | 69mins | Vietnam | 2016 | Australian Premiere
A necrophilic doctor, a man wearing headphones and a bunch of cannibals: they’re just a few of the characters in this bizarre debut by director Lê Bình Giang, which explores the cyclical effect of violence. And, a word of warning — this Vietnamese body horror flick has a late-night slot for a very good reason. Pure evil exists and it lives in Hanoi, in a small house that has been partly converted into an operating-theatre-cum-torture-chamber. Here, patients are hacked up into bite-size pieces, then posthumously raped by a cannibalistic doctor and his taciturn sidekick. Of course, this amoral violence inevitably passes down to the next generation, setting a cycle of cruelty in motion. Deeming this out-of-control orgy of revenge ‘bizarre’ is an understatement, with cryptic dialogue and plastic, almost detached depictions of deliberate torment only adding to the unsettling effect. Certainly not for the faint-hearted, KFC is art-house gore so out on its own that it’s almost impossible to describe. If Fellini had made a cannibal horror flick, it might have looked something like this.
KUSO (Closing Night Film) | Sun September 17th 7.30pm
Dir. Flying Lotus | Comedy | 107mins | USA | 2017 | Australian Premiere
Directed by musical visionary Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison), written by demented demi-god David Firth (creator of SALAD FINGERS) and Zach Fox, and starring the likes of Hannibal Buress, Tim Heidecker and George Clinton, KUSO presents a mind-bending freakshow of a debut feature — that it officially set the record for walk-outs at this year’s Sundance Film Festival should put you in the right mindset. Eschewing anything that even resembles standard narrative structure, KUSO loosely frames four interwoven vignettes through the prism of a post-apocalyptic California, with an earthquake eradicating the majority of humanity, and those who remain left scarred and covered in hideous boils. Broadcast through a makeshift network of discarded televisions, Ellison travels between screens and aftershocks to delve into the twisted lives of those that survived. This outrageous fever dream counts influences all the way from David Cronenberg’s most gruesome body horror and David Lynch’s groundbreaking animated work to the kind of thing that might melt your brain at the latest hours of an Adult Swim programming block.
MEATBALL MACHINE KODOKO | Saturday September 16th 10pm
Dir. Yoshihiro Nishimura | Action/Comedy/Horror | 108mins | Japan | 2017 | Australian Premiere
If you only see one utterly insane, blood-and-guts-soaked, action-packed Japanese cyberpunk comedy about villainous alien Necroborgs turning unsuspecting humans into hyper-violent killing machines this year, make it MEATBALL MACHINE KODOKO. It doesn’t matter which door he knocks on, debt collector Yuji will not see any money. Insults, ridicule and laughter come in abundance, however, and then there’s the beating he can expect from his boss when he comes back empty-handed yet one more time. There’s also the cancer, which has reduced his life span to a mere three months. In his circumstances, an alien invasion mightn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, especially after an attack by the parasitic Necroborgs leave him with super powers. On the outside, Yuji looks completely different, but on the inside his mind is still his own – now it’s time to get some revenge on everyone who has ever done him wrong.
PREVENGE | Friday September 15th 8.30pm & Saturday September 16th 8pm
Dir. Alice Lowe | Black Comedy | 88mins | UK | 2016 | Sydney Premiere
A pitch-black comedy about a pregnant woman whose unborn child psychically propels her to commit ghastly acts of murder. Ruth is seven months pregnant, and, like many expectant mothers, believes that her baby is speaking to her through an inner voice — the only difference being that her misanthropic tot is advising her to go on a killing spree. Still mourning the death of her husband just months earlier, Ruth allows her baby to push her on a quest to dispatch those who stand in her way, from a pet shop owner to a DJ to a lonely businesswoman. Through all of the carnage, Ruth’s bulging belly serves as a perfect alibi; after all, who would ever suspect a cold-blooded killer could be lurking behind the sweet, glowing visage of a visibly pregnant woman? Gleefully defying the usual depictions of saintly motherhood, Lowe (who shot the film when she was seven months pregnant herself) delivers a darkly humorous directorial debut, slyly testing societal preconceptions with a grizzly exploration of life, death and the space in between.
TRAGEDY GIRLS | Friday September 15th 8.30pm & Saturday September 16th 2pm
Dir. Tyler Macintyre | Horror/Comedy | 90mins | USA | 2017
At once giddily postmodern and subtly disturbing, this hilarious Gen Y splatter-farce follows social media-obsessed high school teens Sadie and McKayla, who are fixated on becoming famous — before a serial killer moves into town. Amateur vloggers looking for their 15 minutes of fame and frustrated that things don’t move fast enough for their ruthless ambitions, they decide to take matters into their own hands. Deliriously anarchic in its deconstruction of genre, TRAGEDY GIRLS is a gleeful must for horror diehards, nodding to everything from CARRIE to CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST while delivering fantastically gooey practical splatter FX in spades.
For further programming details visit the official SUFF site right here!