Cinepocalypse, Chicago’s outstanding film festival focused on genre fare running from the terrifying to the hilarious, returns for what promises to be another amazing edition at the Music Box Theatre from June 13 to June 20. Among the stellar lineup of shorts and features, from eight world premieres to a few old favorites, are the following offerings that have members of your Grue-Crew wringing our hands in anticipation. (Descriptions of films are from, or adapted from, the festival’s official website, linked at the end of this article.)
Culture Shock (Into the Dark, Episode 10)
From director Gigi Saul Guerrero, this Hulu special presentation in partnership with Blumhouse Television follows a young Mexican woman in pursuit of the American Dream who crosses illegally into the United States, only to find herself caught up in an American nightmare. From writers James Benson, Efren Hernandez and Guerrero, Culture Shock stars Martha Higareda, Richard Cabral, Shawn Ashmore, and Barbara Crampton. Into The Dark is a horror series consisting of 12 feature-length installments, with a new program released monthly and inspired by a holiday. This episode is scheduled to premiere on Hulu on July 4 for Independence Day. Re-Home, a new horror short from filmmaker Izzy Lee, a Gruesome Magazine favorite (see reviews of four of her previous shorts here) will play before Culture Shock. Guerrero stars in the short, so it looks to be a perfect pairing.
Ghost Killers Vs. Bloody Mary
In director/cowriter Fabrício Bittar’s horror comedy, four YouTubers with expertise in supernatural events seek recognition from their viewers while solving the urban legend of the Bathroom Blonde Case, involving a spirit that haunts a high school bathroom in Brazil. Front loaded with over-the-top humor, gore, high school movie clichés, and horror film references, including homages to Brazil’s own Coffin Joe, the film revels in its silliness as eagerly as it bathes viewers in blood.
In the latest twisted work from Lucky McKee, the director of May and The Woman, Chloe, a single mother in a relationship has her life turned upside down when her younger sister comes home after a long, unexplained absence. Though the younger sibling seems to want to settle in with her sister and 17-year-old niece, she’s actually a deeply disturbed woman who has a sinister agenda regarding anyone who gets between her and her big sister. Starring Thora Birch, Caitlin Stasey, Macon Blair, and Sasha Frolova.
The Last to See Them
In this haunting, tense and utterly devastating masterpiece from Italian first-time writer/director Sara Summa, a family of four go about their daily, seemingly normal lives, as they prepare for the eldest daughter’s impending wedding. The Durati family, who live in an isolated house amidst a captivating arid landscape, both protected and cut off from everything, are connected to the outside world by a single road that runs all the way to their olive tree plantation. Today, as time flies by in this secluded reality, what Dora, Matteo, Renzo and Alice Durati don’t know is that this is their last day of life.
Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala helm this psychologically unsettling slow burner about a young woman and her two introverted, soon-to-be new stepchildren, who find themselves snowed in at the family’s remote winter cabin. Just as the three begin to warm to each other, strange and frightening events take place as the mysteries of her dark past begin to surface, as do the losses that seem to haunt them all — concluding in shocking final moments. This one has been receiving great reviews and word-of-mouth during the early part of its festival run. Starring Riley Keough, Jaeden Lieberher, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, and Richard Armitage.
Holly seems to have it all: two kids, a nice house, a good job as a teacher, and a husband with an upwardly mobile career. But there are troubling signs that all is not right in her world, thanks to a combination of insomnia and the disturbing dreams that result from the medication she takes for it. But are they even dreams, and what is it that finally sends her spiraling out of control? Both a stellar portrait of depression and a horrific drama, this haunting update on a classical tragedy comes from Dean Kapsalis, a new writer/director who was raised on the films of Polanski, Hitchcock, and Bergman. Azura Skye, Bryce Pinkham, and Ashley Bell head up the cast.
Tammy and The T-Rex: Original R-rated ‘Gore-Cut’ 35mm world premiere
Promising to be one of the biggest jaw-droppers at Cinepocalypse, this tale of true love and sci-fi madness as old as time absurdly unfurls as an evil scientist implants the brain of Michael (a 21-year-old, babyfaced Paul Walker), a murdered high school student, into a robotic T-Rex, who swiftly escapes and goes on a wild mission to violently kill off his high school tormentors and reunite with his sweetheart, Tammy (Denise Richards). Director Stewart Raffill’s movie plays like a ’90s Disney Channel offering — until the decapitations and head crushings begin. The 35mm print is courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.
Along with these promising offerings are a bevy of other amazing films and special events, including Joe Bob Brigg’s live presentation “How Rednecks Saved Hollywood,” a fast-and-furious two hours with America’s drive-in movie critic as he uses over 200 clips and stills to review the history of rednecks in America as told through the classics of both grindhouse and mainstream movies, and “Gwar Vs. Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare,” in which Gwar band members BälSäc and Sleazy P. participate in a career-spanning, moderated conversation and Q&A, and live-riff John Fasano’s 1987 Canadian cult classic Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare, starring (and written by) fellow rock god Thor.
For more information on Cinepocalypse, visit https://musicboxtheatre.com/events/cinepocalypse-2019.