The Florida Film Festival, sponsored by Full Sail University, unveiled the Midnight Movies and Music Sidebar programs for the 2013 edition.
This year’s Music Films feature rock icon Doc Pomus, inspirational punk/reggae band Bad Brains, and theforefathers of the indie/alternative rock movement Big Star. For the Midnight Movie lovers, films include a group of Brits fending off zombies in London’s East End, a documentary about the first midnight movie star Divine, and two films that tackle the found footage genre, including one directed by graduates of Full Sail and UCF. This year’s Festival runs April 5-14, 2013 and is located in Central Florida.
COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES / UK (Director: Matthias Hoene) EAST COAST PREMIERE
Truth in advertising. A debut feature that ranks with the best zombie comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Dead Alive, COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES is an outrageously bloody and irreverent good time. Two brothers, Terry and Andy, hatch a half-witted plan to rob a bank in a last-ditch effort to save a retirement home where their grandfather Ray (Alan Ford, Snatch) resides from the clutches of condo developers. As they gather their misfit gang for the ultimate heist, a zombie outbreak sweeps London, pitting their internal group against each other. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Ray is fending off cannibalistic hordes with the help of Peggy (ex-Bond girl Honor Blackman, Goldfinger) and a not-so-well equipped elderly group of survivors wielding walkers, wheelchairs, and crutches. Terry and Andy wanted to help their grandfather but they never thought it would come down to shotguns and chainsaws. Director Matthias Hoene and screenwriter James Moran (Doctor Who, Severance) deliver a unique take on the genre that is full of wit and enough zombie kills to keep the most gore-thirsty viewer satisfied.
GHOST TEAM ONE/ USA (Directors: Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser) EAST COAST PREMIERE
Sergio and Brad are a pair of hopeless losers who are just looking to get laid. But after experiencing some paranormal activity during a house party, they hook up with a beautiful girl (who has a secret of her own) to try to prove that the haunting is legit. Unfortunately, these stoned-out morons haven’t got a clue about what to do when the real ghost of an Asian prostitute shows up—just as horny as they are. A raucous and raunchy twist on the found-footage subgenre which plays out like an episode of Harold and Kumar meets The Exorcist, GHOST TEAM ONE is equal parts scary movie and sex comedy with a “climax” that you will have to see to believe.
I AM DIVINE/ USA (Director: Jeffrey Schwarz) EAST COAST PREMIERE
Harris Glenn Milstead was an overweight boy growing up in a mid-‘60s Baltimore suburb. A misfit hairdresser, he was teased at school and desperate for attention, with little hope for fame and fortune. However, thanks to a chance encounter with a young man named John Waters, less than a decade later the world would know him by another name: Divine. Called a “cinematic terrorist,” Divine singlehandedly spit in the face of everything that was holy in the name of unconditional celluloid anarchy. The very first midnight movie star, Divine was a cross-dressing, shit-eating, disco-singing, 300-pound sex symbol that obliterated the status quo by redefining just how outrageous, dangerous, and monstrous anyone could be and still be adored by millions. Jeffrey Schwarz (Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, FFF 2008) takes a very personal look into the meteoric rise of Divine, from his days as a high school outcast to his undisputed reign on stages and screens all over the world, and ultimately his tragic death from heart failure at 42. A truly courageous story that is empowering,bawdy, bittersweet, and all-at-once simply divine.
V/H/S/2/ USA/CANADA/INDONESIA (Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, and Jason Eisener) FLORIDA PREMIERE
Two private investigators are hired to look for a missing college student. When they break into his house they find piles of static televisions and stacks of cryptically-labeled VHS tapes scattered about. Naturally they have to pop in a video. Uh oh… From the demented minds that brought you last year’s V/H/S comes this all-new (and improved!) anthology of dread, madness, gore, and very dark humor. A veritable all-star lineup of underground cult horror and genre filmmakers including Full Sail graduate Adam Wingard (You’re Next), UCF graduates Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project), Gareth Huw Evans (The Raid: Redemption) and Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) join forces in this awesome found-footage omnibus that delights in being bloodier, funnier, and way more intense than its predecessor. Ghosts, zombies, cult leaders, and aliens are the subjects of “Phase 1 Clinical Trial,” “A Ride in the Park,” “Safe Haven,” and “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” each one ecstatically going further over the top than the last. Covering a wide range of nightmares with equal parts jolts and laughs, V/H/S/2 should thrill even the most die-hard Midnight Movies fan.
AKA DOC POMUS / CANADA (Directors: Peter Miller and Will Hechter)
“Save the Last Dance for Me”
“This Magic Moment”
“Teenager in Love”
“Viva Las Vegas”
“Can’t Get Used to Losing You”
You know his songs, now hear the story. Jerome Felder (aka Doc Pomus) was the most unlikely of rock and roll icons. Paralyzed with polio as a child, the Jewish, Brooklyn-born Felder reinvented himself first as blues shouter, then as one of the most prolific songwriters of the early rock and roll era. Although confined to crutches and later a wheelchair, Pomus refused to be conquered by self-pity. When he married his striking blond wife and she danced with everyone at the wedding except the crippled Pomus, he dug deep and wrote “Save the Last Dance for Me.” Later in life, when the hits dried up, he selflessly mentored young songwriters and served as a fierce advocate for downtrodden R&B musicians like Little Jimmy Scott, whose career was revived by Doc from beyond the grave. Co-directors Miller and Hechter have crafted a deft tribute that seemingly involves half the music industry—including Lou Reed reading Doc’s personal journals—to spotlight an extraordinary career that is as influential as it is inspiring.
BAD BRAINS: A BAND IN DC / USA (Directors: Benjamen Logan and Mandy Stein) SOUTHEAST PREMIERE
How did a bunch of black Rastafarians influence a generation of hardcore punks? That’s the mystery explored here. What the Sex Pistols were to English punk, Bad Brains were to American hardcore. At their early peak with songs like “Pay To Cum,” they were a four-man sledgehammer of sound—intense and musically complex, not to mention faster and louder than anything ever pressed to vinyl. Then they swerved hard, introducing booming reggae to the mix, creating a punk/reggae hybrid that inspired groups like the Beastie Boys, Living Colour, No Doubt, Fugazi, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. That should have been their payday. Instead, it launched a 30-year spiral of bad record deals, multiple break-ups, missed opportunities, and the ongoing mental illness of their eccentric lead singer. Despite it all, they continue to tour and record, outlasting many of their more successful acolytes. Using rare archival footage, band interviews, commentary from Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Ric Ocasek, and Adam Yauch, plus original comic book-style animations to fill in the narrative gaps, co-directors Logan and Stein have created a rock-doc unlike any other about a band that was (and continues to be) unlike any other.
BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME / USA (Directors: Drew Denicola and Olivia Mori) SOUTHEAST PREMIERE
The history of rock and roll is littered with epic commercial failures, perhaps none more epic (or ironic) than Big Star. In the early-‘70s this Memphis combo created three quirky, brilliant albums that ranged from glorious Beatles-inspired rock to feedback-drenched folk songs. Stymied by miserable distribution and imploding record labels, the albums vanished and the band collapsed. But ever so slowly, their legend grew, fueled by people would stumble across their albums in bargain bins, fall in love, and pass the secret onto friends. Big Star fans were a cult society that included R.E.M., The Replacements, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, and many, many others. Now, decades later, all three albums are revered as masterpieces, listed among Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and Big Star is cited as among the most influential bands ever, forefathers of the indie/alternative rock movement. Even so, their story has never been properly told until now. The beautiful NOTHING CAN HURT ME is an insightful and profoundly moving account of Big Star that’s absolutely worthy of their uncompromised legacy. Fans can rejoice. Everyone else should listen and learn about rock’s greatest cult phenomenon.