On Friday, October 30th, a packed house sat in their seats at The Revue to watch the first Zombie Short Film Festival… and they found it to be good. In fact, they found it to be a great little zombie festival with high-quality shorts, a great jury and a lot of fun to be had by all. Especially on the eve of Halloween.
There were 10 short films on showcase at the first-ever Zombie Short Film Festival and none of them disappointed. The shorts ran in two parts, separated by a short intermission during which the audience could win Zombieland related prizes by answering zombie-related trivia. The festival staff also created great ambiance by having the ‘Zombie Survival Guide’ book on CD playing in the bathrooms.
The Skin of Your Teeth: Dan Gingold – This was a short film about a couple living in the countryside during a zombie outbreak. They grow their own food and have a specific daily routine that keeps them safe. When their friends show up, things start to change for the little group – and not for the better. This short was great. It was simple, it was realistic, it was scary. I could absolutely see it being adapted into a feature film – and it would make a great one.
The Lift: Mark McCarthy, Fintan Karney – A fun British short about a guy who gives a ride to a guy at what is clearly the outset of a zombie apocalypse. The short had some laughs, some tension and was all around fun. Plus its opening shot was an homage to Night of the Living Dead. Who can argue with that?
Keg of the Dead: Jim Dirschberger & Paul Schilens – One of my favorite shorts of the night, this is the story of a pizza delivery guy who delivers a bunch of pizza to some bullies at a frat house, only to discover that a zombie outbreak is happening right on their doorstep – and the only thing that can stop them is beer! This short was flat out hilarious and has lots of great zombie shots, plus at least two cathartic awesome zombie kills. The special effects on this film were excellent and this is a short that really needs to be DVD’d and sold immediately. My favorite part is that the frat is named ‘AMB’: Alpha Master Beta. Say that fast, then laugh yourself silly.
ZZZZOMBIES: David King – This is an amazing little short that was made with overhead projected paper cut outs. It was flat out incredible. It’s about a guy who gets up and is going to work and has a series of near-zombie experiences without ever knowing it. It tells its story simply, clearly and with lots of humor. Plus it’s really quite a short short, so it tells its story with great efficiency. One of the evening’s highlights for sure.
Bum of the Dead: Geoff Whitman, Trevor Townsend, Connie Daye, and Rich Bisquera – A local Toronto production, this is the story of a bum trying to light his cigarette in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Funny and a little scary at the same time, this is yet another excellent showing on the part of Toronto zombie short films.
ZOMBEER: Marjan Westbrock – A Dutch short film about – what else? – beer. A brewery employee, their best brewmaster, is banished to the night shift for being an alcoholic. When he falls into the vat while trying to get a drink, a “special” brew is made that turns everyone who drinks it into zombies. This short was funny, charming, a little scary and all around awesome. It was my favorite film of the night.
Housewarming: Lee Marquardt – A film that used fashion dolls to tell its story, a young couple have just moved into a new house. When an asteroid lands in the graveyard across the street, turning all the corpses into zombies, they attack the house and kill one of its owners. With her lover dead, one of the owners cuts of her lover’s head, then kills all the other zombies. This was a good short, but very unsettling. Watching fashion dolls, something that are normally so adorable and fun, hack each other’s heads off with a machete was more than a little unnerving. Excellent use of the gothic.
They Shall Pay With Rivers of Blood: Travis Hopkins, Matthew Badiali, and Kristina Anstiss – The second of the local shorts, this is the story of a zombie-hunting ninja. It’s short, to the point and has an awesome punchline (which I will not tell you, thus ruining it). Check it out if you can and support some great local talent.
The Zombie: April Campbell (featuring Randy Smith) – A very short short about a zombie looking for a snack, finding it and then suffering the consequences. I liked this one very much because it was short, to the point, and did some things I didn’t expect.
Deadspiel: Pat Corcoran & Jay Molloy – Well, not enough good can be said about Deadspiel. The third of the festival’s local films, Deadspiel is no stranger to festivals. Premiering at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival two years ago, it has been shown at the George Romero ceremony during TIFF and it was a sure bet at the Zombie Short Film Festival. Always fun to watch, it tells the story of a zombie curling team playing against a living curling team. Hilarious and oh-so-Canadian, you really have to love the short.
The jurors, artist Rob Sacchetto, actor Mike “Nug” Nahrgang of Evil Dead: The Musical , and Alyson Court who voices Claire Redfield in the Resident Evil games, chose Skin of Your Teeth, Zombeer and Deadspeil as their three finalists to win the Z’omb d’Or and a $500 cash prize. The finalists were then put to an audience appreciation vote and Deadspeil won by a landslide.
The festival hopes to be back next year and I hope that too. It’s a great festival and a good time. Obviously a lot of work was put in by all involved and I’m really looking forward to next year.