Genre fiction can be given short shrift in serious cinephile circles. Major award ceremonies like the Oscars and Golden Globes regularly overlook top-shelf horror and science-fiction (no doubt Westerns as well, when they come on the range. This has a trickle-down effect on the film festival circuit. Yes, there are fantastic genre festivals in their own right, namely Austin, TX’s Fantastic Fest or Horror Channel’s Fright Fest, but horror and SF films aren’t exactly a sizable percentage of the roster at Sundance and Cannes.
It’s always a treasure when festival curators deliver world-class genre films to audiences. It gives an air of legitimacy to genres which often have a hard time being taken seriously. Plus, it’s a curator’s job to have epicurean tastes.
Portland’s International Film Festival is delivering six compelling, interesting, unseen horror and science fiction films as part of PIFF After Dark, a special offshoot of the 41st Annual Portland International Film Festival. For six nights in February, the NW Film Center will be showing brand-new, mind-melting genre fare from all over the globe.
Here’s a brief preview & guide to whet your appetite.
PIFF After Dark Preview
Friday February 15, 2018: Bodied
Eminem guest-produced this exploration of hip-hop’s provocative underground. A UC Berkeley grad student goes into the underground to explore the use of racial slurs during rap battles.
Directed by Joseph Kahn, a hip-hop video director who’s directed videos for Snoop Dogg, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, and many, many more. He comes from a background in underground hardcore industrial music, as well. Should be interesting to see their explorations taken to the big screen.
Saturday February 16; Let The Corpses Tan
French film directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have been responsible for some of the most authentic psychotropic cinema of the 21st Century. Amer and The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears continue to tradition of surreal, subjective, psychedelic film in a way we haven’t seen much past 1984 or so.
Let The Corpses Tan is a heist film gone off the rails, as a gang of miscreants rob an armored truck. The gang are caught in a crossfire between the authorities and somebody else. Let The Corpses Tan has been described as Jodorowsky’s El Topo as directed by Ben Wheatley’s Free Fall.
Sunday February 17; Housewife
Director Can Evrenol continues his movie madness with Housewife, continuing the bloody trail he blazed with 2015’s acclaimed Baskin.
Housewife draws upon source material from H. P. Lovecraft and Anton LaVey to detail a young woman’s dissolution into derangement and depravity, with a softcore Eurohorror feel. Sounds unmissable.
Friday February 22; Five Fingers For Marseilles
Director Michael Matthew’s first feature delves into the complicated psycho-social dynamics of South Africa, following a Wild Western narrative. Five Fingers For Marseilles plays up the mythic quality of the slow-burn psychodrama, which always play out nicely in the immersive chapel of the cinema.
Saturday 23; Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse
This feature-length debut from German director Lukas Feigelfeld will appeal to those who fell under the folk horror spell of The Witch. Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse tells the tale of an ostracized woman in a small German village. This film has been compared to the works of David Lynch and Lars Von Trier, with minimal dialogue and a hallucinatory plotline. It has been said to be more seeped in black metal aesthetics than any movie in recent memory. For those who’ve burned out their copies of Begotten, Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse is likely to be a bleak new favorite.
Sunday February 24; The Endless
The Endless is poised to be a breakout sci-fi horror indie favorite. This strange, subjective film tells of two brothers who receive a cryptic videotape from the Southern California cult where they were raised. They return to their roots to discover that no one has aged, and the cult members are still waiting for their promises to be fulfilled.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s previous film, Spring, masterfully evoked the folk horror of the Italian landscape in vibrant, psychedelic lights and colors. The Endless promises to explore the psychogeographic currents of the American cult landscape. Slash Film claims, ““The Endless isn’t just terrific—it’s poised to be that breakout genre hit that It Follows and The Babadook were.
PIFF After Dark is taking place February 16 – 25 at the NW Film Center in the Whitsell Auditorium of the Portland Art Museum. Tickets are available for each film individually or you can buy a full festival pass here.
Operating out of Portland, Or., J makes electronic music and DJs as dessicant, hosting a weekly radio show on Freeform Portland, Morningstar: The Light In The Darkness. He also plays in the band Meta Pinnacle with his partner, the visual artist/illustrator Lily H. Valentine, with whom he co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective/production company.