Chattanooga Film Festival: Dirtbag (2022)

Directed and written by Karsten Runquist, this is a movie about how a man found a bag of dirt, became introduced to the world of dirt culture, met more dirt collectors, then nearly killed a young girl when the bag of dirt he’s desperate to give away gives her a peanut allergy. By the end, I worried that he’d developed a new addiction to plants, because my mom and wife have that.

You have to make a pretty great movie to keep my attention if it’s about bags or dirt for eleven minutes. Guess what? This one did exactly that.

Also: do not pick up lone bags of dirt.

The Chattanooga Film Fest ends tomorrow at 11:59 PM EDT. To get a Last Gasp Pass for just $32, visit the official site now.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Wild Card (2022)

Daniel (Billy Flynn) and Toni (Tipper Newton, who directed and wrote this short) have been matched by a video dating service that feels inspired by the Found Footage Festival Videomate videos. The date is awkward, as every time Daniel seems to impress Toni or gain ground, she tears him down, builds him up and then cuts him down all again, sometimes in the same moment.

So how does he make it back to her place? And if he’s the first date from the service she’s been on, why are there so many videotapes everywhere? And who is that threatening her on the answering machine?

Wild Card gets exciting right when it ends, right at the moment that it has been teasing and it demands that you watch more. I loved it and it got me — so please, give us that second date.

The Chattanooga Film Fest ends tomorrow at 11:59 PM EDT. To get a Last Gasp Pass for just $32, visit the official site now.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Am I the Tub (2022)

A young woman tries to grow and use the time of the COVID-19 lockdown to grow and change, yet as she struggles to be productive, time becomes obsessive and she loses touch with reality.

Directed, written and produced by Laura Sheperd and starring Harley Davies, this feels like a time and place that we’ve all been in over the past two and a half years. I actually can’t think of the last time I sat in a bathtub. Maybe that’s a guy thing to just take showers, huh?

The Chattanooga Film Fest ends tomorrow at 11:59 PM EDT. To get a Last Gasp Pass for just $32, visit the official site now.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters (2022)

Directed by Jim Demonakos (founder of Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con) and Kevin Konrad Hanna, this engaging documentary is about the world of Mike Mignola and the world he’s created around Hellboy.

Comic book and movie geeks — umm, speaking for myself, that’s the same audience — will enjoy hearing from Doug Jones, Guillermo del Toro, Patton Oswalt, Ron Perlman, Neil Gaiman, Mike Richardson, Art Adams and so many more about how the comic and movies came to life, but the true joy is in discovering how Adams bonded with Mignola and his brothers, how much of Hellboy is Mignola’s father (and himself) and how Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar was inspired to make Hellboy so personal.

There are also moments where the creator discusses how many times he felt defeated and how his family and later wife would help him overcome his fears. Even if you know nothing of the comics, the parts of this movie where Perlman breaks down remembering bonding with his father over movies (and getting the same opportunity to make something so personal as Hellboy), the way that Mignola and Del Toro overcame their artistic differences and how Mignola’s daughter ended up writing his favorite story (and how it keeps returning to his work), as well as how Mignola created a shared universe where others could have the same creative freedom that he found will emotionally reach you regardless of your level of comic or genre movie knowledge.

For those of us who know and love characters like Lobster Johnson and Ben Daimio, this is everything.

You can watch the films of the Chattanooga Film Festiva for half price now until Wednesday. Get your badge right here

Chattanooga Film Festival: True Believer (2022)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

Writer/director Alana Purcell’s debut feature True Believer brings the term “quirky indie comedy” to another level, in a decidedly good way. This tale of a fractured family and the supposedly supernatural property that two of them inherit is charming and, ultimately, brimming with positivity.

Rainbow (Ferelith Young) is her younger brother Paul’s (Vincent Jefferds) keeper. The two of them were in a car crash when they were kids. Rainbow suffered a major arm injury while Paul was in a coma for quite a while. Estranged from their mother, who caused the accidents, the now-adult siblings are simply trying to keep their heads above water when they find out that they have inherited their father’s rural property, said to have certain mystical qualities that draw some people to it for its alleged powers and others for its possible profit. Robyn (Adrienne Duncan) lived on the property and knew their father well, as she was one of his followers. Yes, Rainbow and Paul have much to learn about their dad and his land.

Young is terrific in her starring role, investing her character with a magnetic blend of pessimism and survival-mode verve. Jefferds nails his role as well; he plays the imaginative brother impressively in a role that could easily fall into schmaltz or corniness if overdone. Duncan leads a fun, rather sizable supporting cast.

Rather than sending up New Age beliefs or wringing family drama tropes for all that they are worth, Purcell avoids such low-hanging fruit and instead embraces alternative beliefs, emotional familial scars, and taking chances on new leases in life in a breezy, humorous manner. The result is a fun film that should leave viewers smiling. 

True Believer screens as part of Chattanooga Film Festival, which takes place online June 23–28, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.chattfilmfest.org/.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Three Ways to Dine Well (2022)

Written, produced and directed by Alison Peirse, an Associate Professor of Film at the University of Leeds who “is drawn to the untold stories of women working in film, both in front of and behind the camera,” Three Ways to Dine Well is the kind of horror documentary we need more of. It’s not concerned with celebrities telling us things like, “Well, that was the best sequel” and instead getting at the bloody heart, brains and soul of those behind the lens and on the screen with a meal before them.

Her director’s statement says “I had three aims for this film. First, I wanted the audience to discover that women worked in major creative roles on horror classics including The Shining, The Evil Dead and Rosemary’s Baby. Second, I wanted to illuminate little known horror films helmed by women, such as Nettie Peña’s Home Sweet Home, Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil and Jackie Kong’s Blood Diner. Third, I wanted to showcase the work of the women filmmakers who are now — finally — being written about in horror scholarship: Daria Nicolodi, Mary Lambert, Karen Arthur, Stephanie Rothman (and many more).”

The inspiration behind this documentary came from a lecture that Virginia Woolf gave at Cambridge University on the subject of women and fiction and the author’s summation that “a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

By exploring food causing trauma, women eating men and dining table horror scenes in more than seventy female-made horror films, this movie shows the horrific side of mastication alongside the fact that women have been represented behind the sinister lens of horror and it’s time more people knew that.

The films covered in this short documentary are:

Bakjwi/ThirstbeDevilBlaculaBlood DinerCat GirlChopping MallThe LureIn My SkinDark WatersDead AliveGinger SnapsRawHair WolfHappy Birthday to MeHausuHaxanHis House, Home Sweet HomeA Tale of Two SistersJennifer’s BodyJungle TrapThe Happiness of the KatakurisKuronekoKwaidanWolf Devil Woman, Les DiaboliquesEyes Without a FaceMeshes of the AfternoonMessiah of EvilMirror MirrorDearest SisterAuditionOffice KillerPeeping TomPersonaPet SemataryRavenousRosemary’s BabySaint MaudSavita Damodar ParanjpeSe7enSightseersSleepaway CampSuicide by SunlightSuspiriaTESTEmentThe BirdsThe Boogeyman, “The Box” chapter in XXThe Company of Wolves, The Evil Dead, The FacultyThe FogThe HowlingThe ItchingThe LighthouseThe Lost BoysThe Mafu CageThe NightThe People Under the Stairs, The ShiningThe Spiral StaircaseThe Texas Chainsaw MassacreThe Thirteenth GuestThe Undying MonsterThe Vampire’s GhostThe Velvet VampireTower of TerrorUsThe White ReindeerVampyrWolf’s Hole and Weird Woman.

You can check out all of the films on this list on the Letterboxd list I made to track them, as this movie did what all great film documentaries should: make me watch more movies.

Want to learn more about Alison Peirse? Visit her official site.

You can watch the films of the Chattanooga Film Festiva for half price now until Wednesday. Get your badge right here

Chattanooga Film Festival: Love You, Mama (2022)

Director and writer Alexandra Magistro has had some high profile behind the scenes jobs, working as an assistant to Mike Flanagan on Doctor Sleep and Midnight Mass. This is his first directing and writing credit and he tackles a tale filled with darkness, as a woman tries to get past the death of her father. Trust me, this is a subject we’ve dealt with over the past year as my dad is day to day post-stroke, dealing with dementia and becoming less like my father by the day while my wife lost hers to COVID-19 right before the holidays. There are days when you feel like you want to tell them something and they will never be there again. The grief is always there, it just changes with time.

Magistro also got a great cast for this: Samantha Sloyan and Matt Biedel from Midnight Mass and Madeleine Arthur. This is not a simple story to tell, but for a first effort, it’s quite well told.

You can watch the films of the Chattanooga Film Festiva for half price now until Wednesday. Get your badge right here.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Found (2022)

Director and writer Jean Grant is enjoying a first directing credit after previously writing A Short Film By Shauna Lee and Birth of a Pomegranate. With help from story consultant Tom Bissell (writer of The Disaster Artist), this is the story of Rowan (Marnee Carpenter), who is searching for her missing girlfriend, who very well may be not missing, as well as dealing with a UFO that seems to be interrupting every one of her calls.

It’s short, sweet and strange, which are three perfect words for what it should be. Bonus points for a banana flask that I would drink out of every five minutes.

You can watch the films of the Chattanooga Film Festiva for half price now until Wednesday. Get your badge right here.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Destination: Moon (2022)

Inspired by David Boone’s 1980 movie Invasion of the Aluminum People, this shot on Super 8 concerns two would-be astronauts getting ready to be part of the space race as two illuminated glasses-wearing secret men watch on as they sit before the earnest gaze of Bonzo and Reagan.

At one point, getting off Earth seemed like a good idea. Hell, it still seems like a good idea right now. And yet fifty-plus years past landing on the moon, we don’t really go back, like a theme park we saw enough of. I mean, you landed on it, planted a flag, hit a golf ball, what else can you do?

Nathaniel Hendricks also wrote a movie called Butt Fiesta, a movie in which a magic hat allows a man to have a very special episode-style flashback to the good and bad times his rear end has had. I think knowing that is reason enough for you to try this short.

You can watch the films of the Chattanooga Film Festiva for half price now until Wednesday. Get your badge right here.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Exo Sapien (2022)

Cass (Liza Scholtz) is the sole survivor of a ship that has crashed on a much darker version of her Earth. She has no memory of who she is and how she got there, only that she has a device constantly counting down to zero as she’s chased by miscreants, scavengers and something…else.

Exo Sapien looks gorgeous and has quite the pedigree, as director and writer James C. Williamson was also the writer of another bonkers movie from South Africa, Fried Barry.  His production company, The Department of Special Projects, is a film development and production company that specializes in auteur-driven genre films. You can learn more about them here.

This is just the first part of this story, as there’s a full length feature being planned. I can’t wait.

You can watch the films of the Chattanooga Film Festiva for half price now until Wednesday. Get your badge right here.