Maybe you’ve heard about the Georgia film explosion. The state has seen a boom in activity in the last few years thanks in part to a tax rebate given to movie and TV productions. Georgia has become one of the top filming locations in the world for huge productions like Black Panther (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018) as well as TV shows like Ozark and The Walking Dead. The tax rebates and wide variety of potential filming locations are huge incentives, but credit also belongs to the enthusiasm in the state’s long standing film community, and a meaty chunk of that film community are horror nuts. Grizzly (1976), Squirm (1976), Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986), even Basket Case 3 (1991), all were filmed (at least in part) in the Peach State before the tax credit. It’s not unusual for a gathering of Georgia gorehounds to get into conversations about which Georgia cemetery Lucio Fulci used for City of the Living Dead (1980). All over the state you can attend horror conventions, participate in “zombie walks,” or go on filming location tours for shows like The Vampire Diaries. Horror is serious business down south and the Atlanta based Buried Alive Film Fest is so serious that they’re taking over the 7 Stages Cinema from the 14th through the 18th of November. For non-horrorfiles, that’s like having another Christmas in January!
Buried Alive has been providing the city with underground dripping wet gore cinema for the last 13 years. The festival leadership are hardcore horror film buffs with a passion for hunting down elusive, yet-unseen shock cinema. In the past they’ve shown films from Calvin Lee Reeder and Greg Nicotero, as well as Frank Henenlotter’s documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis: Godfather of Gore (2010). Festival director Blake Myers has been on the Atlanta horror scene for nearly his whole life in almost every aspect of film, from working on the crew for The Walking Dead, to directing his own films, to serving on the Georgia State University Cinefest programming board (incidentally, during his run on the Cinefest theater board I was able to see The Beyond (1981) and many other horror and exploitation films for the first time). That passion for the obscure has been directed into curating an excellent and diverse festival lineup of indie productions as well as foreign submissions.
I was allowed the pleasure of sampling a few films from this year’s opening night lineup and what I saw made me excited about seeing the rest of the festival. These films were unafraid to go in weird directions and many embraced the short film format – punchy ideas with economic delivery. Jason Sheedy’s Little Dreamer (2018) is raw, don’t-look-now tension, and humor replaces horror in Sarah K Reimers’ delightful interspecies romance, Bitten (2018). A night of short subjects would be nothing without some animation, and Suraya Raja’s stop-motion wonder from the UK, Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant (2017), explodes anxieties of everyday life. Of course many of them are made by and for horror fans that relish the opportunity to paint the screen red: Alex Noyer’s Conductor (2018) gets gory in a jaw dropping flash, and IIja Rautsi takes a stab at the black shirted men of horror culture in the Finnish Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre (2018). William Kioultzopoulos’ Tuesday’s Crowd (2017) and Tyler Macri’s What Comes From A Swamp (2018) both itch to be expanded into features.
Buried Alive takes pride in local talent and on Wednesday the 14th present the Sinema Challenge entries. The rules of the challenge are to complete a film in 13 days using prompts given by the festival to ensure that the work is original. The meta-horror anthology Dead By Midnight (2018) is a Georgia production revolving around a TV station where the staff wind up as unwilling participants in the programming. Other Georgia based filmmakers showing off their stuff this year are directors Brian Lonano, Chance White, Dayna Noffke, Colin S Wheeler, James Bickert, and Samuel Goodwin. Lonano’s Gwilliam (2015) is a fucked up little thing that deserves to be hunted down, so his BFF Girls (2018) should be a crowdpleaser. James Bickert’s new feature Amazon Hot Box (2018) is a women-in-prison film that pays tribute to Roger Corman’s New World Pictures era of exploitation. Noffke graces the festival with two selections this year, Teaser and The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Domesticity. Her films are keeping with the indie spirit of Buried Alive, she frequently collaborates with her own husband and children to create macabre wonderlands. Her young daughter is well on her way as filmmaker herself and can occasionally be found giving special effects demonstrations at local conventions.
The final day, Sunday the 18th, will feature an award ceremony and more films including SOV gorelord Todd Sheets’ new spectacle Clownado (2018). The 7 Stages Theater in Atlanta is usually knows as a theater venue, however they’ve been presenting a diverse range of performing arts for almost 40 years. It’s the kind of venue that is as likely to present a Sam Shepard play as it is to host evenings of experimental puppet theater, so audiences are open minded and accepting. Are they going to be accepting of an entrail-packed clown natural disaster feature? It remains to be seen. Get it? REMAINS?