Film Descriptions

Sorry folks, due to a routing error at Fed Ex we will be unable to screen TRIAD ELECTION as tonight's closing feature - we will show THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS in its place.

New England Premiere! Director Will be Present!
Friday, October 20 at 10:00pm
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(2006) dir James Felix McKenney w/Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney [83 min]

Somewhere in the distant future, The Girl (Christine Spencer) is alone. She is the last of her people, the others having died in a generations-long war that she continues to fight with the assistance of a group of antiquated robot helpers and soldiers.

Her only connection to her long-dead people is a collection of recorded journal entries made by the scientist (Angus Scrimm of Phantasm) who cared for her as a baby. His is the only friendly human face she’s ever seen. The regular transmissions from her enemy’s leader (Brenda Cooney) are always filled with threats and taunts. The girl responds to these invasions by attack of her own, carried out by her mechanical soldiers on the contaminated surface where no human can survive… Men started this war. The machines will finish it.

“AUTOMATONS isn’t for every one. It’s not going to hold it’s own against a sci-fi horror classic like ALIEN. This film is for me and people like me who enjoy fantasy that is personal, hand-made and a little violent. I like to think that it’s perfect Midnight Movie faire or perhaps for watching on TV on a lazy Saturday afternoon. No clothes hanger required.” – director James Felix McKenney

“AUTOMATONS is a smart, thought-provoking tale equipped with the moody ambience and intellectual integrity of a classic episode of The Outer Limits. That's high praise indeed.” – Steven Puchalski, Shock Cinema

New England Premiere!
Saturday, October 21 at 5:30pm, Sunday, October 22 at 9:30pm
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(2006) dir Christiane Cegavske [71 min]

Thirteen years in the making, Christiane Cegavske’s BLOOD TEA AND RED STRING is a handmade stop-motion fairy tale for adults and the definition of a labor-of-love. Cegavske is the writer, director, and cameraperson. The only thing she isn’t responsible for in the film is the haunting score by Mark Growden. And, although the influence of artists like Jan Svenkmajer and David Lynch are clear, this is a remarkably idiosyncratic work – a micro-budget stop-motion animation film shot on 16mm in a world of computer animated megaplex hits.

The dialogue free film tells the tale of the struggle between the aristocratic White Mice and the rustic Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak over the doll of their heart’s desire. The Mice commission the Oak Dwellers to create a beautiful doll for them. When she is complete, the Creatures fall in love with her and refuse to give her up. Resorting to thievery the Mice abscond with her in the middle of the night. “Through the obscure woods, past cellophane fountains, beneath monster spiders and a glowing moon, the sylvan Creatures wend in pursuit. (Nathan Lee, The New York Times)”

Meet fantastical creatures and view dazzling scenery as the Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak journey through this mystical land to reclaim their love. See the mice descend into debauchery as they become drunk on blood tea! See what happens when the Oak Dwellers eat the yellow fruit! A disturbing and wondrous adventure.

“BLOOD TEA AND RED STRING is wondrously obsolete, a scruffy rebuttal to the digital suavity and celebrity shenanigans of the Pixar era… Old-fashioned as it is, this dark fairy tale is perfectly au courant…” – Nathan Lee, The New York Times

“A Lynchean fever dream on Beatrix Potter terrain…as lovingly crafted as it is unsettlingly sour-sweet” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

Special Live Performance!
Saturday, October 21 at 10:00pm
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Clawjob will be joined onstage by an army of talented and merciless musicians, including the noble men of Tristan da Cunha and many of the album's original vocalists! The show will feature futuristic costumes (with real white pants!), an eye-charring light show, and more live rock music than you can possibly handle.

Opening for Clawjob will be about an hour's worth of science fiction short films, selected by the Brattle Theatre in conjunction with the Boston Fantastic Film Festival.

This unprecedented pairing of space film and space rock, presented jointly by The Brattle Theatre and NEST2006, is not to be missed!

On The Web: Claw Job | Trista da Cunha | NEST2006

New England Premiere!
Sunday, October 22 at 7:30pm, Monday October 23 at 5:30pm
Trailer | Tickets | Full Schedule
(2006) dir Andrew Neel & Luke Meyer w/Skip Lipman, Kenyon Wells, Daniel McCarthur, Rebecca Thurmond [89 min]

“In the soccer fields of Baltimore, there wages a war between rival countries in the domain of Darkon. This is a time of high adventure. This is also a time of dedicated role playing gamers beating the spaghettios out of each other with foam covered weapons.” – Eric Campos, Film Threat

This highly entertaining documentary chronicles the lives of a group of regular guys and gals in Baltimore who periodically get together as inhabitants of the world of Darkon, a fantasy realm where knights and wizards clash with ogres and dark elves and, frequently, each other. This is the world of LARP, or Live Action Role Playing – inspired by Dungeons and Dragons but oh so much more. In Darkon, these average folks spend much of their free time building and maintaining their own improvised weapons and armor and planning and fighting battles that are at once epic in imagination and commitment. In other hands this documentary could have been played for laughs or dried up with too much backstory but filmmakers Neel and Meyer wisely choose to focus on the trials and tribulations of two characters embroiled in a struggle for power within the factions that make up the larger nation of Darkon.

In particular it is Skip Lipman (known as Bannor in Darkon) who truly steals the show. In real life, Skip is a stay-at-home father and committed husband, in Darkon he is a proud and successful warrior who begins to doubt the intentions and morals of his liege, Keldar (Kenyon Wells in real life). Against all odds, Bannor leads a rebellion against Keldar and it is this epic struggle for power that forms the narrative of the fantasy within the documentary. And it is the way the real life people are helped and changed by their experiences in the game that provides a depth of emotion to the documentary itself. Recreating some scenes with multiple cameras, sweeping cinematography, and a stirring score, the filmmakers use the creative reach of film to help bring us further into sympathetic harmony with Darkon and its residents. Winner of the audience award for Best Documentary at the SXSW Film Festival 2006, this is a must see for both the fantasy initiated and role-playing illiterate.

“*****!” – Film Threat

Boston Premiere! Indie Ghost Story!
Thursday, October 19 at 10:00pm
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(2005) dir Brian Avenet-Bradley w/Cheri Christian, Greg Thompson, Scott Hodges [91 min]

Shot in rural Georgia, including the abandoned Floyd County Prison, DARK REMAINS is an atmospheric and terrifying ghost story with influences ranging from Hitchcock to the latest wave of Japanese Horror.

"After their daughter is brutally murdered in their home, a grieving young couple excapes the city to find solace in the mountains. Allen tries to stay busy with work and Julie forces herself to continue her photography... Soon their pain reignites deadly entities from the mountain's past - causing their visiting friend Steve to have a horrific encounter in the middle of the night.

As the entities take hold over Julie, a cycle of death reawakens and a horrified Allen discovers what's really in the photographs Julie has been taking. Now with the vengeful entities converging all around him, Allen has to fight to unravel the secret of the mountain's deadly past to save his life and Julie's" - notes from the Pioneer Theater, NYC

"A genuinely creepy ghost story guaranteed to make you jump." - Michael Gingold, Fangoria


BEST FEATURE: Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival

From The Vaults! New 35mm Print!
Monday, October 23 at 9:30pm
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(1978) dir Chang Cheh w/Sheng Chiang, Phillip Kwok, Feng Lu, Pai Wei, Chien Sun, Meng Lo [97 min]

This is it folks, one of the holy grails of kung-fu cinema. The legendary Shaw Brothers studio pumped out some of the most epic, creative and, occasionally absurd, martial arts fantasies of the 1960s and ‘70s. THE FIVE VENOMS is by far one of their most well known productions and one of those films that has been available for years only in poorly dubbed bootleg videos you watch in your buddy’s basement. Now, thanks to UCLA and Celestial Pictures the film has been restored and a new 35mm print has been struck with English subtitles!

The master of a martial arts school, the Poison Clan, has died and his final pupil is sent out to check on the master’s previous students. Each of which is trained in a specific style of fighting modeled on different venomous beasts: Snake, Toad, Lizard, Scorpion, and Centipede. And each has a groovy Mexican wrestler-like mask to prove it. The final student, Yang (Chiang), is trained in all five styles so as to be a foil to his brethren. In order to achieve his mission, Yang must uncover the true identities of the masked Venoms and figure out which ones are trustworthy.

Filled with terrific fight scenes (of course), VENOMS is also one of those rare martial arts films where the plot is actually compelling and the chemistry between the characters extends beyond just kicking each other in the face. Of course it helps when you gather such a talented cast. This film was so popular on its initial release that the cast collectively became known as “The Venoms” and went on to star in 10 films together in different combinations. Phillip Kwok (Lizard) is now probably the best known Venom. Not only has he appeared in over 50 movies but he has served as the action choreographer for films like John Woo’s Hard-Boiled and Brotherhood Of The Wolf.

Saturday Night Spotlight! New England Premiere!
Saturday, October 21 at 7:30pm, Sunday, October 22 at 5:00pm
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(2006) dir Bong Joon-ho w/ Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doo-na, Ko A-sung [120 min]

This South Korean smash hit monster film in the vein of Godzilla is an absolute must see! The film opens with an American scientist commanding a Korean lab assistant to dump a bunch of dangerous chemicals down the drain and into the Han River, which runs directly through Seoul. Jump to a few years later where a dimwitted snack vendor, along with his only marginally more competent family, fights to rescue his daughter from a deadly river monster that may or may not be the result of the chemical dump. The scene that introduces the monster is one of the most exhilarating creature attack scenes to appear on screen in a long, long time thanks to the combined efforts of three acclaimed effects companies: Weta Workshop (the Lord of the Rings series), Creature Workshop (Babe) and The Orphanage (Hellboy). The design of the slimy beast is both thrillingly original and eerily familiar and its violent rampages are even vaguely comical thanks the attention to detail of the effects crew.

Director Bong Joon-ho previously directed the fantastic police thriller Memories Of Murder which was a surprisingly comic fact-based serial killer film. THE HOST takes his skills in a completely different direction but retains his playful use of humor and his focus on the human side of grand events. Born of a childhood fantasy, Bong sold the idea of the film to one producer by bringing him a Photoshopped picture of the Han river with the Loch Ness Monster swimming in it. And that’s sort of what you get: A what-if scenario of a mythic-feeling monster popping up in the middle of a highly populated city. Even Godzilla had to wade into Tokyo from the deep sea; this monster just pops up one day right in Seoul’s backyard and starts gobbling people up.

New England Premiere!
Friday, October 20 at 8:00pm
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(2006) dir Christopher Smith w/Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman [90 min]

Aptly described as The Office meets Deliverance, SEVERANCE is a terrific new horror/comedy from Britain. A group of workers from an international weapons company go on an ill-advised team building retreat in Eastern Europe and find themselves at the mercy of a group of sadistic, backwoods psychos. Although the antagonists seem like they might have an ax to grind with their company, middle management isn’t telling and rumors abound. The cast of characters includes Richard and Gordon, the over-enthusiastic company men, the mousy Jill, the drugged out IT guy Steve, the competent but overlooked Billy, star salesman Harris, and Maggie, the beautiful American transplant. As their fellow employees turn up missing, the group realizes that they had better quickly change their tactics from sniping at each other to trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

From the director of Creep – the subway horror film that premiered at BFFF last year – SEVERANCE is a laugh-out-loud funny survival horror film with genuine characters and a sharp as nails script. Really, what more could you ask for in the current environment of remakes, sequels, and movies of video-games? And I might add that the inclusion of psychotic Soviets is just as effective as the inbred hicks of Deliverance, even if there isn't much squealing in this one.

“An off-the-wall mash-up of humour and horror.” – Colin Geddes, The Toronto International Film Festival

Opening Night Selection! New England Premiere!
Terry Gilliam's TIDELAND
Thursday, October 19 at 7:30pm
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(2005) dir Terry Gilliam w/Jodelle Ferland, Brendan Fletcher, Janet McTeer, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly [122 min]

The latest warped vision from legendary director Terry Gilliam is, truly, a kid's movie not for kids. When a movie opens with a little girl cooking up a heroin shot for her father, you know you’re on the wrong side of the looking glass. TIDELAND centers on the adventures of a modern day Alice, Jeliza-Rose (Ferland), who falls down a very serious rabbit hole into a world of drug addict parents, sinister adults, and disturbed children - not to mention the talking squirrels. When her junkie mother (Tilly) fatally ODs, Jeliza-Rose’s burnt out ex-rocker father (Bridges) retreats to his childhood haven – an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Amidst the glowing wheat fields and idyllic vistas, Jeliza-Rose meets a companion, Dickens (Fletcher), a mentally challenged teen who is watched over by his spinster sister (McTeer). When Jeliza-Rose agrees to join Dickens’ quest to destroy the land-shark that roams the area, it becomes clear that things are not entirely what they seem.

Gilliam’s most singular vision in quite some time, TIDELAND is alternately grotesque, darkly funny, phantasmogoric, and tragic – what else could be said of a film that features a pre-pubescent girl playing dress-up with the bloated and rotting corpse of her father. Yet the film is also intensely well shot; at times the amber fields of grain seem to have been transported from a Terrence Mallick film into a world gone insane. Only Gilliam could lend such dark beauty and flair to this adaptation of Mitch Cullin’s acclaimed novel. We’re pleased to be hosting the Boston area premiere of the film which opens in Boston on Oct 27 at the Kendall Square Cinema.

Closing Night Selection! New England Premiere!
Monday, October 23 at 7:30pm
Trailer | Tickets | Full Schedule
(2006) dir Johnnie To w/Louis Koo, Simon Yam, Nick Cheung, Cheung Siu-fai, Lam Ka-tung [92 min]
Only one director debuted three separate films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and that director was Hong Kong’s Johnnie To. To is thought to be one of the great hopes for Hong Kong cinema which, having floundered too long after losing many of its top talent to Hollywood in the 90s, seems poised for a come back. Although many haven’t made it to US movie screens, To’s films are reminiscent of the great American 70s auteurs – in particular Scorsese and Coppola. His Election and its follow up TRIAD ELECTION are very much in the tradition of the Godfather with just enough of the old Hong Kong action flair to make it unique. Yes, we are only screening the second half but, don’t worry, these two films stand alone (and besides in true Hong Kong fashion there’s a prologue to TRIAD ELECTION that explains it all).

TRIAD ELECTION takes place among the Wo Sing, the most venerable Triad clan of Hong Kong. The elders who rule the organization are about to elect a new chief following a long-standing tradition of uniting the various rival gangs. Jimmy (Louis Koo), a twenty-first-century gangster with an M.B.A., is using the Triads to get on the fast track to financial success; winning the election would consolidate his land deals in mainland China. Unwillingly embarking on a violent campaign, he finally realizes the Wo Sing place in the balance of a far greater power.

“To brings a realist's gaze to the mechanics and rigid mores of the gangster's way of life, where justice and remorse are absent. Intense negotiations and action scenes are staged with a slow-burn menace and sudden jolts of violence - and when they happen they're riveting – but actual visceral action is not what the ELECTION films are about. Anchored with fresh and spontaneous performances, the films are demure dramas, hitting themes of the conflicted modern Hong Kong identity, obscured under the shade of the ambiguous giant known as ‘China.’” – Colin Geddes, Toronto Int’l Film Festival