An October without a horror film fest would be no October at all, so shoutout to the supergroup of fest organizers who came together to give us Nightstream Fest!
I opted for the 5-movie badge, pre-ordering a few right off the bat and leaving a few slots open to decide on later.
First up, to really kick off the festival experience, John Kassir filmed a fun intro in his iconic Cryptkeeper voice and I loved it. It was such a fun little surprise, and got me really in the mood for festival movies!
I also really appreciated Nightstream’s virtual lobby, happy hours, and all attempts to give the virtual festival-goers interactivity. It actually made it seem like an event instead of just another night of watching movies.
You know how else it was like a regular film fest? All the movies I wanted to watch aired at inconvenient times haha. On Thursday night, my initial pick of The Doorman didn’t unlock until late so I looked around for an alternate pick. I found It Cuts Deep, which was a Thursday-night-only movie and only 77 minutes, so I figured I’d take a chance on it.
Written and directed by Nicholas Santos, It Cuts Deep follows Ashley and Sam, a couple who are visiting Sam’s childhood home. Sam has a mega fear of commitment, and Ashley is looking to take things to the next level. What follows is a lot of relationship cringe-comedy, with hints of something more sinister going on.
I’m not totally sure what the movie wanted its audience to take away from it since I found the tone a bit inconsistent, but it was fun enough overall and a solid way to kick off the fest. I also feel like everyone knows an Ashley who is dating a Sam and wondering “…that guy??”
On Friday night, I could finally watch The Doorman at a reasonable hour! I’d been looking forward to this one, so when I saw it on Nightstream’s list I immediately added it to my badge. A new Ryūhei Kitamura movie starring Ruby Rose and Jean Reno? Yes, please.
A straight-up Die Hard movie, The Doorman pits Ruby Rose against an art thief’s henchman in an empty high-rise building on Easter. I honestly appreciate that it’s just a straight riff and they don’t even try to hide it. It’s a solid action movie, and Jean Reno is always entertaining. Ruby Rose also absolutely deserves an action franchise, she can kick some serious ass.
I was expecting this one to have more of a genre-bent, especially since it was airing as part of a horror film fest, but it really was straight-up action. So I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it to action fans, but I might not have watched it for 31 days of horror.
Next up was Saturday night, which could only mean one thing: Double feature!!
First up was Frank & Zed, the six-year labor-of-love gothic horror movie that’s entirely puppets. Sound weird? Yeah, it’s weird. And it ruled.
Frank & Zed is an absolute ride. All of the sets are gorgeously gothic, and the puppet designs on the titular duo are incredible. The detail on Frank’s cheek where you can see his teeth through a ripped seam? Great touch.
The dynamic between Frank and Zed is both murderous and sweet, and any time we were away from the duo for too long I found myself asking “OK but is Zed getting another good brain tonight or what??”
The last third of this movie is a full-on battle sequence, with gallons of blood spurting everywhere and limbs coming off nonstop. The gore in this movie is so perfectly gross, and I wish I could have seen this in theaters with a bunch of horror fans cheering at the mayhem.
It was also really interesting to see some of the behind-the-scenes over the credits at the end! The amount of effort that went into Frank & Zed…I cant even imagine.
For part two of the double-feature I chose Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell aka the “Japanese Evil Dead”. This movie was shot over the course of seven years, making my Saturday night a double-feature 13 years in the making.
I loved this movie, surprising absolutely no one. The first half is all ghost movie, and I thought it was genuinely effective and creepy. The second half? An unabashed Raimi rip that amps up the crazy factor with MUSCLES.
I don’t know that I’m actually impressed with this body builder’s muscles, but I can’t argue with the results. If I can ever see movies in a theater again, I really hope Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell plays. I’ll see it every time.
Closing out the weekend, and the 5th movie on my badge, I watched Lucky on Sunday.
And oh boy, does Lucky hit hard on a Sunday. This movie’s premise is simple enough: Every night, a man breaks into a woman’s house and tries to kill her. No one thinks this a big deal.
Brea Grant wrote and starred in Lucky, and I really felt for her character May. Getting increasingly frustrated and unable to get anywhere, May is continuously told “this is just the way it is and you have to deal with it.”
And damn, by the end of the movie I was just like….yes. Every day a man comes to kill me and I just need to survive another day. It’s just how it is.
Tomorrow, I go back to work and the week begins anew. I just…felt this movie.
And that was a wrap on my Nightstream Fest badge! Of the virtual film fests I’ve been watching movies from, this one has been the best so far. That said, it mostly just made me sadder that it all has to be virtual. Looking forward to the day of enjoying film fests in actual theaters again!
NOTE: These are movies 6-10 of my 31 Days of Horror!