This Thursday, The Music Box’s genre movie festival Cinepocalypse returns for its second year, showcasing over 30 B-movies across seven days, to the delight of Chicagoland horror, action, and sci-fi fans. We’ve combed through the full programming slate to pick out a handful of screenings we’re most excited to catch: five brand new movies, all of which are making their Chicago premiere at the festival, and five genre classics, a mixture of crowd favorites and less well-known gems.
The world premiere of the survival thriller The Domestics kicks off the festivities, a brutal piece of work starring Kate Bosworth and Tyler Hoechlin as a couple bent on making their way home across a midwestern post-apocalyptic hellscape. There’s little in the way of details about this, the first feature length from filmmaker Mike P. Nelson, just yet, but what advance info is out there promises a parade of intense, action-packed setpieces. Stick around after the film for an opening night party featuring free booze, snacks, and giveaways from genre-friendly artisans.
Would a horror film festival be any good without a couple of 70 minute gorefests that pay tribute to the trashy slasher movies of the 1980s? No! Enter The Ranger, which follows a group of punk rockers on a depraved trip through the woods, stalked by a deranged park ranger with a merciless approach to law enforcement. Eschewing the trendy muted palates of the current crop of retro horror flicks, this stylish, neon-soaked rager looks to be a crowd pleasing dose of blood soaked fun.
Surf Nazis Must Die!, Snakes on a Plane, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sometimes a movie’s title perfectly captures the outsidery weirdo vibe of genre cinema that the film itself could never live up to its absurd title. The Cop Baby, perhaps the latest entry into this canon of perfectly titled trash films, follows a grizzled old policeman whose soul is trapped inside a baby’s body by an evil fortune teller. The Cop Baby is forced to take down a mob boss from a toddler’s body, accompanied by his bumbling newbie cop father. I can’t confirm that this Russian film, which makes its North American premiere at Cinepocalypse, operates within the same babyverse as The Boss Baby, but I can only imagine we’re less than three years out from a Hollywood remake of this ridiculous looking buddy pic.
Cult comedy icon Chris Elliott stars alongside his real-life family in the pitch black comedy Clara’s Ghost, written and directed by his daughter Bridey. The film mashes up a pair of indie subgenres into something unusual and memorable: starting out as a grounded family drama about a dysfunctional family of booze-soaked, washed up Hollywood types quickly takes a detour into the realm of psychologically charged supernatural thrillerdom, as incited by the appearance of a ghost only the family’s downtrodden matriarch can see. I’m told things get weird and mean here, strap in for some cringe-inducing intergenerational terror induced by demons both emotional and metaphysical.
A grieving family unwittingly participates in a satanic ritual after a spiritually motivated journey into the jungle goes awry in the Argentinian film Luciferina, which makes its North American premiere at Cinepocalypse, and things get pretty dark from there. This stylish, hallucinatory tale of devil worships is full of all the old classics: unexpected pregnancies, bursts of horrifying violence, and acts of bizarre liturgical devotion to an evil presence.
Genre film veteran Ernest R. Dickerson will be on site for a double feature of two of his most beloved works, Juice and Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, hanging around afterwards for a Q&A session and to accept Cinepocalypse’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. Juice is a legendary piece of hip-hop culture, featuring performances from folks like Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps, and Demon Night is a cult favorite horror comedy film, successfully translating the Tales from the Crypt format from the small to big screen.
Before the sci-fi innovations of The Matrix, the Wachowski siblings made Bound, a violent neo-noir crime thriller with progressive, provocative themes. Stars Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon struggle to hide their affair while attempting to exploit Tilly’s boyfriend’s mob connections and make off with a multimillion dollar payday. The Wachowskis elevate the titillating subject matter into something more cerebral and stylish in this underseen genre classic.
Does anything scream “genre film festival” more than a 30th anniversary screening of the gleefully trashy horror flick Killer Klowns From Outer Space? Yup! It’s a screening of KKFOS attended by the film’s writer/directors. horror auteurs The Chiodo Brothers! Practical effects lovers will rejoice at this ridiculous tribute to the monster movies of the 1950s, injected with the cult movie sensibility of the 80s!
A Howard the Duck screening in 70mm sort of reads like someone on Twitter making fun of arthouse revival theaters but I’m honestly all in here. The notoriously bizarre film and first-ever Marvel comic book movie (weird right???) was a critical and commercial flop upon release and often pops up on lists of the worst movies ever made, but has since undergone a bit of a reappraisal, with fans noting how impressively, unapologetically weird this major studio picture is. When you’re given the opportunity to see something as absurd as this in a setting like this one, you can’t pass it up.