Phantom menaces - Page 3

Another Hole in the Head unleashes multiple malevolent ghosts. Plus: our guide to the film fest's horror highlights

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HoleHead includes some OK faux-docs -- and locally-filmed vampire amnesia mystery Apocrypha

Auschwitz (Uwe Boll, Germany, 2010) It takes serious cojones or at least a healthy dose of self-delusion, for Uwe Boll to decide he's the one to give us a realistic depiction of Auschwitz. Boll is often considered cinema's most reviled director, known more for his schlocky video game adaptations than for his sense of morality. But in Auschwitz, he does his best to reflect on a horrific atrocity, bookending his portrayal of the death camp with a short documentary in which he questions German youth about the Holocaust. The mind-boggling ignorance on display is somewhat effective, but these teenagers likely know about as much as most American high schoolers — if not more. And Boll's gritty Auschwitz isn't the answer: it's hard to watch at times, and it's certainly more to the point than Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993). But Boll shows his trademark lack of restraint, and the legitimately stirring moments are undercut by shock value violence. June 10, 9:20 p.m.; June 13, 7:20 p.m. (Louis Peitzman)

Helldriver (Yoshihiro Nishimura, Japan, 2010) Leave it to Japanese director Yoshihiro Nishimura (2008's Tokyo Gore Police) to give us a joyous, blood-soaked twist on zombies. Helldriver's living dead are distinguished by the antlers growing out of their foreheads — antlers that can be removed and ground into powder for use as a popular street drug. There's more of a plot to Helldriver than the set-up, but it's admittedly a little tough to make sense of it with body parts and buckets of blood flying in all directions. Short version: Kika (Yumiko Hara) has to take down her evil stepmother, who has become the Zombie Queen. To say there are casualties along the way is an understatement — nearly every character is flayed, decapitated, or torn into pieces, all with gleeful abandon. However gross Helldriver may be, it's an awful lot of fun, an over-the-top, distinctly Japanese reinvention of the genre. Fri/3 and June 13, 9:20 p.m. (Peitzman)

The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue (Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy, U.S., 2010) What happens when a pair of slacker brothers (writers-directors-stars Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy) inherit a dilapidated apartment building with a perilously low occupancy rate? What if that building also has a pet-eating monster scrambling between its walls? And what's that ever-hungry monster gonna eat once all the pets are gone? Dilemmas — all of them absurd, some of them gory, and most of them hilarious — abound in this clever, fast-paced cracker featuring Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund in a cameo as a cranky, horny tenant. Chicago-bred comedians Bradecich and LaFlamboy have Simon Pegg-Nick Frost levels of chemistry. Is it too much to hope that the dreaded Mole Man will return so there'll be a sequel? Sun/5, 7:20 p.m.; Tues/7, 9:20 p.m. (Eddy)

The Oregonian (Calvin Lee Reeder, U.S., 2010) More an experiment in tedium than terror, Calvin Lee Reeder's The Oregonian will look familiar to anyone who has seen their share of David Lynch movies. Only unlike Lynch, Reeder offers little in the way of narrative or structure to counterbalance all the creepy randomness he throws at us. One can truly sympathize with the film's nameless heroine — a frightened young woman who, upon waking up in a station wagon covered in blood, embarks on a hellish journey through the Oregon countryside — for in watching The Oregonian in its entirety the audience also undergoes a seemingly endless slog, only the succession of borrowed gestures merely exhausts rather than frightens. If you really want some good backwoods scares, watch Gummo (1997) or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) instead. Sat/4, 9:20 p.m.; June 16, 7:20 p.m. (Sussman)

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