By Breanna Whipple
EDMONTON — Plants are withering and there is a sullen chill in the air, signalling the onset of autumn. Although the weather becomes more mundane daily, fans of alternative cinema have an exuberant tiding to help them navigate the impending winter. Fast approaching is the eighth annual DEDfest, Alberta’s premiere genre film festival. Spawned within the underground film scene in Edmonton and hitting hard with their biggest year yet, they’re bound to satisfy the fiendish fanatics of alternative cinema.
With six days of mayhem beginning on the 20th of October and running until the 25th, executive director Derek Clayton urges attendees to “expect the unexpected,” with a line-up including elements of cannibalism, vigilante justice, and DIY action films, all released in 2015. They’ll be screening at the Metro Cinema near the University of Alberta in near Edmonton’s centre.
“I think a lot of people have a preconceived notion about the kind of films we show,” Clayton says, “they see DEDfest and they think, ‘Oh, its just horror movies and it’s just going to be gory stuff…’ If you’re going to take a chance you’re going to see a wide variety of different films. You’re going to see some crazy Japanese stuff, you’re going to see some sci-fi, [and] you’re going to see some Oscar-calibre type films.”
The variety within the first wave of films announced speaks to this credo.
“We’ve got Green Room with Patrick Stewart, (he) is the head of a Neo-Nazi gang, tracking down a band in his bar that witnessed a murder, trying to kill them,” Clayton begins.
“The Demolisher out of Toronto, which is an amazing vigilante movie, not really what you’d expect, it is definitely more along the lines of [the 2011 dark getaway caper film] Drive and [1988 action slasher flick] Maniac Cop…. It’s a really cool film. We have Bite, also out of Toronto, it is a creature feature. We have The Invitation from the director who did [the 2009 demon possession comedy] Jennifer’s Body, it’s a really great film making lots of headway in the festival circuit right now.”
He continues, “Tales From Halloween, that’ll be our big one too, [it’s] an anthology film from several directors including Neil Marshall from [2002 military werewolf flick] Dog Soldiers.”
Clayton adds, “We have another short from Canada called El Gigante, which is about Mexican Luchadores that just happen to be cannibals, we’ve got a cannibal theme this year going on actually. I think cannibals are becoming the new vampires, I like that actually.”
He concludes excitedly, “And that is just our first wave!”
There are many more events planned.
“We are doing the 20th anniversary of Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight [the 1995 flick about a man on the run chased by a demon collector], we thought that’d be pretty fun to do, (it’s) one of our favourite films, we’ve always wanted to show it.”
Clayton continues, “We’ve got Rowdy Roddy’s final short, final film, it’s called Portal To Hell!!! It is a short film where he is a janitor in a kind of run down apartment building and some of his tenants unleash a gateway to a Lovecraft dimension and he’s got to plug it up.”
And for those of you with little critters of your own, the Saturday Morning Cartoon Extravaganza is making another return; this year attendees can expect a Halloween themed reel.
“Scooby-Doo, and Drak Pack… [The] Real Ghostbusters, Tales from the Cryptkeeper… it went over really well last year, we had a great time with it,” he says.
Being the only kid-friendly event in the festival, Clayton adds, “We encourage everyone to bring their kids out. Grab a niece or nephew if you don’t have kids of your own and have fun, come in costume. It’s a lot of fun.”
For those interested in seeing something foreign and obscure, Clayton speaks of the unexpected kicker.
“Our opening night presentation is going to be a Ugandan action movie night. There is this little sub sect of people in Uganda that are making these crazy action movies, just DIY-ing it with their own cameras and they’re in the ghetto, so they’ve got gear and they’ve got computers to edit and throw in special effects. They do these crazy kung fu movies, the special effects you know, they’re definitely low tech but it is a lot of fun and there is this whole DIY spirit to it, and the films are funny.”
Audience reaction is heavily considered during the selection process.
“People are always mixed on films. Like last year we showed something called Spring , which was definitely more along the lines of a romance with some horror elements than it was a horror film. People either loved it, or they didn’t. You know, and that’s also good, if there is a film that can polarize people, like [2014 psychological monster horror film] The Babadook for example… people were mixed on the ending. I’d rather have a film polarize people where it gets them talking in the lobby than have a film where people are like, ‘well that was alright’, and just walk out and doesn’t have any lasting impact.”
There is no doubt that DEDfest provides a unique experience to devoted fans.
“You go to the multiplex and you get to see the same type of thing… and Oscar time, you see sort of the same types of movies vying for Oscar gold… you always see that stuff, and it kind of becomes cookie cutter whereas the alternative cinema, you don’t know what to expect. You go into movies and you’re like, ‘What the hell is this?’, you know? I think people are just craving something different and new.”
Clayton concludes, “As movies that become readily available to our fingertips, I think we’ve lost that bit of communal experience of going to a film and sitting down and watching it with a group of like-minded people and just having a blast. That’s kind of why we’re trying to recapture that spirit again.”
See DEDfest from October 20th until 25th at the Metro Cinema. You can buy tickets online at metrocinema.org/dedfest_tickets/, or purchase them in person at The Lobby DVD Shop on Whyte Avenue, or Permanent Records on Gateway Blvd. in Edmonton.AB, Alberta, DEDfest, Metro Cinema