Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Huntress Reviews: Clickbait (Awesome Theatre)

Awesome Theatre relentlessly teases me with the well-crafted POV and faux documentary multimedia they incorporate into their shows. Ever since our first visit to one of their productions at PianoFight, Lord Battle and I have been trying to talk them into making a found footage movie and submit it to UFF. Granted, our first show was the first ever found footage horror anthology play, but every visit that followed continued the trend. And their latest production, Clickbait, was no different.

So let me back up. Earlier this month, I and two other Overlook creatures attended the opening night of Clickbait, which had immediately caught my attention when Awesome Theatre revealed their 2020 lineup late last year. Not only did it register on my growing “possibly POV” radar for its name and mock YouTube icon, but it also had a great pitch: “Two internet celebrities spend the night in an abandoned cabin. You won’t believe what happens next.” SOLD.

There’s really no guessing which direction a story with that kind of setup could go (one of the beautiful things about indie productions), and I don’t want to rob anyone of trying to piece the puzzle together as they watch the show, but I still want to tease the hell out of what I can! 

Although unrelated, Clickbait was borne of a segment in Holy Shit That was Scary - I believe it was “Academic Findings” - which features two women in an isolated cabin and was also written by Tonya Narvaez, who is responsible for writing Clickbait in close collaboration with director Claire Rice (Let's Kill Jessica). I will say that the cabin setting in Clickbait was on par, if not a step better than HSTWS. And the super dim lighting made me appropriately uneasy, claustrophobic even. 

The tiny taxidermy deer heads felt like a whimsical pairing with the painting on the other wall, which was, well… ominous.

The show starts out with a compilation of videos from the internet celebrities who will be accepting the challenge of spending the night in an abandoned cabin, their perky mannerisms, and some of their past challenges. A quick read between the lines confirms that one of the duo takes the lead in decision making, while the other is either a reluctant or involuntary participant. Eyebrows are raised…

This show has a necessarily bare bones cast made up of BryBry and Beckah (the talent), Owen (the producer), and Sam (a newly hired camera operator), and it really allows you to get to know what each of them is like on and, more importantly, off camera. And while it's hard not to jump to conclusions about these characters solely based on first impressions, it's even harder to watch their true nature play out. Especially with the unflinching performances of the actors.

Featuring: Samuel Barksdale, Caroline Boyll, Carly Van Liere, and Jorden Charley-Whatley

The show starts with the entire team arriving at the cabin that will be their home for the next 24 hours. They record spooky teaser videos about how they’re going to play flashlight tag and record their night… only to find out that their backup batteries had not been charged immediately after the camera stops rolling. At this point, nerves are already tense, and it's only the beginning of the night! 

I could tell you all about the varied relationship dynamics, shady secrets, and personal revelations, but it's just not the same as sitting in that audience and seeing it for yourself. This story stays compelling from the first taste of glimpse of YouTube content, all the way to its explosive conclusion. And you still have a couple of opportunities to see it unfold. 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Feedback

A radio star experiences the worst night of his life when stalkers assault the radio station where he's working.

5 of 5 viewers "Liked" "Feedback" (2020, Spain/USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Greyranger - "This movie is both unpleasant and ambiguous, so it's not going to be for everyone. But it ratchets up the tension steadily, the performances are uniformly strong (Eddie Marsan is great in the lead), and it artfully turns into something else... And then turns into yet something else. The twists will take you to a place you may not want to go (but as with Miike's Audition, it would be cruel to give anything away), and it will piss off some who expect all wrongs to be righted. But it's a truer picture of ourselves, the evil we do, and how we bear it." - 3.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Slow start for me, I would have probably tuned out/turned off if I'd watched alone. Feedback picks up its stride by the middle and keeps it going till the very end with plenty of mystery and twists. Kept me engaged and I'm glad I stuck it out. And I loved seeing Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this! Overall solid watch. I don't think it's something I'd watch again but I'd recommend it." - 3 Stars

Huntress - "After a dense intro that almost lost me, Feedback evolved into a completely different movie. Set in a radio station and recording studio comprised of unique and colorful rooms, the story takes a second act turn and rapidly gets dark. I was very unprepared for the number of moral quandaries I found myself faced with. I definitely need to rewatch this one." - 3.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "The best part of Feedback is it teases being a movie you don't want to watch, then becomes something you can't look away from. Brilliant performances, beautiful design, and awesome script. Best Die-O-Drama I've seen in years!" - 4.5 Stars

Wandering Panda - *Spoiler*- "I love this film. It's slow paced but once it hit its strides it got very interesting. Feedback possesses surprisingly gory outbursts of violence. I can't help but listen to the last half of this film where everyone is interrogating everyone and it's hard to trust anybody. It's like rooting for the lesser of the two evils because everyone in this film is shitty. This film is a verbal battle of chess where all the players have an agenda and they're trying to trip and force each other into a corner. Feedback is well acted, has excellent sound design, and rewards insightful viewers with its story. All in all, Feedback is great and should be watched at least once. But it's definitely not for everyone." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

At this point of the Overlook's life, our reviewers trust us. Either that or they're just more adventurous that they have been in the past... or they don't mind sharing the pressure of movies selection and the resulting response of the viewers. Whatever the case, no one protested when Feedback started, aside from a bit of hemming and hawing during the heavy Brexit conversation up top. This was a screener given to us by the same distributor who had supplied our previous feature of the night, which probably wasn't making it onto any top ten lists but was still pretty fun to watch with friends. And starting the night with that feature might have actually worked in Feedback's favor.

Our first movie of the night was By Day's End, a half security camera half handheld camera in-world camera movie that (to me) felt not entirely fleshed out. I didn't realize that it had essentially disarmed the audience. So when Feedback got intense, we were all taken aback. While that didn't drastically change minds about the film, and Feedback didn't need any help to play well, it made our viewing experience a whole lot better because no one saw it coming.


The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Residence for a screening on 2/13/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Digging Up The Dirt with KillDozer and Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis)

The 90's Hardcore scene was an exciting time and place to grow up. Punks and Hardcore kids were ready to "fight the power" and really demonstrate the fact that "you have to act to be an activist".  Oddly enough I'm going to use quotes from Hunter S. Thompson to help describe the experience, just keep with me and I swear it will make sense to those that lived it: 

"It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. [Hardcore in the 90's] was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.…
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. [East coast or West coast].… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…"

  One band in particular encapsulates the political activism and crushing sound of the era, and that's Earth Crisis, who not only had a unique sound that strayed from the familiar punk/thrash of traditional Hardcore, but also promoted straight edge, veganism, self-empowerment and organizations such as ALF (Animal Liberation Front, not the ALF on TV who was not vegan and was prone to eating cats), Earth First, and Sea Shepherds (before it was cool and on reality television).  In a 1998 interview with Roadrunner Records, Karl Buechner described Earth Crisis' philosophy: "I want to boil it down to one notion: personal accountability. Respect for yourself, respect for the lives of innocent beings around us." He added that "Just being drug-free doesn't make you a good person, you need to use that clarity of the mind to become actively involved in the struggle that is being waged for earth, human and animal liberation."  "We're about things we're interested in and we sing about things that happen politically, but we're not left-core or right wing. We don't want to get tangled up in someone else's agenda, which can happen if you join up in certain organizations."

  Earth Crisis has maintained an extremely controversial reputation over the years simply by standing up for what they believe is right and not backing down from those beliefs. In a scene of outcasts and misfits, they managed to become "one of the most controversial bands in the scene's  history". (Imagine GG Allin being shocking for helping the world become a better place).  Although I'm not nearly as well known as Earth Crises, I was able to tour Japan with the band while singing in Alcatraz (who unlike Earth Crises has never been on Geraldo or had a VHS released of their tours). It was during this time I spent these individuals that I learned something shocking... their guitar player Scott Crouse was "not a big fan of horror films". I held back the tears and vowed that I would dig up the dirt on why! Now as the band sets out to hit sold out venues to support the celebration of the California Take Over tour that took place in 1996, I thought this was a good opportunity to circle back and see how one of the world's most brutal and inspiration Hardcore bands could possibly "not be big horror fans"..........

KillDozer: Let's jump straight into some fun questions. Have you ever seen Jaws or The Birds? Does being vegan change your experience with these films? For the most part "animal attack" films happen when humans venture into the wilderness or habitat of other species. Do you feel as though the death of the characters in these films is justified? 

Scott Crouse: Oh yeah, even though I’m not a big horror buff, I’ve seen most of the classics. I’m not sure I think their deaths are justified as I still feel empathy for the victims, but I do think these movies speak to the human disconnect with nature. We like to think of ourselves as superior to the rest of the animal kingdom, but in that we suppress and hide our basic instincts. Movies like these speak to how vulnerable we are when we are out of our human made bubbles. 

KD: Do you feel that horror films depicting animal attacks glorify the unjust killing of animals? Do films like Orca (The Killer Whale)  or Outbreak (the monkey who spreads disease amongst humans and must be killed) do a disservice to those trying to educate people about animal rights? 

Scott: I may be mistaken, but I think most of these types of movies there seems to be at least one character that ends up having some respect for the animal? There always seems to be the over the top bad human who has no compassion and he/she always end up dying. I haven't analyzed them by any means, but if I remember correctly when the animal dies it’s also not celebrated. There’s a sorrow there, and even though the animal was the villain in the story, you can’t help but feel empathy and respect for them. 

KD: It is no secret that Earth Crisis is a straight edge band. In many ways the horrors of drug addiction can be scarier and more brutal than any masked killer in a slasher film. What films to you feel best depict the reality of drug addiction? 

Scott: The first one that comes to mind is Taxi Driver. The idea of the fed up extremist who vows to rid the city of drug dealers, addicts, and pimps was the perfect fantasy for a teenage straight edger.

KD: When first speaking with you about this interview, you told me that you and the band were not big horror fans (the first time you have collectively let me down). With that being said what would be your top 10 horror films you have seen throughout your life and why?

Scott: Ha, I’m sorry! I believe Ian actually really enjoys horror movies, and I like certain movies that are in the horror genre. I suppose “thrillers” is what I’d call them? I think mainly I’m not into gore or things are just shocking for the point of being shocking without adding some sort of underlying social commentary. These aren’t in a particular order, and I think what I just said applies to the reason I enjoyed them. They’re frightening, but offer social commentary. Also, most of these are from the 80’s because I had HBO as a kid. I’m sure horror fanatics will say some of “these aren’t horror!” To that I say, take it up with Justin, I told him I’m not a big horror fan! 

1. Rosemary’s Baby
2. The Exorcist
3. The Shining
4. Twilight Zone The Movie
5. The Evil Dead
6. Creepshow
7. They Live
8. The Gate
9. Aliens
10. The Lost Boys

KD: Do you believe the music and politics of Earth Crisis are as relevant now as they were in the 90's? What motivates you to keep playing and staying true to what you believe in? 

Scott: I think the message is still relevant, and things we spoke about back then are a lot more commonplace now. It’s not as radical to talk about veganism and environmentalism these days thanks to movies like Cowspiracy and Before The Flood. It’s a great thing to see these ideals being accepted outside counter cultures and I hope they continue to progress in mainstream society. As for our music, I’m old so I plead the fifth. Any comments I make regarding the state of music today will just come off like an old man out of touch. Perhaps that is true?

KD: What inspired you to being playing music in the first place? Do your families support your music? Do they believe in the same straight edge and vegan beliefs as well? 

Scott: I wanted to pick up the guitar because of Van Halen, and then that evolved to Motley Crue, then Metallica, then the Misfits and so on. My family was always very supportive of me playing in bands, to the extent that they allowed us to practice in their basement for years. They wouldn’t admit to this, but I’m pretty sure they figured “Well, it’s either jail or we nurture this so-called music he’s playing.” They let us borrow there van, and even came and rescued us when our van broke down one winter tour. They did the right thing. My family is not xvx, but they do have respect for it and I believe a little of the ideology has rubbed off on them.

KD: What is scarier: playing Ozz Fest in the 90's or raising children? Please explain. 

Scott: Oh, raising children for sure. Infants are terrifying! They should create a horror film about a family's first year with a baby. It could simply be called “WTF!"

KD: Veganism and vegetarianism are both popular in the horror community but so are metal and other forms of heavy music. What brought you to metal and hardcore? What kept you in the scene?

Scott: I was a pretty angry kid, so aggressive forms of music spoke to that. It’s cliche to say, but it really helped me cope with feeling left behind by society in a lot of ways. Having a community of like minded people and listening to bands that share similar life experiences really provided hope for me. 

KD: What, if anything, do you hope people will experience at an Earth Crisis show? Are you ever shocked or surprised by the impact made by your music?

Scott: I hope how genuine we are as people comes across. We believe whole heartedly in vegan straight edge, and our music. We wouldn’t be doing it still today if our hearts weren’t in it first and foremost. Yes, I’m always shocked and surprised when people tell us we had an impact on their lives. It’s very fulfilling to hear that something you poured so much into paid off in a lot of ways.

KD: I'm not sure if you know this but Earth Crisis is on a big budget horror film soundtrack! Wes Craven did a film called My Soul to Take in 2010 and you kids are in it! Have you seen the film? If so what are your thoughts on it? 

Scott: Oh yes, we know about that. There’s an interesting story to it. Wes Craven’s assistant (I forget his name now) contacted me directly, and he wanted our song The Order to be used in the movie. That seemed very random because that song never appeared on a proper album, just a pretty obscure compilation from 1993. I’d love to know how he even heard that song, but sadly I never asked. I said sure we’d love to be involved, but then he asked if we could re-record it, and we couldn’t make that happen. I suggested this instrumental track that had a pretty dark vibe to it, from our current album at the time, and he loved it. So that’s the song that appeared in the movie. 

KD: Tell us about the California Take Over tour. Was it hard to get the other bands in on the idea? Are you surprised by the overwhelming positive reaction? 

Scott: It was something all 3 bands had been discussing for a few years now. It has been hard to put together, because we are all very part time with music these days, but the stars finally aligned and I’m really looking forward to these two shows. The reaction definitely surprised me! For LA to sell out in a day and SF only has about 35 tickets left as I type this. Yeah, that doesn’t happen to our 3 bands these days very often. I hope we get to do this lineup in some other areas too. 

KD: What is the future for Earth Crisis? 

Scott: There’s no real plan, and that’s what's so great about it! We do things when we feel like it, and we are fortunate enough to be able to still play all over the world. It’s all fun these days, so maybe more music, or maybe just shows, or maybe we’ll lay low for a while. Not sure, but we are all enjoying and appreciating still being able to do this in our 40’s. 

KD: Where can everyone go to follow Earth Crisis on social media? 

Scott: Instagram is @earthcrisisofficial, and Facebook is as well. We have a twitter, but don’t go there, I haven’t logged into that in months. You know, don’t bother with Facebook either.

Get tickets to Earth Crisis at the Great American Music Hall here!
Sorry SoCal, the Teragram Ballroom show is completely sold out.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Unnamed Footage Festival Returns to San Francisco for Four Days of Found Footage!

The Unnamed Footage Festival has resurfaced to announce the lineup and highlights for its third year of in-world camera celebration, expanding to a four day event from February 27 to March 1. While the main slate of the festival will again be featured at the Balboa Theatre, two more quintessential Bay Area venues, the ATA and the Roxie Theater, will also host screenings. 

This year’s Unnamed Footage Festival has expanded to four days and three venues, kicking off with a double feature of FEAR FOOTAGE. Opening the fest will be a chance to revisit THE FEAR FOOTAGE, followed immediately by the World Premiere of THE FEAR FOOTAGE 2: CURSE OF THE TAPE and a cocktail hour at our annual Recalibration Party at the Artist’s Television Access.  On day two, UFF3 will relocate to the Roxie Theatre for a late night screening of MANIAC (2012), the rarely screened first person point-of-view reenvisioning of William Lustig’s controversial classic starring Elijah Wood. 

Saturday and Sunday, UFF3 will return to its home base at the Balboa Theatre for the festival main slate, featuring a multitude of premieres, special screenings, and guests! This will include:
  • 1984 VHS found footage legend, Dean Alioto’s UFO ABDUCTION -- believed by many to be a real home video of an alien invasion. Director Dean Alioto will be in attendance at the festival for a Q&A after the film!
  • A badge holder exclusive, the first ever preview screening of LENSFACE, written and directed by Travis Zariwny (CABIN FEVER, BEHIND THE MASK, DIGGING UP THE MARROW), who will be in attendance. 
  • The new film from Daniel Myrick (Co-writer and co-director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT), SKYMAN graces our programming with a heartfelt character study of a man who had an encounter with an extraterrestrial and his journey to reconnect with it. 
  • A celebration of the overlooked master of Japanese In-World-Camera narrative, Kōji Shiraishi, with rare theatrical screenings of NOROI: THE CURSE and A RECORD OF SWEET MURDER.

Of course, it would be criminal not to mention some of the highlights of our shorts programming:
  • Saturday’s closing night showtime will be opened with the world premiere of MONICA’S LAST DANCE, a horror comedy created by Dire Wit Productions (PIG PEN, BEYOND THE BLACK VEIL).
  • IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, an Italian short faux doc about the beauty you can find in disease, will be sharing its North American Premiere with us on Saturday.
  • Clarissa Jacobson, writer of the world renowned LUNCH LADIES short film and author of I MADE A SHORT FILM NOW WTF DO I DO WITH IT, will be in attendance to present her short faux doc A VERY IMPORTANT FILM, followed by a Q&A.

The full lineup of UFF 3 will soon be available at, but festival badges are available now through Film Freeway! A $60 festival badge will grant you access to every screening at every venue. Each purchase of a badge comes with the 2020 Edition of the Unnamed Footage Collectible VHS Box. This year’s box will feature exclusive festival pins, merch, and original art, including the first printing of the recently uncovered writings on the lost giallo RUSTED ANTS & IRON EYES, documented by journalist Samuel Pierce.

Weekend Day passes are also available for $35 each, and individual screenings will be available on the day of the event. 

Unnamed Representatives are available for phone and email interviews. Press requests can be sent to