Di took Friday off, so it was nice to get to have some time with her before I disappeared for the whole weekend. Not that we did much, but was still good to see her. Ran a couple errands, goofed off, and it was time to roll. Gathered my things, grabbed some Alice Cooper (Billion Dollar Babies and Hey Stoopid), and I was off. We all know I'm no fan of driving, but it's not far, and even leaving at 5 o'clock, I was going against the Friday Rush Hour, so I made excellent time and was at the theatre in no time.
While waiting for the doors to open, brother_d73 called my name. I only manage to see him here once a year, so it was good to catch up with him again. Also ran into rowan_ashe, which was nice as always. We finally got inside, and I was able to get my passes and swag with no hassle at all. This is a good thing, and set a good tone for the festival. Waved at a couple people I knew and stopped to say hey to Andrew Migliore (our fearless festival director); Andrew is wearing a brace and holding his gut, because he just had his appendix taken out three days ago (apparently, the damn thing was a foot long and starting to wrap around his intestines!). We exchanged a laugh about being brothers in abdominal pain.
Headed up stairs to find a few people I knew would be there. maxomai and skeletoncrew were at their table, surrounded by Liv's amazing jewelry and woodblock prints. Caught up with them for a minute and bought a nifty print of a cephalopodian head with a top hat which called to me. Slipped over to catch up with edwardmartiniii, who was looking dapper as always and in the same upbeat mood I've never seen leave his demeanor. He's doing some writing while at the festival, and who knows, maybe he'll need a big redneck character for one of them (*hint hint*).
After some initial confusion over which screen was what, I settled in to my first show of the festival. This was a short of The Statement of Randolph Carter followed by Pickman's Muse.
- Every year, there are two or three films that you kinda groan and think "Ah, christ, this one again?" A lot of Lovecraft's work is hard to film (how do you show the unknowable?), and a novice filmmaker will fall back on one of his works that has little to no needed effects. This is understandable, but there are only so many ways to film the same story over and over before you just wanna say "OK, this one is off-limits for a few years." Statement is like that. Unless you can do something with it that no one else has, it's just...well, it's been done to death. This short film stated out as if it was going to use the original story as the basis for a new take, an extension of the work, or at the very least as the catalyst for a new story. Instead, it was the same thing we've all seen with an incredibly short and predictable (and, by the audiences reaction, laughable) end bit tacked on. I hate to sound jaded, but this was a waste. Thankfully, it was only a 10 minute waste. Hopefully, the filmmaker will expand this one day and make something original and interesting.We had one snag with a projector dying, but it was replaced and everything went smooth from there. In the meantime, we all had a good time making up our own dialogue and sound effects. We're a geeky, bizarre bunch, so you can only imagine.
- Pickman's Muse, well, let's just say it more than made up for the shortcomings of the previous film. In a bold move, the stories Pickman's Model and The Haunter Of The Dark were blended into into a single tale that felt, from the beginning to the end, worthy of being called Lovecraftian. Pickman, our slightly disconnected artist, gets into a rut with his work and gains new inspiration from the Church of Starry Wisdom, and ends up connected to Nyarlathotep in the same manner as a serial killer of previous note. The descent into madness, the connection to the dark, the search for answers, and the denial of truth is built up to a frenzy. In the end, he tries to stop what is happening, only to find what happens when you do not repay your debts to the Things From Beyond. An absolutely fabulous piece of work.
Out to stretch my legs, refill my water (oh, I'll be guzzling that all weekend, you can bet), catch up with Derek for a minute. I'm just about to head into my second showing of the night when I hear my name called. I turn around and who should be standing there but dyvinedeviance! Man, I haven't seen or talked to her in something like 5 years, so this was a very fortuitous moment. We chatted for a while, caught up, generally reconnected. Sadly, she was only there for that night, so we wouldn't get a lot of time, but I got her number and we made promises to hook up some time soon. I love running into an old friend like that. Just an excellent moment. A hug, a smile, and a wink, and I was off to the next show.
- Beyond the Dunwich Horror...you know, I didn't know what to make of this, at first. You're building off of a cult classic (and a wonderfully bad one, at that), and that's always a touchy moment at best. However, it was well filmed (well enough that i didn't realize this was just made last year, it looked a lot more professional and old), the story line was good, and the ideas were faithful to HPL's work and feel. Short synopsis: the Whately clan has survived, and the rotten twin from the original story's banishment was stuck between worlds. They've been trying to gain the Necronomicon ever since, to bring him back and to open the gateway to the Outer Gods ever since. Enter a poor schlub who thinks he's hooking up with the girl of his dreams, and who doesn't know his true bloodline as a descendant of the man who helped close that gateway. Add in an angry brother, some insanity, strange sex, rich bastards, a ghost librarian, and an eager reporter, and you have what turned into a great flick. An added bonus is that it took several moments to poke fun at itself, but not so many that you expected them. They were effective tension breakers, as well as a chance to let out the laugh you'd been trying not to let out.As the flick was getting to the end, I could feel a familiar tiny pain at my back. Kidneys, great. The lights came up, I hit the restroom and headed out. Only about 15 minutes to the house, and it's not bad, I can make it. Off we go.
I had a small, shining moment during this flick. The reporter and the brother are driving at night. In the conversation, the reporter mentions a bunch of murders that have been covered up and unexplained. A few moments later, distracted, they hit an old man on the road. They get out to investigate, and there's a moment of silence,a pregnant pause, if you will. I couldn't help it; I spoke a little louder than I intended and said "Well, I guess they've figured out the murders, now." A huge round of laughter and applause followed from a highly amused audience.
Well, that was the plan.
Late-night road construction between me and the house. I didn't notice that the three-lane highway was down to one until I was past the last exit before it. Had I taken that exit, I could have slid across town and taken the surface streets home. Longer than the freeway, but better than the alternative. Unfortunately, I didn't get that chance, and I was stuck in traffic. 2 miles took half an hour. Half a damn hour that, let me remind you, I'm enjoying rising pain in my gut and kidney. Just before the lanes opened back up, the pain started to subside, which was a beautiful blessing, and then the freeway was clear again (just before the next exit, thanks guys). As soon as the cones were no longer a barrier, I said to Hell with any cops that might be watching and floored it into an open lane. Haven't driven like a bat out of Hell in a long time, but I wanted to get home and try to get the pain to go away. My 15 minute trip home had become 45-50 minutes.
By the time I got home, the pain was mostly gone, and some guzzled cranberry juice was tossed in to start working on things. I took a few minutes to empty my pockets and put up my new festival poster (partly, this was due to being wired and not in the mood for bed, yet), which involved moving the others. Finally, though, I crawled into bed and tried to get some sleep. Eventually, I managed it.