So many festivals, so little curation. When news rolled in of the transformation of Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival (begun in 2014) into “Cinepocalypse,” under the guiding hands of Josh Goldbloom and Music Box Theatre general manager Ryan Oestreich, the roster of retrospectives alone was a delightful surprise. There are genre fests all over the place with “fantastic” and like words, but any festival bringing together writer-directors Larry Cohen and Joe Carnahan, actors Antonio Fargas, Eric Roberts, Barbara Crampton and Jessica Harper gets a rapidly raised eyebrow and a solemn, affirming nod. Goldbloom holds simple criteria: “no-holds-barred badass cinema.” Larry Cohen, director of “It’s Alive,” gets a lifetime achievement award and presents his little-seen “The Ambulance” alongside Eric Roberts as well as a new doc about his career. Actor Antonio Fargas gets a lifetime nod, too, and presents “Foxy Brown” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” The Chicago Cinema Society’s newly unearthed 35mm print of “Suspiria”’s uncut release is on the schedule, along with star Jessica Harper. Joe Carnahan will present not only his 1997 debut, the micro-budgeted “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane” in 35mm, but also in 35mm, Kathryn Bigelow’s forlorn vampire romance “Near Dark” (1987); John Woo’s 1990 bullet ballet “Bullet In The Head”; Stephen King’s only directorial outing, 1986’s “Maximum Overdrive,” and in a 4K digital restoration, the terse, brute beauty of Walter Hill’s 1975 debut, the Depression-era back-alley fist-fighting drama “Hard Times.” I’ve never seen the King, but Carnahan’s other choices are seminal works of lurid, punchy, poetic cinema. (Ray Pride)
“Cinepocalypse” runs November 2-9. Full schedule at musicboxtheatre.com
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.