‘The Retaliators’, ‘Demigod’ and a short film with Margaret Cho screened at Screamfest at the Zeitgeist Theater | Movie
The New Jersey suburbs look both idyllic and terrifying in “The Retaliators”. As the holidays approach, Pastor Bishop goes shopping for Christmas trees with his teenage daughters and tries to come up with some inspiring words for a service. Meanwhile, gangs – with many members played by hard rock musicians, all of which are Five Finger Death Punch – are waging a war over a drug case gone awry. Tommy Lee plays a DJ at a strip club, spinning Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” in case someone doesn’t recognize him. And there may be zombies roaming free in the woods, chasing women whose van breaks down.
The horror thriller is drenched in blood and revenge, and it’s the closing film for this year’s edition of the Screamfest Horror Film Festival, which takes place at the Zeitgeist Theater & Lounge from October 22-24. The festival includes a feature film each evening, as well as blocks of short films on Saturday afternoons.
The festival opens at 9:30 p.m. Friday with “Demigod,” directed by and starring local filmmaker and Loyola University professor Miles Doleac. As an actor, he appeared in “Treme” and “American Horror Story”. His most recent directing work includes the comedy horror film “The Dinner Party” and “Hallowed Ground”. In “Demi-Dieu”, the death of her grandfather forces a woman and her husband to travel to the Black Forest in Germany to find out what he left her. Digging into their strange family history, they come face to face with witches and a mysterious horned figure. The screening with “Demigod” is the horror short “Koreatown Ghost Story”, starring Margaret Cho as a menacing acupuncturist.
“Marlene” by German director Andreas Resch is a psychological horror film about a woman who moves to Berlin to try to start her life over and meets a new friendly neighbor. It is screened on Saturday at 6 pm with the short film “Lips & Tips”.
Sunday’s programming revolves around the links between horror and hard rock. In the documentary “The History of Metal and Horror”, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Kirk Hammett of Metallica and many more talk about films from “Dawn of the Dead” to the series “Hellraiser”, and some directors talk about their favorite music. The film also examines how the social-conservative hysteria sealed the link between the two niches. It premieres at 3 p.m. and is followed at 5 p.m. by “The Silver Stream,” starring Ice Nine Kill’s Spencer Charnas as a member of a group being stalked by a psychopath.
“The Retaliators” follows a simple and perverse question. What would it take for the most pious or law-abiding citizens to abandon their principles and seek their own forms of revenge? It’s almost comical how clean and almost absurd Pastor Bishop is that he has managed to avoid the malice and social dysfunction that fill his quaint hometown. An intransigent detective intervenes, but the situation gets out of hand.
The action is swift, and the looming violence keeps the tension going. But the film also seems to have a sense of humor, evoking various horror genres and clichés. In the opening scene, two women lost on a country road wonder if they should take a path that does not appear on their GPS navigation. When they turn on it, they walk past a sign warning of a slaughterhouse on the scene. The film is meant to satisfy horror fans who appreciate the special effects, sadistic villains, and one-liners delivered on the vanquished.
Visit the Zeitgeist Theater & Lounge website or the festival website for a full schedule and tickets.
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