Over the past couple of months, we’ve been rolling out the details on Cinepocalypse, a new genre film festival debuting at Chicago’s beautiful, historic Music Box Theatre. (Seriously, they’ve got an organ player and everything.) Now the time has finally come, and festivities kick off tonight at 8 p.m. with the Midwest premiere of the intense neo-noir Sweet Virginia, starring The Punisher himself, John Bernthal, as a washed-up former rodeo champion who strikes up an unexpected friendship with a professional killer in small-town Alaska.
That’s just one of more than 60 films and events scheduled for the inaugural Cinepocalypse, the most ambitious slate of genre-film festival programming that’s ever been attempted in the Windy City. (The festival’s previous incarnation, Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival, while awesome, wasn’t as grand in scope.) Dozens of special guests—including The Grey director Joe Carnahan, You’re Next and The Guest screenwriter Simon Barrett, The Stuff and It’s Alive director Larry Cohen, Suspiria star Jessica Harper, and genre-film favorites Antonio Fargas and Barbara Crampton—are scheduled to appear over the next week, at screening culminating with the U.S. premiere of the “pulpy, colorful, and wildly over-the-top action/sci-fi/horror mash-up” Beyond Skyline next Thursday, November 9, at 8:30 p.m.
With everything going on, we’ve put together a list of our 10 most anticipated films and/or events, all taking place between tomorrow, November 3, and next Wednesday, November 8.
Tragedy Girls (Friday, 7:30 p.m.)
Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Alexandra Shipp X-Men: Apocalypse’s Storm), and Craig Robinson star in this razor-sharp teen slasher comedy, a blend of Scream and Heathers that satirizes social-media fame and serial-killer culture. With a Q&A with director Tyler Macintyre conducted by our own Alex McLevy!
Primal Rage (Friday, 10:00 p.m)
This one’s a world premiere, so we don’t know too much about it at this point. But considering what we do know is that it’s a Bigfoot movie being billed as one of the goriest of the year directed by longtime special effects artist Patrick Magee (Spider-Man, Alien Vs. Predator), consider our interest piqued.
Lowlife (Saturday, 9:45 p.m)
One of our favorites out of this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Lowlife, a kaleidoscopic crime film set in the lower-class criminal underworld of Los Angeles, combines brutal violence and witty dialogue in ways that make it catnip to Quentin Tarantino fans.
Beyond The Room: Get Even (Sunday, 12:15 a.m)
Presented by yours truly here at The A.V. Club, Get Even is the wonderfully bizarre country-western answer to The Room you never knew you needed. L.A.-based attorney John De Hart hired B-movie madman Wings Hauser and early ‘80s sex symbol Pamela Bryant for this DIY labor of love, starring De Hart himself as an ex-cop seeking vengeance against the Satanic officer who framed him for drug smuggling. Get Even never received a theatrical run and is only available from the director himself, so see it at the Music Box while you can.
Eric Roberts Is The Fucking Man/The Ambulance (Sunday, 12:00 p.m./1:45 p.m.)
Eric “I’ll do anything” Roberts will be in attendance at this year’s Cinepocalypse for a live taping of the podcast Eric Roberts Is The Fucking Man, all about—you guessed it—how cool Eric Roberts is. Followed by a screening of The Ambulance—Larry Cohen’s 1990 black comedy starring Roberts as a sarcastic New Yorker investigating a sinister ambulance—with Cohen and Roberts in attendance.
Housewife (Sunday and Monday, 11:59 p.m.)
Baskin director Can Evrenol returns with his sophomore feature, about a woman whose encounter with a celebrity psychic loosens her already tenuous grip on reality. If Evrenol’s first movie is any indication, shit’s going to get very, very weird in this one.
Veronica (Monday, 9:30 p.m.)
Spanish director Paco Plaza, best known as the creator of the [REC] franchise, is known for making films that are legitimately shit-your-pants scary, so we’re excited to see what he can do with the demonic possession subgenre.
Suspiria (Monday, 7:00 p.m.)
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already seen Dario Argento’s delirious 1977 horror classic. But have you seen it in 35mm, with star Jessica Harper in the audience watching it with you? Probably not.
Mohawk (Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.)
We Are Still Here director Ted Geoghegan teamed up with Paperbacks From Hell writer Grady Hendrix for this ultraviolent Native American revenge thriller, starring Kaniehtiio Horn as a Mohawk warrior who transforms into a seemingly supernatural killing machine after her two lovers are killed by American soldiers in 1810s New York. Another highlight of this year’s Fantasia.
Blood/Guts/Bullets/Octane (Tuesday 9:30 p.m., Wednesday 2:00, 4:50, 9:30, 11:45 p.m.)
The title refers to the film and to a film series, curated specially for Cinepocalypse by director Joe Carnahan, Along with a rare 35mm screening of his breakthrough 1998 feature Blood, Guts, Bullets, And Octane, Carnahan has selected four films, each representing one of those four elements: John Woo’s Bullet In The Head (1990), Walter Hill’s Hard Times (1975), Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987), and Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive (1986). All films will be screened on 35mm for maximum awesomeness.
Cinepocalypse is sponsored by IFC Midnight, Bloody-Disgusting, Half Acre Beer, and your very own A.V. Club. Tickets to individual screennigs are linked above, and passes for this week’s festivities can be found on the Music Box website. See you there!