Chicago’s Cinepocalypse festival has only been around since 2017, and yet it is quickly becoming one of the most essential genre fests in North America. This year’s enticing lineup only proves Cinepocalypse’s mad grandiosity, with a slew of premieres, special guests, repertory screenings, as spiked with movie geek goodies like the world premiere of an R-rated “gore cut” of the infamous “Tammy and the T-Rex,” and two events that will be hosted by the everlasting costumed metal band, GWAR.
The festival kicks off on Thursday night with the world premiere of “Verotika,” which is written and directed by the legendary punk rocker Glenn Danzig. The film—an anthology project based on “the output of Danzig’s long-running, mature comic book publishing company Verotik”—will see Danzig make his debut as a filmmaker, inherently rendering this particular event a moment in music and film history.
On Friday night, Cinepocalypse will have its first repertory screening with “Flatliners,” directed by Joel Schumacher. Schumacher was supposed to attend the festival as a judge, but will be fulfilling those duties from afar—still, the Music Box is going to treat viewers to a rare 70mm print of a film that Roger called “an original and intelligent thriller” back in 1990.
Later that Friday evening, Lucas Heyne’s “Mope” comes to Cinepocalypse to gross out and inevitably polarize viewers with its grimy comedy about two wannabe porn stars. It’s a true story, and that makes its third act even more tough, as curious viewers will find out. Maybe you’ll have more fun with it than I did, (though I laughed a good deal), going into it knowing that. Plus, it has David Arquette in an obscene supporting role you’re not likely to forget.
Saturday will see the North American premiere of “The Swerve,” a slow-burn psychological thriller written and directed by newcomer Dean Kapsalis. While this selection might be one of the festival’s quieter picks, the movie casts a spell as it shows a housewife, mother, and teacher (played impeccably by Azura Skye) losing her mind. “The Swerve” is the type of character study that has a rich cinematic quality to it, including its cinematography and spare score, all that takes the film to a shocking climax. Consider it one of the more unsuspecting titles of the fest, but a worthwhile one all the same.
On Saturday night, Cinepocalypse will have the Midwest premiere of “The Lodge.” Brian Tallerico caught the movie during its world premiere at Sundance and called it “a truly unsettling movie, the kind of horror film that rattles you on an almost subconscious level, making you more uncomfortable than going for cheap scares. Don’t ask questions or dissect the believability of the plot. Just check in.”
Sunday starts off with the world premiere of the animated film “Attack of the Demons,” a cut-paper animation genre dive with a Romero, Bava-inspired vision that speaks for itself. And though this Sunday might also be Father’s Day, it will be unofficially known as Lucky McKee Day at the Music Box: Cinepocalypse will see the “May” and “The Woman” present the world premiere of his new movie “Kindred Spirits,” starring Thora Birch, Caitlin Stasey, and Macon Blair. After that, Cinepocalypse will host a screening of “Darlin’,” which is a direct sequel to McKee’s “The Woman,” written and directed by its star, Pollyanna McIntosh. Our own Brian Tallerico gave the film a positive review out of SXSW, calling it “a movie that never stops moving and tackles the patriarchy with bloody teeth.”
On Monday night, Cinepocalypse will give the world premiere to an R-rated “gore cut” of the infamous “Tammy and the T-Rex,” directed by “Mac and Me” auteur Stewart Raffill. The original version of “Tammy” was PG-13 with its story of a high school boy (played by Paul Walker) whose brain is put into a T-Rex, who seeks vengeance to reunite with his girlfriend Tammy (Denise Richards). But this new 35mm cut, straight from the prestigious halls of the Academy Film Archive, reportedly puts back in the head-crushings that were excised to make it more teen-friendly.
Tuesday night will feature a very special guest, as critic, horror savant, and “Last Drive-In” host Joe Bob Briggs presents “Joe Bob Briggs: How Rednecks Saved Hollywood.” According to the Cinepocalypse website, the presentation will use over 200 clips to “review the history of rednecks in America as told through the classics of grind house and mainstream movies” and be a “fast-and-furious two hours.”
The closing night film will be a 35mm presentation of the slacker-rocker comedy “Airheads,” with director Michael Lehmann in the attendance. This is one of those events in which the Q&A should be worth the admission alone, not just because of the wonder that is “Airheads,” but the other titles in his filmography, like “Heathers” and “Hudson Hawk.” Someone can even ask him whether he qualifies his movie “40 Days and 40 Nights” as an Easter-themed sex comedy.
That’s just a taste: other line-up highlights include a presentation of the latest “Into the Dark” movie, “Culture Shock”; a 4K, producer’s cut presentation of dopey ’80s gem “Hot Dog … The Movie” presented by Katie Rife of the AV Club and Mike McBeardo McPadden, author of Teen Movie Hell; two feature-length blocks of shorts programming; the world premiere of Chicago-set slasher “The Lurker” and more.
Cinepocalypse 2019 starts on Thursday, June 13 and ends on June 20 and takes place at Chicago’s Music Box Theater. For more information, including tickets and showtimes, click here