If you’re hankering for Halloween already, here’s something to tide you over that might help give your spooky spirit an extra boost.
The annual Another Hole in the Head film festival screams its way into the Bay Area this week, prepared to scare the dickens out of fans with more than 30 feature films and 200-plus shorts.
Many are rife with Bay Area talent, with all entries slapping a big high-five to genre-filmmaking specializing in twisted sci-fi, horror and/or fantasy fare.
Pass the Remote plucks out a few prime pickings from the slate, most of which is being made available online. All in-person screenings will take place at the New People Cinema in San Francisco’s Japantown and cost $15 a ticket. Proof of vaccination is required along with a firm commitment to mask up throughout the program.
The 10-day festival curdles the blood starting Wednesday and polishes things off Dec. 15. There will be lively Zoom conversations with key filmmakers, along with some cast members and creators popping in at in-person screenings.
Speaking of in-person screenings, they kick off Friday with director Samuel Tressler IV’s trippy reinterpretation of Greek mythology’s “Leda and the Swan.” Titled “Leda,” the B&W drama will be shown in 3-D. (Both 3-D and 2-D will be available to stream).
The 18th iteration of the fest closes with the theater-only screening of four films curated by Bay Area filmmaker Christopher Coppola. That event sports a tongue twister of a title: “Christopher Coppola, the Carny of the Coppola Clan, Presents a Crazy Evening of Clownhead Cowboys, Demon Fireplaces, Living Headless Chickens and Lunar Sexpots.”
Double-dog dare you to say it 10 times and in front of a mirror. You might want to keep the kids tucked at home for that one. Showtime for this collection of off-the-wall shorts commences at 9 p.m. Dec. 12.
Here are a few diabolical delights.
The supernatural romance remains a potent force in the book industry where dreamy vampires, sensual mummies and lusty werewolves canoodle with the bewitched and the besotted.
San Leandro-based filmmaker Sean Nichols Lynch fondly spoofs that lucrative, bankable biz with his snappy South Lake Tahoe-set “Red Snow,” a feisty indie that lacks big-budget production values but boasts a fang-tastic screenplay that’ll make you giggle.
An at-wit’s end romance novelist Olivia (San Jose native Dennice Cisneros) discovers an unexpected muse in the form of a wounded bat that transforms into sinewy bloodsucker Luke (Nico Bellamy), a dreamboat with a mind as sharp as his incisors.
But when bloodthirsty stranger danger comes knocking at the front door around the holidays, things get batty, and Olivia is forced to take action.
“Red Snow” won’t win any awards for special effects, but that doesn’t matter because it has such charming low-fi appeal that it’s hard to resist. (Screens 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and is available to stream Dec. 10 though Dec. 12)
If you’ve ever stayed awake late at night to ponder what would happen should killer mutant crabs scurry their way into a high school prom and have dinner, here’s your lucky chance to witness the bloody results. The suitably titled “Crabs!” is a deliriously deranged homage to killer critter movies, including “Jaws” and that camp classic “Empire of the Ants” with Joan Collins. Although writer and director Pierce M. Berolzheimer goes broad, too broadly at points with the rude humor, “Crabs!” well earns that exclamation point due to its gonzo approach to the creatures-gone-mad genre and its coastal setting — Fort Bragg subbing in for Mendocino. (Available to stream through Dec. 15; screening 9 p.m. Friday)
Should you be in the mood for a nerve-crawling experience that is shot on the cheap but is ever so effective at intertwining terror-filled tales on evil spirits lurking within technology, enter “The Cloud.” The film receives a U.S. theatrical premiere and relies on electronic devices, a la Aneesh Chaganty’s killer-diller “Searching,” to tell its story. The film is cooked up by the clever outside-of-the-box minds attached to San Francisco’s Awesome Theatre. “The Cloud” ties its narrative threads to an insidious by-invitation-only app that snoops around — sometimes without the aid of a human — and hits you with tough questions that beget answers that, of course, have deadly consequences.
Shot in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and also remotely from New York City, it’s a COVID-era chiller with stand-up talent in front of and behind the cameras, including Bay Area co-directors Colin Johnson, Nikki Menez, Sarah Coykendall and Alejandro Emmanuel Torres.
My favorite episodes come near the end when we’re introduced to a gamer YouTube host, a social influencer and her coming-undone partner (played by up-and-coming actor Ed Gonzalez Moreno, who has great fun with the part) and a Zoom interview with the creator of the dreaded app. Don’t miss the end credits. (Screens 9 p.m. Sunday; available to stream through Dec. 15)
Ambition and visual panache are in overloaded supply in Nickson Fong’s bonkers music-flavored plunge into the surreal, “Bashira.” Fong leans heavily on his computer graphics know-how to create an awesome otherworldly setting flush with jittery color patterns and elaborate effects. It’s a tad long-winded but well worth your time with Fong enmeshing the lives of a suicidal fan (Mitzi Akaha) and a fledgling electronic musican (Liam Aiken) as they get drawn into an ancient Japanese curse.
Fong pays respect to the abundant Japanese horror genre while reinvigorating it with his own style. The final showdown is wild and epic. (9 p.m. Dec. 9; available to stream Dec. 11 through Dec. 15)
What a pleasure it is to once again check out the fest’s “Strictly Local” program, which spotlights short works from Bay Area filmmakers. This year, there are four collections of shorts to choose from. One of my favorites is the bizarre, moody “The Nest.” Berkeley writer/director Jason Warriner’s seven-minute chiller uses every second well as its female protagonist (Lauren Tyrrell) listens to a soothing motivational spoken-word podcast while driving her car in the Bay Area for a hike.
Upon her return to her vehicle, she discovers someone has left her a special gift. “The Nest” is crafted so well you do hope Warriner expands upon it and lands a feature deal. It’s part of the “Strictly Local Part 2” collection. The entries swing from the irreverent and the weird to others that are downright lurid and creepy. Warning: “Bye Bye Daddy” features a person in a clown mask and a prowler with deadly intentions. (Screening 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and Dec. 12; online streaming available through Dec. 15)
For a complete schedule and to order tickets, visit https://holehead2021.eventive.org/welcome.