Xanadu Las Vegas Hosts Indie Film Festival
Xanadu Las Vegas, Sin City’s newest annual convention for Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy fans swept into town on April 17-19 at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, and included an Indie Film Festival featuring several world premieres.
Offerings in feature-length Drama, Science Fiction, and Horror were complemented by Shorts ranging in running time from 10-30 minutes. There was, however, no shortage of demons, arterial spurts, spaceships, face masks, CGI beasts, gratuitous sex, poetic visuals, macabre images, poignant revelations, and pregnant men. All manner of life form human or otherwise, graced (or disgraced) the multiple screens, rendering them alive with the undead, backlit and most definitely awake in the dark
Festival awards went to Persephone, (Best Short) a mask and puppet retelling of the Greek myth, sans dialogue, but bursting with lush imagery and vivid colors, and The Revenant (Best Feature) about a decomposing, but animated corpse with a blood lust and two pals willing to help him satisfy it. That is, if there really can be satisfaction in putrefaction.
Other entries featured actress/producer Chase Masterson (Deep Space 9, E.R.) in Yesterday Was a Lie, a black and white film-noir homage, stylish and atmospheric in its quest to unveil a mystery. Even the dialogue is delivered in a staccato tempo reminiscent of gumshoe heroes from a bygone era. This time though, instead of the line, “and then SHE walked in,” the female lead IS a she, and a beautiful one at that.
Actress/Producer Chase Masterson
Tim Russ’s Of Gods & Men continues the Star Trek saga with Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols from the original series in a brand new Starfleet adventure, 40 years after the series. A sentimental favorite. Nichols also stars in J. Neil Schulman’s Lady Magdalene’s about Al Qaeda and a Nevada Brothel. Your call if this one belongs in Sci Fi, Fantasy or Horror.
Don Barnhart Jr.’s China Dolls deals with the serious subject of human trafficking. Two girls break free and the mob wants them back. Bet on guns, and skin and a Vegas backdrop to keep this action/adventure flick on high octane.
Christopher Mihm’s Cave Women on Mars provides truth in advertising as American crewmen land on the red planet and discover…well, you know the rest. One of them even falls in love. Seems horny comes with its own gravitational pull.
Mike Conway’s Exile contains its own strong female in the formidable form of Heather Lei Guzzetta as an android with a mission to protect her human charge. Everyone else is hamburger in her hands. This one was an audience favorite.
Ted V. Mikels’ Demon Haunt is the 80-year-old director’s latest horror happening about an exorcism. This tie it’s a house that needs it. Demons are everywhere, scratching and screaming and lounging around like insouciant housecats. Call the priest and some guy that loses, and then regains his faith, and you have instant redemption, and at least a shot at using the basement of your home for a useful purpose.
In Chris Gabriel’s S4, Marines get pregnant. Male Marines. They get fat and have wild cravings for raw steak and lark. They get emotional. They give birth to offspring who’d like to eat them. When the military gets hormonal no one is safe.
Jeff Ferrell’s Morella, based on the Edgar Allen Poe tale is a somber, pensive ode to true love – physically dead, but supernaturally immortal. Poetic in visuals and pacing, Morella is like a painting in each frame. As sweet as Poe can bear to be while maintaining his macabre reputation.
Vadata, from Germany, is Manuel Lebelt’s cryptic tale about a last puzzle piece that changes all perception for its recipient. Puzzling, indeed, but as satisfying as finally reaching a long sought-after destination with a man who will ask for directions.
Desert Rose is Gilbert Cuevas’ surreal tale of an illegal border crossing. Hot, harrowing, heartbreaking, the sepia-toned short is full of tension and hard-choices. Lots of words beginning with “H” but not at all helpless in its effective portrayal of a desperate man and the painful decision he must make.
Star Wars Episode Dew is Pat Kerby’s parody of Star Wars characters (a Darth and a Jedi) battling over…product placement. You’ll have to see it for yourself and let it sneak up on you – pretty hard to do in the middle of a lightsaber duel. Hint: “There is no try, there is only Dew.”
Debbie Mariott’s Home is not some tree-lined block in Middle America. It’s not even in Middle Earth. Disgusted with her life, a woman packs a useless bag and stands in the backyard and waits. Her boyfriend discovers just how far she will go to get away from it all.
These are just some of the Indies that invaded Xanadu’s Pleasure Dome in mid-April. Follow the link below for a complete list.
Xanadu Las Vegas also featured guest speakers (Author, Robert J. Sawyer, Artist, Brom, SFX Master, Joe Viskocil), panels, vendors, a masquerade competition and fashion show, anime antics, games, technology, and horror and fantasy enough for Goth vixens who like to read. XLV was its own continent for three days on the third floor of the Plaza Hotel & Casino, a place where you’d find a seven-foot Alien Warrior Comic amid Japanese maids, Starfleet Commanders next to corseted creatures (some with wings) and a statuesque Princess Leia, complete with cinnamon-roll hair and virginal white gown in the company of Imperial Stormtroopers.
Author, Robert J. Sawyer
SFX Master, Joe Viskocil
Alien Warrior Comic
Maids of Ichigo Cafe
Costume contest entrants
And they’ll all return the same time next year. Even your humble correspondent will adopt her best Terminator voice to utter the signature phrase, “I’ll be back.” Join me?
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