Hey you! Have a hankering for the end times? Will you be in New York City this weekend? Did you like Lifeforce? Want to watch me interview Larry Cohen, the director of cult classics like The Stuff and Q: The Winged Serpent? Fuck yeah, you do!
This weekend, the third annual Doomsday Film Festival And Symposium — which explores "our collective fascination with the apocalypse in film, art and culture" — hits Manhattan.
2011's selection boasts such undiscovered gems as the underrated "supercomputer goes bonkers" film Colossus: The Forbin Project and God Told Me To, Larry Cohen's trippy 1970s Biblical homicide flick. I'll be interviewing Cohen next Sunday on Skype! Come and see! Shameless self-promotion!
The DDFF was born when co-curators Andrew Miller and Kristana Textor realized she had never seen The Road Warrior, and they needed to rectify that situation with an entire film festival. Miller promised io9 academic talks with eschatological experts, as well as a totally weird-ass party! There will be a bomb shelter lounge, zombie make-up for the screening of Lifeforce, and a DJ mixing PSAs and air-raid sirens!
The 2011 Doomsday Film Festival will be held October 21-23 at 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street) in Manhattan. Here's the full film schedule:
Fri, Oct 21, 8pm, $12
Followed by Q&A with Anthony Edwards & Steve De Jarnatt conducted by Rumsey
Co-presented by Not Coming to a Theater Near You
"I think it's the insects' turn."
Doomed romantic Anthony Edwards finally stumbles into a meet-cute with a dream girl, but on the eve of their second date, he picks up a stray ringing pay phone at 4 am and gets some unfortunate news-WWIII has been launched, giving him 70 minutes before nukes descend upon L.A.
Originally intended to be the plot of Twilight Zone: The Movie, the film was a labor of love for writer/director Steve De Jarnatt, taking nearly a decade to produce independently. Miracle Mile stands as the definitive time-capsule of Reagan-era apocalyptic dread, richly populated by the nocturnal riffraff of L.A., with its gallery of lonely waitresses, homeless lunatics and neonspandexed bodybuilders scrambling desperately to escape the impending black rain.
Director: Steve De Jarnatt. 87 min. 1988. 35mm
Fri, Oct 21, 10:30pm, $12
Special guest curator Edgar Wright (in person, schedule permitting)
Oh, Y2K. Quaint as it may seem now, pre-millennial panic loomed like a spectre for years-with the doomsday clock ticking down to both the Rapture and technological breakdown, not to mention the greatest Prince party ever. Don McKellar's Last Night may have sprung from Y2K insanity, but remains timeless, a sweetly nonchalant apocalypse in miniature.
Leave it to the Canadians to best capture the aw-shucks benign resignation of late ‘90s angst-with six hours left until some unidentified cataclysm, the radio counts down the best songs of all time, a gas-utility exec (David Cronenberg) makes thank-you calls, and a family politely goes through the motions of their last meal. Instead of cowering or rising up against their doomsday, McKellar's touching myriad of hapless citizens just sort of carry on. And as Amy Taubin says, Last Night's doozy of a finale rivals "Giulietta Massina smiling into the camera in Nights of Cabiria, or the seaside sunset in Eric Rohmer's The Green Ray."
Director: Don McKellar. 98 min. 1999. 35mm
Sat, Oct 22, 6pm, $12
COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT
Followed by "The Singularity is Nigh" panel discussion
Co-presented by Motherboard
In the granddaddy of "technology run amok" films (released in 1970), the eponymous NORAD-sized supercomputer is designed as nuclear failsafe, but before you can say HAL (or Skynet, or the Matrix), the computer becomes self-aware and turns against its human masters.
Bizarrely forgotten, Colossus was actually produced before 2001 but delayed because its studio was so upset by the film's grim flippant tone. Nowhere as grave and bloodless as your standard Luddite paranoid fantasy, Colossus is actually closer in spirit to Strangelove, with its wry literate script, crisp pacing, mordant take on human folly and increasingly odd twists-notably when Colossus puts its scientist-creator's every move (including sexy time) under surveillance.
Director: Joseph Sargent. 100 min. 1970. 35mm
Followed by a panel discussion featuring journalist Maggie Jackson (Distracted: The Erosion of Attention & the Coming Dark Age), critic Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out NY), author Jason Zinoman (Shock Value), roboticist Chris Bregler, and president of the Singularity Institute Michael Vassar. Moderated by Motherboard editor-in-chief Michael Byrne.
Sat, Oct 22, 9:30pm, $12
Introduced by Mike Sampson of JoBlo
Co-presented by JoBlo
Pre-Screening Complimentary Sexy Alien Zombie Makeup
In this bugnuts sci-fi exploitation masterwork of "Holy F**ing Sh*t" proportions, a cadre of astronauts discovers a ship tucked inside Halley's Comet containing three smoking hot naked vampire humanoids-but when the creatures are brought back to London for research, they proceed to turn the Brits into a mass of soul-sucking zombies.
Essentially an apocalyptic film festival unto itself, Lifeforce conjures no less than every conceivable doomsday scenario, with an emphasis on perverse sexual imagery so often ignored by the apocalyptic canon. Unfairly derided at the time as incoherent junk, this is far from phoned-in hackwork, with director Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and writer Dan O'Bannon (Alien) at their most demented, dialing up their pet obsessions to 11. Your new favorite cult classic, this is a film made for drinking games, and not to be missed on the big screen.
Director: Tobe Hooper. 116 min. 1985. 35 mm
Sun, Oct 23, 2pm, $12
Followed by "Doomsday on the Brain" panel discussion
Co-presented by BOMB Magazine
Formidable institution, AFI-list mainstay, and the Kubrick least likely to cause dissent, this Cold War "nightmare comedy" is so canonical it's easy to forget that it's also radical, devastatingly funny and eerily prescient.
Fearful the Russkies are fluoridating America's drinking water to pollute "our precious bodily fluids," General Jack D. Ripper fires up the "Doomsday Machine," sending the world's power players scrambling. Released when the End was awfully close to nigh, Strangelove was intended to be gravely serious, but as Kubrick began to contemplate "mutually assured destruction" (aka MAD), he couldn't help but zero in on the lunacy. "One of the great adolescent pranks perpetrated in movies." – J. Hoberman
Director: Stanley Kubrick. 91 min. 1964. 35mm
Following the film, we'll be joined by a panel of experts in an attempt to diagnose our collective doomsday complex and wrap our heads around the lunacy of it all. Featured panelists include: neuroscientist Joseph Le Doux (Synaptic Self), Dr. Mark Siegel (False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear), Lee Quinby (Millenial Seduction), critic Keith Uhlich (Time Out NY) and critic Mark Asch (The L Magazine). Moderated by Paul W. Morris, General Manager of BOMB Magazine.
Sun, Oct 23, 4:30pm, $12
An international array of brand-new apocalypse films including: crazed prophet street art, psychedelic animation starring a single lemon, docs tracking the daily lives of Harold Camping's devoted followers, Slamdance award winners, experimental collage art featuring haunted meteorologists, and steampunk ninjas courtesy of the FX wizard behind Star Wars and Starship Troopers.
• GET WITH THE PROGRAM - Jennifer Deutrom. Austin, TX. 2010. 4 min
• HEARTPOCALYPSE - Matthew Silver. Brooklyn, NY. 2010. 7 min.
• HOW TO PREPARE FOR SURVIVAL - Lisa Kletjian. Brooklyn, NY. 2011.18min
• JUPITER ELICUS - Kelly Sears. Houston, TX. 2010. 4 min
• MATTHEW 24:14 - Eyespeak. NY, NY. 2011. 5min
• MUTANTLAND - Phil Tippett. Los Angeles, CA. 2011. 5min
• SEED - Ben Richardson & Daniel Bird. Brooklyn, NY. 2011.10 min
Followed by an ultra rare screening of FUTURE SHOCK
"In 1970, sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler, the Ray Kurzweil of his day, wrote a book entitled Future Shock, which proposed a certain distressing psychological state induced by change so rapid the human mind can't digest it, and introduced the notion of "information overload" for the first time. In 1972, the book, already a bestseller, was adapted into a little-known documentary of the same name, narrated by Orson Welles. Exploring the shift from industrial society to what Toffler calls "super-industrial society," the film tackles notions of consumerism and information overload — think BBC's The Century of the Self meets Nicholas Carr's The Shallows." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
Director: Alex Grasshoff. 43 min. 1972. 16mm
Sun, Oct 23, 7pm, $12
GOD TOLD ME TO
Followed by Skype Q&A with director Larry Cohen conducted by Cyriaque Lamar of io9
Co-presented by Alt Screen
As rapturously nutjob as a Harold Camping prophecy, Larry Cohen's unholy B flick casts Tony Lo Bianco as a devout Catholic cop investigating an outbreak of homicidal religious mania, where God is being blamed for coercing the good people of NYC to send their loved ones to heaven the hard way.
Perhaps the most radical of Cohen's populist genre works, God Told Me To is the paranoid skuzzy downtown flipside to Rosemary's Baby's uptown neurosis. Tautly paced, with an uneasy blend of fever dream deaths, sly social commentary, sacrilegious black comedy, edgy vérité lensing, and Catholic guilt played straight, God Told Me To features scene after scene of rich pulpy dialogue delivered by a cast of old pro character actors. Released during a time when both the cult craze and the Christian Right had just made their ascension, the film's heretical derangement of the Gospel leaves absolutely no spiritual anxiety unprodded.
Director: Larry Cohen. 87 min. 1976. 16mm