October 31, 2009


The night began as the perfect setup for a horror movie. A solitary person takes a wrong turn on a dark, wet, windy street and becomes lost, disoriented, and alone in an unfamiliar part of town. Here you would expect a zombie to lurch from a shadowy alley for a bite or a masked maniac to appear behind his victim and begin stalking. Thankfully, the worst that happened to me when I got lost on the way to Toronto's Revue Cinema is that I was not as early as I would have liked for the 1st Annual Zombie Short Film Festival.

Mutilated barbies, zombie curlers, ninjas vs. zombies, and two (count'em) two zombie beer movies. What more could you ask for?

 On October 30th, 2009, the Revue Cinema was host to the 1st Annual Zombie Short Film Festival. Emceed by organizer and co-foudner Jim Taylor (who greeted the audience in full zombie costume no less), this unique festival drew a near-capacity crowd of enthusiastic zombie and film fans for a night of ten short zombie films:
1. Keg of the Dead: Jim Dirschberger & Paul Schilens
2. The Zombie: April Campbell (featuring Randy Smith)
3. Deadspiel: Pat Corcoran & Jay Molloy
4. The Skin of Your Teeth: Dan Gingold
5. They Shall Pay With Rivers of Blood: Travis Hopkins, Matthew Badiali, and Kristina Anstiss
6. The Lift: Mark McCarthy, Fintan Karney
7. ZZZZOMBIES: David King
8. Housewarming: Lee Marquardt
9. ZOMBEER: Marjan Westbrock
10. Bum of the Dead: Geoff Whitman, Trevor Townsend, Connie Daye, and Rich Bisquera
The energy in the room was electric; as a result, the night was one of the more fun evenings I've had at the movies in a long time. From approximately thirty films submitted from all over the world, the organizers of the festival chose ten finalists to compete for a $500 cash prize and the prestigious Z’omb D’or award (think Oscar but undead). All ten films were screened for the audience, and a panel of judges with serious zombie-cred chose three films for the audience to vote by applause as winner.

The judges included zombie art master Rob Sacchetto (read my review of his latest art book), who was in attendance to sign and sell his fantastic art; Mike “Nug” Nahrgang, actor in Evil Dead: The Musical; and Alyson Court, Canadian actress and voice of Claire Redfield in the Resident Evil games and the film Resident Evil: Degeneration.

While I will give each film a mini review in a separate post, I am proud to report that the top honour was claimed by my favorite film of the night: Deadspiel (2008), a zombie curling film directed by Jay Molloy. You may remember Deadspiel from my coverage of the Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut Edition where it screened before the outdoor presentation of Night of the Living Dead.

Although I couldn't stay in town to attend the after-party, the Zombie Short Film Festival was a fantastic cap to my night and a perfect precursor to the Halloween weekend. From where I was sitting and observing the audience -- some of whom had come in zombie costume -- the festival seemed like a smashing success. It will be a cruel, cruel shame if the Zombie Short Film Festival does not return next year for another round of bite-sized undead cinema.

Whether you like fast zombies, slow zombies, serious films, grindhouse films, funny films, liveaction films, or animated films, the Zombie Short Film Festival had something for you.

If you missed out, be there next year. You won't regret it.