Shockproof Festival at kino Aero

Cult films from the cinema world’s dark underbelly are back

Don’t say the word “bad.” The fans of the dark edges of cinema revel in the low-budget madness and obscure charms of cult films.

The Shockproof Festival is now in its 14th year and runs Feb. 27 to March 4 at Kino Aero in Prague’s trendy Žižkov neighborhood.

The festival kicks off with a film by John Waters, the king of underground cinema. Multiple Maniacs was his second feature, and it finds his regular cast in an indescribable story of perversion and crime, with topical 1970 references.

Later on, the opening evening is a new film, Lowlife, set in modern Los Angeles and paying homage to Mexican wrestling films and Quentin Tarantino. The plot involves illegal organ trade. Director Ryan Prows previously won a Student Academy Award for a short film.

The rest of the festival is a wild assortment, some of which is too bizarre to describe — or even mention by title — for a general audience.

Another new film is the French action entry (with English subtitles) called Let the Corpses Tan. Hiding out at a sleepy village with 250 kilograms of stolen gold leads to a lot of gunplay. The film evokes the classic Euro thrillers of the 1970s.

You might not know the name Saul Bass, but you have seen his work. He did the opening credits for many classic films such as Psycho, and also designed many famous brand logos. His only feature film is Phase IV, from 1974. A catastrophe leads to ants undergoing rapid evolution. The film was not a box office success but has many fans.

The 1993 Australian film Bad Boy Bubby is an Australian black comedy about a man who has never left his house because his mother told him the air outside was poison. He eventually escapes, though.

From Hong Kong, the 1992 film The Cat, with English subtitles, has a cat from outer space fighting against other aliens. It is based on a series of novels about an adventure author names Wisely who gets caught up in his own tales.

For those willing to take a chance, there is a film with no announced title, but it should be English-friendly.

Running Man, based on a Stephen King story, is one of the more mainstream entries. It will have live commentary in Czech telling a somewhat different story that had been intended. Several other films such as Troma’s War also have live dubbing, making them hard to understand of people without Czech language skills. Hard Ticket to Hawaii, a 1987 film from Andy Sidaris, has live gender-balanced narration in Czech.

The festival closes with Birdemic: Shock and Terror, a semi-remake of Hitchcock’s The Birds, shot on a very low budget by an amateur director who made his money selling software. He had some very odd ideas about narrative and special effects. The film itself and its strange success have been the subject of a documentary.

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