Shockproof film festival starts at Aero

Offbeat cult and horror films show cinema's underbelly

There will be no confusion about the best film at the annual Shockproof festival at Prague's kino Aero. The type of so-called good films that might win awards are not really considered for the program. The Shockproof festival of bizarre horror, cult and underground films runs from Feb. 28 to March 5. Most but not all films are English friendly. Classics including John Carpenter's

They Live plus obscure B-movies and a few newer titles make up the schedule.

“Yes, dearly beloved, it's that time of year when we gather at Cinema Aero to indulge in devil worship and similar uplifting Shockproof activities,” the organizers state in the festival's booklet.

Over the years, the Mexican masked wrestler Santo has become the mascot of the festival. He appears in the opening film, Santo vs. Frankenstein's Daughter, from 1972. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles and Czech translation. The plot involves trapping Santo so his blood can be used to create eternal life. There is also the traditional Blind Date film where the title is not announced.

The 1970s was a great era for strange films , and the festival has three in English. Vincent Price appears in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a sort of steam punk horror film from 1971. Price plays a disfigured doctor who seeks revenge. The 1974 Italian horror film The Antichrist was inspired by the success of The Exorcist, but tried to outdo its more gruesome elements. The Italian film, also known as The Tempter, features Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy and Alida Valli among its embarrassed cast. For more mature audiences there is Sexworld, a 1977 adult film made as a ripoff / homage of Westworld. People can live out their fantasies at a special holiday resort. Only people over 18 can attend this entry.

The 1980s are represented by two films that focus on the homeless. John Carpenter's 1988 film They Live has become topical again. Rich and powerful people, with some very mysterious connections, have taken over the media, filling it with lies and propaganda. A group of homeless people from a shelter tumble on to the plot and try to save the world. From 1987 the body horror film Street Trash is a bit more obscure. Poor people in Lower Manhattan are affected by tainted cheap wine, and mayhem ensues.

Only two films from the 1990s are English friendly. Ultra Warrior, also called Welcome to Oblivion, is a 1990 Roger Corman production shot in Peru with extensive use of footage recycled from other films. It involved a nuclear holocaust and mutants. The 1996 film Tromeo and Juliet is inspired by Shakespeare but made by the people who brought us the Toxic Avenger series. This film is also only for people over 18 due to sex and violence.

The 2000s brought us the 2003 American psychological horror film May, about a disturbed young woman and her doll. It was ranked as one of the best horror films of the decade by film site Bloody Disgusting.

The recent releases include The Void, a 2016 Canadian horror film set in an isolated hospital where people are transforming into something not human. Romania contributes the 2015 found footage film Be My Cat: A Film for Anne. The English-language psychological horror film shows how far a young filmmaker will go to get a Hollywood actress to appear in his film. The 2012 British horror comedy Sightseers was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. What should have been a simple holiday road trip turns into a bloody crime spree.

Other films include a Japanese look at a serial killer and a German exercise in gory violence, but these are not English friendly. Several films have live dubbing done for comic effect, so these require Czech language skills as the original soundtrack will be hard to hear.

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