More on Cinequest. At a film festival you can see the true, uninhibited flowering of this art form. Walking past the posters for current Hollywood awfulness like "The Astronaut Farmer" and "The Road to Terabithia," I was struck by how lame and hollow and predictable this pre-digested pablum is.
In contrast, "Blood Car" is this spectacularly campy film straight out of exploitation theatre of the seventies. Cheaply and quickly made, it has a magnificently "just wrong" idea. In the near future, gasoline prices are so high that alternative fuels are sought. One guy develops a car that runs on human blood. He makes a deal with the devil, in the form of a sultry sleazegirl, and then the body count starts rising. Meanwhile, he is chased by shadowy government agents. There are also cute squirrels, puppies and small children. All of which are, really, potential sources for fuel. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. This type of high-energy movie asks you to check your persnicketty critique of filmmaking at the door (the sound production was jarring, music track relied too heavily on pre-recorded classical music and there were some continuity errors), along with your sense of morals. The director said that creative decisions were done to make the film as "retarded" as possible. But that is part of the fun of exploitation cinema - it is high energy, shocking, trashy and in this case, very very funny.
(As an added thought, it also occurs to me that "exploitation movies" have the potential to be, in a way, morality plays. They wouldn't seem to be such at first glance, what with all the sex and violence. But because they deal so frankly with subjects more gingerly addressed by mainstream cinema, they can make powerful statements: cautionary tales of "don't try this at home." Or not.)
"Monster Camp" is a documentary about LARPers (folks who do Live Action Role Playing) in the woods near Seattle. These are the wacky people seen at conventions walking around in pseudo-Lord of the Rings outfits with swords. Not the shiny metal blades hanging on a wall untouched, lest finger oils ruin the metal. No, these are wood swords covered in layers of foam and duct tape - swords for people in costume to hit other people in costume. It was fun seeing the fight scenes and seeing folks from the Seattle sci-fi convention Norwescon on screen. There was also surprising pathos. The fellow who runs the group - called NERO - was burned out after doing this for seven years and not getting enough volunteer help to make the costumes and props, to write the scripts and do all the background logistics that allow people to hit each other with foam-covered swords all weekend long. If someone didn't step in, the group would die, and with it the only social outlet many of these misfits had. There were also interesting side stories in this documentary about couples forming "in game" and "out of game". One couple together "in the real world" included a girl who was the mate of some other guy "in game," and you can imagine the jealousy and conflicts that spawned. All in all, a really cool documentary.