A year and a half since its first incarnation, the Clinton St. Theater is offering another Portland Underground Film Festival (PUFF). Spanning four days and 12 films, PUFF has a ridiculously scattershot selection: everything from rock documentaries (Let Them Eat Rock), to footage from Portland's underground biking community (the "Bike Mayhem" program), to predictable Clinton St. standbys (Jerkbeast). (For reviews of selected PUFF entries, see Film Shorts on pg. 53.)
Highlights include the aforementioned Let Them Eat Rock, which follows The Upper Crust, a band whose gimmick is dressing up in 18th Century finery, and Stomp! Shout! Scream!, a callback to '60s beach and monster flicks.
But there are some bad bets, too—Zombie Christ has an awesome premise (I mean, just look at the title!) that goes to waste, while Mad Cowgirl's most noteworthy aspect is that it features that creepy old dude who played Chekov on Star Trek.
But that's the inherent risk of a festival that celebrates a genre as ill-defined as "underground"—with no-budget, under-the-radar films that cover every topic and fill every genre, some projects will justify the hard work involved, while others will just demonstrate that the filmmakers' shouldn't be slacking at their day jobs. (Speaking of filmmakers—and as one of PUFF's coolest features—a slew of directors will be doing Q&As after their films; see Film Shorts on pg. 53 for details.) Sure, hitting PUFF is a risky proposition—but more often than not, it proves to be a gamble worth taking.