"Anyone who thinks an Ingmar Bergman film is more important than, say, 36th Chamber of Shaolin is full of shit," Grindhouse Film Festival organizer Dan Halsted wrote me in an email a week or two ago. "They Call Her One Eye is a far better and more powerful movie than any of the overrated French New Wave films these suckers are always yakking about." Alright, Halsted might be selling Bergman a bit short, but I'm not going to argue with him—I, too, like zombies, revenge, and kung fu, which means I also like Grindhouse Film Festival. The fest enters its third year with a focus on horror, and seems particularly intent on cribbing the tastes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, whose jointly directed tribute to pulp cinema, Grindhouse, is slated to come out next year.
But if you're swiping tastes, there are worse people to steal from—this year's Grindhouse has a great lineup. I'm most excited for 1981's Sonny Chiba's Dragon Princess—which has a cameo-ing Chiba passing on his beat-down skills to his daughter—and "The Shaw Brothers Old School Kung Fu Ass Kick-a-Thon," a compendium of classic kung fu sequences. (If you want plot and/or character, though, check out 1980's excellent Shogun Assassin.) For the horror-minded, there're two gruesome, chauvinistic creep-fests from 1980: Maniac, which has a troubled young man killing women in New York, and Don't Go in the House, which has a similarly troubled young man killing women, this time with a trusty old flamethrower. The Dario Argento/Lamberto Bava oh-shit-zombies-are-taking-over-the-movie-theater flick Demons, from 1985, is the fest's requisite zombie film, while for the revenge-inclined, there's the aforementioned 1974 Swedish flick They Call Her One Eye.
Speaking (again) of Tarantino, Halsted's putting on a double feature to emulate the upcoming Grindhouse; Maniac and Don't Go in the House screen together on Saturday night, complete with 35mm vintage trailers and an appearance from Maniac director William Lustig. For the Mercury's opinion on the fest's individual films, see Film Shorts on pg. 45.