American Movie

Dir. Chris Smith, 1999, 107 min.

"American Movie" centers on a low-budget horror-film buff named Mark Borchardt, who grew up on such horror classics as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Night of the Living Dead". Now in his late twenties, he has decided to make the ultimate horror opus in the form of an indie feature entitled "Northwestern", the scariest film ever made in his Wisconsin town. Filled with determination and passion (and very little else), this documentary follows Mark for a year and a half in the making of "Northwestern". The audience sees Mark fending off creditors, including the IRS, and avoiding child support payments so he can make this direct-to-video flick. His efforts to round up cast and crew are disastrous, as there is nobody in his town who shares his knowledge and passion for moviemaking. Eventually, he decides to star in his film and wears a dozen crew members' hats as writer, producer, director, cameraman, editor, and soundman. "American Movie" follows this man with a dream to his dying uncle's trailer park, where he raises three thousand dollars. Unable to make an entire feature for that price, he scraps the idea in exchange for completing one of his many abandoned short films, "Coven", which also premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. The end is a world premiere as satisfying as getting accepted into Sundance.


Document of the Dead

Dir. Roy Frumkes, 1985, 83 min.

Filmed in 1978 during the shooting of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" (1979), the documentary "Document of the Dead" was originally intended as a teaching aid for a film school class taught by filmmaker Roy Frumkes. However, a decade later Frumkes commercially released "Document of the Dead" after returning to shoot extra footage of George Romero making "Two Evil Eyes" (1990). "Document of the Dead" serves as a fascinating profile of Romero, covering not only "Dawn of the Dead" and "Two Evil Eyes", but also "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) and to a lesser extent "Martin" (1976). The film offers many fascinating glimpses into the quiet-spoken and at times shy Romero and the process whereby he works. It covers the myriad problems that were presented by shooting "Dawn of the Dead" in a mall. Romero discusses the problems of funding and distributing his films and offers some interesting reflections on the indie film since "Dawn of the Dead". We also get to watch cult makeup effects artist Tom Savini at work.

Director Roy Frumkes in attendance

Best Worst Movie

Dir. Michael Stephenson, 2009, 91 min.

Troll 2 star Michael Stephenson steps behind the camera to explore the phenomenon behind the low-budget Italian-produced horror sequel that young movie fanatics have christened "the Rocky Horror of our generation" in this documentary that proves just because a movie is awful, doesn't mean that it won't find an audience. Twenty years ago, a group of inexperienced Utah actors teamed with an Italian-speaking production crew to shoot Troll 2. At the time it seemed like the production was a complete fiasco; little did they realize that they were making cinematic history. Flash forward two decades, when Troll 2 is playing to packed theaters across America, and fans of the film get the unique opportunity to find out just how this messterpiece came to be. Can director Claudio Fragaso come to terms with the fact that his biggest failure has since defined his cinematic legacy? And what ever became of the Alabama dentist-turned cult-icon who delivered the immortal line, "You can't piss on hospitality!" Discover the answer to both of these questions and more as Troll 2 star Stephenson reveals why the film that should have been a forgettable horror sequel is still being celebrated twenty years later.

Director (and child star of Troll 2) Michael Stephenson in attendanc