Exploitation on Exhibition

A locally produced underground film festival brings the gore of grindhouse downtown

The second annual PollyGrind Film Festival takes a cue from the ’70s-era grindhouse flicks of the formerly seedy Times Square Burlesque houses. The films on display are atmospheric with a knowing sense of lowbrow fun. But you’ll be hard-pressed to pin the underground festival to one particular classification. “Grindhouse isn’t a style, it isn’t a genre,” says festival founder/local filmmaker Chad Clinton Freeman. “It’s a state of mind.”

If you need a more specific description, PollyGrind’s submission criteria may help. It seeks “independently produced and non-distributed movies that are slightly off-kilter. This includes, but is not limited to horror, gore, sci-fi, fantasy, exploitation, sexploitation, underground, arthouse, cult, experimental, dark, creepy and campy features and shorts.” In short, PollyGrind brims with a slew of films, music videos, genre-themed artwork and guest filmmakers. In the midst of the festivities, Freeman took a moment to chat with Vegas Seven about the PollyGrind’s origins, his festival highlights and what’s new this year.

How did PollyGrind evolve from a personal hobby into a 10-day festival?

Basically, PollyGrind is the kind of film festival I always wanted to see. I thought CineVegas was great. I loved attending it, and they had a section of films they labeled Area 52. It was all offbeat and weird stuff. The void CineVegas left was a huge inspiration for the event. At the same time, I loved the experience of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse [double feature], but was disappointed with the films. Those two things led me to want to create an event to share with others. I just like to be challenged, pushed and taken to places I haven’t been before. Campiness is fun, but creative works of art that make me see, make me think and make me feel things I’ve never felt before; that’s the real deal. PollyGrind is about finding the gems and helping to draw attention to them.

How does this year’s festival differ from last year’s?

Many people associate just horror and sci-fi with grindhouse, but truly grindhouse is more of a catchall category. So this year, I purposely incorporated as many genres as possible.

Any particular favorites or rarities we should look for?

PollyGrind was one of the first festivals to embrace The Bunny Game, Dear God No! and Mondo Sexxxx: The Terry Kobrah Story. We had a great screening of The Bunny Game last weekend (Oct. 8) and had star Rodleen Getsic in attendance. As for upcoming films, Sevé Schelenz’s Skew is a great found-footage film for fans of Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, Sean Cain’s Breath of Hate, starring Jason Mewes of the Kevin Smith films, is a don’t-miss. And I am really proud to be showing Eric Stanze’s Ratline.

Grindhouse is a fringe market. How does a festival like PollyGrind affect its perception?

I think grindhouse is becoming more and more understood and celebrated. Back in 1996, when I first got into exploitation films, it definitely was lesser known. What opened my eyes to it was the television show Reel Wild Cinema. After seeing a few episodes of that show, I sought out every Herschell Gordon Lewis film I could get my hands on. At the time, the number of films available were few, and they were crappy VHS tapes. But I think DVD was a huge part of preserving some of the old great films. Because of that, a lot of people have discovered grindhouse, which in turn has influenced many people.

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