Jim Taylor (far right), seen here at last week’s Zombie Walk, organizer of the Zombie Short Film Festival. Photo by Brian Towie/Torontoist.
Toronto’s undead community is set to rise up for the second time in less than seven days.
If Saturday’s Zombie Walk wasn’t enough for zombie-philes, they can sate their hunger for human-masticating fun at the Zombie Short Film Festival, taking place October 30 at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Avenue) at 9:30 p.m. The night will showcase ten original short films made by lovers of the genre—some local, some from as far away as Holland, Germany, and Australia. The fest only had two criteria to follow: that each film run no longer than twenty-five minutes, and that it involve zombies in some fashion.
The winner, to be determined by level of audience applause on the night, will receive five hundred dollars and the enviable (at least in the estimation of the festival creators) Zomb D’or prize. The judging panel selecting the top three films to be cheered for are no strangers to zombie lore and culture: freelance artist and author of The Zombie Handbook Rob Sacchetto; Evil Dead: The Musical alumnus Mike Nahrgang; and Alyson Court, the voice behind Claire Redfield in the Resident Evil video game series.
“My roommate and I were sitting in my kitchen over beers watching zombie films on YouTube,” says festival co-founder Jim Taylor. “And we realised that there were tons of these films out there, but no real festival—that we know of, anyway—to show them. So, a few months ago, we bought a domain name, set up a blog and the rest is history. We’ve had a lot of really good feedback, and thirty submissions that we had to cut down to ten.”
Imaginations were running wild in the work, says Taylor. The submissions ranged from rock video clips, to animated shorts and musicals. Two entries, Zombeer and Keg Of The Dead, follow the theme of brain-and-alcohol consumption.
“Beer figures pretty prominently, actually,” laughs Taylor. “The styles kind of run the gamut. You’ve got your basic ‘humans trying to evade zombie capture,’ you’ve got stories taken from the point of view of the zombie, some comedy and drama, and lots of gore. You need gore. It’s a really big part of why we did the festival. The zombie genre is something you can run with. The canon, in terms of the zombies themselves, is pretty varied.”
It’s certainly a user-friendly and malleable archetype; Taylor argues there’s no more resonant horror genre than that of the zombie. It takes a world of shuffling, flesh-eating monsters to make us realize how easy we’ve got it as humans. Robert Kirkman might have put it best in his zombie comic-book epic The Walking Dead when he wrote that “In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living.”
“The zombie is a compelling monster in the sense that you think they’d be easy to escape. But the more their numbers grow the more hopeless it becomes,” Taylor says. “Part of the appeal is that they never stop. You just have to keep killing them until either you die or you destroy them all. A zombie story is a people’s story. It’s about people trying to survive, having to band together under incredible circumstances to stop this plague from happening. And I think people are really drawn into that.”
Tickets for the fest are $12.50 in advance on the festival website, or $15 at the door thirty minutes before the event starts.