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Chattanooga Film Festival Selects

Chattanooga Film Festival Selects

Celebrating eleven years of Summer Camp for cinephiles and one of MovieMaker Magazine’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World, the Chattanooga Film Festival is as an entirely volunteer-run non-profit film festival. Running June 21-28 in person and 21-28 virtually, the fest is an annual movie mixtape of unique, challenging, significant (both critically and well, haha otherwise), and most importantly, fun movies. 
For their selects, the CFF have handpicked past festival alumni and their fond film favorites for your viewing pleasure. Support the festival and support Indie film!

Seventy-eight minutes of pure pants-shitting terror with some of the best and most well-oiled jump scares of all time. We've won a lot of arguments with "I hate found footage movies" types by laying this banger on them over the years.

After Midnight
A Frightening Ass Film Festival 2019 Official Selection. Our love for this film and its filmmakers is endless. Sure, we're a little biased since Chris, our festival director, served as the project's Unit Production Manager, but even if that weren't true, AFTER MIDNIGHT is a gem. In our opinion, the world needs more horror romance.

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul
If you've never seen a Coffin Joe film, haven't yet experienced the bizarro cinematic universe of Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins, or you're a just fan of international genre cinema, give this flick a look! This first film in the Coffin Joe trilogy is our favorite of Marins's and a great place to hop on board this crazy train!

BFF Girls and Crow Hand !!
CFF 2019/2021 Official Selections. These two shorts and their filmmaker, Brian Lonano, are very close to our hearts. Back in Ye Olden Tymes--before our festival was actually a festival and was perhaps better described as a collection of weirdos doing monthly pop-up screenings in any alleyway or ditch that would accomodate us--we screened CROW HAND!!!!. Then, when CFF was born, slimy and screaming, we screened it again because we just love it that much. A shoutout and giant hug to Brian's BFF GIRLS co-director and fellow CFF alum Jill Gevargizian, too. Over the years, we've had the pleasure of screening nearly every film Brian has directed. We even did a marathon of his movies a couple of years ago, which was a big hit with our crowd. We'd take a bullet for this dude; the world needs films and filmmakers like this. We must protect them at all costs!

Black Moon Rising
This John Carpenter-scripted sci-fi actioner features one of the most underappreciated movie cars of all time. Add in a couple of bona fide legends in Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton, and you've got a recipe for an underseen gem that unquestionably needs more eyeballs on it.

Brain Damage
What can you say about Frank Henenlotter that hasn't already been said--presumably whilst retching? The Guru of Gross is in top form here with our favorite of his oeuvre. With a committed performance by Rick Hearst, a memorable creature effect in Aylmer, and a heaping helpin' of the old oopy goop, you can't lose with BRAIN DAMAGE.

Cinema Paradiso
Although our reputation might suggest otherwise, we also have a palate for them highfalutin Films of Cinema or whatever you call them. Dustin, our Senior Features Programmer, can't even talk about this movie without tearing up, so if you want to see a huge bearded man cry, here's an easy way to do it.

Dave Made a Maze
A CFF 2017 Official Selection. Making an IRL version of Dave's cardboard maze in our lobby on opening night for this screening--which guests had to wind their way through to enter the theater--remains a career highlight for our fest. We love this film and the endless creativity of its filmmaker.

Deadbeat at Dawn
Jim Van Bebber's crustpunk masterpiece is essential viewing for fans of guerilla filmmaking. Like some psychedelic evil twin of Walter Hill's THE WARRIORS, Van Bebber paints his hometown of Dayton, Ohio as a believable dystopia where amoral gangs rule the streets, anarchy is the status quo, and the nunchaku is a practical weapon of choice.

During festival planning each year, we keep a short list of films in near-constant rotation in the background. This tradition started because we love the movies but has reached the point of complete and total superstition now. If we don't watch DEMONS at least 12 times yearly, our festival might not even happen, and we aren't going to risk not watching it 12 times to find out if we're wrong. In fact, you should watch it 12 times, too. It can only help, and you will love it enough to watch it 11 more times anyway. Win/Win.

Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701
Honestly, this pick stands in for the entire SCORPION series--a magnificent hybrid of high and low art with gorgeous and striking production design and a camera unfettered by convention. But the jewel in this film's crowd is a central performance by Meiko Kaji so singular that it stands out in a film overflowing with memorable things. An excellent starting point if you haven't yet taken the dive into Japanese Pinky Violence films.

Hellraiser: Bloodline
This film, for us, is the most underrated of the entire franchise. Sure, like everything Dimension released, it was the victim of the Weinsteins mercilessly fucking it up for the filmmaker. But the wildly ambitious idea of setting the story in multiple timelines works for us big time--even the section in space. Also, Adam Scott in a powdered wig!

The House by the Cemetery
At CFF, we believe that no Fulci is bad Fulci (yes, we've seen MURDER ROCK and THE DEVIL'S ROCK, and your point is?). Sure, we love all the hits, and everyone should see ZOMBIE and THE BEYOND at least once in their lives, but THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is on that short list, too, and if you haven't seen it yet, your eyes will thank you later--that is, if they don't jump out of your head during that nerve-shredding axe attack through the door.

House II
Although we're very pro-Steve Miner at CFF, the sequel to his 1985 horror comedy is such a wacky grab bag of disparate ideas that you'll have to forgive us for preferring this wildly entertaining romp through time and space. If you're in the mood for friendly zombie cowboys, prehistoric caterpillar-dog hybrids, portals to ancient Aztec temples, and a random appearance by Bill fucking Maher, we think HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY might just be the ticket for you. Ya weirdo.

Man Under Table
A CFF 2021 Official Selection. This is another title we're proud to have screened at the festival, and its director's insane vision of LA makes it one of our favorite films about filmmaking we've ever seen. We can't wait to see what's next for this director!

Maniac Cop
Perhaps the only film in which Bruce Campbell's physicality is allowed to be upstaged, and thank Satan that Robert Z'Dar is up the the task. William Lustig utilizes the film's conspicuous genre trappings to couch a smart and incisive indictment of police brutality and a condemnation of state-sanctioned violence while simultaneously humanizing the deranged villain as a victim of this very system. And goddamn, does that tagline go hard.

When the pandemic happened in 2020, filmmaker Joe Dante took the time to join us for our very first virtual edition of CFF, and we had the honor of presenting him with a lifetime achievement award. Getting to ask him about this film and chat about William Castle made us all misty-eyed, but we played it real cool.

Naked Lunch
David Cronenberg's adaptation of ole Billy Burroughs's novel is an unmissable high point in the Baron of Body Horror's body of work. Not for the faint of heart (or even mildly entomophobic), but those who can stomach all the creepy crawlies will find a unique drug-addled sci-fi gumshoer with the beating heart of the Beat Generation at its core.

The shot in the arm that the revenge thriller needed in the early aughts, and a powerful introduction to the talent of Park Chan-wook (and more broadly, Korean cinema in general) for many Westerners. The film challenges us to sympathize with the loathsome Oh Dae-su, a violent drunkard and absentee father, on a quest for revenge that is stylish, sexy, and ultimately squeamish. The ending left our jaws (and tongues) on the floor the first time we saw it.

If you're new to the unique wackiness of Juan Piquer Simón (aka J.P. Simon), this is a fine place to start. The workmanlike gore gags and over-the-top performances ("Bastard!") keep this campy slasher entertaining throughout, and the prevalent ADR lends it a positively European tone that fans of that particular vibe can certainly jive with. We know we can.

The Boxer's Omen
Doing wild experiential shit for screenings is our bread and butter here at CFF, and we once partnered with an incredible local group of chefs and served a themed 5-course meal during a screening of this icky but excellent movie. Content warning due to some wildly unnecessary animal cruelty, but otherwise, it is one of the weirdest Shaw titles ever, and that alone is a reason to give it a look.

The Endless
A CFF 2018 Official Selection. We loved this movie so much that we presented a huge free screening for it. Here's the rub: in order to get in, you had to agree to join a "cult" and let us place an "ascension wafer" on your tongue as a "holy sacrament." We leaned into this gimmick perhaps a bit too hard and had a few folks leave just absolutely certain that we were trying to brainwash them. We aren't sure why they believed us. Maybe it was the fake religious pamphlets we had printed, or perhaps the website Benson and Moorhead launched praising our multiversal savior.

The Leech
A CFF 2022 Official Selection. So much to say about this one. We adore Eric, the filmmaker. We love Graham, Jeremy, and Taylor, the stars, and we were already easy marks for a good holiday horror. That the live commentary track we recorded with this team is on the physical version of Arrow's release remains the only thing worthwhile we've ever done with our lives.

The Mangler
Now that the late great Mr. Hooper is no longer with us, we've seen an increasing number of horror fans slowly realize how dope this movie is. Bobby Englund chews every inch of scenery in sight, while Teddy Levine plays a cop the only way Teddy Levine knows how---fucking creepily. The whole film just fucking goes for it, and while it might not work for some, it really works for us.

Tokyo Fist
If you ask us, this unconventional boxing picture is as essential as RAGING BULL or ROCKY. Director Shinya Tsukamoto brings his penchant for grime to this hard-hitting (pun proudly intended) narrative evocatively shot in handheld wide-angle. Perhaps the most remarkable entry in the scanty microgenre of sports horror, and an unmissable masterwork in our book.

Warning From Space
You know a movie is fantastic when you see it and wonder if you might have dreamed it. This is very much one of those films and one we're always happy to recommend to folks when we find they haven't seen it.

*not all films available in all territories

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Chattanooga Film Festival Selects
  • Meat Friend

    2022 • United States • Directed by Izzy Lee

    Nominated for a 2023 Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Short Film. An ex-con, sentient pile of hamburger meat (voiced by Steve Johanson) teaches after-school lessons to a child (Marnie McKendry in this absurdist comedic short film directed by festival f...

  • At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

    1964 • Brazil • Directed by José Mojica Marins

    Once seen, never forgotten! Zé do Caixão (Coffin Joe) makes his screen debut in José Mojica Marins’ At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, the first Brazilian-produced horror film. 

    Zé do Caixão is an undertaker in a small Brazilian town, searching for t...

  • BFF Girls

    2018 ・ United States ・ Directed by Brian Lonano

    Three dorky American girls magically transform into beautiful Japanese Superheroes and fight a tampon monster as they begin their journey into womanhood.

  • Crow Hand !!!

    2015 ・ United States ・ Directed by Brian Lonano

    A Husband gets more than he bargains for when he picks up a mysterious crow totem off the ground, much to his Wife's chagrin.

  • Brain Damage

    Meet Elmer. He’s your local, friendly parasite with the ability to induce euphoric hallucinations in his hosts. But these LSD-like trips come with a hefty price tag. When young Brian comes under Elmer’s addictive spell, it’s not long before he finds himself scouring the city streets in search of ...

  • Deadbeat At Dawn

    Written by, directed by and starring Van Bebber, Deadbeat follows the story of Goose - a gang leader whose girlfriend is brutally slaughtered when he attempts to leave the thug life behind. Pulled back into the gang, who've now formed an uneasy alliance with the thugs that butchered his girl, Goo...

  • Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion

    1972 • Japan • Directed by Shun'ya Itô

    After being used and betrayed by the detective she had fallen in love with, young Matsu is sent to a female prison full of sadistic guards and disobedient prisoners.

  • Man Under Table

    2021 • United States • Directed by Noel David Taylor

    In Hollywood, it’s who you know, not what you write. Guy is writing a movie, or so he claims in bars, parties, pretty much wherever he can. Guy eventually stumbles into the path of Indie darling Jill Custard and her lackey Ben who endlessly ac...

  • The Boxer's Omen (Cantonese version)

    1983 • Hong Kong • Directed by Kuei Chih-Hung

    After suffering an injury in the ring, embattled boxer Zhen Wei enlists the aid of his brother, Zhen Xiong, to avenge him and find the key to an omen which may release their family from an ancient curse. Black wizards, Taoist monks, rampaging monster...

  • The Leech

    2022 • United States • Directed by Eric Pennycoff

    From Black Christmas to Rare Exports, there has long been a symbiotic relationship between horror and the season of good cheer. Now, writer/director Eric Pennycoff (Sadistic Intentions) continues this proud tradition with The Leech, a cautionary ...

  • Tokyo Fist

    Once again Shinya Tsukamoto steps out from behind the camera and stars as Tsuda, the archetypal Japanese salary man, a cog in the machine seemingly cut off from his own being by hours and hours of work. He's married to polite and compliant Hizuru (Kahori Fujii), the dictionary definition of an id...

  • Warning From Space

    1956 • Japan • Directed by Kôji Shima

    The first Japanese science fiction film to be made in colour, Koji Shima's Warning From Space features eye-popping special effects from the same team at Daiei Studios that would bring Gamera to life a decade later. As Japan is rocked by mysterious sightings ...