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Friday, August 1, 2014

Wichitan’s ‘Darkness’ named goriest film of all time

By Rod Pocowatchit
The Wichita Eagle

News and thoughts — HorrorHound magazine — which could be the equivalent of Vanity Fair for gore fans — has named Wichitan Leif Jonker’s 1993 vampire flick “Darkness” its No. 1 goriest film of all time in its latest issue.

It’s a testament to the film’s staying power. Made when writer/editor/producer/director Jonker was just 19, the film has built a cult fan base through the years, and has played at film festivals around the world.

HorrorHound calls it “easily the goriest vampire film to date,” citing the film’s “record number of exploding heads.” You don’t see that on a resume every day.

The story follows a small town (Wichita) as it’s being overtaken by an army of vampires. A young survivor sets out to battle the undead, armed with a chain saw, holy water and a shotgun.

Jonker used an all-local cast, including Gary Miller, Randall Aviks and Jake Euker.

A digitally restored version of the film is available in a two-disc DVD set. For more information, go to www.13thdream.com.

Find a new way — I finally got around to seeing “Chronicle.” It appealed to the inner sci-fi geek in me (OK, maybe so “inner”), and I really enjoyed it — even though I am tired of the “found-footage” approach in movies (thanks a lot, “Blair Witch”).

That said, “Chronicle” does take the found-footage “genre” and shake it up a bit. But I still find the use of the camera as a “character” distracting — we lose our “fourth wall.”

And the premise here is that it isn’t just one camera we’re looking through, but several from several different people. So someone found all this footage and edited it together? Why?

Whether the gimmick was needed is questionable — the film was an interesting enough premise on its own, I think, with nice backstory, smart writing, and performances from a fresh cast that make it all work.

It’s been a surprise hit, and 27-year-old director Josh Trank will no doubt will be a filmmaker to keep an eye on. Sequel talk can’t be far away.

Oscar shorts week — It doesn’t quite have the ring of “Shark Week,” but the Wichita Public Library’s annual weeklong showing of Oscar-nominated shorts is still exciting. It offers Wichitans a rare chance to see all Academy Award-nominated short films (well, except for one) in this year’s animated, live action and documentary categories.

These branch libraries will host screenings of live action and animation categories only:

•  Alford Branch Library, 3447 S. Meridian, at 1 p.m. today

•  Westlink Branch Library, 8515 Bekemeyer, at 5 p.m. Tuesday

•  Evergreen Branch Library, 2601 N. Arkansas, at 5 p.m., Wednesday

•  Maya Angelou Northeast Branch Library, 3051 E. 21st St., at 1 p.m. Friday.

Documentary shorts only will be screened at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Rockwell Branch Library, 5939 E. Ninth St.

All the films (except that pesky, secretive one) will be shown in one program at 10 a.m. Saturday at Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway.

All screenings are free and open to the public (some films may not be suitable for all audiences). For more information, call 316-261-8506 or go to www.wichita.lib.ks.us.

Reach Rod Pocowatchit at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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