Mr. Movie

Don't miss Saturday's short-film fest at Battelle

RICHLAND -- Here is something sci-fi, horror and fans of the art of the short film won’t want to miss.

The BSA Video Club and the Tri-City Comic Con Foundation will present the best of the 2008 Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival on Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Battelle Auditorium in Richland.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the films start at 6:30 p.m.

The 10 short films on the two-hour docket are from five different countries. Three of them are excellent, a couple of are pretty good and the rest -- well -- let’s say they’re bad, but interesting bad in a way that makes them well worth the $3 admission.

My favorite is a terrific ditty from Vickie Gest called Ascension. The Australian short has a man going into the wrong apartment about the time some cultists are going to sacrifice a virgin to usher in a savior from another solar system who is going to rescue them from the utter destruction of Earth that is supposed to happen at midnight. Things go wrong, and the man gets tabbed to be the sacrifice.

This is a very clever piece of filmmaking with a brilliant ending that will have you howling.

Another great piece of work is the animated The Final Journey. Lars Zimmermann’s seven-minute story takes a twist at the end that is easy to see coming. Yes, it is predictable but crafty enough to rank it among the festival’s best.

Another one I really loved is Man vs. Woman by Juan Carlos Vargas. Set on a dry planet somewhere in the universe, it follows a battle for water between a man, a woman, a cloned velociraptor and a robot. There is only enough for one.

The two humans and the dinosaur are thirsty. The robot needs the water for coolant. All four are very dangerous.

Vargas sticks music akin to that done for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and sets up a showdown modeled after the film. Though it is a complete rip off, Vargas’ short flick is packed with humor and it works.

In the "pretty good" category is Un-Gone by Simon Bovey. It chronicles the downside of getting your molecules disassembled and scattered through space and then having reassembled at your destination.

What goes wrong and what happens to the poor guy on the receiving end of the mistake is creepy.

Five of the 10 are animated. Kelly Kennedy’s The Baseball Card Shop is the most original and is a very well done bit of animation about an after-hours baseball game in a card shop. The plot doesn’t work, but it’s cute.

The best effects are found in Iron Bird, a tepid World War II ghost story.

Edgar Allan Poe’s original short story The Pit and the Pendulum gets a stop-motion animation treatment similar to that done by Tim Burton in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Poe’s story needs more depth.