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People who’ve had a few film festivals under their belt will call holding a film festival in the weeks around Christmas and Hanukkah a mark of insanity. But given that Another Hole In The Head Film Festival (hereafter AHITH) comes from the crazy geniuses behind the S.F. Independent Film Festival, creative craziness is standard operating procedure. COVID-19 lockdowns have curbed many reasons to leave the house. In this cooped up situation, having a film festival of genre chills and thrills streamed via Eventive and Zoom feels more appropriate this holiday season. This year’s AHITH runs from December 11-27, 2020. Yes, this officially makes AHITH the last film festival of 2020. But viewers will have two weeks to stream some of the over 40 feature films and over 250 short films being offered by the festival. For those who want to hear from the filmmakers themselves about their films, there will be scheduled Zoom events requiring pre-registration.

If you caught the Mr. HoleHead’s Warped Dimension show a couple of months back, you may recognize “Blue Unnatural” and “Lost Lula.” But there’s enough new films here that you will find something to entertain you and more.  Here are some suggestions for films to catch: An Unquiet Grave An Unquiet Grave—It’s the first anniversary of the death of Jamie’s wife.  The mourning husband convinces Ava, his dead wife’s sister, to join him to visit the site of the fatal car crash that resulted in familial loss.  The purpose of the visit?  It’s to perform a strange ritual.  What starts out as mourning pains soon turns into something more sinister.

Beasts Clawing At Straws–Yes, this South Korean neo-noir has already played the Roxie virtual theater (among others).  Consider this streaming a second chance to catch the film before some Hollywood studio decides to do an eye-rolling American remake.  Take a fortune in cash stuffed into one Louis Vuitton bag.  Watch a bunch of lowlifes fight each other to get their hands on the fortune.  With each betrayal, see the bigger picture start sliding into place. The Curse Of Willow Song–Willow Song just wants to find employment as a welder in Vancouver.  But there are several big strikes against her.  She’s an ex-con who got jailed for arson.  She’s a recovering addict.  Employers aren’t keen on hiring Chinese female welders.  Song’s biggest problem, though, might be her shadow self…which has just come to life. 

Daytime Nightmare–Will this film do for headache painkillers what “Psycho” did for showers?  Crippling migraines have made aspiring actress Lucy’s life miserable.  But the painkillers roommate Sara gives her have the side effect of turning Lucy’s headaches into nightmares of being repeatedly murdered by friends and strangers.  Taking more painkillers might not be a smart move on Lucy’s part, especially since her inner self starts waltzing around the real world.  Daytime Nightmare

The Deep Ones–Welcome to the worst Airbnb rental ever.  Grieving couple Alex and Petri take a mental health break at an unassuming California seaside rental.  Why do the neighbors take an unusual interest in the couple’s presence?  It might be strongly connected to the neighbors’ membership in a cult that worships an old and evil sea god.

Gloria–Imagine a near future Cuba where the US’ economic embargo has ended.  The country gears up to make up for lost time through swift socioeconomic transformation.  But for one old Communist, there is still some badly unfinished business.

Malakout (Divinity)–In this animated film from Iran, a piano player makes a deal that will bring his dead wife back to life.  But the consequences of the deal include bringing out the pianist’s own worst impulses.

Murder Bury Win Murder Bury Win–Ever dream about killing another human being and getting away with it?  Three friends have created a board game called “Murder Bury Win” where players can indulge that scenario.  But the only person interested in backing their game wants to claim sole credit for himself.  Thanks to a freak accident resulting in a corpse, the game creators must now play their homicidal game for very real personal stakes.

A New Leash On Life–Think having a magical talking dog would be cool?  Meet Basketball, one such dog who’s prone to rage-filled outbursts.  Frank, Basketball’s human, has had enough and wants to have the canine put down.  Now the dog needs to talk Frank out of this step….and fast!

Precarious–For those who think 1950s style storytelling would not work for present day audiences, they should try this hand built fantasy film.  Young motorcyclist Henry is falsely suspected of culpability in a roadside murder despite getting shot by crossbow arrows.  Ambitious young newspaper reporter Clark wants to help Henry and get an exclusive.  But the duo soon find themselves entangled with a pair of powerful heiresses and their cursed legacy.

Serious Matters In The Middle Of The Night–Yes, this short film also screened at the Mr. HoleHead’s Warped Dimension event.  But for those who missed that earlier showing, this is a second chance to catch this worthwhile film.  In a near future Southern city, an anonymous rideshare driver has a side hustle selling electronic empathy drugs to her passengers.  But when a new iteration of the drug hits the streets, the driver winds up entering the world of digitized-faith junkies. 

Sister Tempest

Sister Tempest–AHITH usually screens at least one WTF film every year.  But this film should be called a “WTF!?  WTF?!  WTF!?” type of movie.  Main character Anne Hutchinson’s troubled relationship with her sister gets intensely examined by an alien tribunal.  Anne’s new roommate suddenly morphs into a serial killer cannibal.  As for the rest of the movie, which includes weird religion, period animation, some viscera eating and a giant foot squashing things, the best thing is to let readers see for themselves by linking to the film trailer. Some Southern Waters–”You remind me of my dead ex-girlfriend” is not exactly a patented talking up girls line.  But for 1950s-obsessed Jon, that line comes naturally out of this neurotic man’s mouth.  Thank his guilt over his ex-girlfriend’s demise for this problem.  Yet that obsession doesn’t explain why Jon’s life is fraying into a mix of arthouse expressionism, B-movie horror, and nods to film noir.

Stray Dogs–Yes, this film was previously shown at Mr. HoleHead’s Warped Dimension.  But its nifty use of suspense makes it worth catching if you missed it.  Jeff drags his resentful brother Travis along on a backpacking expedition to bury the body of Jeff’s recently deceased dog.  During the hike, the brothers are joined by the mysterious drifter Angus (director Adam Gascho).  Could Angus actually be the murderer who’s at large in the area?  If so, what should they do?

The Turn Of The Screw–Aspiring actress Julia finally has her big break.  She’s replacing at the last minute the lead actress in a stage adaptation of the Henry James ghost story “The Turn Of The Screw.”  But a late-night dress rehearsal starts making Julia regret her decision to take the job.  Ghosts start popping up during the rehearsal, and the actress is getting highly unnerved.

Thanks to AHITH’s streaming of its festival, viewers are freed from having to juggle what films they have time to catch.  Instead, they can live it up cinematically by catching as many intriguing films as they wish.  Don’t let AHITH’s cinematic bounty go to waste!

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