For a few years now, Starz Denver Film Festival programmer Keith Garcia has shocked and delighted late night festival-goers with his Watching Hour “midnight movie” program. From zombies to martial arts to who-knows-what, The Watching Hour has become a perennial home away from home for movie lovers whose tastes fall left of the dial. As Garcia notes, however, it’s not all blood and guts: “One of my goals every year with The Watching Hour is to be as diverse as possible with the programming. Though sinister in title, our program is more than just horror films and dark stories, we like to leave plenty of room for comedies, hard-boiled dramas and the occasional film that wouldn’t seem to fit anywhere else but on our screen.”
Indeed, this year’s Watching Hour lineup, with screenings at or near midnight every Friday and Saturday of the Starz Denver Film Festival, is positively stacked with the highest caliber of gonzo film. There’s something for every taste. In fact, if there’s one downside, it’s that with two movies to choose from most nights it’s going to be difficult to decide which rabbit hole to fall down.
Tonight for example, The Watching Hour goes head to head with itself. On one screen, genre festival favorite Outrage is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. This blood-soaked Japanese gangster flick from famed director Takeshi Kintano promises to be at the far extreme end of the festival’s “Focus on Japanese Cinema, Art, & Culture.” If gritty violence isn’t your thing, it just so happens you have another option just down the hall. Vacation! is obstinately the story of four girlfriends who rent a beach house. Things take a turn for the bizarre, however, quickly spiraling into a Technicolor drenched acid trip. The whole wild circus is scored by avant-electro favorite Glass Candy, which makes this an automatic must-see.
On Saturday, get ready for one of the biggest treats of the entire festival. The FP is a cult movie spectacular, a window into an insane alternate universe where everyone talks like aliens who learned English watching Boyz in the Hood and gang battles are conducted through intense, deadly Beat Beat Revelation dance-offs. If you’ve taken a moment to process that last sentence, you already know whether or not this movie is for you. If it is for you, boy is it for you! Walk in with an open mind, and you might just ending up having the most fun you’ll have all festival long.
And that’s not even the half of it. There are several more films in the Watching Hour’s phenomenal lineup. From Sennnentuntschi, which Garcia likens to a modern Grimm’s Fairy Tale, to South Korean psychic cat-and-mouse game Haunters (one of my favorite movies of the year) to the Stiffler-starring ice hockey comedy, Goon, this is truly a late-night lineup for the record books. When the clock strikes The Watching Hour, don’t be left in the dark.