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Epic PollyGrind film festival was too much of a good thing

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Albert Pyun’s Road to Hell drew a crowd of 200 to the Rave Town Square theaters.

It’s possible that Chad Clinton Freeman loves movies too much. The director of the PollyGrind indie horror and grindhouse film festival did his best to accommodate the more than 600 entries he got for this year’s event, which meant that it spanned five weeks and incorporated more than 140 feature films, documentaries and shorts. As intriguing and challenging as many of those films were, the whole experience was just too overwhelming.

“Many of the weird issues and complications that came this year during the festival could have been avoided had the event not been as big as it was,” Freeman concedes, citing technical snafus and scheduling headaches. Attendance at most screenings I went to at Theatre 7 hovered around five to 15 people, but the premiere of Albert Pyun’s Road to Hell at the Rave Town Square drew an estimated 200 audience members, along with stars Michael Paré, Deborah Van Valkenburgh and local musician Roxy Gunn.

I preferred Pyun’s festival-closing adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cool Air, easily the most watchable recent effort from the prolific Vegas-based B-movie veteran. The festival also showcased fellow recent Vegas transplants Brandon Slagle and Devanny Pinn, the indie-horror power couple whose The Black Dahlia Haunting was long on mood but short on narrative cohesion.

Freeman gave the festival’s top award to Chris Sun’s rather tedious gorefest/melodrama Daddy’s Little Girl, but my favorite feature was Lindsay Denniberg’s Video Diary of a Lost Girl, a trippy tale of a sarcastic succubus influenced equally by David Cronenberg and Lydia Lunch. Freeman promises a pared-down one-weekend festival next year, which hopefully means that movies like Video Diary will have a better chance of finding an audience.

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