Saturday, March 14, 2009

Frighteningly Original Film at The Sherman Theatre

The Sherman Theatre* in Stroudsburg, PA presented the films “Hell's Half Acre” and “Brutal Massacre: A Comedy” on Friday March 13th as part of their Severed Sinema Series*. The evening was hosted by the Severed Sinema’s Founder Earl Kessler* and featured an opportunity to meet with members of the cast and crew of both films as they were recently shot in the Lehigh Valley PA Area. A display of macabre artifacts from the films featured that evening along with other films the filmmakers are associated with were there provided those who attended the event much pleasure.

After a brief chat by the film’s producers/Directors Scott Krycia and Sean Tiedeman of K Studios and the showing a short film parody about a citizen group’s endeavors to ban the film, “Hell's Half Acre” was shown. While it had many of the elements of an average “slasher film,” it was unique in this regard. The protagonist had guns. How he got most of these guns remains a mystery, but he got them.

The film itself had some problems with its continuity which I’ve found made the film very confusing and difficult to follow, but I’ve heard some members of the audience comment this effect placed the film in the popular category of being so bad it was good. I tend to agree with these audience members and my agreement made the film a bit more enjoyable in retrospect.

The film began with the discovery of some people being held and tortured by a serial killer by their friends and those very same friends attack the killer burning him and his son alive in their home. Years later, the son returns from the dead and begins a killing spree starting with the boyfriend of Nicole Becker as portrayed by Tesia Nicoli while they’re “parking.” The killer kills a whole bunch of people until Nicole has had enough and begins hunting him down. After explaining to him how his father was evil and got what he deserved, the killer’s ghost fades away but only to return long enough to fall off the roof and become impaled by a no parking sign. Nicole ends the film by setting him afire. Yes, I know.

Regardless of all this, it was great seeing scenes set in familiar localities upon the screen. As mentioned before, the film was shot in the Lehigh Valley Area which includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, PA. Many of the audience recalled playing in the playground shown in the film as well as walking down many of the streets. I include myself among those who have been to these locations and found the photogenic aspects of the places I’ve roamed to be more appealing than remembered.

After an intermission, the Second film of the evening entitled, “Brutal Massacre: A Comedy” was shown which was also filmed in the Lehigh Valley area. The director Stevan Mena introduced the film mentioning his only regret was hold cold the temperatures were during its production. However, the chilling experience did not take away the fact this film had higher production values than the precious one shown that evening.

“Brutal Massacre: A Comedy” style was very much in the same comedic vein as the films “This Is Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind” and proved to be just as funny. It starred David Naughton who has been seen in some Dr. Pepper Commercials along with the Television Show “Making It” and the classic horror film “An American Werewolf In London” as a once famous horror film director who is seeking a comeback film.

The film follows the cast and crew of this comeback film during all aspects of its making. It’s an amusing adventure from obtaining financing for the project, to scouting locations, auditioning actors, filming it, and finally receiving acclaim for the work. This film was a treat sweetened by the appearance of the scenes of places everyone in the audience have been to.

Among those who were brave enough to be in attendance included Rich Berkowitz* and Bill Kelly* along with Arline M. Smeltz*. I’m sure there were many of you there as well and I invite you to share your experiences of these two film with me. I would be eager to learn your thoughts as I’m sure others who read this would be as well.

The next presentation in The Severed Sinema Series* will feature films selected from ballots cast during previous events becoming audience favorites. They will be “2000 Maniacs” (Rated R) and “Bad Taste” (Rated R) and shown on Friday April 10th beginning at 7pm.

Other events at The Sherman Theatre* include The Pocono Arts Council’s* “Youth in Music” Scholarship Awards Ceremonies will take place at The Sherman Theatre* on Saturday March 14th beginning at 8am celebrating and honoring the musical achievements of area students while later that day “Who Loves You: A Musical Retrospective” featuring a variety-style musical retrospective presented by some of the Pocono’s most talented teens will be presented at 8pm. Nine Time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul will be presented Saturday March 15th at 7:30pm changing the way you think about the violin. The FuSia Pre-Professional Dance Company will present their production entitled, “Array” on Sunday March 22nd at 6pm featuring an evening of artistic exploration consisting of various dance genres where movement truths coexist to include modern, tap, jazz, and hip-hop pieces and The up and coming hip hop artist Asher Roth on Thursday March 26th at 8pm, and The Geronimo EP Release Show Friday March 27th at 6pm as part of their Independent Rock Series with performances by City Confessions, Slightly Askew*, Stasis*, Rosary Ligature*, and Tugga War while the month of March will conclude with The Pocono Choral Society* presentation of their “Bluegrass and Gospel” Concert on Sunday March 29th raising the roof with bluegrass favorites and gospel featuring special guests The Cold Springs Bluegrass Band.

Please Explore The Sherman Theatre* Website for more information. You’ll find more photographs at The Forwardian Arts Society Film/Video 2009 Gallery at

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

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