How to Stay Underground at the Sydney Underground Festival

September 14th 2017

Sometimes you hear about films that are so bizarre or grotesque that they incite mass walk-outs from their screenings. Chalk it up to the delicate sensibilities of the Hollywood elite if you will, but you could be forgiven in thinking that the SUFF board see those films and consider them the top picks for their Underground Film Festival.

This year they’ve got movies like Flying Lotus’ body horror debut, and a film so disturbing that the SUFF director himself couldn’t watch in its entirety.

But there’s more to the Festival than films that keep you awake at night. There are also beautiful experiments with documentary footage, blacker-than-black comedies, and ingenious dramas – assembled into a dawn-till-dusk line-up which turns the Factory Theatre into a second home for cult-film cinephiles.

Here are our selections for if you don’t want to leave the theatre this weekend.

Thursday 14th - Opening Night

6pm - Found Footage Festival

You’ve got one option here – and there’s no squirming required. Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, of Found Footage Festival fame, banter while presenting their favourite picks from the forgotten gems found at garage sales and op shops. Plus it’s opening night! Get amongst it.

Friday 15th

6.30pm - 16MM Soiree

Continue your exploration of low-budget film with the 16MM Soiree, celebrating the reels of film that democratized cinema for decades. Also, there’s cheese. I probably should have led with that. 

8.30pm - Tragedy Girls

A biting satire on social media starlets, Tragedy Girls ramps the gore up to ten as two high school crime reporters realise they can get more clicks if they just commit the murders themselves. As you do!

10.30pm - The Endless

UFO stories get a Lovecraftian makeover, as two brothers return to the cult they formerly belonged to. Looking for answers, their search leads them to even more mysteries.

Saturday 16th

9.30am - Breakfast Cartoon Cereal Party

Who misses waking up to cartoons on a Saturday? Indulge your inner child at the Breakfast Cartoon Cereal Party – with an all-you-can-eat cereal buffet, vintage commercials and classic cartoons. Growing up is a choice people!

12pm - Dave Made a Maze

Ease yourself into the horror films with Dave Made a Maze. A charming riff on The Cube, Dave’s mates have to rescue him from a cardboard labyrinth that he built – replete with traps and monsters. Goofy and original fun for midday. 

2pm - Fags in the Fast Lane

It’s kitschy, it’s crazy and it’s very, very gay. Narrated by Tex Perkins, Fags in the Fast Lane is a lo-fi epic through a bizarro Australian outback, as “cockslinger” Bo embarks on a quest for the Golden Cock. Go support weird Australian cinema. 

4pm - Watch the Sunset

Aussie crime drama Watch the Sunset follows in the footsteps of Birdman and Hitchock’s Rope by shooting the entire story in one take. Grappling with broken families and ice addiction, this Aussie thriller is a bold experiment in film.

6pm – Craiglist Allstars

A Finnish performance artist invites strangers from Craigslist to rendezvous with her, and films them as they get to know each other. It’s a tender portrayal of intimacy and loneliness.

8pm - Prevenge

Alice Lowe’s slasher-comedy is about pre-partum depression, and it’s as dark as it sounds. A pregnant woman’s foetus incites her to commit serial murders, which might be a bit much if it wasn’t done with such dry English wit.

10pm - Meatball Machine Kodoku

What would an Underground Film Festival be without an insane Japanese splatter-fest? The follow up to 2005’s Meatball Machine, this blood-soaked sequel is for the brave souls who care less about plot than they do gore.

11.45pm - Cult of Chucky 

It’s the dead of the night, so clearly you’ll be watching the 7th instalment of the Chucky franchise. You maniacs.  

Sunday 17th

1pm - A Dark Song

 A mother locks herself in a mansion with an occultist to summon an angel that will help her talk to her dead son. A disturbing, eerie story that touches on themes of love and loss, A Dark Song is a triumph of genre filmmaking.

3pm - Assholes 

Oh good, it’s a film where someone climbs out of a human butt. Already described as “one of the most disgusting movies ever”, this is one for those of you who just haven’t seen enough excreta this weekend. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

5pm- Dawson City: Frozen Time

In 1978 construction workers stumbled upon 533 reels of film, brilliantly preserved in permafrost. From those reels comes this collage, capturing a beautiful reflection of a forgotten time. What a soothing lead-in to the final film of the festival, which will be anything but…


Finish your Underground Film Festival with the piece de resistance of super gross cinema. The prolific Flying Lotus pushes everyone’s gross-out buttons in four-part psychedelic body horror Kuso. Starring Hannibal Buress, George Clinton and Anders Holm, it’s been damned by critics as ‘torture’ – a fitting finale for the SUFF.

Sydney Underground Festival runs from September 14 – 17th. For info and tickets head to the website.
Get more movie goodness from James Ross on the Big Screen podcast.


Read more from James Ross