Friday, September 2, 2016

Review: DOLLY DEADLY (2016)


Let’s talk about revenge, ok? They say it is best served cold (some famous guy said that, at least). My interpretation of “cold” is a closed heart and a sterile environment, blue tones and bleak ambiance. I think of The Bride in Kill Bill or Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I think Fincher or Wan. But director Heidi Moore’s version is a little different than that.

DOLLY DEADLY is truly a feast for the eyes. And I say feast literally because this film has some Harmony Korine-like gag inducing foodstuffs (ketchup spaghetti, anyone?). The hues, camera angles, sets, and cinematography are all insanely brilliant, nauseating, and frenzied (I almost wished to go colorblind by the finale). However, amongst the mania and gut busting humor lies a deep pathos, one of love, despair, and longing. Our protagonist Benji, an orphan since infancy, dearly misses his deceased mother and is a victim to his guardians - his trashy grandmother and her sugar baby boyfriend. His mother may have smoked cigarettes in front of him, drank her “mommy juice,” and fed him Doritos, but she loved him and loved their doll collection. As Benji grows, he becomes attached to the dolls, as they are his only connection to his lost mother and his only companions. He tap dances for his glass-eyed audience, baptizes their plastic sins away, and performs a grotesque, make believe magic show complete with top hat and a bloody Indian basket trick. But with this behavior comes hellish consequences from the rotten world he lives in. And everyone has a snapping point.

This film, amongst the grotesque and stunning imagery, also hits us with gut-wrenching social commentary of current times. The issues of bullying and gender roles are not nuanced, but exquisitely smashed in the narrative like birthday cake. 

If you mixed John Waters, Troma, a sprinkle of Burton, and a glob of Gummo, you may get half of the experience of Moore’s DOLLY DEADLY. This film is sky rocking into cult classic territory and is an example of brilliant indie filmmaking

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Join us for a free screening of DOLLY DEADLY on Monday, September 5th at Screenland Armour at 7 PM. Click HERE for more info.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: BLOODY BLOODY BIBLE CAMP (2012)

By: Chelsea Opperman

This month’s feature film for Slaughter Movie House may be the most fun you have on any summer Monday.  Last month I received a package from Amazon in the mail with no shipping information.  Inside was a DVD copy of Bloody Bloody Bible Camp…and for a second I was a little creeped out.  What was this and who sent it?  After running through all of my horror fanatic friends in my head, I realized it must have been from Jill Sixx.  And then I couldn’t wait to watch it, I knew it would be great.  I wasn’t wrong.

Perfect for sweaty July viewing, Vito Trabucco’s Bloody Bloody Bible Camp is a delicious mix of Sleepaway Camp (1983) and Wet Hot American Summer (2001), with a dash of John Waters crudeness.  Taking place in the 70’s and 80’s (the mother ship decade of the slasher genre), Bloody Bloody Bible Camp takes Camp Crystal Lake and morphs it into an exploitative horror-comedy big on campy gore, bountiful boobs, and laugh out loud gut busters.
  
When a group of hormonal and raunchy teens land themselves in bible camp with a brother and a priest, rather than finding godly enlightenment they receive a hellish awakening.  Political correctness and restraint do not exist in this film and no one is safe.  Along with the Susperia-hued blood, Bloody Bloody Bible Camp offers dicey social commentary on race, sexuality, and morality.  The classic summer camp tropes are deftly executed and splattered across the screen with the heavy handedness of exploitation and perversion. Get ready for male midriffs and short shorts, and watch out for the homicidal Sister Mary Chopper who takes the slang term “hatchet wound” to a whole other level.  

Bloody Bloody Bible Camp goes where most mainstream horror wouldn’t dare, and therefore takes its place in the horror hall of cult classics.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: BAR TALK (2014)

By: Chelsea Opperman 

After a long day of labor, it’s an awesome feeling to go sit and relax with a cheap beer in your favorite honkytonk.  Sometimes the world makes you feel empty inside and you just need to chill out in a dusty bar and reflect.  But then sometimes, a chatty stranger completely interrupts the peace you’re trying to achieve, plunks down beside you, and won’t shut the fuck up.  He insists on telling his life story, and it is completely out of this world.  In this extraordinary short, Lowell Northrop brings an authenticity to scenario, ripe with annoyance and dictated by an over-sharer.  

 

Sometimes you need to watch out for people who sit at the bar stool next to you.  Especially those with a story.  It could leave you completely drained.   

 


Review: CROW HAND (2014)

By: Chelsea Opperman 

Most people pick up pennies when they are spotted on the ground. And why not?  You have nothing to lose.  What if you saw a small crow totem in a parking lot?  Surely that would pique your interest, much to the chagrin of your wife.  One warning though:  If you do pick up the crow, get ready to 5, 6, 7, 8 Dance! Packed with amazingly gross special effects, awesome soundtrack and credits, and gut busting humor, Brian Lonano’s micro short CROW HAND is two minutes of what the fuck and bloody laughter.  

 

Maybe you should think twice about picking discarded objects off the ground, you just might poke your eye out and have it handed to you.  



Review: BURN (2011)

By: Chelsea Opperman 

Inside a gritty woodshed, a MacGyver figure peels an orange.  He speaks of survival to a bloodied young man, who is tied up in more ways than one.  Jerry Pyle’s BURN is a tour de force with exceptional acting, a claustrophobic mise-en-scene, stunning cinematography, and a growing sense of dread.  Revenge flicks can be especially brutal, throwing your mind into a vice, and this short delivers nothing less than a squirm inducing finale.  And this end is written straight out of a Satanic Jigsaw’s book.  

 

Want to play a game?  Make your choice.



Review: RUBY'S SECRET (2013)

By: Chelsea Opperman 


Stiff drinks and a dark bar.  Meeting eyes with a stranger, wet and glistening.  This is a scenario most people know, or have a least witnessed firsthand.  It’s something a little sleazy, a pinch scandalous, and a slew of sexy.  When an unsuspecting gentleman follows his drunken and lustful passion to Ruby’s place, who knows what can happen?  Kalen Artinian’s RUBY’S SECRET is visually stunning, twisting an ordinary one night stand into a visceral mindfuck with an incredible and stunningcolor palette.  

 

As she slips on her Victoria’s Secret, Ruby has her own secret.  And her new playmate is about to witness a tale as old as time, Beauty and the Baphomet.  



Review: ALL MEN CALLED ROBERT (2010)

By: Chelsea Opperman 

The French countryside is stunning.  Sun streaming through the verdant trees, opening up into a straw-colored meadow.  This wood brings such beauty in Marc-Henri Boulier’s masterpiece of a short.  But that serenity is shattered by a naked and terrified man tearing through the countryside, constantly looking back and feeling hunted down.  He instinctually follows the sound of a woman’s voice, calling his name for help.  What will Robert do when he reaches the voice?  And who is chasing him?

 

Maybe if he is quiet, he can hide.  But he hears a twig break behind him.  



Review: SINK HOLE (2011)

By: Chelsea Opperman


This was a curious 60 seconds. Most gentlemen have experienced the most extraordinary 60 seconds at least oncetheir lives, or maybe it was just a great and intense 10 seconds (at least the first time)But how far would you go to feel that again?  Greg Hanson’s minute long micro short is nothing more than brilliant and cringe-inducing.  The sallow color adds to the grim finale.  And words themselves can take on a quite literal meaning.  And Jesus Christ, don’t flip that switch!

 

Someone is about to lose every 60 seconds he could ever experience in his lifetime.  Forever.    

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Review: SAVE YOURSELF (2016)

by: Chelsea Opperman




I have always loved movies within movies.  Like “Angels with Filthy Souls” in Home Alone.  Or to go darker than “pumping your guts full of lead”, the werewolf movie in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” amped up the zombie finale nicely.   And of course, lest we forget all the “Stab” films in the Scream franchise (God bless Heather Graham).  It gives the film a self-referential and richer texture, and also adds spoof and a meta take on filmmaking itself.


SAVE YOURSELF (2015), directed by Ryan M. Andrews, begins exactly as this:  A theater filled with horror fans watching tough as nails ladies in a violent “Charlie’s Angels-esque” scene on celluloid.  It is here, at the “film’s” premiere, that we are introduced to our protagonists.  Each of the 5 women we meet (who are either actors or members of the production team) display early in Andrews’s film their distinct personalities -  which is really refreshing.  Often times in ensemble casts, only one or two characters are fleshed out.  Here, we get a motley crew of ambitious and contrasting women, all gearing up to set out for their film’s promotional tour (road trip style).


At the center of the group, veteran scream queen Tristan Risk acts as Crystal Lacroix, the tenacious yet anxiety-ridden director.  She has no patience for dilly-dallying and insists her crew hit the road.  In true horror style, the road trip does not go exactly as planned.  A crew member is soon missing, the car is inoperable, cell phones are rendered useless, and the only choice left is to seek help a “few miles down the road.”  Where this could be stale (it’s an archetype often used in the last 5 decades of horror), SAVE YOURSELF keeps things fresh with characters who actually stay together and fight together.  When they stumble upon a rambling country house in a rural area, their on-screen toughness must manifest itself into a real life thirst for survival.  And there is a kick-in-your-ass twist that ups the ante on any wrong turn or chainsaw massacre, even in Texas.  

Andrews’ SAVE YOURSELF plays a wrestling tongue-in-cheek meet with clich├ęs, slays with an awesome cast, and twists gore and psychological horror into 91 minutes of female-centric badassery.  There is far more than meets the eye here on this country plot.   

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SAVE YOURSELF is screening at our next showcase Monday, May 2 at Screenland Armoud in Kansas City, Missouri. RSVP here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: HOWL OF A GOOD TIME (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman




I may be biased because Patrick Rea is a friend of mine...but his short films are so creative and fun.  His style really reminds me of Tim Burton.  He has the wacky stories, the whimsical atmosphere, and the soundtracks that really give his films a magical quality.  And they are consistently entertaining.  In fact, many of his shorts remind me of Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) in terms of aesthetics.  He may not have Large Marge, but he has plenty of memorable characters and scenes that are both frightening and hilarious.


HOWL OF A GOOD TIME is no different. I really cannot reveal too much about the plot without spoiling the magic for those who get to see it.  But I will say there is a charming Rialto-theatre setting, some questionable audience members, and a cameo by one of my favorite Devil’s Rejects. And watch out who gets admission and who doesn’t...that could come and bite you in the ass.

Sniff, sniff.

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HOWL OF A GOOD TIME is screening at our next showcase Monday, May 2 at Screenland Armour in Kansas City.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: THE INVITATION (2016)

by: Chelsea Opperman



Dinner party films are fun.  It is a scenario in which all audience members can certainly relate.  With some films that verge on the fantastic or absurd, viewers can gaze in awe but cannot truly put themselves in the movie.  But a dinner party with the awkward silences, stranger introductions, and questionable food is something we have all suffered through.  Often there are even ulterior motives, like selling Amway.  Or sometimes, the intent is much more sinister.

Karyn Kusama, the director behind Jennifer’s Body and Girlfight, weaves a chilling portrait of societal politeness and personal paranoia and delivers it in taut package, set high in the Hollywood Hills.  This beautifully shot film stars the handsome devil from 2010’s Devil, Logan Marshall-Green as Will who broods in a rich and layered character that is haunted by a dark past and an even darker future. We see through his eyes the unraveling of what seems to start as an awkward but mostly pleasant evening slowly change into the apocalypse it is destined to become.  With realistic dialogue and a great ensemble cast, this film places the audience as another guest on the sofa.  The sinister unknown visitor, the wonderful John Carroll Lynch and the eerie commune gypsy (Lindsay Burdge) elevate the guests’ growing paranoia and unease as the night creeps on.  Lewd games, fine wine, chilling stories, and odd philosophies set their teeth on edge, and as we arc towards the third act, the tension is so thick it can be cut only with a serrated knife.  

As beautiful metaphors of coyotes and red velvet cake allude to mercy killings and killers having no mercy, Invitation shows us a claustrophobic peephole view into grief, mourning, and the thirst to survive amidst pain.  A pinch of Hitchcockian suspense, a dash of You’re Next (2011), and a whole lot of Jonestown, this film is one of the best psycho thrillers of the year.  Accept this Invitation at your own risk.  


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Please check out THE INVITATION available now ondemand and in select theaters.

Review: HOOT (2016)

by: Chelsea Opperman



HOOT keeps it simple.  With a deliciously (and palette cleansing) straightforward storyline, you get a great picture. The visual textures of the pajama stripes, the frosty branches, the lonely middle aged man with a sad agenda all add to a laughable and fun show.  

And it's a story line we have all lived.  Remember that woodpecker that annoyed the fuck out of you?  That crow that never went away?  The boogeyman that never left the closet?

At this point, from what I have viewed of Patrick Rea's films, he takes whimsical and comical concepts and films them in a literal, visceral sense.  He makes fun of the everyday events and turns them scary.      

You surely can't be mad at a feathery antagonist...but maybe he's not the antagonist at all.  

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HOOT is screening at our next showcase on Monday, May 2 at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri. RSVP here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: PILLOW FRIGHT (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

This is the most fun short you will see all year.  When you see ditzy, bubble gum snapping sorority girls gearing up for a night of pizza and booze, you just know you are in for a fun time.  Hell, Slumber Party Massacre is a classic, right?  Patrick Rea’s PILLOW FRIGHT uses this classic trope and turns it on its ass.  He gives life not only to the vapid pigtailed girls, but also their poor, undeserving victims.  Let’s just say he softly gives a feathery touch to his main antagonists, and oh yes, they will exact their revenge.  No one fucks with their family and gets away with it.  With fun special effects and oodles of creativity, this horror/comedy is not to be missed.  You’ll never look at bedding the same way again.   Rea is a great name in the short film biz.  

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PILLOW FRIGHT is screening at our next showcase on Monday, May 2 at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri. RSVP here.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: INNSMOUTH (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

The fabled town of Innsmouth, romantically named after H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional coastal town where rot and decay reign, is hiding something dark.  Something sensual.  
The story starts as many do, an unexplained murder, a tenacious detective and a mystery to decipher.  But that is where the archetypal gumshoe tale ends.  We follow Detective Olmsted into a 10-minute-long odyssey into the underbelly of Innsmouth, one that seduces and destroys.  As far as the welcome she’ll receive, her cup runneth over.
The house in which the majority of the short is shot is a beautiful, yet crumbling Victorian, ripe with antiques, dusty taxidermy, and a lingering feeling of something stale.…. something tells me these things have been in this family for a long while.  And something needs to feed.    
As in all her films and stage performances, Tristan Risk commands the attention of the audience.  She exudes a tasteful sexuality, and something darkly sinister.   She fearlessly commits to the role of Alice Marsh, the unexplained but yet recognized head matron of this creepy seaward town.  You are drawn to her, you are seduced by her, you can’t take your eyes off her…and she can’t keep hers off of you.
To tell more would spoil the magic of this film, and oh yes, this is one to remember.
The story behind Innsmouth and its erotic, feverish rituals leave the audience wanting more of the story, more of the lore, the way a short film should.  Also, be on the lookout for a director cameo.  Izzy Lee is a talented indie film maker with a fiercely political and female centric agenda, and she breaks all the rules. 

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Please join us Monday, April 4 for a free screening of INNSMOUTH at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.   More info HERE.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: HARVEST LAKE (2016)

by: Chelsea Opperman


In ancient Greek Mythology, the primordial deities were the first gods and goddesses born from Chaos, the primeval void, the first thing that has ever existed.  From these deities, Eros was created - the god of love, sex, and erotica.  Scott Schirmer’s HARVEST LAKE (2016) takes us deep into the watery birth of carnality, a reverse evolution into the salacious, and a trip down the rabbit hole.  This otherworldly Eros bewitches those who swim in his waters and with that first dip into Harvest Lake, we fall down a well of sexual desire - one where mushrooms take erotic shapes, “Eat Me” sugar cubes lead to newfangled experiences, and love is found in the unknown.  Follow the white rabbit you go.

In the beginning of this twisted celluloid, two naked and vulnerable humans leave Eden and descend into the lake.  They are leaving godliness and purity, banished from Olympus, plummeting into a psycho-sexual Wonderland...and there is definitely a crafty caterpillar calling the shots.   Soon after, a road-tripping Scooby Doo van filled with young adults looking forward to a relaxing weekend at the cabin arrives.  And with that, veteran scream queen Tristan Risk yells “Zoinks!” and the party begins.

Risk captivates as the confident raven-haired nymph, while Ellie Church brings the Alice - the blonde, doe eyed innocent girl whose nocturnal activities are becoming curiouser and curiouser.  Paired up with 2 men following their own steamy agendas, this party is about start.  The slow burn of this film is needed: we learn to care for our protagonists, we meet a mysterious stranger, and are slowly lured into the depravity of the Lake.  Coupled with intense special effects creatures and an erotic gaze, this film is very well balanced and a beacon for independent filmmaking.  Schirmer captures the atmosphere perfectly - it is eerie and enticing, wanton and haunted.  An Alice in Wonderland on porn.

This is a film, and an ending, to remember.  Enjoy your swim.
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Please join us next Monday, April 4th at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri for a FREE screening of HARVEST LAKE and short film INNSMOUTH.  Click here for more info.


Review: MONSTERS (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman



The masked stranger is one of horror's most terrifying archetypes.  Why do they scare us more than creature features and zombie flicks?  Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the figure.  Or maybe it’s the lack of motive that emits a sense of helplessness, seen often in home invasion and kidnapping films. “Is this meaningless violence?” questions the audience. The victim himself asks, “What did I do to deserve this?”  When you are snatched by masked fiends from your creature comforts, there is almost a figurative castration - any sort of control you thought you had has been seized and exploited, you have resorted to a crying, mumbling shell of humiliation.  You are at the villains’ mercy.  This is a very real fear, deep rooted in the America today, ripe with gun control politics, police brutality, racial tension and violent outbursts, leaving us asking, “Who are they, and why me?”


Jacob Barrett's beautifully shot short film is a pleasure to the eyes and ears.  The lighting and cinematography are the real stars here, along with the jarring and eerie music, successfully evoking dread in the pit of the viewers' stomachs and fear in their minds.  And with these razor sharp elements, the film puts forth the question...who really are the Monsters?

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Please join us Monday, March 7th for a free screening of MONSTERS at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.

Review: CHOMP (2014)

by: Chelsea Opperman




Insanity is a bitch.  And this granny is, too.  Deranged elderly women will always be scary as hell.   In the horror genre, they seem to be better than anyone else at terrorizing couples, worshiping Satan, wielding machetes, and baking pies.  The youngsters in these films are often no match against the unsettling elderly demeanor ripe with rampant paranoia and blood lust.  And when you add humor to the mix, you get the delicious mash up called Chomp.

This short has a lot going for it:  The quirky leads are spot on with their over-the-top reactions to the laughable and ludicrous. The whimsical music and title credits create a sharp juxtaposition to the dog bowls of grandpa gore, creating a feeling of disgust and subversive pleasure.  The meta-television advertisements are reminiscent of the dizzying disorientation felt while watching Requiem for a Dream – embodying a screaming personality you are forced to comply with while sold insanity inducing propaganda.  What senior citizen doesn’t love QVC?


And mostly, director Lynne Hansen has us effectively chained to the narrative while her grandmother figure “Millie” catches herself a real life zombie boy.  It’s a good thing Millie’s read up on all her books.   Chomp, chomp. 

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Please join us Monday, March 7th for free screening of CHOMP at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review: DON'T GO IN THE LAKE (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

Debauchery, Diving, and D-Cups



Whenever you see a bunch of half-naked "co-eds" diving into dark water, you just know something dreadful is about to happen.  What is it about this scenario that is so delicious?  The decades old tale of teens skinny dipping brings a sense of nostalgia to horror fans.  This theme has been lovingly played out by the grisly slashers of the 70s and 80s, splatter films, and B list exploitation movies. These are the films of the past, the cassettes chipped and tape run thin, shoved in the ratty VHS boxes, and piled in the closet.  Why is this genre so loved?  Boobs and Blood.  The kids are naked, horny, and the last thing they are expecting is anything that's not an orgasm.  This vulnerability has the audience squirming in their seats...just waiting for the big scare. Sex and violence are always crowd pleasers.


To the point, this short film by Corey Norman is a whole lot of fun.  4 minutes is not a long time to create atmosphere, let alone a film, but Norman successfully evokes the Camp Crystal lake charm of lazy summer nights, trying to get laid, warm beers, and carnage.  Only this time, it's 30-somethings trying to relive that youthful, carefree feeling...but they won't be finding what they were looking for, rather something else will find them. Horror fans across genres will enjoy this throwback to campy hits of yesteryear with a fresh twist.

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Please join us Monday, March 7th for a free screening of DON'T GO IN THE LAKE at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.

Review: BANJO (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman


“Make like a tampon and get the hell out of my bloody hole” – Mr. Sawyer


We have all been there.  Stuck in a meaningless job, surrounded by complacent co-workers, and intimidated by an overbearing boss.  However, we may not have been in this circle of office hell that Liam Regan’s Banjo slams us into: A dizzying color palette of stark reds and fluorescent overheads shine light on that fact that good-hearted Peltzer Arbuckle’s megalomaniac boss could possibly be the devil.  Clad in a garish red vest and wielding a golf club pitchfork, this boss takes asshole to a new level.  He terrorizes the brilliantly acted Laurence R. Harvey to the breaking point, sleeps with Peltzer’s girlfriend, and relentlessly bullies his employees alongside his cruel corporate cronies.

Now, what is Peltzer going to do about this? This is where the fun begins.  Break out your Ouija Board.

This film is a like love-letter to Troma movies.  With allusions to the Toxic Avenger, ridiculous cake-scarfing montages, “I Heart Tromaville High School” bumper stickers, and even a cameo by Lloyd Kaufman himself, Banjo has affectionately borrowed key characteristics of the Troma films themselves.  From the beginning child-like innocence of protagonist Peltzer Arbuckle, to the cartoonish villains who thrust his virtue into nonexistence, Banjo embraces Troma’s surrealistic nature, reoccurring narrative themes of revenge-based horror, and shocking imagery fans have come to love.
           
This picture can definitely also be grouped into British exploitation film territory.  Bloodgasm geysers and eye-watering barf factors have us both laughing and cringing hard, grindhouse style.  The John Waters style of bad taste oozes throughout, the Bugs Bunny-like gags delight, and it seems Drop Dead Fred has an evil new playmate.  There is even an office romance that tenderly winds its way around the body count. 

And lest we forget the bouncing bosom and sexual exploits of goth torturess, Deetz.  They are way over the top, and gentlemen, you don’t ever want Deetz on top.

The lewd and the ludicrous fuse here in a blood-spattered, pulpy cult classic in the making.  It is gory, funny, has the ability to pluck at our heartstrings and *gulp* even our banjo strings.  Regan has some serious talent here, watch out UK, watch out world. 
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Please join us Monday, March 7th for a free screening of BANJO with director Liam Regan in attendance!  Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.