For the past 11 years, the Sydney Underground Film Festival has walked on the weirder, wilder side of cinema, and 2018 is no exception. In fact, with its 12th program including everything from a time-travelling New Zealand comedy to a bloody Christmas flick to Nicolas Cage at his most unhinged, this year might just be more over-the-top than ever.
Returning to Marrickville's Factory Theatre from Thursday, September 13 to Sunday, September 16, SUFF kicks off with what could just be the next great (and greatly hilarious) Kiwi effort. Mega Time Squad stars What We Do in the Shadows' Jonny Brugh, and follows a small-time crook who steals an ancient time-travel device, only to be forced to face the demonic consequences — as happens in madcap NZ movies, obviously.
Then, at the other end of the festival, get ready to go full Cage on SUFF's closing night. Sure, you've seen Nicolas Cage do plenty of strange things on screen, but Mandy dials his antics up a few notches and then some. Charting a lumberjack's quest to save his girlfriend from a creepy cult and a trio of satanic bikers, it features a vodka-swilling, revenge-seeking, angrily growling Nicolas Cage that really has to be seen to be believed. Throw in lurid visuals and an intoxicating soundtrack, and it demands to be experienced in a cinema.
In between SUFF's two big events sits 25 other features, 13 documentaries, four shorts programs, eight workshops and the return of the late-night cereal cartoon party, so prepare to get comfy across the festival's four-day run. Feature highlights include the Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement-starring An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, Ethan Hawke stepping behind the camera with music biopic Blaze, the violent vengeance of French effort Revenge and Sion Sono's undead extravaganza Tokyo Vampire Hotel. Or, there's also Guy Maddin's San Francisco mashup The Green Fog, stylishly sensory spaghetti western homage Let the Corpses Tan, and the hypnotic Madeline's Madeline — with the latter about a teenage acting student channelling her woes into her work, complete with a incredibly memorable lead performance.
On the documentary front, SUFF-goers can step into a varied array of subjects, including folks who believe the earth is flat, the world's first all-girl punk group, legendary exploitation filmmaker Larry Cohen and another director who has made more than 180 movies in 20 years. The list goes on, but this year's fest wouldn't be complete without the man, the myth and the enigma that is Bill Murray — or a documentary about him, more accurately, although he will be in the country later this year.