After a few distribution delays, Eddie Lengyel's low-budget horror movie Hellweek is finally out on DVD. Former Clevelander Lengyel shot the film in Northeast Ohio, using downtown Cleveland locations and the University of Akron and Kent State University campuses. While the acting is rather shaky, the production values in the 107-minute movie are pretty strong. The story centers on the antics of J.J. (Rob Jaeger), a fun-loving frat boy who decides it would be fun to send his pledges to an abandoned warehouse allegedly occupied by "a bunch of crazies." When it turns out a chainsaw-wielding psychopath and a group of hillbilly cronies do indeed haunt the place, a bloodbath ensues when the mask-wearing monsters attack frat boys and sorority girls alike. In addition to Jaeger, the film features cameos by B-movie stars Robyn Griggs and Brenna Lee Roth. You can find more info at frighteckpictures.com, where the DVD is available for purchase.
Cobbled together from home footage and TV coverage, the Academy Award-nominated Trouble the Water is a documentary about the devastating effect Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans. The film is difficult to watch, and not just because of the destruction we see. The shaky footage provided by Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott is something you might see in a DIY movie showing at an underground film festival. We see how the water rose up to the level of street signs and flooded the couple's house to the point that they had to climb to the top floor. Audiotapes of 911 calls to operators, who confess there are no "emergency vehicles available," are really disturbing. But the footage pales in comparison to Spike Lee's elegiac When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, a superb documentary that set a high standard for any film about the tragedy that befell the Crescent City. See for yourself when Trouble the Water screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church (20401 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River, 440.333.2255, wsuuc.org). Free.
John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath screens at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at the Lakewood Public Library's Main Auditorium (15425 Detroit Ave., 216.226.8275, lkwdpl.org). Based on John Steinbeck's classic novel about a migrant worker family struggling to make ends meet in post-Depression America, the 1940 film stars Henry Fonda as protagonist Tom Joad. The screening is free.
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