Volume 19 Issue 51 | May 4 -10, 2007

Courtesty Tribeca Film Fest

Jonathan King’s “Black Sheep” takes the timely subject of animal cloning and turns it into a horror film about a ravenous cadre of cloned sheep let loose by environmental activists. It’s one of the many “Midnight Section” movies in the Tribeca Film Festival, which continues through May 5. For showtimes visit

The freaky films come out at nightMidnight movies at Tribeca

By Steven Snyder

Above and beyond the stream of casual moviegoers making their way down Varick St., there are three subcultures gleefully co-existing at the Tribeca Film Festival: the non-stop cinema gorgers, the gregarious partiers and, most curiously, the night owls. While the first two groups relish in making a day of the film fest, this latter band of fans prefers to take in its movies — most often cult comedies and gruesome horror marathons — when the moon is high and the theater boisterous.

While many film festivals offer these types of nocturnal filmgoers a few titles on select Friday and Saturday nights, Tribeca makes an active effort to give them a program all their own: the “Midnight Section.”

Perhaps most indicative of the freewheeling and light-hearted nature of the midnight section is this year’s most peculiar entry: Jonathan King’s “Black Sheep,” which takes the timely subject of animal cloning and turns it into a horror film about a ravenous cadre of white cloned monsters let loose by man’s mortal enemy: environmental activists.

Yes, this is Tribeca at midnight — the kind of addictive silliness unleashed when the more serious filmgoers have gone to bed. And, as horror films continue to be one of the most profitable genres of today’s Hollywood, perhaps a list of the films that hold a better chance at being distributed after the festival is over.

The list of midnight entries this year — which includes 11 films, and six world premieres — is one of the more diverse lineups of recent memory. Jim Hickey’s “Dirty Sanchez,” about a group of British daredevils and which the festival freely describes as “‘Jackass’ on crack,” promises to be one of the more popular draws.

Comedian Jamie Kennedy takes on hecklers in “Heckler,” sure to be a must-see for those hundreds of New York stand-up comedians who confront contentious audiences on a nightly basis. Kevin Undergaro’s “In the Land of Merry Misfits” looks to be a lock for the section’s “trippy” entry, telling the story of a college grad who finds himself trapped it a land of twisted fairytales, desperate to escape and win back his girlfriend.

A handful of darker titles focus on our collective fears, both old and new. “The Matrimony” is about a widower who marries another only to find his new wife’s body is inhabited with the spirit of his lost love; “Mulberry Street” is about a deadly virus tearing apart Manhattan and being spread by — what else — rats; “The Poughkeepsie Tapes” dives headfirst into a world of torture and death when a serial killer’s personal videotapes are discovered in an abandoned house; “Unearthed” starts with an archeologist excavating an ancient town in New Mexico and ends with a mysterious creature behind unleashed on a small, unsuspecting desert town.

Two films, “Scott Walker — 30th Century Man” and “The Workshop,” offer lighter alternatives, the first a musician documentary about the man behind the album “The Drift” and the second offering a tantalizing story about a filmmaker in search of answers who finally lands at a California workshop led by a man who advocates sexual experimentation and claims to know about the existence of aliens.

And what midnight program would be complete without a vampire film? In “Rise: Blood Hunter,” the Commish (Michael Chiklis) and Lucy Liu star in a story about a reporter who awakes one day to the surprising realization that she is in a morgue, no longer human, and hungry for the taste of blood.

Fairy-tales, freakshows and fornication—just another year of midnight films at Tribeca. Beware the full moon.

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