This may not seem like large news to anyone outside of Philadelphia, but the fact that Travis Crawford's Danger after Dark film program has returned this summer is a bit of a tiny miracle.
There has been a lot of doubt and speculation whether Danger after Dark would be helmed by Crawford again or whether it would ever come back in any form again. I'm pleasantly surprsied to report that Danger After Dark is indeed returning to Philly and is curated by its original founder.
Oddly nestled within the Philadelphia Q-Fest (our largest gay and lesbian film festival), Danger after Dark is a bit of a bastard child, a mutant abomination that's been chained up in the cellar of a crumbling and dilapidated home. But for those with a morbid curiosity and looking for something "dangerous" will do well to open that cellar door and take a twisted journey to places they haven't been before and truthfully, probably shouldn't. Which means it's the perfect festival for ScreenAnarchy readers.
Danger after Dark has been a staple of the Philadelphia film festival scene for over 11 years. It was DAD that brought a Coffin Joe marathon to our fair city in 2001 along with an amazing Shaw Brothers retrospective and a remastered 35mm print of Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41. And if my memory serves correctly, Danger after Dark was the only U.S. film festival to present the cult phenomenon Ginger Snaps long before it became a straight to DVD powerhouse.
I was a film school freshman during 2002's DAD where Crawford showcased Suicide Club, Friend, Versus, and Trouble Every Day. It was the festival that introduced me to contemporary Korean cinema and the likes of Sion Sono and Alex Di Iglesias with an actual screening of Mutante Action. I owe a lot to Danger after Dark. It was the reason why I began volunteering for Philadelphia International Film Festival which later led to staff positions with the fest, my own screening series, and eventually writing for ScreenAnarchy. And while DAD has gone through many mutations over the past decade, and a replacement programmer who nearly killed the fest's reputation, this year's lineup may be the most eclectic and strangest selection yet. And I say that as a good thing.
Travis has taken the program in a significantly different direction. Apart from the obligatory Sushi Typhoon pick, the films are less poppy and pulpy. Frankly, it's a much less accessible selection of genre films, but a brave move and somewhat of a gamble as Philadelphia is probably one of the toughest cities to actually bring people out for obscure films. In Crawford's own words, " We love horror and action films more than anyone else, but we're also interested in testing the boundaries of what cinema can accomplish, and we want to test the limits of you, the audience." It's certainly a refreshing program in the aftermath of Fantasia and Fantastic Fest's overpowering influence on every other genre festival.
While there are a few crowd pleasers such as Bangkok Knockout, Ti West's The Innkeepers, and Milocrorze, it's the remastered print of the notorious In a Glass Cage, the Spanish experimental film, Finisterrae, and Japan's Birthright that has this cynical writer doing a double take. Although, Danger after Dark has taken risks before with challenging fare such as The Whispering of the Gods and Catharine Breillat's Anatomy of Hell.
Danger after Dark runs July 8th through July 17th, for a full schedule and tickets, visit: http://www.qfest.com/dad/