The opening night of Screamfest 2017 took place at the TCL Chinese Theater, smack in the middle of the Hollywood Boulevard Strip. When I arrived, I found parking a little trickier than normal on the streets, so I dove into the nearby parking structure at the mall, on the corner of Hollywood and Highland.
For a Tuesday night, the boulevard was packed! I couldn’t figure out for the longest time what was causing such a commotion – I wondered to myself if Screamfest was really taking over the entire street for its opening night ceremony!
However, I quickly learned that sharing the same night as Screamfest’s opening was also the world premiere of Thor: Ragnarok, directly across the street from the Chinese Theater! The crowds were too massive for me to snap any real photos, but trust me, the block was stacked with people. (There was also a Wonder Woman cosplayer stuck on the street with us, and I heard her mutter “Damn Marvel!” at one point as I passed her by. Character acting = A+.)
But finally, I arrived at the Chinese Theater. The time was 7:45 when I arrived (traffic and such being my excuse), so I quickly made my way to Will Call, got my badge, and hustled into another world premiere, and one that I was, admittedly, way more excited for Dead Ant, written and directed by Ron Carlson (read our interview – here).
Before the film began, Selma Blair (one of the co-founders of Screamfest) gave a warm welcome to Carlson, saying that Dead Ant was “the best opening film imaginable, so much so that I wanted my 6-year old to see it… and now you know that I’m fucked up.” When Carlson took the floor to introduce his film, he described the film’s overall vibe as “less like the New Yorker, and more like Playboy… you’ll look at it, say ‘Oh, okay. Cool,’ and then when you’re done you’ll wanna pass it to a friend!” Which, in my opinion, is probably one of the better ways that Dead Ant’s unapologetic dive into B-movie Glam Rock fare could be described.
And then, the film began.
Dead Ant follows a faded-n-jaded glam rock band, Sonic Grave, as they embark on a mission to play No-Chella and reclaim their former glory; along the way, they stop by a shop to grab some mystic peyote, and in the process accidentally summon a swarm of giant ants who proceed to attack them. The band has to survive in order to play the most epic show they’ve ever played before. Pretty standard premise, right?
What was both surprising and hilarious was the amount of big names that were among the film’s cast: the band consists of Jake Busey (Starship Troopers), here doing his best Axl Rose impression to hilarious effect; Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), channeling his inner Michael Madsen; Rhys Coiro (Entourage) sporting a glam mullet; Leisha Hailey (The L Word) as the tough-as-nails drummer; and freakin’ Tom Arnold (True Lies, Roseanne) as the band’s manager. Holy shit, that’s a lot of amazing actors and actresses in one place! And that’s not even counting Michael Horse (Twin Peaks, among many others) and Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) as the peyote salesmen! What a cast!
Suffice to say, it was awesome. When Selma Blair proclaimed Dead Ant as the perfect opening-night movie for Screamfest, she wasn’t kidding. It was a total blast to watch.
Nothin’ to see here, kids. Just a bunch of glam-rockers fighting off giant ants.
NOTE: There was also an after-party that was happening after the screening, but I was unfortunately turned away due to capacity issues. Oh well! I still love you, Sonic Grave.