Panic Fest 2023 review: Evan Marlowe’s ‘ABRUPTIO’ is mind-bending nightmare fuel.


Les Hackel is a guy down on his luck who wakes to find an explosive device has been implanted in his neck.

Writer-director-producer-DP-and editor Evan Marlowe brings Panic Fest 2023 audiences, hands down one of the most twisted films in recent history with ABRUPTIO. A maniacally bizarre and wholly disturbing film, this story of coping mechanisms, humanity’s darkness, and unrelenting guilt will knock you off your feet.

If Genesis‘ 1986 music video ‘Land of Confusion’ and the Michael Douglas film The Game had a lovechild, you might begin to imagine the otherworldly visual experience of ABRUPTIO. Marlowe creates a killer script adding discomfort with his lead players in the form of life-sized puppets. The voice cast is out of this world. Christopher McDonald voices Police Chief Richter with the confident bravado that makes him an icon. His puppet bares a striking likeness to McDonald, and aside from Mom and Les, has the most realistic human appearance. Jordan Peele is Danny, Les’ smooth-talking best friend. He provides an awesomely creepy performance, in the quirkiest sense.

Rich Fulcher portrays Dummkopf with weaselly energy. It’s reminiscent of a Dick Tracy comic book character, and while brief, it is an unforgettable turn. Sid Haig plays dry comedian Sal Cheek. He is pitch-perfect in his final roles. Truly a master. He is already sorely missed. Hana Mae Lee is Chelsea, a family friend’s daughter visiting home. She brings a much-needed innocence to balance the absolute chaos.

Robert Englund plays Mr. Salk, an OCD accountant dressed entirely in white. A genius move on Marlowe’s part to include his vocal stylings. Darren Darnborough gives Clive a perfectly sinister intonation. I would happily watch a spinoff following his character’s shenanigans. BUFFY loves of my life James Marsters voices Les. He is outstanding. His subdued nature makes you all the more uncomfortable.

Horror homages arrive not only on the iconic voice casting but in echoes from films like Don’t Look Now, The Shining, Saw, and Beetlejuice, as the plot digs further into the freakishly weird. Lead puppet designer and fabricator Jeff Farley pulls us further into the story with his jarring creations. Part sex doll and all nightmare, our cast of life-sized puppets intrigues and terrifies to no end. The blinking might be the unsettling visual of all. Your brain is already trying to process what you are looking at, and then the puppets’ eyes close sporadically, and it is eerie as hell.

Disturbing and sadistic, ABRUPTIO is a real-time, mind-bending car crash fever dream of the fantastic. It’s a must-see for genre fans looking for something beyond what their imagination or nightmares could ever provide.


Abruptio trailer from Evan Marlowe on Vimeo.

After years in production, Abruptio is screening at festivals around the world. The film will next screen in a hybrid format at Panic Fest: in person on April 15 and streaming virtually from April 19 to April 23.
Festival details:
Abruptio screens at Fantaspoa on April 28 and April 30.

Evan Marlowe

Evan Marlowe

James Marsters (voice)
Christopher McDonald (voice)
Hana Mae Lee  (voice)
Jordan Peele  (voice)
Robert Englund (voice)
Sid Haig (voice)

‘I AM BIG BIRD’ hugs your heart and soul. Liz talks childhood flashbacks and this touching documentary.

I am big bird posterWhen I was a very small child, my mother would set me up each morning on my little wooden and plastic potty with a tray of cheerios and Sesame Street. Every night, I listened to the likes of Bert and Ernie, Telly and Grover, but I as I think back to a voice that was so distinct, I always think of one in particular. A tall, endearing, yellow fellow named Big Bird. When I was a preschool teacher I played my students the songs of my past and I fully intend to share the same memories with my own children. Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina bring us the joyous new documentary about the man inside the bird, Caroll Spinney. I AM BIG BIRD is a fascinating look into how this beloved character came to fruition.

Caroll Spinney in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

Caroll Spinney in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

From humble beginnings, a volatile relationship with his father, and a supportive mother, Caroll fell in love with puppetry early on. As a young boy this did not necessarily make school an easy environment, but he soldiered on in his passion. Caroll was discovered at a 1969 Puppet Festival by none other than Jim Henson and fate. The two had a very special  relationship, with Jim being a less of a boss and more of a friend and mentor to Caroll. Navigating through bouts of depression and low self worth, work was his saving grace as was his second wife Debra. Her love brought him back to life and has sustained the magic both on screen and behind the scenes ever since. The Big Bird we know now what not always this childlike. Initially, he was a very skinny yokel type. Thankfully, with more self confidence and encouragement from the entire Sesame Street family, Caroll gave us the magical creature we adore today.

Caroll Spinney and Debra Spinney in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

Caroll Spinney and Debra Spinney in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

Walker and LaMattina had a gold mine of footage from Sesame Workshop but the jackpot came from Caroll and Deb’s years of home video footage. Mixed with Caroll’s own art work, intimate sit down interviews with his children, Sesame cast members, and even Jim’s daughter, we are privileged as an audience to see how moments of time came to be. From Follow The Bird to Big Bird in China and many other Muppet specials, we see the good and the bad. There are no kid gloves when it comes to talking about Caroll and company. One of innumerable interesting things we learn is that Caroll also plays Oscar the Grouch. You learn how this has become the perfect counter balance to our big yellow friend and Caroll alike. Their memories become your own and tear at your heartstrings. You feel so special as you see past the feather into Caroll’s soul.

Caroll Spinney and Jim Henson in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

Caroll Spinney and Jim Henson in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

We all have an innate love for Kermit and Big Bird. The Muppets and Sesame Street have molded millions of minds all over the globe since their inception. You will watch this film with tears in your eyes and laughter in your heart. There is no escaping the love that engulfs this movie. This is a timeless classic you will want to show your children down the line. I AM BIG BIRD is nothing short of extraordinary.

Caroll Spinney in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

Caroll Spinney in I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY a Tribeca Film release.

Stay tuned for an interview with directors Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina in the next few days!

Release Date

VOD: Available on iTunes & VOD: May 5, 2015
Theatrical: Select theatrical release beginning May 6, 2015
New York: IFC Center – opens May 6, 2015
May 15:
Boston: Brattle Theater – opens May 15, 2015
Chicago: Gene Siskel Film Center – opens May 15, 2015
Columbus: Gateway Film Center – opens May 15, 2015
Detroit: Cinema Detroit – opens May 15, 2015
Los Angeles area:
– Los Angeles: Royal – opens May 15, 2015
– Santa Ana, CA: South Coast Village – opens May 15, 2015
Minneapolis: St Anthony Main – opens May 15, 2015
New Orleans: Zeitgeist Theater – opens May 15, 2015
Philadelphia: PFS at Roxy Theater – opens May 15, 2015
Portland: Living Room Theaters – opens May 15, 2015
San Diego: Digital Cinema – opens May 15, 2015
Santa Fe: CCA – opens May 15, 2015
San Francisco area:
– Berkeley: Rialto Cinemas Elmwood – opens May 15, 2015
– San Francisco: Balboa Theater – opens May 15, 2015
– Sonoma: Sebastopol Rialto Cinemas – opens May 15, 2015
Scottsdale: Shea 14 – opens May 15, 2015
May 22:
Eugene, OR: Metro Cinemas – opens May 22, 2015
Gainesville, FL: The Wooly – opens May 22, 2015
Louisville: Village 7 – opens May 22, 2015
Miami area:
– Coral Gables: Cosford Cinema – May 22,2015
– Miami: O-Cinema – opens May 22,2015
Palm Springs: Camelot – opens May 22, 2015
Pittsburgh: Hollywood Theater – opens May 22, 2015
Sedona, AZ: Mary Fischer Theater – opens May 22, 2015
May 29:
Denver: Sie Film Center – opens May 29, 2015
June 10:
Boulder, CO: Boedicker Theater – opens June 10, 2015
June 12:
Seattle: SIFF Cinema – opens June 12, 2015
Bellingham, WA: Pickford – opens June 12, 2015
Pelham, NY: Picturehouse – opens June 12, 2015


Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker


Dave LaMattina


Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker


Caroll Spinney


87 minutes


For 45 years, Caroll Spinney has been beloved by generations of children as the man behind Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch – and at 80 years old, he has no intention of stopping. A loving portrait of the man in the yellow suit, I Am Big Bird features extraordinary footage of Spinney’s earliest collaborations with Jim Henson as it traces his journey from bullied child to childhood icon. And as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the puppet, who will steal your heart.

Remember how much you loved the original ‘Jurassic Park’ ? Will ‘Jurassic World’ live up?


We’re all looking forward to the newest installment of Jurassic World next year. I know CGI has come a long way since the original, but I am looking for some up close and personal dino interactions. Who doesn’t want to actually touch a dinosaur?! I know I do, and I’m totally cool if that makes me even more of a nerd. There is nothing like the famous Triceratops scene in Jurassic Park… because in 1993 they built a life-sized Triceratops! Let’s hope we see some of this artistry once more. Take a look behind the scenes from the original.  Read More →