If you think most film festivals are sorely lacking in free beer, flesh-eating zombies, cavemen and Mexican wrestlers, the Backseat Film Festival has your ticket.

An annual celluloid celebration of comedy, camp, gore and rock 'n' roll, the nine-day festival starts Friday with movies tackling such profound subjects as dimwitted zombies, monster-battling hot rod girls and teen angst apocalypse.

Created by Philadelphia film and video production company Backseat Conceptions, the festival is in its seventh year. Beer is free and plentiful, tickets are cheap (as low as $3 for some events) and after-parties are abundant.

"We're showcasing work that wasn't being seen at other film festivals," said Doug Sakmann, one of Backseat's founders.

Sakmann said he and his colleagues got the idea for the event in 2002 after realizing they could fill an entire festival with films their friends made. In 2003, they loaded a school bus with 13 friends _ and their friends' movies _ and headed to Park City, Utah, for the Slamdance Festival.

"It worked out so well that we did a tour of 13 other cities," Sakmann said. "It was three and a half months ... we went to anyone who'd have us."

A stint on the 2003 Warped Tour followed, and the rest is raucous, depraved movie history.

"They've been such a great supporter over the years of my work," said animator Bill Plympton, a Backseat Festival favorite.

Plympton, whose full-length animated feature, "Idiots and Angels," will be shown Saturday, said the festival circuit is key to his success.

"I'm fortunate that the films are quite popular, and I've been able to support myself all through the sales of the short films," he said.

Among the other 14 movies at this year's festival are "Hot Rod Girls Save the World" and "Sex Galaxy." Also on the schedule is a documentary about Canadian-born Mexican wrestler Vampiro, a campers-in-peril slasher flick and dozens of short films and music videos.

Movies are showing for two consecutive weekends at the new 941 Theater, a converted warehouse bordering the city's Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods that seats about 150 people.

"Minghags," directed by MTV "Jackass" star Bam Margera, promises a story line of "trailer-trash rockers," a "billionaire scumbag" and an invention called the Garbage Juicer. Margera, who lives outside Philadelphia, will attend Sunday's screening.

A couple of local bars also get into the act with screenings and Q&As with filmmakers including Adam Rifkin, who is bringing his "Detroit Rock City" to the festival.

The festival ends March 15 with awards in categories including Best Drinking Movie, Best Zombies and Most Disturbing.

On the Net:

Screening and event schedule: http://www.backseatfilmfestival.com

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