Shuttles scuttle fun

Nightcrawlers battle for taxis along Croisette

As Sarah Polley battled zombies onscreen at the midnight “Dawn of the Dead” Palais preem Saturday night, Cannes revelers fought their own pitched battles for taxis along the Croisette.

The fest’s busiest night brought a flurry of latenight events off the main drag: an MTV party at the Palais Oriental, a “Shrek 2” party at the Chateau la Napoule, a “Dawn” bash at the Man Ray Villa and a Vanity Fair fete at the Hotel du Cap.

Despite an abundance of shuttle services, nightcrawling industryites massed in huge numbers at taxi stands in a sometimes futile effort to party-hop.

The storybook trappings of the Chateau la Napoule, a cliffside castle east of Cannes, provided an apt context for the “Shrek 2” party.

“Shrek 2” royalty, including actors Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, gathered in a private area. Plebian partygoers wandered among stilt-walkers and had their photos snapped with cardboard cutouts of the toon’s characters.

The “Dawn” party came roaring to life in the early morning appropriately, as celebrants streamed out of the Palais, some still reeling from the gore (one woman in the audience reportedly passed out). Some celebrants were in tuxedos; others wore zombie face paint.

The Man Ray Villa was the destination of the after-party for Asia Argento‘s “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” beginning at 4 a.m. It would have been the third party in one night for this low-budget film, following a restrained reception on the roof of the Noga Hilton and a raucous bash that spilled across two floors at a Croisette penthouse.

J.T. Leroy, the cult author whose novel inspired the film, made a rare public appearance onstage with Argenta at the Noga screening. Dressed in black with oversized sunglasses, he took a cue from Michael Moore, raising a fist and shouting, “Vive le resistance,” before running from the stage.

The MTV party at Le Palais Oriental in the hills above Cannes — a villa that served as the set of the film “Jet Set” — pulsated with dance music by Audio Bully’s and Grandmaster Flash. Michael Madsen and Salman Rushdie were among the guests.

The many extravagant hillside villas overlooking the glittering lights of Cote d’Azur are one of the cultural resources of Cannes, and it’s no surprise fest event-planners would take advantage of them.

But the bewildering array of Saturday night events at these locales also stems from a fest ordinance passed a few years ago banning latenight parties on the Croisette.

The local taxi industry clearly hasn’t yet come to grips with the new policy. One Cannes veteran sniffed at the prospect of waiting in a long taxi line to leave the Croisette: “I don’t do transportation parties.”