Screamfest 10 in Hollywood

skull9306_300h Hollywood’s oldest and biggest horror film festival returns for its tenth year, featuring a bloody barrel-full of gory goodies, including feature films and short subjects, often with filmmakers in attendance. This is Hollywood’s biggest and oldest festival devoted to the genre; it launched films such as HATCHET and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.
Location: Mann Chinese 6 Theatres in the Hollywood & Highland Complex, 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA
Dates: October 8-17
Website: Click here
Feature Films

Night of the Demons Opening Night Film Fri, Oct 08, 2010 7:30 PM
YellowBrickRoad Sat, Oct 09, 2010 5:00 PM
Needle – Short film “Compulsion” screens prior Sat, Oct 09, 2010 7:30 PM
Death And Cremation Sun, Oct 10, 2010 2:30 PM
The Clinic – Short film “Third Shift” screens prior Sun, Oct 10, 2010 5:00 PM
Altitude Sun, Oct 10, 2010 7:30 PM
Rogue River Mon, Oct 11, 2010 7:30 PM
Stag Night Mon, Oct 11, 2010 9:30 PM
Mirrors 2 Tue, Oct 12, 2010 7:30 PM
Psych:9 Tue, Oct 12, 2010 9:30 PM
Tucker & Dale VS Evil Wed, Oct 13, 2010 7:30 PM
The Shrine Thu, Oct 14, 2010 7:30 PM
Hysteria Fri, Oct 15, 2010 7:30 PM
The Pack – Short film “Night of the Punks” screens prior Fri, Oct 15, 2010 10:00 PM
Caged (Captifs) – Short film “Devil’s Creek” screens prior Sat, Oct 16, 2010 12:00 PM
The Killing Strain – Short film “Not Even Death” screens prior Sat, Oct 16, 2010 2:30 PM
Psycho Legacy Sat, Oct 16, 2010 5:00 PM
Black Death Sat, Oct 16, 2010 9:30 PM

Short Films

Together Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
Closure Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
Comatose Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
Le Miroir Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
Obits Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
Short Lease Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
The White Face Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
St. Christophorus Roadkill Sat, Oct 09, 2010 12:30PM
Compulsion Screens before the feature film NEEDLE Sat, Oct 09, 2010 7:30PM
Alice Jacobs Is Dead Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
Alma Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
Dead Running Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
DemiUrge Emesis Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
Derailed Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
He Dies At The End Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
It Could Be You Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
The Lake Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
Phoebe Sun, Oct 10, 2010 12:00PM
Third Shift Screens before feature film THE CLINIC Sun, Oct 10, 2010 5:00PM
Night Of The Punks Fri, Oct 15, 2010 10:00PM
Devil’s Creek Sat, Oct 16, 2010 12:00PM
Not Even Death Sat, Oct 16, 2010 2:30PM
Attack! Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
Cabine of the Dead Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
Dracula’s Daughter Vs. The Space Brains Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
The Legend Of Beaver Dam Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
…Or Treat Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
Recollection Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
The Tell-Tale Heart Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
United Monster Talent Agency Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM
You’re So Undead Sat, Oct 16, 2010 7:30PM

Awards Presentation – Sunday, October 17

Friday the 13th Part 3 – Cast & Crew Reunion

To help celebrate Cinefantastique’s new look, which allows us to feature videos on the home page, we are reposting a few videos. This one comes from last year’s ScreamFest horror film festival in Hollywood, which featured a question-and-answer session with several members of the cast and crew after a screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 IN 3-D.

The Signal – question-and-answer with co-director Jacob Gentry

THE SIGNAL was one of the best movies I saw at last October’s Screamfest Film Festival in Hollywood. The premise involves a mysterious transmission that turns those who view it into homicidal maniacs. The plot follows a married woman and her lover, who are trying to avoid her husband after he views the “signal.” Although some people liken THE SIGNAL to a zombie movie, it is closer in tone and execution to David Cronenberg’s RABID (1977) with Marilyn Chambers. The unqiue thing about the film is the vague line separating the maniacs from the normal people, with characters crossing back and forth from one condition to the other, making it difficult if not impossible to know whom to trust and whom to fear.

The film is supposed to get a platform release this February. Below is the question-and-answer session from after the Screamfest screening.

Timber Falls: Q&A with director Tony Giglio

TIMBER FALLS will be opening on December 7. I saw the film at Screamfest in Hollywood last October and was pleasantly surprised: the plot (religious loonies kidnap a couple out camping and try to force them to conceive a surrogate child) did not sound particularly auspicious, but the characters suspense were handled pretty well, and the horror hit most of the right notes – grim enough to be effective without getting lost in a welter of blood.

Friday the 13th Part 3 – reunion video

After the 25th anniversary screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 at the Screamfest film festival in Hollywood last month, there was a question-and-answer sesssion with some of the cast and crew. Although the film itself is a bit of a sub-classic, the event was fun, and I posted excerpts of the Q&A. I just completed a video of the event. Even if you are not a big fan of the FRIDAY franchise, you may find a few of the behind-the-scenes stories amusing.

Storm Warning: Q&A with director Jamie Blanks

One of the strongest films at this year’s Screamfest horror film festival was STORM WARNING, written by Everett DeRoche and directed by Jamie Blanks. It’s about a married couple out boating off the coast of Australia who get caught in a storm and end up on an isolated island with some rather unfriendly inhabitants. Mixing elements of DELIVERANCE and STRAW DOGS, the film doens’t flinch from showing gruesome violence, but even viewers who normally shy away from this kind of thing may find STOPM WARNING watchable. It strikes the perfect balance between set-up and payback: instead of eighty minutes of atrocities perpetrated on our lead charactes in exchange for a final-reel comeuppance for the villains, it’s more of a half-and-half formula, which works perfectly – including a truly sick and twisted surprise the wife prepares for the would-be rapists.
In the video below, director Jamie Blanks answers questions from the audience after the Screamfest screening.

Read a slightly edited transcript of the Q&A session below the fold. Continue reading “Storm Warning: Q&A with director Jamie Blanks”

Screamfest winners.

Thai horror film ALONE - the big winner at Screamfest 2007Screamfest  has announced the winners from its 2007 horror film festival. The big winner is the fine Thai ghost story ALONE, which topped five categories. Fest highlights PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and STORM WARNING also won in multiple categories.

  • Best Student Short: ANGEL directed by Nikolas List
  • Best Editing: ALONE – Vijja Kojew and Thammarat Sumetsupachuck
  • Best Score: STORM WARNING performed by Jamie Blanks
  • Best Short Film: IN THE WALL directed by Mike Williamson
  • Best Cinematography: ALONE – Niramon Ross
  • Best Screenplay: THE PALACE by Adam Aresty and Jon D.A.
  • Best Special Effects: STORM WARNING Justin Dix and Gab Facchinei
  • Best Makeup: INSIDE (A’L’INTERIEUR)
  • Best Actor: Everon Jackson Hooi (DEAD END)
  • Best Actress: Katie Featherstone (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY)
  • Audience Choice Award: WASTING AWAY
  • Boost Mobile – Best of the Next in Horror: STEM directed by Iqbal Ahmed (won $10,000 awarded by Boost Mobile)
  • Honorable Mention: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
  • Best Directing: Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom (ALONE)
  • Best Picture: ALONE

This is a pretty respectable list of winners, although (as always) there is some room for disagreement. I am sorry not to see ROOM 205, THE SIGNAL, or SHROOMS among the winners. TIMBER FALLS was also quite good, although I could see why it might be edged out by the somewhat similar STORM WARNING.
Frankly, I am surprised to see that WASTING AWAY took the audience award, but I do have to say that director Matthew Kohnen is an extraordinarly fine fellow, considering the gracious e-mail he sent me after I trashed his movie.
In case you missed my previous posts on the fest, I covered INSIDE here; ALONE and DEAD END here; and STORM WARNING, TIMBER FALLS, SHROOMS, and THE SIGNAL here.

Screamfest Wrap-Up

SHROOMS - one of the highlights of Screamfest 2007I’ve been so busy attending films at the Screamfest film festival in Hollywood that it has been difficult to keep up writing about them. Now that the screenings are over, I have time to pick over the bloody bones of the victims (a couple of real duds) and lend aid to the survivors (a handful of films to watch for). Also, I will try to identify the emerging trends among the films screened this year, although their deeper sociological significance may be beyond grasp at this point.
HALLOWED GROUNDS begins with a classic horror movie opening: a woman traveling on the back roads suffers engine failure, which forces her to pull into a small town for assistance. You can bet the price of your ticket that all those friendly, easy-going country folk are not really so nice. In a plot development that jumbles together CHILDREN OF THE CORN, THE WICKER MAN, and THE BIRDS, it turns out that, decades ago, the local preacher crucified victims in the cornfield, dressing them up as scarecrows and leaving them alive so that their screams would frighten away the birds. A lynch mob from a nearby town put an end to the preacher’s depravity but not before he prophesized his own reincarnation. Guess what? Our heroine is selected to the lucky vessel of his rebirth – after being impregnate by the town’s current preacher.
As if realizing that this is not the most exciting storyline, the film tosses some early scenes wherein the spirit of the dead preacher animates a scarecrow. The design of the creature is suitably creepy, and some of the scenes are halfway fun in an old-fashioned monster movie kind of way. Problem is, the whole thing feels rushed, as if shoe-horned in at the last minute: a reporter assembles the scarecrow to take some pictures for her tabloid newspaper, and- poof! – it comes to life instantly. It is so laughably easy you wonder why the preacher wants to be reborn in human flesh at all, so the film obligingly offers an answer: the scarecrow body is “easily damaged,” meaning it’s one of the easiest monsters to defeat in the history of cinema.
The film huffs and puffs quite a bit, trying to build up suspense, but it never amounts to much. The religious loonies of the town are more annoying than frightening. Why the story opted to emphasize them at the expense of the scarecrow, which could have been a memorably movie monster, is anyone’s guess. Not that the handling of the supernatural forces is much better. In the embarrassing low point, our heroine is supposedly held immobile by animated appendages of the stalks of corn in the field, and it is way too obvious that she could just walk away if the script weren’t telling her to hold still and pretend to be trapped.

Even worse is THE RAGE, a splatter-filled tale about a mad scientist (WISHMASTER’s Andrew Divoff) who creates a plague that unleashes an unstoppable rage in its victims. After an accident at the lab, the disease escapes, infecting some vultures, which pursue and bedevil a band of teenagers coming home from an outdoor music fest. A more pathetic bunch of losers is hard to imagine, and you might almost enjoy seeing them picked off, except the film is so awful that it’s hard to enjoy anything about it. THE RAGE feels like a throwback to ‘80s direct-to-video horror, when a bunch of prosthetic makeup covered in blood was all you needed to make a horror movie. As if to emphasize the retro feel, there are even dated dialogue references to the evils of capitalism that are supposed to explain the mad doctor’s motivation for unleashing the plague. The vultures are rendered with unconvincing computer-generated effects that suggest old-fashioned stop-motion (complete with squawking sound effects that seem lifted from a Ray Harryhausen movie). Despite its short running time, the film seems to go on forever, with the obligatory scenes of the dispatched villain returning from apparent death. To top it all off, the mad scientist has an obnoxious dwarf assistant, who gibbers and growls inarticulately through some truly insipid dialogue– and the film offers up subtitles to make sure we don’t miss a single line! Thanks for nothing!
Considerably better is SHROOMS, a tale of a group of college kids who vacation in Ireland so that they can enjoy the local magic mushrooms. When one girl accidentally ingests a considerably more potent – and potentially lethal – species, she begins to see visions of violence perpetrated by two threatening characters from a local legend. Her friends think she is hallucinating, until they start to die mysteriously one by one. The film briefly has a little bit of fun with the depiction of characters too stoned to realize the danger they face, but mostly the film plays effectively plays the reality-versus-illusion game, keeping us guessing about what is really happening. The hallucinatory imagery propels the film out of thriller territory, offering monstrous visions of horror that are both spooky and shocking. Inevitably, the final revelation is a disappointment; the explanation wraps up the plot threads, but it’s a bit of a credibility stretch, and we were probably better off when we had to make up our own minds about what was really happening. Still, the movie works wonderfully well over all.
Screamfest offered three other winners: THE SIGNAL, STORM WARNING, and TIMBER FALLS. The former is a vaguely futuristic tale of a television signal that incites the inhabitants of a city into uncontrollable violence; the tone and background music seem evocative of ‘70s shockers like David Cronenberg’s RABID. Both STORM WARNING and TIMBER FALLS deal with young couples who get lost in the wilderness and come face-to-face with dangerous locals – imagine DELIVERANCE cross-bred with TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and you will have some idea of the results. Despite the similarities, each film stands on its own, thanks partly to the diverse settings. TIMBER FALLS is scheduled for theatrical release in December; STORM WARNING will probably go direct-to-video, since the box office failure of HOSTEL 2 has soured Hollywood on the financial prospects of violent horror films.
All three of these films were followed by question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers. I’ll be back to give detailed accounts as soon as I’m done transcribing.
Meanwhile, I want to take a brief look at this year’s trends. Slaughtered animals were fairly common. A whole pack of dogs gets it in 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Two more die in the Thai film alone (one run over by a car, the second decapitated). A black cat has its neck broken in INSIDE. A baby kangaroo is split open in STORM WARNING. Less dramatic (because they are not pets), numerous birds are wiped out in HALLOWED GROUND and THE RAGE. What does this mean? I doubt there is any deep significance; presumably the jaded sensibilities of horror hounds no longer react to the death of human beings, so innocent pets are being targeted as a way to up the shock factor.
Christianity – or more precisely, backwoods fundamentalism – takes thumping in HALLOWED GROUND and TIMBER FALLS, both of which involve attempts to forcibly impregnate a woman. The films are clearly attempting to make a satirical statement about the hypocrisy of religious fanatics convinced that their beliefs justify their depraved actions. Neither film comes close to matching CARRIE, and focusing on a few backwoods kooks seems almost quaint in an era when alleged Christians control the reins of government and use their beliefs to justify the unfettered use of power, including unprovoked war and torture of enemies.
The recurring visual motif was crucifixion. In some cases (like HALLOWED GROUND), this was quite literal; more often, it was figurative, with characters in various ways pinned, nailed, and/or impaled to walls, tables, or doors. The significance here seems less metaphoric than visceral. All those shots of knifes, nails, and (in one case) scissors jabbing into palms, wrists, and arms are guaranteed to elicit a gasp from the audience. Even better are the follow-up scenes, when the victim, pulls his or her hand loose, the rusting nail sliding all the way through the pierced flesh. This definitely seems to be the trendy gore effect of 2007, appearing in various forms in THE SIGNAL, THE INSIDE, and TIMBER FALLS. In fact, by the time TIMBER FALLS reverts to the rather old-fashioned gag of slicing off someone’s pinky finger (which was a trend back in 2005 with WOLF CREEK, HOUSE OF WAX, and THREE EXTREMES), it seems, like so two years ago.

French Film turns inside out, and zombies waste away

Wednesday was a day of disappointments at the annual Hollywood horror festival Screamfest, as two films unspooled that displayed plenty of promise before devolving down the drain. The first seemed to be a case of strange artistic sensibility; the second was simply an example of a good idea that wore out its welcome.

Beatrice Dalle really needs to get into the bathroom!
Beatrice Dall just can’t wait to use the bathroom!
The French film INSIDE (a.k.a., A L’INTERIEUR) begins as an utterly convincing, serious thriller with a great premise, before exploding into a deluge of graphic gore. The bloodshed is intense and brilliantly rendered, but it goes so far over the top that you wonder what it’s doing in a movie that seemed to have higher aspirations. Continue reading “French Film turns inside out, and zombies waste away”

DVD day at Screamfest

Monday, October 15 was DVD and home video day at Screamfest, with screenings of two full-length movies slated for release on Tuesday, plus a short-subject shot for FEARnet.Com.

Planet Terror 

Up first was the unrated director’s cut of PLANET TERROR, which screened earlier this year as the first half of the GRINDHOUSE double bill. The good news is that, even though all the other phony trailers are missing, the film still starts with “Machete” – bogus preview for flick about a Mexican day laborer set up to take the fall for a political assassination – which was probably the highlight of GRINDHOUSE when it was in theatres. The bad news is that the new cut does not alter the film in any major way, so unless you loved PLANET TERROR to begin with, there’s not much reason to see it again. In case, you were wondering, despite restored footage, the “Scene Missing” title card remains in place, so you still will not learn what Wray said to convince the Sheriff to suddenly trust him. Continue reading “DVD day at Screamfest”