Well, another Halloween down, and that means another Shriekfest has also crept into the history books. Or shall I say; the dusty, creaky tomes of yesterdays. Nonetheless, it was a treat to attend as it was last year.
Our gracious hosts, Denise Gossett and Todd Beeson, always put on a great festival of independent films. And this year they were able to add even more films than last. Despite the fact that it makes it impossible to see every short and feature film, it’s great because more independent film makers are able to get their work seen. And more choices certainly doesn’t hurt.
Much to my dismay, I was unable to attend the Friday night screenings. I know, I know, what kind of horror nerd am I that I would miss that? Well, I am doubly shamed as there were two features I would have liked to see. Both “How to Be a Serial Killer” and “Lo”, which was voted Audience Choice, were on Friday night. My loss.
However, I arrived Saturday with a hearty bloodlust for the Short Programs and two features that caught my (bloodshot) eye. So, at 1 pm at settled in with a soda and a candy bar and watched a fine series of shorts, the stand outs being “The Shot”, a well shot/acted western with a bit of a Twilight Zone twist, and a hilarious sci-fi nerd delight called “Marooned?”
Affected by the aforementioned inability to see every short/film, the next Shrot Prgram overlapped with the first feature I wanted to see, so I missed the 3 pm shorts. However, I had already seen at least one of them online, “The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon”, which, by the way, is actually really funny. Google it and watch it.
The first feature I watched was “Spike”, a sort of dark, gothic love story in the vein of Beauty and the Beast. It was wonderfully moody and more unique than you think. It got big thumbs up for originality. It took the award for Best Fantasy Feature of the festival.
For the next Short Program, another engaging series, highlighted for me by a short called “Thirsty”. For me it was far and away my favorite of this group. A man on a road trip REALLY wants his slushy, and nothing will stop him. It’s absolutely hilarious.
The last Short Program included two notable science fiction shorts, “Rift”, winner of the Best Super Short Film, and “Enigma”, voted Best Sci-Fi Short, directed by the Shumway Brothers. Both were very well-produced and shot, with some obvious considerable funding. Luckily, they were both really watchable, too.
The film voted Best Horror Feature was “Dark House”. This movie stars Jeffrey “The Reanimator” Combs, in a delightfully over-the-top role of a haunted house creator that hires a group of young actors to work in his newest attraction: a haunted house that happens to have a dark and murderous past, that just happens to includes on of the hired actors! Many fun and gruesome things take place, of course. There is some use of CG effects, some of which are more effective than others, but I enjoyed this film mostly for its’ spirit, humor, and awesome casting choice of the mighty Jeffrey Combs.
All in all, another great Shriekfest this year, and I certainly look forward to next year! So all you independent film makers out there get your projects rolling and submit to Shriekfest!
~ Neil T. Weakley, your spooooky movie-goer.