That’s right, folks, another October, another Shriekfesst Horror/SciFi Film Festival! And this year was a particularly good one! Some years there is a clear one or two films that aren’t great, but this year had a particularly solid group of films. I must say I was impressed.
That’s right, folks, another October, another Shriekfest Horror/SciFi Film Festival! And this year was a particularly good one! Some years there is a clear one or two films that aren’t great, but this year had a particularly solid group of films. I must say I was impressed. It was one of those festivals where with each film you think you’ve seen the best one, and they just kept getting better. So, let’s get right on with it, shall we?
Friday night started out with Malignant. I’ll watch almost anything that has Brad Dourif in it, and he’s a fine choice to play a weird sort of doctor with an extreme method of trying to cure people of their addictions. Most films that involve old fashioned lobotomies do them just off screen. Not this one!
The highlight for Friday was Judas Ghost. This film is out of the UK, and had a fine cast, very decent special effects, and a good script from best-selling author Simon R. Green, based on his own recent novels, The Ghost Finders series. It’s definitely well written, unique, and has some humor for good measure. Definitely worth seeing and hopefully it gets some kind of theatrical run.
Saturday started out with the short programs and there were some great ones. It’s almost too difficult to just pick highlights because so many of these were great. The first short was All You Can Eat, and it was a fun, disturbing little gem with a twist: it was shot in regular order, but played in reverse. It was a really effective way to create impact.
Next up was Xmas Miracle, a holiday slasher gem with a hilarious punchline. Yeah, I lol’d.
Then Maid Of Horror delighted us with a maid of honor that just can’t stand always being the bride’s maid, never the bride. but in this case, she’s prepared to do something about it. Funny, bloody, a real good time.
Then I liked Eaglewalk. A fun throwback to the late 70’s early 80’s summer camp genre horror films. Great acting, well written, and a bigfoot legend! And it was even a little touching.
One of the stongest shorts was The Dark. Here, a lonely young creature with deadly black eyes crosses paths with a kidnapped and abused boy whose eyes have been sewn shut. I know, right? Already an intriguing idea. This looks beautiful and the cast is great. It’s a darkly beautiful short that deserves to be seen.
Liebe is a hilarious short about a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a monster. And it was among my favorite shorts of the weekend.
I missed the second block of shorts because of reasons, but I did see Killer Kart! The premise is simple: shopping karts at a local grocery store have had enough and they’re out for blood! And they do it with hilarity – and a remarkable amount of conviction. Everyone in this really committed to the film. I think that was a big part of this being so good, despite it being so silly. A real fun murderous inanimate object bloodfest.
I saw two features Saturday night. The first was Abducted, a mysterious sc-fi thriller that had you guessing as a couple are suddenly kidnapped and awaken in a room in some unknown warehouse like building. They are kept prisoners, and as timie passes they make small discoveries. eventually they encounter other people abducted as well. Each of these other characters give their opinions about what is going on, and why they are there. All of this feeds the viewer with possible theories, but never clearly explains the truth. That can be annoying or interesting depending on how you look at it.
The last feature that night was An American Terror. This one has not only a horror character that has serious icon potential, but the film has a significant social message on school violence. Three high school outcasts decide to trade in their bulled and nameless lives for internet stardom by exacting a violent revenge. But what happens when they come face to face with someone who is much darker and far more dangerous than even they could imagine? This was the award winner for the best horror feature at the festival. Making this was a pretty ballsy move based on the subject matter, but writer/director/editor Haylar Garcia presented it to the right people and here it is. Hopefully it will get picked up by someone.
Sunday was a new day of horror fun! More great shorts, of which I will mention the highlights, even though, once again, it was hard to just pick a few because so many were just great. So that being said, we begin with Little Man of Steel, an amusing Clark Kent and Lois Lane short. In it, Lois Lane discovers the hardest part about dating Clark Kent. And yes, that’s a sort of suggestive tag line about Clark’s penis. But this is well acted – these two could actually play Lois and Clark in the next incarnation of Superman, for sure. Kyle Bares in particular as Kent. He really nails the character. This was really light and fun, if not a tad suggestive. Well done.
Next was Desolate Road. A couple on their way to start a new life run into some car trouble on a desolate road somewhere in texas. Fine acting and excellent Art department make this a stand out for the weekend. You may never roll your car windows down again while driving to Vegas.
Shorts block number two offers up such delights as Torturous, a blend of comedy, gore and irony. Imagine if an employment counsellor ended up in the movie Hostel. Good stuff!
Aah, Backstory. A hilarious short that deals with exactly what its’ title says. Too much so.
The Sunday night features were all worth watching. In Devil In My Ride, Doreen gets possesed by the Devil on her wedding night, so Hank, her groom, and her rebellious brother Travis, put aside their differences to drive across country from Chicago to Las Vegas in hopes of finding a legendary street preacher who is supposedly the last exorcist in America. Many shenanigans ensue. Kinda like if The Exorcist were a comedy road movie! Definitely some funny stuff here with another great cast.
Next is, The Shower. A group of friends in Los Angeles get together for a friend’s baby shower, but they end up trapped and fighting for their lives when a mysterious virus starts turning people into homicidal maniacs. This was really swell acted and funny. One of top of the weekend, for sure.
And lastly, we have Found. A fifth grade boy’s life is turned upside down when he discovers that his older brother is a serial killer. This is like a really dark coming of age story, combined with a horror story. There are some scenes that are a little hard to watch even by my standards. And there are some moments that get slow, but all in all, this is a strong film worth seeing. Just remember that it’s not for the squeamish.
It was particularly a good year for Shriekfest. So many great films and shorts. Like I said, just becuase I didn’t list all the shorts doesn’t mean they weren’t good. Space requires I can only mention highlights. Go to www.shriekfest.com for more details and the winners of this years festival. And tell festival founder/director Denise Gossett Neil sent ya! She’s the best!
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, hoping to see many of these films in theaters! We need more good horror!