The Stanley Film Fest is the new kid on the block in the film festival game as 2013 was their premiere. We had the pleasure of attending and covering the genre-themed gathering last year, and in addition to the films that played the fest one of the biggest highlights was the location. The historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO hosts the festival, and as horror fans know it was an extended stay here that inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.” The hotel and grounds are an architectural and atmospheric joy, and the surrounding mountains add a gorgeous sense of natural beauty. Basically, it’s a perfect setting for a horror film festival.
This year’s list of films playing the fest is unfortunately light on premieres, but it features a fantastic bunch of critical darlings, new releases and genre favorites. It’s essentially a make-up fest offering a chance to see recent festival hits on the big screen where they belong. Some of the highlights include Jennifer Kent’s wonderfully creepy Sundance hit The Babadook (our review), Gerard Johnstone’s fresh horror comedy Housebound, Hitoshi Matsumoto’s incredibly funny, strange and affecting R100 (our review), and the funniest film of the year so far, Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement’s What We Do In the Shadows (our review).
The fest also features some retrospective screenings including Joe Dante’s Gremlins, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and Mick Garris’ Sleepwalkers. (One of those things is not like the others…) There are other non-screening events planned too including a murder mystery dinner, a Stanley edition of Glass Eye Pix Presents Tales From Beyond the Pale, short films, a zombie crawl, and more.
Check out the full announcement and list of films playing this year’s fest below.
- The Babadook - Australia/2013 – (Director: Jennifer Kent, Featuring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney ) - A break-out hit at the Sundance Film Festival, Jennifer Kent’s terrifying debut about an unhinged child, his suffering mother and a sinister spectre that may or may not exist offers sophisticated scares and commanding tension.
- Blood Glacier - Austria/2013 – (Director: Marvin Kren, Featuring Gerhard Liebmann, Edita Malovcic, Brigitte Kren, Hille Beseler, Peter Knaack) - A group of scientists stationed in the German Alps discover a melting glacier that leaks a strange red liquid. When that liquid begins producing rapidly increasing biological monstrosities, all hope may be lost in this environmental chiller.
- Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead – Norway/Iceland/2014 – (Director: Tommy Wirkola, Featuring Vegar Hoel, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas) – In the follow up to his cult hit, director Tommy Wirkola brings back Colonel Herzog to lead his Nazi zombie army on their unholy quest. Although this time, a Russian battalion is wakened for the fight.
- Doc of the Dead – USA/2014 – (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe, Featuring George Romero, Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, Max Brooks, Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kirkman)- Could there be a real zombie outbreak? If so, Doc of the Dead can help you prepare. This definitive guide to all things undead delves deep into the evolution of the zombie genre in film and literature, as well as its impact and influence on pop culture, to deliver a comprehensive, fast-paced, highly entertaining look at a contemporary social pandemic of global proportions.
- Housebound - New Zealand/2014 – (Director: Gerard Johnstone, Featuring Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru) -An unruly hooligan sentenced to house arrest at her childhood home must contend with her family, police-handlers and the spectral frights that may be haunting the property in this tautly written comedy-thriller.
- Late Phases - USA/2014 – (Director: Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Featuring Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Tina Louise, Rutanya Alda) -When a no-nonsense war vet moves into a secluded retirement community that’s fallen victim to a series of violent beast attacks, he vows to stop the creature once and for all. Stanley FilmFestival alum Adrien Garcia Bogliano (Here Comes The Devil) returns with his English-Language debut.
- Lesson Of The Evil - Japan/2012 – (Director: Takashi Miike, Featuring Ruth Sundell, Takayuki Yamada,Fumi Nikaidô) -The notorious and prolific Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi The Killer), one of the living legends of genre, tackles his most controversial subject matter yet in this story of a charismatic teacher with an extreme and violent plan to stop the rash of bullying at his school.
- Moebius - South Korea/2013 – (Director: Kim Ki-duk Featuring Jae-hyeon Jo, Eun-woo Lee, Young-ju Seo ) – Kim Ki-duk’s Freudian breakdown of the family unit sees a wife take revenge upon her adulterous husband by dismembering their son. And then things really take a turn to the extreme as the family falls into complete destruction.
- Nothing Bad Can Happen - Germany/2013 – (Director: Katrin Gebbe, FeaturingJulius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl, Swantje Kohlhof) -Christian devotee Tore has his faith put to the ultimate test after moving in with a religious skeptic and his family. This tension building game of cruelty explores just how often one can turn the other cheek.
- Open Windows - Spain/USA/2014 – (Director: Nacho Vigolando, Featuring Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell) - This year’s Stanley Film Festival Visionary Award co-recipient Elijah Wood stars in an otherworldly new thriller from cult filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes). Extreme technical bravado and frenetic energy create the sensation of Rear Window for the digital age.
- Ragnarok - Norway/2013 – (Director: Mikkel Brænne Sandemose, Featuring Pål Sverre Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Bjørn Sundquist, Sofia Helin, Maria Annette Tanderød Berglyd) - An archeologist obsessed with ancient Viking myth stumbles upon the discovery of a lifetime in this good old fashioned creature feature adventure that’s fun for the whole family.
- R100 - Japan/2013 – (Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Featuring Nao Ohmori, Lindsay Kay Hayward, Hairi Katagiri) - Renowned cult director Hitoshi Matsumoto crafts a bizarre tale of a mysterious S&M club where dominatrixes can strike at any time and its participants can’t escape their leather clad relentlessness
- Rigor Mortis - Hong Kong/2013 – (Director: Juno Mak, Featuring Anthony Chan, Siu-hou Chin, Kara Hui, Hoi-Pang Lo, Richard Ng) - Produced by the director of the J-horror sensation series The Grudge comes a viscerally charged, beautifully realized and relentlessly surreal interpretation of traditional tales of supernatural forces guaranteed to attack the sense
The Sacrament – USA/2013 - (Director: Ti West, Featuring Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, Gene Jones) -Stanley Film Festival’s inaugural Visionary Award winner Eli Roth produces indie horror icon Ti West’s slow-burn take on the Jonestown Massacre, a smart blend of found-footage style with excellent performances that instill true fear.
- Starry Eyes – USA/2014 - (
Directors: Dennis Widmeyer & Dennis Kölsch, FeaturingAlexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Fabianne Therese, Noah Segan, Shane Coffey, Natalie Castillo, Pat Healy) – From
the producers of Cheap Thrills and Jorodowsky’s Dune, struggling actress Sarah will give anything to land her dream role in cutthroat Hollywood. But when a storied production company gives her that chance, she learns the true cost of fame.
- The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears - Belgium / France / Luxembourg/2013- (Director: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Featuring Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener, Birgit Yew) -In this visual bounty of a thriller, a man searches for his wife through a kaleidoscope of stained glass windows, sliced flesh and sexual intrigue.
- Witching and Bitching – Spain/2013 – (Director: Alex De La Iglesia, Featuring Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Pepón Nieto, Carolina Bang) - Cult director Alex De La Iglesia (The Last Circus) is in top form with this hilarious and gory tale of thieves who find themselves in over their heads when faced with a coven of bloodthirsty witches.
- What We Do In The Shadows - New Zealand/2014 – (Directors: Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement, Featuring Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh) - Living with roommates can always pose quirky challenges. But when you’re a vampire cohabitating with your fellow kind for a few hundred years, things get a bit tricky. From Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) comes a hilarious mockumentary of a house of vampires trying to get back in touch with modern society.
- Who Can Kill A Child? - Spain/1976 – (Director: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, FeaturingLewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo, Miguel Narros) - Presented by SpectreVision, in cooperation with Channel Z, this rarely seen Spanish horror finds an English couple vacationing on an island where the children are murdering all the adults.
SECRET SCREENING: The Stanley Film festival presents a highly anticipated new film from a modern master of gore.
- Eyes Wide Shut - USA/1999 – (Director: Stanley Kubrick, Featuring Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Madison Eginton, Sydney Pollack, Jackie Sawiris) -Longtime Kubrick collaborator and Stanley Film Fest alum Leon Vitali presents a 15th anniversary screening in its European cut of the legendary auteur’s final haunting masterpiece.
- The Fall of the House of Usher - France/USA/1928 – (Director: Jean Epstein, Featuring Jean Debucourt, Marguerite Gance, Charles Lamy, Fournez-Goffard) -Silent film with live score. Based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe, this rarely seen macabre silent film continues the Festival’s tradition of live score accompaniment to horror of the past.
- Gremlins -USA/1984 – (Director: Joe Dante, Featuring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Corey Feldman) - Channel Z and horror luminary Joe Dante present a 30th Anniversary screening of the great 80s classic about what happens to irresponsible little Mogwais who eat after midnight.
- Sleepwalkers - USA/1992 – (Director: Mick Garris, Featuring Brian Krause, Mädchen Amick, Alice Krige, Jim Haynie, Ron Perlman, Cindy Pickett) - Mick Garris (“The Shining” and “The Stand” and “Masters of Horror”) presents his Stephen King penned cult favorite. A mother and son who are not what they seem move to a new town in order to feed.
FREE FAMILY SCREENING:
- The Nightmare Before Christmas - USA/1993 – (Director: Henry Selick, Featuring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara) - Join Jack Skellington as he discovers the strange new world of Christmas Town. Preceded by Pixar’s Toy Story OF TERROR!
Shorts Program I
JONATHAN’S CHEST, USA, directed by Christopher Radcliff: Everything changes one night for Alex, a troubled teenager, when he is visited by a boy claiming to be his brother — who disappeared years earlier. UNICORN BLOOD, Spain, directed by Alberto Vazquez: Two teddy-bears go hunting unicorns, for their tender flesh and delicious blueberry-flavoured blood which the bears need to stay cute-looking. ANIMALS I KILLED LAST SUMMER, Sweden, directed by Gustav Danielsson: A young boy kills small animals and his father can’t deal with it. GHOST TRAIN, Australia, directed by James Fleming and Kelly Hucker: An elderly man struggling to cope with his wife’s dementia is drawn into a macabre cabaret restaurant where he becomes enchanted by the lead actress. KEKASIH, USA/Malaysia, directed by Diffan Sina Norman: In pursuit of his late wife, a botanical professor encounters a divine presence that will transform him forever. BOX ROOM, Ireland, directed by Michael Lathrop: Behind Jerry’s bedroom wall he discovers a seductive alien creature with which he has sex, leading to a horrific outcome. FLESH, Colombia, directed by Carlos Gómez Salamanca: FLESH reveals the sacrifice of an animal during a countryside celebration in Colombia. THE OBVIOUS CHILD, UK, directed by Stephen Irwin: Somebody broke the girl’s parents. The rabbit was there when it happened. It was an awful mess.
Shorts Program II
HERE BE MONSTERS, New Zealand, directed by Paul Glubb and Nic Gorman: He only has one chance to live the last day of his life. BASKIN, Turkey, directed by Can Evrenol: Four cops, go to hell. THE PRESENT, Taiwan, directed by Joe Hsieh: A hotel manager’s daughter falls for a married man at first sight. Rejected by the man, she embarks on a journey of revenge. THE GUEST, Canada, directed by Jovanka Vuckovic: In this existential thriller, a man must face the consequences of a mysterious bargain he has made. WHITE MORNING,UK, directed by Paul Barritt: Six naughty boys carry out an act of violence exploding into a visual investigation of the war machine the boys become. WAWD AHP, USA, directed by Steve Girard: A man raps in front of the mirror, cuts his head off and has sex with it. There is also a cartoon. ANGST, PISS & SHIT, Norway, directed by Fredrik S. Hana: A young couple that once shared a fascination for mass murder and torture, now resemble a sad and lifeless parody on relationships. PERFECT DRUG, Belgium, directed by Toon Aerts: A heist of strange chemical substances goes wrong when one of the thieves can’t resist drinking the glowing elixir.”
The 2014 Stanley Film Fest runs April 24-27 at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO.