Shriekfest

The Shriekfest Film Festival, held yearly here in Los Angeles since the year 2000 (the year twooo-thousaaaaaaaand) has a special place in my heart. It was the first festival I ever covered and one of the first times I realized that saying “Press” meant I didn’t have to pay for things. But it’s deeper than that. Shriekfest is a true filmmaker’s festival. You won’t show up to find big studio pictures being played or people walking down a red carpet, smiling, waving, leaving. When the cast and crew shows up, they sit there with you in a small theater. Hang around to answer your questions. That’s pretty cool. Showcasing both shorts and features, there’s plenty to see for any horror or science-fiction fan. Sure, not every thing you see is going to blow your mind, but every year you’ll manage to find a handful of gems before anyone else gets a chance to see them. On to the winners!

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The Coroner

Next up on the After Dark Horrorfest menu – “Nightmare Man.”

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Shriekfest Studio Pass

Hey folks. Well. Shriekfest is over. They’ve been long days with my ass glued to a seat. Overall, it was enjoyable. There are a lot of friendly folk over at Shriekfest making sure it happens and happens right. The audiences are generally very supportive, so if you make genre films, check this festival out in 2007. It’s a low cost to get into and a lot of the short films were entertaining enough. Now, it is a low budget and a low key festival, so don’t expect Sundance. There are no giftbags. Plenty of postcards and a small snack stand serving up M&Ms and Diet Cokes for a buck a peice. This is a festival for people who are involved in these films or who just love amature film making. I’m glad I checked it out and if it’s your bag, definatly check it out next year. If you’re in the industry or in this aspect of it, or can relate to this festival, definatly go. There are a lot of people to meet and talk to and help out or get help from. Plus, some of these people are very talented and you can easily get contact info. For example, I came across a splended cinematographer who I’m keeping in mind for any future projects I do. All in all, it’s a good time if you like this kind of stuff. If you’re not interested in it, you’d loate it. The Upside: Good venue for independent and amature film […]

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Another short, another feature, another day. Word. Faceless (http://www.igenfilms.com/) Official Synopsis: Cynthia Navarro is an artist obsessed with the beauty of the human body. When she finds a homeless man lying in the street, she discovers more than just a man. So there’s an artist. Her stuff is ok. She finds a bum. Takes him in, cleans him, sedates him, kills him, casts his body parts and sells it as art. The flyer for this said it was disturbing and gruesome and all this stuff. Not so. It was fairly tame. We find out she has done this more than once, about 11 or 12 times to be exact. For some reason an old Jewish couple really likes her art and buys a hand cast in bronze. She gets away with it and keeps doing what she’s always done. It was pretty boring, nothing too exciting here. This film obviously wanted to be American Psycho but failed in every way of it’s attempted theft. The acting was ok, and the plot was fairly weak and was aiming for that “look how disturbing this is and she’s so cavalier about it and she is high brow and obviously this is really good.” Pass. Final Grade: D+ Desperation (http://www.departmentofpublicentertainment.com/) After a rough car accident, a young woman is stuck in her car. The only people who hear her cries are two sadistic teenagers who set about playing a game of torture the girl. She manages a cell phone call out to the […]

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The Boarder

A short and a feature, served piping hot. The Boarder (http://www.seebunny.com/ ) Official Synopsis: Charlie suspects the stranger renting a room in his house has a sinister secret, and he soon learns it could be much more than he bargained for. This was a pretty decent little effort. The acting was good, the characters believable, and I dig period pieces, this one was set during WWII on the homefront. The boarder, a mysterious looking thin man with a large satchel is a stealer of souls and it’s up to Charlie to stop him from getting his moms. But can you stop a demon? It looked good and was pretty entertaining. Don’t run from it, but don’t run for it. Final Grade: B- Point of Contact (http://www.armadaent.com/ ) Official Synopsis: After waking from a mysterious deep sleep state, Jake McCormick, a not so ordinary ghost hunter, is introduced to a spiritual medium, Andrea Riley. Together they uncover terrifying evidence of paranormal phenomena. Sometimes I use an official synopsis because it’s a perfect description. Sometimes I use one because I have no [don't curse]ing idea what the [stop cursing] happened. This is one of those where I dont know what happened. And the reason for this is, after some research, this film was originally shot as a webisode program and several years later had more footage shot to make it a feature. The confusion was evident and the lead actor, while being the same person, looked completely different. Oh, and the actor […]

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shriekfest

Hey hey, sorry for the delay. Also sorry for the rhyme. Here is film program 17 from Shriekfest, a couple of shorts. Richter’s Agenda In this seven minute short, a female college student is at first bothered, and then terrorized, by a mysterious stranger on Instant Messenger. Even after signing off and unplugging her webcam, messages and images keep showing up. Could he already be inside? If you’ve ever seen a horror movie, then you know, yes, he is. But it’s still a well done short film. The best part is their AIM conversation which plays out like the kind of conversations you’ve had with your friends, including smiley faces. It was predictable and of low quality, but that’s to be expected of a student film – at least the quality. Overall, enjoyable. Final Grade: B Dead West In this short, a woman is thrown from her horse and arrives in a mysterious and deserted town. She falls unconcious and when she comes to again, she is joined by several travels who arrived via a mysterious stage coach. When an other worldly law man with a skull for a face shows up to take each in turn to the gallows, Elizabeth must quickly figure out why she is here and wheter or not she deserves to be in this gateway to hell. The production value on this was pretty good and I liked the lawman for the most part, although the eye effect they did on him just looked strange […]

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Film Program 11, in your face, world. This was the last film program of the day in the 8:00pm time slot. I had high hopes for this slot. I was hoping they saved the best for last. Unfortunately for me, this was not so. Fear Tomorrow In this super short, a patient displays bird-like symptoms, ie, he thinks he’s a bird, and is taken to a psychiatrist. Turns out, he’s contracted bird flu. And bird flu turns you into a bird. And for some reason people who think they’re birds have sex with their close on. I know. Don’t ask. It’s supposed to be funny, and a lot of the audience was laughing, but I wasn’t. I didn’t find it all that funny and was fairly bored, which is impressive considering it’s only 7 minutes long. The production values were fine and the guy who played the birdman to start did a great job. But this is one goose that should have been cooked. Final Grade: D Night of the Leben Tod (www.ericforsberg.com/leben%20tod.htm) Wow. What can I say. I did not enjoy this movie. There were a lot of people in the audience who did, although to be fair, I’m pretty sure they were part of the crew. A lot of the crew and actors showed up and they had a panel discussion afterwards. The film’s official synopsis: The film follows the story of a pregnant woman, Anais, who is not allowed to leave the specialized hospital where her husband, […]

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Nightmare Man

Hello again. Film Program 9, comin at ya. Cruel Logic (www.godawa.com) This short was probably the best produced piece of the entire weekend. The only other one that came close was The Showdown, which I loved. This piece simply looked great. It was very Hostel esque and revolved around an intelligent serial killer (a la The Last Horror Movie or Hannibal Lecter) who has kidnapped a local professor who has interesting theories on why serial killers kill, namely, that it’s genetic. If you see this, you’ll recognize the professor as Tony Hale, aka Buster, from Fox’s Arrested Development. It’s super short, and well written and well acted. The production values are very high. If you can catch this somewhere, maybe broadcast on the internet someday, it’s a good few minutes. Final Grade: B+ Nightmare Man (www.rolfekanefsky.com/nightmaremanmovie) This feature length was the best feature of the day. It borrowed a bit from Nightmare on Elm Street and a little from films like Rosemary’s Baby and any film where teens are trapped in a cabin and are horny. This film was followed by an entertaining Q&A with the director, producer, composer, director of photography, and one of the actresses. If I can give this film one major piece of credit, it’s that it killed off people you expected to survive. Basically, a woman is terrified of the “Nightmare Man,” an evil entity that raped her and now lives inside of her. Is the Nightmare Man real or is there a psycho on […]

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Hey folks, sorry about the delay. Here is a sum up for Film Program 8 featuring one short and one feature length movie. My Ambition In this super short we meet a kid who loves vampires. Seriously. He’s kicked out of class for reading his essay, entitled appropriately enough “My Ambition,” which revolves around him wishing to become a vampire and feast on the blood of his classmates. He goes to the zoo and reads from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to a vampire bat. After being harassed by a zookeeper he finds a hole in the cage and rescues the bat, whom he believes to actually be Dracula. Arriving at an abandoned warehouse, he slits his wrist and offers it to the bat. Upset that the bat will not drink, he cuts himself more, finally slitting his own throat. As his life passes, the bat transforms into a monstrous vampire and descends on him. This wasn’t a bad little short. It was fairly entertaining and to the point. The production values were good, especially the final Dracula type creature. Nothing amazing here though, unfortunately. Final Grade: C+ All is Normal (allisnormal.com) This feature follows a young girl running from an abusive relationship who takes a job as a house sitter in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. She makes friends with the gardener, a stray cat, and shows people around the house and property, slowly becoming more and more of a sales person. Strange things start to happen, as they always seem […]

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shriekfest

Shriekfest, now in it’s 6th year, is a small horror-themed film festival that takes place over two weekends. The first weekend was September 22-24 and the festival wraps up September 30 til October 2nd. Each day is filled with several film “programs,” generally either about 90 minutes of shorts or a short paired with a feature length film. This year, the festival is held at Raleigh Studios on Melrose in their screening room. It’s a small, personal festival with attendance ranging from 30 to 120 people depending on which program you’re at. A lot of the programs end with Q&A sessions with cast and crew, who generally make up a large portion of the audience. It’s sad that this festival doesn’t get more attention, it’s a fun little time and the price won’t break your back if you’ve got to pay to get in. Below I’ll review the short film programs for Sunday the 24th and check later posts for the feature length reviews. Film Program 6 Suffer the Little Children (www.sufferproductions.com) In this short, a teacher, Ms. Sidley, suspects that one of her students isn’t exactly human. She finds out that young Robert is a “changling” and has already converted several other students. Can she stop them and will anyone believe her? Well, yes and no. This short is a licensed adaptation of a Stephen King story of the same name. The special effects are decent for such a small budget, but the film in general is fairly bland […]

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