Like genre movies? Brooklyn Horror, Toronto After Dark, and Ithaca Fantastik have you covered!

We’re not shy about our love of film festivals around these parts, but while we’re fans of them all my personal favorites are the ones that lean dark, weird, and horrific. We cover both Montreal’s Fantasia and Austin’s Fantastic Fest on the ground every year, but three more genre fests are hitting screens in the coming weeks that we think are every bit worth your time.

I’ve covered two of the three in the past — one remotely and the other in person — but all three promise to be a fantastic experience for fans of horror films new and old. Fans can expect brand new movies, some as premieres, alongside classic horror blasts from decades past. Keep reading for a look at what each of the three fests has to offer movie lovers in the next month.


Ithaca Fantastik — November 3rd to 12th, 2017

I had the great pleasure of attending — and loving — last year’s Ithaca Fantastik film festival, and can highly recommend it to fans of genre cinema and small town hospitality. Ithaca’s a beautiful little college town in upstate New York, and the crispness in the fall/winter air adds a nice touch to the chilly terrors unfolding onscreen. This year’s fest has yet to reveal the full line-up, but their first wave already includes a few titles that have found success at earlier fests including Hagazussa, Inflame, and the utterly terrific and extremely bloody Tragedy Girls.

Check out the official first announcement below:

“The Ithaca Fantastik (IF) festival returns to Ithaca, New York, November 3-12, 2017 with a carefully curated selection of new and classic genre films. With less than a month and a half to go, IF is announcing exciting changes, its first wave of titles, and a truly inspired retrospective!

Returning audiences will notice an expanded schedule as the festival grows from half a week to a full nine days. The festival’s two weekends will be dedicated to the best in current genre and festival cinema, with the week between featuring classic retrospective selections.

Our first weekend begins with the return of the CINEMA PUR miniseries, with gems that genre fans won’t want to miss! From Finnish action comedy SAMURAI RAUNI (Mika Ratto, Finland) to the hyper-real dark fairy tale TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (Issa Lopez, Mexico), audiences will be delighted by the variety the IF programmers are bringing to Central New York. Turkey and Canada are well-represented again this year, with the SXSW award-winner INFLAME (Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik, Turkey), and the TIFF midnight madness selection THE CRESCENT (Seth A. Smith, Canada). The lineup wouldn’t be complete without a little witchcraft—the IF team promises HAGAZUSSA: A Heathen’s Curse (Lukas Feigelfeld, Germany) will haunt viewers long after the screening. Rounding out CINEMA PUR, the documentary BIGHT OF THE TWIN (Hazel McCarthy, US), about the personal journey of avant-garde performance artist Genesis Breyer P-Oridge, interlaces belief and grief in a beautiful and unexpected way.

The 40th Anniversary of the Giallo masterpiece SUSPIRIA (Dario Argento, 1977) provides an excellent occasion to revisit Italian exploitation classics with fresh eyes. The festival retrospective, ITALIANO PSICHEDELICO, will focus on the amazing visuals these inspired directors put on-screen. Selections include late 60s to mid 70s Italian films SUSPIRIA (Dario Argento, 1977), AUTOPSY (Armando Crispino, 1975), LE ORME (Luigi Bazzoni, Mario Fanelli, 1975), BABA YAGA (Corrado Farina, 1973), DEADLY SWEET (Tinto Brass, 1967), as well more titles to be announced in wave two!

Continuing our weekend line-up we have the slasher comedy TRAGEDY GIRLS (Tyler McIntyre, UK), Tribeca award winner THE ENDLESS (Benson and Moorhead, USA), Graham Skipper’s directorial debut SEQUENCE BREAK (USA), nordic ghost tale I REMEMBER YOU (Oskar Thor Axelsson, Iceland), and a twisted take on the timeloop trope A DAY (Sun-Ho Cho, South Korea). From start to finish, there will be plenty to captivate audiences whose tastes lie across the horror spectrum and beyond!

Ithaca Fantastik would not be complete without its midnight series, featuring the riveting zombie comedy ZOMBIOLOGY (Alan Lo, Japan) and the surprising BRAVE STORM (Junya Okabe, Japan), which can be best described as an inventive and improbable mix between Terminator and Evangelion.

Local artist Steve Ellis (The Walking Dead, The Only Living Boy, High Moon), once again perfectly captures the spirit of the IF retrospective with a custom illustrated poster.”

Check out the official Ithaca Fantastik film festival site for more details.


Brooklyn Horror Fest Poster CompressedBrooklyn Horror Film Festival — October 12th to 15th, 2017

I’ve yet to attend the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest, but it’s only in its second year of what I expect to be a very long run, so I know I’ll make it out there sometime. Last year’s premiere was a success, and like Ithaca Fantastik above this fest is run first and foremost by horror movie lovers. That affection for the genre comes through with a program celebrating films new and old from around the world. Along with new gems like Cold Hell and Tragedy Girls the fest is hosting the North American premiere of Housewife (the follow-up from the director of Baskin) and screening Adam Green’s return to his own Hatchet franchise with Victor Crowley.

Check out the official announcement below.

“Our screenings take place at the new Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, Nitehawk Cinema, LIU Kumble Theater, IFC Midnight Theatre at Film Noir Cinema & Video Revival, as well as our key theaters from last year the Wythe Hotel Cinema, Videology Bar & Cinema and Spectacle Theater. Strongly committed to showcasing the best in current horror films, BHFF is thrilled to offer a number of films and events that heavily feature the female presence in the genre.

This year’s closing night is the all female-led feature debut from Elizabeth E. Schuch, whose credits include storyboarding for WONDER WOMAN and concept art for the upcoming PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING. One part feminist fairy tale and another gothic horror, THE BOOK OF BIRDIE features Ilirida Memedovski as Birdie, a young girl who’s sent to live at a crumbling convent following her frequent hallucinations, bizarre obsessions, and special penchant for blood. We’re thrilled to present this film at the Wythe Hotel Cinema with leading actress in attendance!
BHFF is equally proud to host the New York launch of Spectacular Optical’s latest pop culture publication, Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin. Curated and edited by Samm Deighan, co-host of the ‘Daughters of Darkness’ podcast, the book consists of essays written completely by women scholars, critics, and film historians and focused on the work and life of Jean Rollin. Representing the first time his sometimes controversial work has been assessed purely from the female perspective, Lost Girls shines an important light on his decidedly gothic and sexual filmography. The launch is paired with a presentation by Deighan and a rare screening of SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES, recently restored by Kino Lorber.
Taking things into the contemporary, we’ll be offering a very BK approach to feminism and horror films, as Drunk Education (formerly known as Drunk Ted Talks) will be tackling the topic of Final Girls. Come hear female horror experts Aja Romano (Vox), Kristen Yoonsoo Kim (GQ/Village Voice/Vice), Hazel Cills (Jezebel), and Teo Bugbee (Daily Beast) make the case for everyone from Jamie Lee Curtis in HALLOWEEN to Neve Campbell in SCREAM to Sigourney Weaver in ALIEN—after a few too many Mermaid Pilsners!
Two of the boldest and most unique horror films of the festival are brought to us from skilled women making films on far-off continents. The Argentinian-made CLEMENTINA follows Juana, a tormented heroine abandoned by her husband after his vicious attack results in her miscarriage. Director Jimena Monteoliva reveals her lead character’s interiority with plenty of scares, steadily ratcheting up tension in this unique and fascinating ghost story, shown at the festival with actress Cecilia Cartasegna in attendance. Equally compelling is Spanish director Denise Castro’s fresh addition to the vampire genre, SALVATION. Thirteen-year-old hospital patient Cris encounters Victor, a self-described vampire, while she awaits open-heart surgery and an uncertain fate. Castro expertly manufactures both horror and heartache in this distinctive feature about a young woman faced with the prospect of her own untimely demise.
In Tyler MacIntyre’s TRAGEDY GIRLS BFFs-4-Life Sadie (DEADPOOL’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead) and McKayla (X-MEN APOCALYPSE’s broody Storm) are typical teenagers—they try to get good grades in school, crush on bad boys, and want to get the most likes on social media (even if it means having to kill to get them). Things quickly take a twist when the two kidnap a killer on the loose and the girls are forced to put their friendship to the test. Girl power takes on a different beat in Stefan Ruzowitzky’s fierce German feature COLD HELL, which follows hard-as-nails taxi driver (and recreational Thai boxer that regularly makes all the boys cry) Ozge as she’s hunted down by a serial killer dead set on her demise—too bad for him, Ozge’s never been one to go down easy. After these two films about badass women there will be no doubt in your mind that damsels in distress are so last millennium.
Power comes into play in both VERONICA, in which a retired psychologist asks her patient to move into her isolated home in the wood and a game of secrets and lies ensues as the two women battle for psychological dominance—and THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS, where a leather-clad teenager takes on the role of the grim reaper leading people to their suicide, but there might be more to her motives, and a secret behind her bravado. The psychological torrent that is FASHIONISTA brings the audience along with April (fascinatedly realized by Amanda Fuller) as she faces her suspicions that her husband is cheating on her and self-destructive behaviour takes over, while HAGAZUSSA dips its psychosis in the supernatural as a mother and child in the 15th century Austrian Alps are threatened by an evil presence, but she has to question if this ancient malevolence is an outside force or a product of her own mind.”

Check out the official Brooklyn Horror Film Festival site for more details.


Toronto After Dark Poster By Gary Pullin WToronto After Dark Film Festival — October 12th to 20th, 2017

TIFF is one of North America’s most prestigious film fests for normies — yeah, I said it — but just a few weeks after it wraps the city plays host to a smaller fest aimed at genre fans with Toronto After Dark. I’ve covered it remotely in the past and look forward to doing so again this year. Festival favorites like My Friend Dahmer, Rabbit, and the brilliantly kinetic The Villainess are playing this year alongside the North American premiere of Beyond Skyline, the world premiere of Impossible Horror, and a rare opportunity to see Cult of Chucky on the big screen.

Check out some of the lesser known films playing below.

SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (Canada) World Premiere! – Expected to Sell Out Soon!
Directed by Neil Mackay
**Director, Cast & Crew In Attendance for Intro & Q&A!**
Join us for the World Premiere of Neil Mackay’s SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, an ultra-violent, action-packed new movie that blends elements of fan favourites DIE HARD, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and THE RUNNING MAN into an explosive new audience pleaser! On New Years Eve, former soldier Jack Darcy (Robert Nolan) wakes to find himself entered into a murderous new game show. He has sixty minutes to kill or be killed by a group of strange armed men who’ve surrounded his house. But what his would-be assassins haven’t realized is that Jack has learnt a trick or two from his military days, has a hidden cache of weapons and isn’t going down without a vicious fight!

BEYOND SKYLINE (USA) North American Premiere!
Directed by Liam O’Donnell
**Director, Select Cast & Crew In Attendance for Intro & Q&A!**

Join us for the North American Premiere of BEYOND SKYLINE! Taking its cues from INDEPENDENCE DAY, ALIENS and DIE HARD, the film is a fantastic crowd-pleasing fusion of epic sci-fi, alien horror and hardcore action.  When his son gets abducted by a terrifying alien mothership that’s covered the Los Angeles skyline, a tough-as-nails cop (THE PURGE’s Frank Grillo) embarks on a relentless journey to rescue him and defeat the vicious extraterrestrial invaders. Joining him in the fight are the stars of THE RAID Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, who also acted as fight coordinators on the film and it shows! With an endearing group of scrappy rebels up against a horde of blood thirsty, technologically advanced aliens, stunning special effects and jaw-dropping fights, BEYOND SKYLINE is a spectacular audience blast from start to finish!

TRENCH 11 (Canada) Toronto Premiere 
Directed by Leo Scherman
**Director, Select Cast & Crew In Attendance for Intro & Q&A!**
In this intense World War One horror thriller, a group of allied soldiers are sent on a secret mission behind German lines to stop a secret new weapon being developed by the enemy. Deep underground in a set of German trenches, the allies uncover the chilling truth that the new weapon will be the creation of a army of unstoppable undead soldiers.  With some of the new infected troops already stirring, the soldiers find themselves in a race agains time to destroy their zombified foes, before they unleash murderous mayhem on the world.  Riveting, gritty, claustrophobic and thrilling, the fight to survive against the undead horde in the tunnels of TRENCH 11 will leave you breathless!

EAT LOCALS (UK) Toronto Premiere 
Directed by Jason Flemyng 
For his directorial debut, actor Jason Flemyng (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) delivers a crowd-pleasing horror comedy in the vein of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES. For the first time in 50 years, Britain’s secret society of vampires has decided to call a meeting. Little do they realize that a unit of vampire slaying soldiers has followed the neck biters to their countryside lair and are planning to wipe out the killer coven once and for all. It’s not long before a night of vampires vs slayers and plenty of blood-soaked mayhem ensues, all washed down with delightfully British humour! Along for ride is a fantastic ensemble cast of UK thesps including Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Nick Moran (Harry Potter), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Eve Myles (Torchwood), Tony Curran (Underworld: Evolution) and Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean). Come for the talent, stay for the flowing blood!

IMPOSSIBLE HORROR (Canada) World Premiere! 
Directed by Justin Decloux 
**Director, Cast & Crew In Attendance for Intro & Q&A!**
With IMPOSSIBLE HORROR, Director Justin Decloux (TEDDY BOMB) delivers a fresh, innovative, supernatural thriller with a delightfully dark and twisted sense of humour. After Lily, an insomniac young filmmaker, starts to hear a recurring sinister scream every night outside her apartment window, she teams up with a friend Hannah to try and track down the source of the terrifying noise. Soon the intrepid duo’s investigations lead them into a dark and sinister tangled web involving shadowy figures and a deadly supernatural force beyond their comprehension. An absolute treat for horror fans, IMPOSSIBLE HORROR takes you on a creepy, freaky mystery ride with nods to plenty of cult classics on the way. Don’t miss it!

DEFECTIVE (Canada) World Premiere!
Directed by Reese Eveneshen
**Director, Cast & Crew In Attendance for Intro & Q&A!**
Join us for the World Premiere of DEFECTIVE, a dark and gripping new sci-fi thriller that firmly establishes director Reese Eveneshen as a talent to watch! The film brilliantly draws from the dark futures of sci-fi classics like ROBOCOP, THX 1138 and MINORITY REPORT, fleshing out a terrifying dystopian world, where humans are controlled, from the television they watch to the words they can say in public.  In a near future city, a brother and sister uncover dark secrets about their government and the sinister corporation that’s been manipulating them. It’s not long before the siblings find themselves on the run from a robotic killer police force and its killer drones that have been commissioned to capture or terminate them. With corporation eyes everywhere, finding shelter will be difficult, surviving might be impossible!”

Check out the official Toronto After Dark site for more details.

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