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Icons of Fright – Horror News | Horror Interviews | Horror Reviews & More! 2016-10-28T00:40:53Z http://iconsoffright.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Jay Kay http://www.horrorhappens.com/ <![CDATA[Interview: West Coast Film Programmers – PART ONE]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30822 2016-10-28T00:40:53Z 2016-10-28T00:40:53Z Putting together a genre film festival of any type takes time, commitment (or committed), a reliable team, a diverse lineup, luck plus so much more. The western part of North America is rich with talent, history and film festivals that break the mold and continue to redefine the experience for everyone that becomes part of the events. From such cities in California like Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego to Edmonton, Alberta Canada to Seattle, Washington, we sat down with five diverse film festival programmers to ask questions that not only connect these festivals but explore their development, growth and survival. These five key organizers and programmers bring different perspectives, experience, selective eye as well as personality to this discussion as we covered a wide variety of topics gaining insight into what makes this annual celebration of film, fans and filmmakers a must to attend!
So, take a read, share each part of the mass panel interview and most important come out and support them! Broken down into two parts, we present the usual suspects and film festivals that bring to life the magic, terror and tension of genre filmmaking. They included as part of the panel:

BoneBat “Comedy of Horrors” Film Fest: 7 Years (BB): Bonehand.com/bonebatff.html / “Co-Host & Festival Director” Steven J Holetz & Co-Host Gord Caulkins
DEDfest: International Genre Film Festival: 9 Years (DF): Dedfest.com / “Festival Director” Derek Clayton
Horrible Imaginings Film Festival: 6 Years (HI): Hifilmfest.com / “Festival Director” Miguel Rodriguez
Sacramento Horror Film Festival: 10 Years (SH): Sachorrorfilmfest.com / “Festival Director” Tim Meunier
Shriekfest Horror Film Festival: 16 Years (SF): Shriekfest.com / “Founder and Festival Director” Denise Gossett

What made you take that leap and move forward with the idea of running a genre film festival? bbff16largeWhat were some of the guidelines and ideas to make your festival have its own fingerprint on the landscape? Any influences from peers or other festivals?

BB: Gord Caulkins – Good Lord, man. People put thought into this? Ours was a completely organic process. Steve came up with the idea after attending one too many CRYPTICON conventions and staring deep into the cover art for an IRON MAIDEN album. He said “Let’s have a horror film festival.” And Gord replied, “Yeah, but let’s make it funny too.” And thus the world’s first Horror-Comedy film festival was conceived. The idea of adding live bands to a film festival came to be in a similar fashion. We didn’t look around at all the film festivals of the world and try to do something new. Gord said, “This thing is going to have music too, right?” and Steve replied, “Duh!”

Steve Holetz – Not exactly, but close. Gord and I have been hosting THE BONEBAT SHOW a comedy and pop culture podcast that features independent music, since 2007. In 2009, independent filmmakers started to reach out to us about interviews and reviews on the show, so we had access. About the same time, our friends at DRUNKEN ZOMBIE decided to produce their first film festival and we figured, “Well, if they can do it…”. So, we had the means, and we had the motive. That said, if we were going to do this, it was important to us to bring everything that makes THE BONEBAT SHOW great to the event, so adding independent music to the mix was a must. My friendship with the late Jorge Meneses of BAREFOOT BARNICLE cemented the deal, as we had our band AND Graphic designer in one fell swoop, and in 2010 the “Comedy of Horrors” Film Fest was born.

DF: Purely selfish reasons… We wanted to see films on the big screen that the major film fest here wasn’t booking. Plus we could watch these films with a rowdy crowd of our inebriated friends! At the time we were pretty green. We really just wanted to pack the house and have a good time. But as we became exposed to events like Fantasia and Fantastic Fest we realized we could be an incubator to get these kinds of films made.

HI: I started HORRIBLE IMAGININGS FILM FESTIVAL at around the same time I moved to San Diego from hiff-2014-tshirtBaltimore, Maryland. Horror is part of my DNA—it has played a major part in my growing up, and a window through which I filter a lot of the negativity I experience either directly or indirectly.

When I arrived in my new city to discover a horror festival of any kind didn’t exist here, I was disappointed. Starting the festival seemed more like a therapy move at the time than anything else. I was in a new city knowing no people, and I didn’t want to have to drive to Los Angeles every time I wanted to celebrate this genre. So I built one.

I had some experience with programming for film festivals, and loads of experience with introducing films at screenings. This was my first time founding and directing a festival, though.
The mission statement hasn’t changed much. I want to expand the definition of what we call a horror film far beyond what is typically thought of as horror—I look for films that express fear as a central theme, and that can be quite a broad and eclectic collection of work. I also wanted to include relevant alternate art forms and panels in the programming. More and more, we have extended our offerings in this way. That is on the programming end.

On the experience end, I have worked hard to imbue the festival with a community-building mission. San Diego is an unfriendly city to horror in general, so it feels even more important to me to provide a celebration where horror fans here can feel a part of the proceedings. I wanted to avoid the trap that a lot of film festivals fall into where there is a clear line between the filmmakers and festival curators and the audience. My mission is to make us all part of the same community and foster that sense of belonging.

SH: Multi genre festivals filled my city. Other than an exploitation summer series, there were no other genre fests. I wanted to produce a fest in a specific genre that would have an audience and I knew that to be horror. Greg Ropp from EERIE HORROR FEST answered all my questions and never shyed away from me. His advice was instrumental to my launch. My fest would need to be anchored with a reputable horror host, filled with horror inspired performances by the area’s best performance artists, and a respectable selection of genre shorts and features.

shriekfestSF: Being naive. Seriously, naivete will take you far. I came up with the idea after having starred in a horror film and I told my sister in law and we thought it would be something fun to do around Halloween! Little did we know it would blow up so large and be so much work. Honestly no, b/c we were 1 of the first horror film fests out there and I’d only ever attended one other film festival to see a friend’s film that ended up being delayed 2 hours…. well, I knew that would never happen at my fest.

How many venues has your film festival been housed in? If more than one, what was the reason why you moved into a new venue? If not, what was the reason why this theater or venue worked for your vision? Has that decision to expand programming, guests, films, workshops, vendors or exhibits benefited the overall growth of the film festival? How has the technology changed for projecting and playing the films?

BB: Gord: We are in our third venue. Each time we moved it was to add space to accommodate a growing crowd. I guess our first move was for other reasons as well. We got a nicer theater in a better location. We also got access to a top-notch kitchen and food service for our patrons.

Steve: We simply outgrew our first 2 theaters, and moving to larger venues has given us the opportunity to add bigger bands, author readings, and director Q&A’s to the mix, which in turn has helped us draw filmmakers from LA to Texas to Germany to join us, as well as attendees from as far away as Maryland. Since 2010, while the mode of submission has changed from mailing discs around to almost completely digital screeners, our projection has always been digital, so no change there apart from the ability to screen really great looking films in HD by way of DCP (Digital Cinema Package, a means of shipping films on a securely coded hard drive).

dedfestDF: Our old venue was a 200 seater in the middle of our city’s theatre district. We had some interesting times – once we played SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and one of our good friends – a very tall and large fellow – did his best “Bad Santa”. By the time the movie started, his too-small Santa suit had ripped in the crotch and he was covered in jäger and beer. He played it to the hilt. Then next door, intermission for the play A CHRISTMAS CAROL began and a load of season-giddy children flooded into the lobby and saw our demented Claus. We hid our Santa right away.

We’ve been partnered with the same theatre for nine years now, and a few years ago they had the opportunity to move into one of the city’s most historic movie theatres. A gorgeous 500 seater venue. It’s a fantastic building, although it can be a challenge to fill it. We are more confident bringing guests to town however. It’s helped us grow immeasurably. The theatre is fully equipped with everything except 3D. DCP technology has definitely helped our shipping costs, although we always try to bring out a 35mm film once in a while.
HI: We are now at our third venue in seven years. Part of the reason for this is a distinct lack of independent or arthouse cinemas in San Diego. Most cinemas are parts of huge chains. Even cinemas like THE HILLCREST or THE KEN are owned by LANDMARK, so it can be a challenge to put on a film festival there. I really want to have a certain community feeling those venues don’t really provide.

Our first venue was an extremely DIY artspace called 10th Avenue Arts Center AVENUE ARTS CENTER. I still love it as an art and theater venue because it provides that community element in spades. I also love it as a horror venue because it is just genuinely creepy to be in. The building is a former Baptist Church for the military that was built in 1929—complete with stained glass, bizarre echoes, dark corners, and “confirmed” hauntings. Even the elevator (also built in 1929) looked like it could be potentially lethal.

That venue housed about 120, so the size was good for a starting festival. It also had a great space for an art gallery, which added a great dimension to the festival for traditional horror art, readings, panels, performance, and more. Unfortunately, what that venue doesn’t do well is cinema. All of the cinema aspects were put together by me—renting a projector, setting up sound, lousy film formats (DVD and Blu-ray)—and they had to be done pretty much on the day of the festival. This caused pure Hell, but we did stay there for three years.
The next move as a microcinema called DIGITAL GYM CINEMA. The community aspect is fantastic here because of the intimate setting, and its location in the Media Arts Center provided the opportunity for panels, performances, green screen rooms, and more. The projection and sound in this little cinema is great. The problem there is simply that it was too small. It held less than my previous venue, so I was trading audience capacity for quality of film presentation. That was worth it to me at the time. I still program regularly for the Digital Gym Cinema for our year-rounds.

Last year, we made a move I am still quite proud of. It is unlike almost any film festival I have been to—certainly any genre film festival. We are located at THE MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS (MOPA) in Balboa Park. The location at the museum is not only beautiful and in the heart of a major tourist destination, which adds to the experience, but the theater itself is magnificent. There is dual changeover 35mm capabilities, DCP, you name it. We also use the park itself for extra events like this year’s aerial and circus performance and “Campfire Horror Readings.”

Our current location at MOPA also affords us greater legitimacy, which has earned us coverage in more mainstream press here, as well as attracted the attention of press at the festival itself, which is such a great thing to offer filmmakers. The size of the theater at 226 is still a great fit for us, as well.
SH: The SACRAMENTO HOROR FILM FESTIVAL has called the HISTORIC COLONIAL THEATRE home for 10 years. We have no reason to move. It is also the home of our sister horror film festival that we produce in the shffsummer months, entitled “The Love Horror Short Film Festival”.

We expanded programming to a single day, Summer film festival. It began serving as a “best of” show for the marquee event the year prior. Its popularity has warranted the addition of new films and now has its own entry and selection processes.

When we first begin in 2007, we had to use a variety of beta decks, dvd players, blu ray players, and switchers to seamlessly play films in succession. It didn’t always go smooth. These days, films are turned in on a digital format which makes seamless play by play much more possible.

SF: One, Raleigh Studios is hard to leave, it has the best projection, best sound, it has to because it caters to studio executives. The whole purpose of a film festival is to get the films out there and they need to look the best they can look and Raleigh Studios allows that to happen. There are 3 theaters there that when we sell out one theater we can add more. Technology is so different than it was 16 years ago when we started…. back then we had to get all submissions on dvd or some even came on VHS. Now, almost all submissions are via online services like WITHOUTABOX, FILMFREEWAY and Vimeo. The quality of film screeners is better too, we don’t screen on Digi Beta or tape anymore… now, it’s DCP’s, QT files, Blu-Rays.

Who have been some of the key people in the development of your film festival? How has the area impacted growth, attendance and films being submitted? How have you assembled your team for creating this event?

BB: Gord – Key people are Steve, Gord, and Steve’s family. Gord’s family still hasn’t figured out why he disappears in the Spring. But Steve’s wife and kids are a well-oiled, festival-producing machine. Because our core team is so small, we form partnerships with just about everyone we touch: our sponsors, or vendors, our fans, the bands, and the people behind the films themselves. We’re like a massive amoeba that wraps its pseudopods around everything it touches and whispers, “Work with us in a mutually beneficial fashion.” Hmmm…. On second thought, we don’t really whisper. But we offer a lot of buzz to our film makers and sponsors via the festival and our podcast. And that in turn generates buzz for the festival. And I know this sounds trite, but we depend on our fans. They return year after year, and they are our biggest advocates. We make this for them, and they return the favor by buying tickets and spreading the word about the fest.

Steve: While our cast of internal players is small, there have been many people outside the organization who have helped us to learn and grow. Fellow festival producers such Bryan Wolford of the aforementioned DRUNKEN ZOMBIE FILM FEST and Eric Morgret from the MIFFF/ CRYPTICON FILM FESTIVAL have been supremely generous with advice and guidance, and fellow podcasters such Matt and Shannon from SEATTLE GEEKLY, DZ from CINEMA DIABOLICA, Brother D. from MAIL ORDER ZOMBIE/MONNSTER KID RADIO, and Vaughn from MOTION PICTURE MASSACRE have been tireless champions of our fest, providing encouragement and helping us get the word out to a wider audience.

DF: It was originally a bunch of friends (and still is), but as the fest developed we had more and more people willing to help and come onboard. We have board members from other festivals, some industry people, and an amazing crew on board this year.

HI: I have a selection committee of six people and a revolving jury of judges consisting of 10 people. All people are either filmmakers themselves or film critics in the mainstream media. My most critical partner is Beth Accomando, who is the Arts and Culture reporter for our local NPR affiliate. She is involved in selection, judging, planning, and, with her “Killer Konfections,” hospitality. Another key player is my wife Tiffany Rodriguez, who acts as treasurer, and keeps our numbers in check. Ty Mabrey, a local filmmaker and designer, uses his Bang Zoom Pow business to help us with marketing and design. Jen McCleary Allen is our Volunteer Coordinator, and we have a regular group of volunteers that should be called lifesavers for me. I am happy to say that Jon Condit of DREAD CENTRAL has also jumped on board as a critical member who has helped with photography, videography, and more at the event itself. I am currently looking for a regular sponsorship director and other team members!

Now, as I mentioned before, San Diego is not the friendliest city toward the genre. I think it is one of our proudest accomplishments that we are gradually changing that. I am now regularly invited to program for or curate genre programming for some of the city’s largest film festivals, including the SD LATINO FILM FESTIVAL and SD ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL. We also have prestigious partners in the museums and colleges in town who are interested in how we add an educational component to all the festivals. So our area has impacted us in that it has spurred us to work harder to either educate or even change people’s minds about the validity of the genre.
All of these things have served to get us noticed not only in San Diego, but in the filmmaking and horror community in general. Every year, we get more and more film submissions. The first two years, I was the only programmer. I have had to increase our selection committee numbers in accordance with the sheer number of submissions we get. I insist all submissions get watched and considered, so it is quite a difficult job! Finding my team has been a gradual effort over the years as the growth has continued an upward trajectory. I choose them from their work in other film festivals, the quality of their film criticism, and other such factors.

SH: Mr. Lobo, The Queen of Trash, Sidney Sin, Jamie DeWolf, Bloody Bethy, Blake Reigle, Brian Jones, and many more have helped give the event an identity over the last 10 years. I select hosts and MC’s that have a passion for the product and are knowledgeable in the filmmaking process. You can’t fake passion. Audiences can read that from a mile away.

SF: No one in particular, other than myself and my husband Todd helped out quite a bit the majority of the time. Bigger Press helps, bigger sponsors help. How has the area impacted growth, attendance and films being submitted? Los Angeles used to have the most submissions, now, there are submissions from everywhere, people are realizing you don’t have to live in L.A to have a film career. How have you assembled your team for creating this event? It’s been hard….I now have a strong core of people that help out, but I still need more…it’s really hard to find hard working, committed, passionate people.

How has the role of short films impacted programming for you? How do you setup your short film programming for fullest effect for filmmakers, fans and your sanity? How many features do you offer? Have these numbers changed over the years of doing your film festival?

BB: Gord: I’ve never understood what the role of short films is. That’s like asking, “What is the role of chocolate chip cookies?” They’re great and should be enjoyed in excess. Boom. Done. End of story. But unlike chocolate chip cookies, short films are actually better when you share them with people. We have three or four blocks of short films, and each block is about an hour long. We construct each block like a mix tape, with an overall flow, but enough variety that it never gets boring. No. Check that. It never gets COMFORTABLE. The audience never knows what’s going to happen next, and that keeps them engaged over the course of an eight-hour festival. Making the blocks of shorts is the hardest thing we do, but it’s also the most rewarding. Once you get that perfect block of films that wraps up your audience and takes them where you want them to go, it’s a lot of fun. Regarding the feature films, we usually show two films, and we pack them in between the blocks of shorts and the musical acts. Some years, a feature is the finale. Other years our finale is a block of shorts. It really depends on the material we have to work with and how we feel it would best come together. One year we had a brilliant film that was an hour long. An hour. That’s not a short. That’s not a feature. But we really wanted to show it, so we changed the whole format of the programming and stuck it in there.

DF: We expanded from a weekend, to four says, to six. And we may have to expand next year. We are either going to grow by a day or two or potentially run a spin-off action fest in the spring. As for short films, websites like FILMFREEWAY have proven invaluable for finding amazing content. Currently we program a short or two before each feature but the quality and quantity of shorts this year may move us to curating a short film block.

HI: I think I will just have to quote filmmaker Izzy Lee on this one: “HORRIBLE IMAGININGS knows how to treat filmmakers! They treat short film directors with just as much respect as feature directors. I’ve never been treated better by any festival.”
I am happy you asked about short film programming because I do think it tends to get a bit ghettoized, and I understand why, but we give short films a lot of attention at our festival. They are a major part of the programming.

First and foremost, our mission is to expand and explore the nature of fear in storytelling. Short films are tailor made to meet that mission because they offer such a rich variety—even within thematic groups. I personally feel that horror is particularly suited to short format because it can be so situational in scope. Rather than a character arc, we can explore a situation, a moment of fear, a concept. Many short films are proofs of concept for a feature, or calling cards, and that is fine so long as they work on their own merits. The possibilities are wonderful, and engage me completely as a programmer. This year, we had 10 features and over 60 short films. The ratio has always been pretty similar because I try to mix it up, but this year was five days long so we were able to increase the number of titles we put on the screen.

As far as setting up the short film programming, I try to alternate short film blocks with feature blocks and panels. I also group short films by thematic surveys like “supernatural,” “child’s nightmares,” “human killers and psychological terrors,” “creature features and science fiction,” and so forth. Within each of those blocks can be 10 or 11 times the exploration and discussion potential that one feature provides.

Our audience has come to expect this, and the surveys universally love the short film programming. Frankly, we get BRILLIANT short films every year. Just this year we had LITTLE BOY BLUE (still cried while watching it for the fifth time), THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WILLIE BINGHAM, WHEN SUSURRUS STIRS, THEY WILL ALL DIE IN SPACE, LESHY, NIGHT OF THE SLASHER , DEATHLY, THE BRENTWOOD STRANGLER and POSTPARTUM – all these I am just rambling off the top of my head because they were so damn memorable. I get really excited about the short film programming.

The only trick can be a technical one—getting all short films to play with proper audio levels, aspect ratios, and without glitches, one right after the other can be a technical problem. With the help of my awesome projectionist Erica Gleichman at MOPA, though, we knocked it out of the park. I’m super proud of the films.
SH: Short films are the buffet of programming. It allows viewers to sample many perspectives, styles, and craftsmanship from filmmakers across the globe in a single viewing. They are very popular. Programming a shorts block as a film festival director is like planning a set for a EDM concert as a DJ. Know and understand your audience to the best of your ability and program the event to the flow you feel will be best received. Come out the gate swinging and leave them wanting more.

We have screened approximately the same number of features per year since we began. Features need to hold the audience’s attention for an hour and a half. The craftsmanship needs to be top notch next to the storytelling. An hour and a half feature can easily be swapped for 10 quality short films. We at the Sacramento Horror Film Festival don’t adhere to a quota for features. If its good and deserves an audience, we will play it regardless of time length.

SF: We have 4 blocks of short films, it’s great, they are fun to watch, we have fans that just come for the shorts. We only screen 10 feature films, so, the competition is fierce! The shorts are sometimes more or less, we are thinking of adding another night to the festival though, so we can fit in a few more feature films.

What has been two of the films and/or guests that really have put your film festival on the map? Who has been a filmmaker or filmmakers that you have seen grow over the years with festival? How does that make you feel to be part of that growth?

BB: Steve: Feature wise, communicating the neither-fish-nor-fowl concept of a dedicated Comedy Horror film festival has always been one of our biggest challenges, but I think our 2013 feature GRABBERS really put us on the map. It illustrated in bold strokes that while we may be about cinematic independence, edgy material, and low budgets, we are also about presenting THE BEST quality entertainment we can find, which resulted in the 2013 fest being named one of the “Top 5 Coolest Comedy Film Festivals on the Planet” by MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE. That exposure helped us secure the 2014 US premiere of the LOVE BITE, which raised our profile as a festival to be taken seriously, and our 2016 bill of PATCHWORK and current NETFLIX darling AVA’S POSSESSIONS proved that we could deliver the giggles-and-gore with unwavering consistency.
DF: In 2011 we brought Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, and a number of cast/crew from the films THE VICTIM and THE DIVIDE to both Edmonton and our neighbor city Calgary for screenings. That was our first BIG guest. Getting Henry Rollins in last year was a coup as well. In terms of emerging filmmakers, it’s been fantastic to have Jeremy Gardner from THE BATTERY come to DEDFEST twice so far. He’s becoming an honorary Edmontonian.

There are also the local filmmakers. A few years ago two Edmonton directors, Cody Kennedy and Tim Rutherford, were submitting shorts on a near monthly basis to DEDfest. They got a huge following, and soon enough we were part of their team helping make films. In 2013 we saw the boys premiere their short THE LAST VIDEO STORE at FANTASIA, and tour it around the world, including fests like Fantastic Fest. One of their shorts, M IS FOR MAGNETIC TAPE is on the ABCs OF DEATH 2.5 compilation.
HI: I feel like our repertory programming has gone a long way toward putting our festival on the map. Showing BLUEBEARD on 35mm with a panel on Edgar G. Ulmer with his daughter Ariane Ulmer-Cipes and biographer Noah Isenberg, for example. Or CHRISTMAS EVIL with a discussion by Lewis Jackson. Part of exploring the genre is exploring the roots of the genre, so rep screenings of classic films has been a major part of the program.
Michal Kosakowski’s ZERO KILLED documentary and Chris Powers’s LONG PIGS were both award winners at HORRIBLE IMAGININGS and I think they have achieved some notoriety. Kosokowski in particular recently completed an anthology called GERMAN ANGST with NEKROMANTIK director Jorg Buttgereit.

Our first year, we had The Soska Sisters show DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, we San Diego-premiered their AMERICAN MARY, and now they are just exploding everywhere. Short films THE STOMACH by Ben Steiner and INVADERS by Jason Kupfer are now viewable on SHUDDER. Last year, we had award-winner AJ Briones attend and show his film THE SMILING MAN, which has now garnered over 3 million views on CRYPT TV. Gigi Saul Guerrero was a special guest and panelist last year, and her LUCHAGORE PRODUCTIONS is growing more and more every day.

Yes, it feels fantastic to think we played any part in that growth, but our focus is more about each individual work and what it brings to the conversation.

SH: We were the first horror film festival to host Srjdan Spasojevic, the director of the notorious A SERBIAN FILM. Director Jourdan McClure (CHILDREN OF SORROW, ROGUE RIVER) is a talent whose films loyal patrons of the SHFF still talk about annually in regards to his shocking but seductive style of filmmaking. I’m proud to see that director Blake Reigle, who took home the Best of Festival Feature Film award in 2007, has returned to the 10th annual event with his second feature film.

SF: All of them do. When you go to a Blockbuster (when they were around) and see SHRIEKFEST on a large section of the horror department, that’s a big deal…now, it’s NETFLIX. Shriekfest films are everywhere! Gregg Bishop, Patrick Rea, John Fitzpatrick, Mike Flanagan, and many, many more. I love seeing what filmmakers do through the years, I’m their number one cheerleader. I love to support talented people.

Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[V/H/S Segment Gets Feature Treatment in First SiREN Trailer; Arriving This December!]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30809 2016-10-27T23:55:07Z 2016-10-27T23:55:07Z siren_chiller_films_1620x2400David Bruckner’s “Amateur Night” was one of the real standout parts of 2012’s V/H/S. Doing a great job of setting characters up for a good time and paying off with one hell of a second half, the segment was a lot of fun and quite terrifying at the same time. Now, with DANCE OF THE DEAD/V/H/S:VIRAL director Gregg Bishop at the helm, the popular segment has received the feature treatment in the form of SiREN, which sees the original short’s antagonist being transplanted into a brand new story involving a bachelor party gone horribly wrong. Hitting theaters on December 2nd and VOD, Digital HD and DVD on December 6th, the Chase Williamson (JOHN DIES AT THE END, THE GUEST)-led frightfest now has a trailer and we’re very happy to share with you fright fanatics. Having seen the film already, I can say that it’s a LOT of fun and definitely worth checking out. Check out a few stills from the film as well as the aforementioned trailer below!

SiREN is a horror-thriller about Jonah, an apprehensive groom-to-be whose bachelor party turns into a nightmare when he frees a seemingly innocent victimized girl locked up in a supernatural sex club. Her ruthless handler and proprietor of the sex club will stop at nothing to re-capture his prize. Jonah struggles to rescue the girl only to discover it is he who needs to be rescued as he comes to the realization that she is a dangerous fabled predator who has chosen him as her mate.

Cast: Chase Williamson, Justin Welborn, Michael Aaron Milligan, Hayes Mercure, Randy McDowell and Hannah Fierman.
siren-key-set-01 siren-key-set-03 siren-key-set-04 siren-key-set-05 siren-key-set-07 siren-key-set-08 siren-key-set-09 siren-key-set-10 siren-key-set-11


Jay Kay http://www.horrorhappens.com/ <![CDATA[Jay Kay’s Five Favorite Films At Fantastic Fest 2016!!]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30792 2016-10-26T21:25:31Z 2016-10-26T21:25:31Z ff_logo_padding__indexTo experience a genre film festival is to see the life and dreams of unique as well as deeply creative souls unveil like flower opening on a warm day. Each film and filmmaker are like fingerprints leaving their own mark on the viewer, peer and that segment of time forever. To create a piece of art whether visual, audio or capturing a moment or feeling is a gift that I was lucky enough along with what seemed liked thousands at this year’s FANTASTIC FEST. Making the pilgrimage down to this incredible event that is never long enough, my peers, friends and the dysfunctional family worship at the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE venturing into the dark and letting the light, sounds and sensations guide us to through a world that we experience maybe only once in our life. This year’s lineup hosted by Tim League, crew, filmmakers and company in Austin was truly a unique time in my every evolving and passionate love affair with the walls of movie posters. The shadows and darkness that imprints on my soul. The culture of unique voices as well as stories that flow on a scream and/or a whisper and the rhythmic feeling of Christmas Day… Here are five of the most impactful features from FANTASTIC FEST.



THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE: Directed by Andre Ovredal (UK)

What cannot be said about a film that features rich, expressive and talented performers like Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch? A film that puts you underground in a time capsule of macabre arts and isolates you utilizing the last sounds, sights and frights as tools of escalating and storytelling horror. A haunted house film wrapped in puzzle that offers a unique perspective of retribution and relationships. This is the powerful storytelling of Andre Ovredal, Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing utilizes incredible cinematography, authentic reaction and meticulous detail on a canvas of shadow, demons and claustrophobia making what you see as mysterious and scary as what your imagination scares up. This father and son tale connected with me on many levels and left me completely engrossed in the world of understanding the obsession within Jan Doe.

Read my full interview with filmmaker Andre Ovredal at http://iconsoffright.com/2016/10/12/interview-the-autopsy-of-jane-doe-director-andre-ovredal/.

Read my full review of the film at http://iconsoffright.com/2016/09/27/fantastic-fest-review-the-autopsy-of-jane-doe/ .




24X36: A MOVIE ABOUT MOVIE POSTERS: Directed by Kevin Burke (Canada/USA)

At FANTASTIC FEST, there was not a project that I felt more of a connection than 24X36: A MOVIE ABOUT MOVIE POSTERS. Knowing the passion, love and power these timeless, visual art expressions hold for generations as well as the many changes and obstacles that have effected movie posters over the decades, you thank Kevin Burke for the detail and brilliance at the foundation of this documentary. Offering an education and so many different perspectives from filmmakers to artists to historians, the knowledge and storytelling is truly a masterpiece with an edit that brings the whole project together like a comfortable blanket and creates these windows into our creative souls. 24X36: A MOVIE ABOUT MOVIE POSTERS blew me away and made me remembered why I would put my name on the back of the video store posters that enchanted me high above me in the stores of yester year and curate my walls expressing the uniqueness of me when the world won’t accept words.


24×36 – A Movie About Movie Posters – Teaser Trailer from Post No Joes Productions on Vimeo.



RAW: Directed by Julia Ducournau (France/Belgium)
Truly a scary tale from such a talented, understanding and emotional filmmaker like Julia Ducournau. Whether it is the twisted and dark irony at the foundation of the story or the real to life narrative of university life and struggle to exceed expectations, RAW showcases powerful performances, the dark side of temptation and an insanity that very few of us would ever know and give our souls to. An emotional ride and crafted family dynamic are the driving force behind this coming or age story of the human side of consumption, sexuality and the cringing practical FX and makeup master class against the idea of consumption and living. Laced with powerful visuals and the truth with the darkness of our soul, RAW engrossed the audience at FANTASTIC FEST making everyone hungry for more.

Read my full review for the film at http://iconsoffright.com/2016/10/01/fantastic-fest-review-raw/ .


SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD: Directed by Chris Peckover (Australia/USA)
It is no secret that I love Chris Peckover’s work. Peckover has a way to cultivate the human monster that we know exists but never see coming. One of the largest trends and most amazing aspects to witness was the young filmmakers at FANTASTIC FEST that are coming of age with their debut or sophomore features. Taking for many the most wonderful time of year and ripping the heart out it with disturbing twists, Michael Hanke style violence and the idea of coming of age pertaining to infatuation and friendship, you hold your breath and experience the incredible and visceral tools used to unwrap SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD. When it is all said and done, it will will be that film remembered in the annuls off cult cinema and the darker side of what HOME ALONE could have been in the disturbing hands of a modern horror maestro like Peckover.

Read my full review for SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD at http://iconsoffright.com/2016/09/23/fantastic-fest-review-safe-neighborhood/.


THE EYES OF MY MOTHER: Directed by Nicolas Pesce (USA)
Wow… just wow. This monochromatic perspective that showcases a very disturbing young girl and woman’s struggles to find her way after a series of traumatic events early in her life and an estranged family and friends captive trigger this emotionally drenched and completely powerhouse dark drama. From an artistic and framing perspective, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER has very few equals this year as we understand the macabre in the shadows, the dread and the focus of an open space can be so claustrophobic. From a performance standpoint, both actress Olivia Bond and Kika Magalhaes bring to terrifying and sympathetic life the black widow that is Francisca as well as her very warped understanding of relationships on all levels. Paced on a foundation of pulsing score and diabolical predator style kills and captivity, it is all captured in the unsettling, arthouse and deeply personal portrait of THE EYES OF MY MOTHER.

Read my interview with THE EYES OF MY MOTHER filmmaker Nicolas Pesce at http://iconsoffright.com/2016/10/12/interview-the-eyes-of-my-mother-director-nicolas-pesce/ .

Honorable Mentions:
A DARK SONG: Directed by Liam Gavin
ANOTHER WOLFCOP: Directed by Lowell Dean
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS: Directed by Colm McCarthy
THE HANDMAIDEN: Directed by Chan-wook Park
THE VOID: Directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski

Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[Review: SCARE CAMPAIGN]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30787 2016-10-26T20:40:20Z 2016-10-26T20:40:20Z scTackling the subject of pranks and how one can go horribly wrong, Brothers Colin and Cameron Cairnes’ SCARE CAMPAIGN takes that idea and runs with it quite effectively. Providing viewers with a fun setup and offering twist after twist, the film is one that never ceases to keep you wondering just what’s next, providing an accomplishment in setting not only its character up, but the film’s viewers as well.

Following a prank that almost went horribly wrong, Emma (Meegan Warner) feels like the reality-TV pranking group she’s a part of is going a bit too far and needs to stop. Her main partner in it, Marcus (Ian Meadows), is getting heat from his boss, mentioning that their ratings are as good as they once were and that people want more extreme content. Talking Emma into one final scare before she quits, Marcus and his crew sets up a scare involving a man who just might be the absolute wrong person to prank.

What the Cairnes brothers are able to do, is provide a setup for the film that we as the audience want to be a part of. It’s fun to watch the events play out, with the crew setting up a complex joke on the guy, with multiple crew members all working in specific areas, spread all along a shut down mental facility. Everything from setup sounds, movements, a new crew member playing a dead woman (Olive DeJonge, THE VISIT), the members of the team set up a whole slew of other components to involve the mysterious man in the absolute perfect prank. When Emma discovers that the man not only worked at the mental hospital, but was also a patient there, things begin to as wrong as they possible could, giving us viewers our first of many twists and setting US up along with the film’s characters.

The Brothers Colin and Cameron Cairnes proved that they could mix humor with horror with their very enjoyable film 100 BLOODY ACRES and SCARE CAMPAIGN uses that, but delves deeper into a darker and more dangerous area, opting to go for suspense and shock in favor of their previous film’s black comedy. It works for this one, with each layer being pulled back, we’re given choices and guesses to make when it comes to what we think will happen next and more times than not, we’re wrong.

It’s a fun ride, one filled with enough twists to keep you interested and the performances by Warner and Meadows really pull you into the film and its danger. Just when you think you know exactly what’s going on, something happens to make you shake your head and try to figure out what’s going on, what will happen to the film’s character and if they’re survive their prank after all.

With both 100 BLOODY ACRES and SCARE CAMPAIGN under their belts, it’s safe to say that the Brothers Cairnes are two unique voices in horror, ones who don’t feel the need to repeat themselves, instead choosing to do something completely different than their previous endeavors, making them filmmakers to watch out for. I’m excited to see where they go next.

Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[31 Hits DVD/Bluray/Digital HD This December; Comes With Four hour Documentary]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30782 2016-10-25T20:24:41Z 2016-10-25T20:24:41Z 31_title-1Rob Zombie’s latest film, 31, has had the effect most of his films tend to have: a pretty divisive one. Personally, I LOVED the film (review) and think it’s one of the most entertaining horror films in a long, long time. It’s unique, it’s fun and it’s brutal as hell. Zombie created a true horror icon in the making with Doom Head (Richard Brake) and the film is full of excellent performances.

The film, along with its two (on the Bluray) AND four hour making of documentaries (the four hour doc is an exclusive to the Digital HD copy) , are hitting DVD/Bluray/Digital HD on December 20th, via Lionsgate. We’ll definitely be checking this one out and even as divisive as Zombie’s films tend to be, his making of’s are always epic. Will you be picking this one up?

31 stars Sheri Moon Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses), Jeff Daniel Phillips (HBO’s “Westworld”) Elizabeth Daily (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure), Meg Foster (Lords of Salem), Kevin Jackson (Conspiracy Theory), Richard Brake (Batman Begins), Judy Geeson (TV’s “Gilmore Girls”) and Malcolm McDowell (Halloween).




From the visionary mind of Rob Zombie comes the horrific story of five carnival workers who are kidnapped on Halloween and held hostage in a large compound. At the mercy of their captors, they are forced to play a twisted game or life or death called 31. For the next 12 hours they must fight for their lives against an endless parade of homicidal maniacs.



  • “In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn: The Making of 31” Documentary
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Rob Zombie


Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[Rob Zombie Bassist Matt Montgomery Teams up With Ash Costello To Form THE HAXANS; Releases New EP]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30776 2016-10-25T19:48:07Z 2016-10-25T19:48:07Z haxansMatt Montgomery, a longtime member of Rob Zombie’s band in which he goes by Piggy D, is one cool cat. The Dracula mask wearing bassist is always one of the many highlights of seeing RZ live and puts on one hell of a performance every time. On his downtime, the multi-instrumentalist teamed up with Ash Costello to form the groove-oriented band The Haxans and released their debut EP, “Three Hits From Hell,” a release that makes for the best music to bring to a party.

The guitars are heavy, the vocals are to die for and the entire EP makes you want to throw it on, crank it as loud as it gets and dance your ass off. Comprised of three songs, the EP is currently available to listen to on Spotify and Apple Music. “Three hits From Hell” is quite the impressive debut and we’re looking forward to what comes next from The Haxans. Ps- get ready to dance when “Little Black Goat” comes on…it’s great.



Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[L. Gustavo Cooper’s Acclaimed Short Film THE HOME Now Making the Jump To Feature]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30766 2016-10-21T23:19:49Z 2016-10-21T23:19:49Z the_home-thumb-430xauto-58722L. Gustavo Cooper, director of THE DEVIL INCARNATE and most recently JUNE, has been doing a hell of a job making even more of a name for himself with his festival acclaimed short film, THE HOME.  The short, co-written by Cooper and RESOLUTION star Peter Cilella, followed a young woman (played by, in my opinion, one of the most promising actresses around these days, STARRY EYES lead Alex Essoe) who after giving birth was placed in a home for unwed mothers. Where the short went from there, I’ll leave to your imagination, but along with Nikhil Bhagat’s AS THEY CONTINUE TO FALL, THE HOME is one of my favorite shorts I’ve seen in quite a while. Essoe’s acting is solid, the writing is imaginative and unique and Cooper’s eye for detail is just one more reason to be watching out for the filmmaker, the guy’s got chops.

Following well received screenings at Fantastic Fest, Brooklyn Horror and the Telluride Horror Show, THE HOME has now been developed into a feature, with Cilella tackling the script which was co-developed with Cooper. Genre producers Alix Taylor (MANIAC, IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE) and Nick Phillips (PET, STRAW DOGS) will be producing, and good news for you fright fanatics: While the feature is coming together, Cooper and Co. will soon make the short film version of THE HOME available to see in the very near future.

We’ll keep you all posted on that, but in the meantime, here’s a few stills, as well as the short film trailer!

After the birth of her child, a young woman confined to a home for unwed mothers must fight for her survival as the home falls siege to a group of mysterious invaders.

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The Home / Short teaser from L. Gustavo Cooper on Vimeo.


Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[Screamfest Hosts L.A. Premiere of Richard Bates, Jr.’s TRASH FIRE; Photos/video included]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30739 2016-10-21T02:07:53Z 2016-10-21T01:44:02Z screamfest-logo-9-1-16-1

trash_fireRichard Bates, Jr.’s TRASH FIRE (hitting limited theaters and VOD on November 4th) has been blowing people away at every festival screening around and it’s really no surprise. One of the most unique and singularly original filmmakers working today, Bates made mouths drop with his feature debut EXCISION and made  just as many laugh with his sophomore film, SUBURBAN GOTHIC. TRASH FIRE seems like it’s yet another step in the right direction, with Bates teaming up with Snowfort Films, who to be completely honest, is quite awesome, being that the studio hasn’t really made a single bad film yet. All of us at Icons of Fright love the hell out of Bates and his LA premiere at this year’s Screamfest went absolutely perfect.

We’ve got our hands on quite a few stills from the premiere (which all went down on October 18th), as well as a video intro from TRASH FIRE star Adrian Grenier.  Read on!


(L-R) - Ezra Buzzington, Ray Santiago, Molly McCook, Dave Lawson, Sally Kirkland.

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Angela Trimbur

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Chris Hardwicke

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor (L-R) - Louie Gibson and Annet Mahendru

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Lydia Hearst

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Lydia Hearst

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Lydia Hearst

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Lydia Hearst, Chris Hardwicke

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Lydia Hearst, Chris Hardwicke

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor MollyMcCook

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Oren Peli

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Oren Peli, Lydia Hearst

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Ray Santiago

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Richard Bates, Jr. 

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor Sally Kirkland

Photo Credit: Lisa O'Connor

Adrian Grenier Intro:


When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit and murder. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life.


trash-fire-adrian trash-fire-couch-still trash-fire-porch trash-fire-thinking



Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[Shudder Exclusive French Miniseries BEYOND THE WALLS Debuts TODAY!!]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30727 2016-10-20T23:58:39Z 2016-10-20T23:58:39Z shudderShudder, the all horror streaming service, has quickly made a name for itself as being the go-to destination for quite easily the most comprehensive and all across the board selection of genre films. Whether you’re into slashers, Japanese horror or would even like to know what your favorite horror auteurs prefer (Shudder hosts curated lists from some of the genre’s most renowned figures), the group at Shudder has done an excellent job taking care of you fright fanatics.

Making their way into the exclusive acquisition side of things, Shudder’s first venture is picking up the 3-part French horror mini-series, BEYOND THE WALLS. Premiering TODAY (Oct.20th), the series revolves around a parallel world existing within the walls of a house a woman inherits.

30-year-old Lisa’s fate takes a dramatic turn the day she inherits a mysterious uninhabited old house left to herBTW in the will of its deceased former owner. Fascinated, Lisa moves into the house without any inkling of the mysteries that await her.

One night, awakened by anguished cries, Lisa tears down the walls of the house and and discovers a bizarre parallel world existing behind them. Attempting to find her way back to the real world, Lisa meets Julian, a soldier seemingly from a different era. As they try to survive the myriad of grim creatures that lurk in the shadows, both Lisa and Julian realize they have something in common: A lingering guilt over the tragic death of a loved one. And it won’t be long before those loved ones reappear to haunt their lives again…

BEYOND THE WALLS is a mesmerizing supernatural thriller from the creators of Witnesses [LES TEMOINS]. An international cast led by Veerle Baetens (Best actress Magritte 2016 for My Men – Best actress European Film Awards and Tribeca Film Festival 2013 for The Broken Circle Breakdown) and Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago, The Impossible, Sand Dollars), the series takes viewers on a frightening and mysterious adventure, into a world where old wounds never heal.  

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Jerry Smith http://iconsoffright.com <![CDATA[Momentum Pictures Acquires Guy Pearce-led film BRIMSTONE; Release Set for March]]> http://iconsoffright.com/?p=30722 2016-10-21T00:01:06Z 2016-10-20T23:29:53Z brimstoneConfession: Guy Pearce can, in my opinion, do absolutely no wrong. Even in films that I don’t find to be much fun (i.e.- LOCKOUT), Pearce always gives 200% and let’s be honest, just based on L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, the Aussie actor should have a lifetime pass. News that I’m quite excited about, is the newly announced acquisition of the western/thriller BRIMSTONE by Momentum Pictures.

Starring Pearce (BREATHE IN, LAWLESS), Dakota Fanning (MAN ON FIRE, THE RUNAWAYS), Kit Harington (Jon Snow himself people…), Carice van Houten (“Game of Thrones”) and Emilia Jones (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES), the film all set for a theatrical and VOD release in March of 2017 and seriously guys…think of THE PROPOSITION and LAWLESS…Guy Pearce is the man.

BRIMSTONE tells the story of a frontier woman turn fugitive when she is wrongly accused of a crime she didn’t commit and is hunted by a vengeful preacher.