Category Archives: Horror movies

Director’s Chair with Julio Quintana

Image result for the vessel martin sheen

 

Image result for julio quintana the vessel

Frank and Kyle are honored to be joined with filmmaker Julio Quintana to discuss his film, THE VESSEL starring Martin Sheen and produced by Terrence Malick and Sarah Green. Julio is a Malick protege, working as an intern on THE TREE OF LIFE.

THE VESSEL is now available to rent or own on streaming platforms, but please purchase the disc on Amazon that includes the English language and Spanish language version of the film.

 

Halloween Special: Fred Dekker’s NIGHT OF THE CREEPS

Image result for night of the creeps poster

Join Frank and filmmaker turned Podcasting Them Softly co-host, Derek Wayne Johnson as they unveil PTS’s Halloween episode featuring a lively chat about Fred Dekker’s 80s masterpiece, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS.

Victor Sjostrom’s THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE

‘The Phantom Carriage’ (1921) dir. Victor Sjostrom

‘Lord, please let my soul come to maturity before it is reaped’

ThePhantomCarriagePoster

There’s a certain feeling that Halloween used to invoke when I was younger. It was a fun combination of dread and danger, ghost stories, candy and staying up late. It was crawling under a blanket on the couch and watching PG-Rated haunters with my parents or friends who would come over for a sleepover.

As I grew older this ambiance was replaced with R-Rated films and even more R-Rated shenanigans. It became profanity-laced MST3K style drinking bashes with my friends while watching zombies tear flesh and women get naked. Over the years that ‘old Halloween feeling’  if you want to call it that had all but been forgotten. But then the other day I crawled under the covers and watched Victor Sjostrom’s ‘The Phantom Carriage’ and that Halloween Spirit I hadn’t felt in so long – came roaring back and it felt fucking great!

ThePhantomCarriageStill

This film had been on my list for a while. I’m ashamed it took me so long to get around to it. ‘The Phantom Carriage’ is a timeless tale of the macabre. The kind of horror that seeps into your bones. It does a tremendous job of combining the visceral elements of your old-timey chiller with a deeper, more philosophical message. Age has only benefitted this film. Its eerie tone enhanced by the years. The seamless F/X work gives one the impression they are experiencing something truly supernatural and the minimalist score by Mattie Bye for the 1998 restoration really underscores the film’s foreboding tone. Each frame simmers with a sorrowful terror that is captured magically by cinematographer Max Wilen. This is a special cinematic experience and one can see why it was a personal favorite of Bergman’s and Kubrick lifted an entire sequence of it for ‘The Shining’.

‘The Phantom Carriage’ opens with a couple ne’er-do-wells drinking in a graveyard on New Year’s Eve and one of them tells an old tale – that the last person to die each year has to drive the Carriage of Death that goes from door to door collecting the souls of the departed for the following year. When one of the men is killed in a brawl he joins an old friend on the doomed carriage and must revisit the shitty life decisions he made and their consequences before being able to reconcile the ghosts of the past which haunt him in the present. The film unfolds with flashbacks within flashbacks but is shrewdly broken up into 5 parts as to not become convoluted or tiresome.

This Halloween if you’re looking for a truly atmospheric and unsettling film that will get under your skin, turn the lights off and watch ‘The Phantom Carriage’. Trust me.

Review by Damian K. Lahey

Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!

JLawMother1

The President is a liar and a rapist.  Hurricanes rain down biblical style wrath the likes of which this country hasn’t seen in generations.  Man’s inhumanity to man is a relentless drumbeat of daily headlines, and basic civility between those who agree on almost but not quite everything seems ready to collapse at any moment.  This is the world of 2017, and this is the world that birthed Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! A defiant howl against what feels like the breakdown of society itself, the film isn’t crafted for the faint of heart, nor should it be.  Audiences and critics are rejecting it in droves if opening box office numbers and review amalgamation sites are to be believed, perhaps expecting the mainstream horror thriller the ad campaign deviously promises and then being truly horrified at the ugly Dorian Gray-style mirror the film holds up to America’s face, filled with corrupted beauty and mob mentality madness.  There’s no doubt that you the viewer are meant to walk out of the theater in a brutalized silence, but that doesn’t mean the film isn’t a high wire act masterpiece.

Aronofsky’s quite comfortable swimming in the same dark waters that Lynch, Bunuel and many other surrealists dive into with regularity; he’s made a career of it, and on occasion even found critical and box office success doing it, as in the identity bending Black Swan.  With Mother!, he’s doubled down on a symbolism filled nightmare scape, mixing and matching plenty of horror tropes (a disturbing house, plenty of blood, stranger danger galore) but never allowing the flow to fall into anything approaching a genre comfort zone.  He’s taken the angelic face of Jennifer Lawrence and turned it into a trap for all of us, with the camera locking in on her increasingly confused, angry and frightened visage throughout—while the lead performer should be our guide throughout the story, she’s given no tools to work with, no road map, no explanations, so neither are we.  Javier Bardem is her chilling man child of a husband, an artist whose focus on adulation over accomplishment serves as a cutting parody of the aging celebrity with a trophy wife as well as a none too subtle nod towards the current resident of the White House.  As their pristine renovated home turns into a demonic bacchanal, with characters blinking in and out of existence and humanity portrayed as little more than an internet comment section run amok, Aronofsky drags the viewer alongside Lawrence into chaos and madness with relentless glee.  It’s this glee at how emotionally disturbing Mother! is that I suspect is putting off many theater goers; sometimes the first swipe at a piece of art this brazenly obtuse yet intimate is so effective that it sends its audience screaming for the exits.  Have great faith that, while you may be repelled by what the film puts you through, it’s all very much part of the plan.

Last year audiences had the same disdain for Nicholas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, a similarly singular workout that never commits to being a “horror movie” until it’s so far beyond that definition that it’s achieved True Art status, which isn’t supposed to be easy and rarely tries to be.  That film’s disgusting deconstruction of America’s dedication to surface above all else is mirrored in the layered but loud assault on our society’s treatment of the planet and each other in Mother! It starts with a telling sequence that I’ll not spoil here, but hints at cycles of behavior that are as old as time, and as inescapable.  Darren Aronofsky blew through the first draft of this script in five days by his account, and the resulting film feels every bit the guttural reaction to 2017 that you’d expect from one of America’s leading provocateurs.

motherposters

Episode 44: THE VOID

ep44

Frank and Kyle discuss the latest VOD horror sensation, THE VOID. They also discuss the latest footage from ALIEN: COVENANT. We’ll be back next week with an episode focused on Lawrence Kasdan’s SILVERADO and our top five performances from Danny Glover.

THE FUNHOUSE (1981) – A REVIEW BY PATRICK CRAIN

Poor Tobe Hooper. Unlike other genre contemporaries such as John Carpenter, George Romero, and David Cronenberg, he really didn’t waltz into the 1980’s with unlimited potential and the brightest of futures. Despite helming the Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974 and the well-received television adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot in 1979, Hooper’s reputation was one of an unreliable commodity; a combative personality who had been a contributing factor to the troubled production of Eaten Alive, Hooper’s third feature, and someone who had been outright fired from the William Devane/Cathy Lee Crosby vehicle, the Dark, in 1979.

But with horror at peak interest in the early 80’s, every studio was looking to get in on the action. And what studio wouldn’t want to splash “From the director of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre” across the front of the poster? Universal Studios certainly did. What emerged from Tobe Hooper’s major studio debut did him little favors in terms of his future (Poltergeist was a life-raft tossed his way by Steven Spielberg). But, in retrospect, the Funhouse is one of Hooper’s strongest films; another addition in a line of narratives about an almost folklorish, ruined America, where families are still separated by class and equally troubled. If the cannibalistic Sawyer family represented the unmanageable pioneer lifestyle amid an industrial society in the first Texas Chain Saw Massacre and a gluttonous shark swimming in Reagan’s pools of unfettered hypercapitalism in the sequel, the Funhouse’s twin families reflect America’s white hot fascination with both nightmarish tragedies that were being peddled by television magazine shows and tabloids and their voyeuristic curiosity for the malformed versus a travelling family populated by society’s outcasts.

There is a certain urban myth flavor permeating the central idea of the Funhouse. After a night of pot smoking and grab-ass at the local carnival, the wise guy in a group of four kids on a double date proposes they all spend the night in “The Funhouse” (which, as Wikipedia would correctly point out, is actually a dark ride). What lives within the Funhouse is the Barker and his hideously deformed son who helps work the Funhouse with the cloaking aid of a Frankenstein’s Monster mask. Not long after the kids witness the murder of a fortune teller at the hand of the Barker’s son, they are discovered by the Barker and their attempts to exit the Funhouse are thwarted at every turn. Will they survive the night?!?

Funhouse_43

In 1981, the failure of the Funhouse was partly due to Universal’s decision to make the film look more like it was an entry in the slasher genre than what it really was; an homage to the horror film in general with elements of multiple eras represented throughout. While it was certainly made sense from a production standpoint to utilize as much no-charge Universal Monster iconography as possible, it’s hard to discount that the monster in the Funhouse is, like the majority of those early creatures, truly a monster to be pitied and goaded on to aggressiveness by his abusive, alcoholic, and manipulative father. For more modern influences, the opening shot recalls both the shower scene in Psycho and the opening moments of John Carpenter’s Halloween (and even Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, if you’re being generous). The traveling carnival setting has its roots in the oldest of American folktales including those that are represented in our films, such as Tod Browning’s Freaks.

But the Funhouse also hints at a true, simmering horror within in the modern family, and if there’s a nagging issue with the film, it is that its less successful in fleshing this out effectively. The mother for the representative “good” family seems to be a short-tempered alcoholic that instills nothing but fear and dread in her children but we can only guess at this given her scant screen time and the opaque dialogue surrounding her character.

Other than that, the characters and situations do offer up a certain dark streak that runs throughout the film and hints at something deeper. The clean-cut daughter, our identifiable “Final Girl,” isn’t exactly the frigid, do-gooder as in other films from the era. Instead, Elizabeth Berridge’s all-American Amy Harper disobeys her dad, smokes grass, engages in some free-spirited sexual misconduct, and goes along with the crowd without much resistance at all. The ubiquitous younger brother character has a certain perverseness given his prank in the opening moments of the film. I mean, it never occurred to me to, as a goof, take pictures of my older, naked sister in the shower. Additionally, in a nifty plot pivot, the “good kids” find themselves in double-jeopardy after the wise guy pulls a dick move and steals from the Barker and his son. Sure, this is a standard horror device but the motivation suggests a certain deterioration in Hooper’s overall worldview. After all, in both the Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Eaten Alive, the protagonists’ transgressions were no greater than simply stumbling upon the antagonists’ hunting ground.

But from most standpoints, the Funhouse is an impressive film. The cast is uniformly great; Elizabeth Berridge radiates a nervous and apprehensive sweetness, Kevin Conroy is perfectly greasy as the corn liquor-soaked Barker (Conroy actually turns up as three different barkers, hustling for the strip tease, the freak-of-nature tent, and the Funhouse), Cooper Huckabee sports the right amount of Dirk Daring-Do as Barrage’s lunkheaded date with a heart of gold, De Palma regular William Finley turns up as the nip-taking, ghoulish Magician, and the always exciting Sylvia Miles, sporting the hammiest gypsy accent this side of Grayson Hall on Dark Shadows, steals each scene she occupies as the Fortune Teller. The film also sports some really beautiful widescreen camera work (including some fun split-diopter compositions and epic crane shots) courtesy of the great Andrew Laszlo, a master of color and darkness who gave Walter Hill’s the Warriors and Streets of Fire their distinctive comic book look. Here, much like in Hooper’s Eaten Alive, the colors give the film a roadside attraction garishness the look of which is as threaded into the American consciousness as the colors of the flag.

Like anything Tobe Hooper made after 1974, the Funhouse is far from perfect. The ending confrontation feels anticlimactic, uninspired, and deflated and there is a wish that at least some of the backstory that was written into the Dean Koontz’s novelization (initially released under the pseudonym Owen West) could have been incorporated into the domestic moments, if only to flesh out the parental conflicts with the children and restore a much-needed balance of subtext. But, as it stands, the Funhouse remains an overlooked, colorful homage to the institution of American horror, both real and imagined.

0dc7633a56c59a7bf7a2eb423a780e04

BONE TOMAHAWK – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

image

S. Craig Zahler’s gruesome and gnarly BONE TOMAHAWK is the epitome of a slow burn, and it hits all the marks in this concoction of a horror-western, b-movie, grind house-ish ode to everything that’s transgressivley amazing about cinema.

Set in the late 1800’s, a search party made up of the town’s Sheriff (Kurt Russell), the affable “backup” deputy (Richard Jenkins), the missing woman’s husband (Patrick Wilson) and a mysterious gunslinger gentleman (Matthew Fox) set out on a suicide journey into the heart of darkness to rescue a kidnapped woman (Wilson’s wife played by Lili Simmons) who was taken by a nasty and ghoulish group of indigenous people.

image

This is a film that I can’t really peg down.  For a genre film, it’s production value is incredibly high, costume design is fantastic and the score by Zahler and Jeff Herriot achieve in a tranquil way, the characters journey to impending doom.  For having a deserving, gruesome and bloody climax, it was made without CGI and makes it that much more rewarding. The way Zahler captures the locations, the actors and builds an unprecedented amount of suspense is truly awe-some and admirable.

Kurt Russell is absolutely who we want him to be, the archetypal, honorable, ultimate bad ass alpha who will stop at nothing to rescue this woman.  Richard Jenkins is charming as he is affable providing unexpected and quirky comic relief that is an audacious line to walk in a film like this, but is completely welcomed and works perfectly.  Patrick Wilson gives one his best performances as the rage filled husband, forcing himself to go on this journey with a broken ankle, pushing himself to the brink.  And then there is Matthew Fox, who absolutely steals every single scene he’s in as the very cool and calculated gunslinger with his own dark past.

image

Rounding out the fantastic cast is David Arquette, the always wonderful Fred Melamed, and surprising and welcome additions by Sean Young, Michael Pare, James Tolkan and the legendary Sid Haig.

The only way I can articulate my admiration and description of the film, is that this film is as if John Carpenter directed THE DESCENT meets THE THING with a dash of THE PREDATOR, set in the late 1800’s.  I’ve watched the film twice back to back, and I can’t wait to revisit it again.  This film certainly isn’t for everyone, but if the trailer and premise excite you, seek it out immediately.  You will not be disappointed.

image

MILE HIGH HORROR FILM FESTIVAL DOUBLE FEATURE: THE DESCENT WITH DIRECTOR NEIL MARSHALL/THE SHINING WITH JOE TURKEL AND LISA & LOUISE BURNS

mhhff

The schedule for the 2015 Mile High Horror Film Festival is bursting with quality programming all day and deep into the night, but a double feature on Friday afternoon/evening was my primary target as soon as I viewed the calendar:  The Descent with director Neil Marshall in attendance, and The Shining with Joe Turkel (Lloyd The Bartender) and Lisa and Louise Burns (The Grady Daughters) conducting a Q&A session prior to the show.  Arguably the best horror film of the 2000s followed by arguably the greatest horror film of all time, with these creative forces behind them in the house?  No question I’d be at both, and each was fantastic.  The Descent and The Shining have important similarities, such as masterful senses of tension and locations that are crucial to the proceedings, but couldn’t be more different otherwise—a monster movie enclosed in darkness, gore and stone versus a brightly lit ghost story floating through spacious, impeccable halls.   A naturalistic, tough and large female ensemble; a stylized nightmare with few (living) souls inhabiting it.  Still, the two stand on equal footing because the purity of vision in each is unquestionable, and not a moment is wasted in taking the viewer on their respective dark journeys.

Neil Marshall’s The Descent is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, and one could see the pride and enthusiasm the filmmaker still has for discussing this gem by his effusive Q&A immediately following a fully attended afternoon screening.  He started by addressing the “alternative ending” controversy, stating that the UK received the real finale so he wasn’t as worried about its reception overseas, and the test screenings indicated US general audiences preferred something more upbeat, so he allowed Lionsgate to show the truncated cut here with the condition that they gave it the widest release possible, ultimately on over 2,000 screens.  He also pointed out that his original vision is the happy one; Sarah’s ending up with her daughter (played by Marshall’s niece) was the only version of peace she would ever find.

Neil Marshall

The director continued by discussing the origins of the story and its early reception.  He originally wanted to expand an earlier student film revolving around space zombies called Brain Death into a feature, but was told it would be too expensive at a meeting to pitch producers and was asked to come up with something else.  Remembering a challenge he’d heard in the press about his debut, Dog Soldiers, not being scary enough, he determined to make the scariest film he could imagine, got on a train immediately after said meeting and let his mind wander.  By the time he’d returned home several hours later, he’d figured out a little-used location in horror to exploit with a cast almost completely devoid of testosterone.  The script felt more like a novel as he quickly entered extended sequences of little to no dialogue, and the stark descriptions within scared everyone who read it.  One of his producers labeled it “too relentless!” and asked him to let them out of the cave; Marshall’s response?  “They didn’t get to leave the boat in Jaws!  They didn’t get to walk away from The Nostromo in Alien!”  He knew keeping the heroes trapped was key.

A brief discussion of the technical details revealed a fun anecdote or two, including the time one of the “crawlers,” as he referred to them, sprained his ankle on set and was taken to the emergency room—in full costume.  Marshall continues to be proud that barely any CGI was used, not to mention the fact that they’d built sets so effective the viewer couldn’t tell the entire film was shot on sound stages at Pinewood Studios with a few exteriors shot in Scotland (apparently real caves fill with fog fast when humans are around and the slippery surfaces ensure repeated, dangerous falls).  He even pointed out a variety of obscure references to be found in the film, some as subtle as a shot of a sleeping Beth with her arm over her head nodding to Deliverance.  When asked if Alfred Hitchcock’s influential hand could be felt anywhere on The Descent,  Marshall balked at the notion yet then teased the audience that the next film he’s working on is his “Hitchcock Homage,” but spilled no further beans.  For broad influences he called John Carpenter the biggest and mentioned The Thing, Alien, Deliverance and The Shining as specific touchstones.

ShiningDancers

Turning to that particular Kubrick masterpiece, the MHHFF and Alamo Drafthouse Littleton pulled out all the stops to celebrate the picture and set the mood for a 35mm projection with several cast members in attendance to discuss the famous filmmaker and their memories of the production.  Initial events, including several twin-themed dance partners interspersed throughout the crowd and a Redrum cake that doesn’t belong on any child’s birthday table, gave way to the honored guests of the evening.  Joe Turkel, spry and clearly excited for his chance to discuss fellow Brooklyn kid and longtime friend Stanley, was joined by Lisa and Louise Burns, the British twins who interestingly played sisters of different ages in their indelible, iconic scenes as the Grady girls.  Joe was quick to point out that he’s the rare actor who appeared in three Kubrick productions (the others being The Killing and Paths of Glory), and often mentioned how he and the director bonded over their love of the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio, the latter having passed away a day after Kubrick himself did.  Turkel also pointed out the ‘director’s bible’ that Stanley had with him on all three sets where they worked together, in increasingly dog-eared, underlined and battered form, a text by the great Russian filmmaker Vsevolod Pudovkin called Pudovkin on Film. He went on to describe the director’s demeanor as always quiet and respectful, but yes, famously thorough and prone to many takes.  He claimed the shot of Jack Nicholson walking past strewn-about balloons and entering The Gold Room with a ghostly party in full swing was done no less than 180 times.  As Kubrick asked for each new take, the camera angle or lens or lighting would always be slightly altered.  Turkel once asked him, “Are you ever satisfied with just one take?”  Kubrick smirked and responded “Oh yes!  Many times!”

ShiningPanel

The soft-spoken Burns sisters didn’t have the same relationship with Kubrick but, like Turkel, had many memories of the director being warm, friendly and accommodating, even during the lengthy portions of their work.  They didn’t have a specific take count on any of their scenes, but recalled that his getting the single shot he ended up using of their bloody bodies in the hallway took three full days, during which they were awfully cold.  Kubrick personally went and retrieved a space heater for them when they complained, and when their birthday arrived he halted the shoot for several hours in order to throw them a proper party, wherein he presented them with an autograph book filled in by cast and crew.  Speaking further about the director’s personality and demeanor, Turkel insisted he was a plain-spoken kid from Brooklyn (he preferred everyone call him Stanley, not Mr. Kubrick, not Stan) who wasn’t a hermit but understood his celebrity would require him to be increasingly beholden to anyone he met, so he chose to limit how many new people he brought into his life.  Discussing the film itself, Lisa and Louise didn’t actually see it until they were in their 20s, and due to UK censorship the version they saw was a full half hour shorter than what audiences in other countries enjoyed.  Turkel pointed out how strange this was considering The Shining is far from a violent picture; outside of Nicholson’s brutal ax murder of Scatman Crothers’ Dick Halloran, there is almost no physical conflict portrayed.  As a result, the Burns sisters didn’t realize what a horrifying picture it was until much later.  Joe Turkel claimed to have only seen it 5 or 6 times, but said his enjoyment deepens with each viewing.  He took a quick shot at the original author’s negative take on the film and the resulting 1990s television miniseries version, which in his words “bombed” by not focusing on the psychological horror that Kubrick presented in masterful form.  The actor then shared two quick stories, one about how he and a friend ran into a struggling Nicholson at the horse races in 1961, when that performer was considering leaving Los Angeles and returning to New York City but stayed after Turkel’s friend repaid Nicholson some money he owed him with their gambling winnings (“I saved his career!”), and another about his last day on set.  Insisting Stanley was a warm man but not prone to physical contact, he walked up to Turkel, put his hand on the actor’s shoulder and said “you know, so far you’re the best thing in this movie.”  Joe Turkel responded by saying “Thanks Stanley—so don’t wait another 40 fucking years to cast me again!”  Kubrick smiled, walked away, and that was the last time the two spoke.

Finally, the 35mm print rolled for the audience, and as with most great films it felt like a first viewing all over again to share the experience with an anonymous audience in the dark.  On a quick personal note, I must recommend that if any organization such as the Mile High Horror Film Festival or the Alamo Drafthouse gives you the opportunity to enjoy either of these films in a theater, take advantage of it.  The Descent’s darkness flows off the screen and effectively envelops you, and The Shining’s still-stunning sound design, visuals and atmosphere trap you, the viewer, in the Overlook Hotel just as it did Danny and his family all those years ago.  Seeing the two films this past Friday with these talented artists present to tell their stories made for a unique, revelatory and unforgettable day for the horror fans in attendance.

RedRumCake

MILE HIGH HORROR FILM FESTIVAL WORLD PREMIERE: EVEN LAMBS HAVE TEETH

mhhff

The 2015 Mile High Horror Film Festival kicked off yesterday with a real treat (including a few tricks) for fans—the world theatrical premiere of Even Lambs Have Teeth, a modestly budgeted joint US/Canadian production that follows the adventures of two young women who become entangled with a corrupt town and its evil pastimes.  Stars Kirsten Prout, Tiera Skovbye, Garrett Black and Jameson Parker were in attendance, along with producers Adrian Salpeter and Elizabeth Levine.  The actors themselves had not seen the finished product and in fact had only viewed snippets here and there since the quick shoot completed last November outside of Vancouver, BC, so it was a first viewing for practically everyone in the packed crowd at the Alamo Drafthouse Littleton.

ELHT1

The story is a simple, dark tale, with a pair of fun loving friends preparing to go work on a Community Supported Agriculture farm in rural Washington State to earn enough money for a blowout shopping weekend in New York City.  Not surprisingly, the plan goes awry almost immediately as the sexually adventurous Sloane (Prout) convinces the more conservative Katie (Skovbye) to catch a ride to the farm with a couple of handsome young strangers who promptly take them on a nightmarish detour.  The following horrors and the road to revenge/redemption the women find themselves on will bring to mind many touchstones of the genre that horror fans will be familiar with:  I Spit On Your Grave, Last House On The Left, and even Deliverance were mentioned by the post-screening panel, as well as The Deer Hunter and Kill Bill.  While this all sounds familiar—and make no mistake, many elements of the film are—the material is consistently elevated by strong performances across the board, both by the female leads and their antagonists.  Sloane and Katy are instantly likeable and relatable, which puts you firmly next to them whether they’re locked in a storage crate or piloting a pickup on a lengthy parade of revenge around the countryside.  The autumnal menace of the Pacific Northwest that’s been used to such great effect in everything from Twin Peaks to The X-Files is on full display throughout, and writer/director Terry Miles always has a creepy villain, a trope-flipping jolt, a dash of humor or a gonzo explosion of violence waiting around the corner—often all in the same scene.

ELHT2

During the Q&A session following the screening, we learned that this is Miles’ first horror film, he’s usually been associated with more straightforward drama productions.  It shows in his handling of the characters, who always feel genuine no matter what their particular motivations are.  It was a tight three week shoot in drizzly, cold weather with few Hollywood perks on hand, but the cast bonded quickly (perhaps despite themselves;  Prout and Skovbye initially hated each other but that faded fast and they now appear to be the best of friends) and supported each other through some difficult scenes.  It was roughly shot backwards chronologically so the women were allowed to develop a sense of empowerment before undergoing the damaging sequences in the first half of the film, although to the filmmakers’ credit those scenes are often underplayed and left to the imagination.   There is a distinct sense that there was no desire to do too deep of a dive into the violent onscreen character humiliation seen in the likes of Hostel and several other previously mentioned films.  Producers Adrian Salpeter and Elizabeth Levine shared some insight into independent movie production, stating that horror is a great genre to work in because it translates around the world much better than others such as comedy, hence an easier sell to investors and distributors.  As final advice to any filmmakers impressed by the results of this small production, Levine said “start with $20,000 and a great group of loyal people, and go to work!”  All in all, a promising work from a young group of talented people.

ELHT3

Follow Even Lambs Have Teeth on Twitter at @lambshaveteeth

A CONVERSATION WITH MILE HIGH HORROR FILM FESTIVAL FOUNDER TIMOTHY SCHULZ

Logo

The Mile High Horror Film Festival in Littleton, CO is just over a week away, and I’ll be covering several of the biggest screenings over the course of that weekend for Podcasting Them Softly.  Starting as a small offshoot of the Denver Film Society in 2010, it has rapidly turned into a world class destination for horror fans and filmmakers and is gearing up for its biggest year yet.  I was fortunate to speak with MHHFF founder Tim Schulz, himself a successful filmmaker (“Chasing The Shadows,” a feature length documentary on the paranormal, as well as several celebrated shorts), about this year’s events:

I’m ashamed to admit this is my first Mile High Horror Film Festival, can you tell me a few basics such as how it started, how long you’ve been involved and how it’s grown?

I am a founding member.  We started in 2010, when there was nothing like this in Colorado.  I’d been to many other film festivals such as SxSW and Sundance and wanted to see something genre-focused like that happening here in Denver.  The size of the program and attendance has just snowballed every year since then.

You just announced Jack Black and Co. will be here to premiere Goosebumps next week, it’s one of the biggest studio horror releases of the fall.  How does this fit in with the rest of the more adult-oriented programming?

We really try to do diverse programming throughout the festival, hopefully we’re offering genre films for everyone.  We’re very excited to host the Colorado premiere with the cast in attendance, it is nice to have something screening that you can take the whole family to.

MHHFF started working with the Denver Film Society but now the festival is put on in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse, how is that relationship working out?

It’s worked out very well, we’ve been working with Alamo for the last two years now.  We had some great screenings at DFS venues for the first three years, but Alamo offers the food and drink experience during the film that’s special, and they also make a wonderful fit because they cater to film festivals and special events that are unique and creative, they always think outside the box to create something tailored to the film buff.  Take the special menus:  For the upcoming screening of The Shining, they’ve created a Red Rum cocktail.  In years past they’ve done amazing pre-show menus and events, such as having Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser) tear a roasted pig hanging from a meat hook apart to make sandwiches for fans.  The following year, Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) did the same with his chainsaw!

Is it difficult to bring this level of talent and notoriety in the horror genre to Littleton?

Like I said, it’s snowballed every year and gains more respect and credibility around the world with each successive festival.  We are extremely grateful for this.

Tim Schulz

I see you have an LGBT panel for this year’s festival, who’s involved and what can we expect?

We are glad to have writer Jeffrey Riddick, one of the creators of Final Destination and a longtime supporter of the Festival, he’s been a judge for many of the years we’ve been in business and he’ll be on the panel with plenty to say.  Bailey Jay is a transgender model and podcaster for Fangoria, she will be involved via Skype.  The panel will be moderated by Keith Garcia, a well-known fixture in the Denver film community who is currently working on a documentary called “The Heels Have Eyes.”  Discussion will be wide ranging based on some direction from Keith and audience questions, and should involve current trends in the industry, working in the genre, and plenty more.

Is the live music programming something new?

We’ve done music in the past but this is the first time we’ll have it running simultaneously with the film festival screenings.  We’ll have music running from the early screenings through to 2 a.m.  Ari Lehman (Jason Voorhees) will be there with his band First Jason, and there will be plenty of local metal bands in attendance too, like Arise in Chaos and Eye of Minerva.  We have Denvers’ Chimney Choir, more of a folk act, and Viretta, an indie rock band.  We’ll have hip hop represented with Wheelchair Sports Camp.  The Festival is really trying to provide a lot of variety for fans, and an experience that extends outside of the theaters.  We’ll have music, tarot card readings, autograph sessions, artists and other surprises.

Not to play favorites, but what are some of the events you’re most looking forward to?

I’m a huge fan of The Shining, and I’m really excited about our screening with Joseph Turkel (Lloyd the bartender) and Lisa and Louise Burns (The Grady Twins).  I believe this is the first time the three of them have been together since the original shoot, and Lisa and Louise rarely make it over from the U.K. so it will be a special night.

Even Lambs Have Teeth has its world premiere at the Festival on Thursday, have you seen it?

I have seen it, and really enjoyed it.  Excellent production values and some over the top gore…I don’t want to give any spoilers but it’s got some great twists and turns.  We’re very excited to have the lead performers, Tiera Skovbye and Kirsten Prout, as well as the filmmakers in attendance.

Finally—Freddie or Jason?

I have to go with Jason since we have two in attendance!

The Mile High Horror Film Festival runs from October 1-4 at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton.  For ticketing information please visit http://milehighhorrorfestival.com/ or http://drafthouse.com/calendar/denver