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.
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