There’s a new horror film fest kicking off this year, and it’s looking to go above and beyond with several premieres, live events, storytelling, art exhibits, and lots more. The inaugural Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (BHFF) will open with the East Coast debut of Dearest Sister from Laos on opening night and close with the World Premiere of USA/Icelandic co-production Child Eater, the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign.
In between those two films the BHFF is squeezing a ridiculous amount of fun into the weekend of October 14-16, 2016. Below are the highlights.
From the Press Release:
The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival couldn’t be more honored and thrilled to bring such a historic event to New York City for the first time. Happening from October 14th to 16th in venues and locations across North Brooklyn, we’re excited to bring BHFF to life with horror films from all over the globe that have never been screened in NY until now. For this year’s lineup, we’re looking forward to presenting 2 World Premieres, 5 U.S. Premieres, and a number of amazing East Coast and New York premiering films.
The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival will screen feature films and short films that represent filmmakers from around the world that are contributing to the horror genre. In addition to the film screenings, the festival will also be hosting an opening night party, panel discussions, Q&A’s with filmmakers, games, contests, merchandise tables, award ceremony, and a sendoff party after the final screening. Venues for the festival include The Wythe Hotel Screening Room, Videology, Syndicated, and Spectacle theaters, among others.
Our poster, which gives credit to one of New York City’s more beloved rodents of the past year, is designed by David Lupton. A London-based illustrator with a love of horror and everything strange, his design for the festival spotlights our mandate to incorporate local flavor to the horror film genre. His work is rich in melancholy and the macabre, and his past work includes editorial illustration, picture book design, music video promos, and record cover artwork along with concept art for Corin Hary’s 2015 hit The Hallow.
A limited number of Film Festival Badges are available for purchase. Individual tickets will be available in mid-September. More festival information and other horror news can be found on BrooklynHorrorFest.com, the BHFF Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.
Our opening night film is the East Coast premiere of DEAREST SISTER by Laos’ only horror director, Mattie Do. As impressive as the film is itself, DEAREST SISTER comes with an even greater backstory. It’s only the 13th feature film to be produced is Laos’ history. As Do has stated elsewhere, “Every Lao film is a historic event” and we can’t wait to share the film following it’s Fantastic Fest World Premiere. The film will screen at the Wythe Hotel Screening Room and will be preceded by an original live musical score by Johnny Butler and Dani Marie accompanying the world premiere of their Dario Argento-inspired music video directed by Richard Bates.
The festival’s centerpiece film will be the critically acclaimed feature WE ARE THE FLESH. Already cosigned by Mexican filmmaking giants Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu, WE ARE THE FLESH gives credence to the old saying, “You’ve never seen anything like this before.” Directed by 26-year-old rookie director Emiliano Rocha Minter, it’s an assaultive and ultimately sublime blend of art-house experimentation and grindhouse sensibilities.
For closing night, we’ve got the World Premiere of USA/Icelandic co-production CHILD EATER. Through a successful Kickstarter campaign, Icelandic writer-director Erlingur Thoroddsen and his team were able to expand upon their 2012 short film of the same name, which made noise at the SXSW Film Festival. Merging the babysitter set-up with a fresh monster mythology, CHILD EATER takes elements from John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN and Wes Craven’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET to introduce horror fans to a brand-new kind of monster. The film will screen with producer and respected film journalist Perri Nemiroff in attendance.
BROOKLYN SHOWCASE – SPONSORED BY EL BUHO MEZCAL
In addition to presenting the world’s best indie horror films, the BHFF is also dedicated to supporting the borough’s strongest homegrown cinema. This out of competition section of the festival celebrates Brooklyn’s most exciting genre filmmaking, both past and present. The block will feature the world premiere of PSYCHOTIC! A BROOKLYN SLASHER by directors Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons as well as a screening of Michael Winner’s 1977 Brooklyn based horror THE SENTINEL and a shorts program highlighting Brooklyn filmmakers.
The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival is thrilled to offer stellar special live events as part of our STAGE FRIGHTS program.
APPARITION: A POPUP ART SHOW
Kicking off the festival week, BHFF invites you to an exhibition showcasing strange, eerie, and horrifying artwork by emerging artists as part of our APPARITION: A POPUP ART SHOW. Held at Brooklyn’s finest occult book store, Catland Books, the show will be curated by Brooklyn-based artist and curator Kerry R. Thompson, and will feature a variety of artwork, illustrations, and sculptures in a range of media. Film Festival tickets and tarot readings will also be available at the event. Artists Include: Andrea Mora, Casey Reed, Cielle Charron, Julie Severino, Kathleen Skirvin, Kerry R. Thompson, Michelle Leigh, Paul Aguilera, and Sarah Salovaara.
In this interactive event, audience members will be asked to place their sobriety in the hands of their favorite critics! Hosted by Matt Donato of We Got This Covered, critics representing portions of the audience will duke it out over genre-related trivia questions and debate topics. Points will be awarded by the host, and each round will have a selected winner—along with losers, who must face whatever libations lay ahead! Competing critics include Perri Nemiroff (Collider), Eric Walkulski (JoBlo), and Max Evry (Shock Till You Drop) and esteemed horror journalist Michael Gingold.
GHOSTS WE’VE KNOWN: STORYTELLING COMPETITION – PRESENTED IN COLLABORATION WITH CATLAND BOOKS; SPONSORED BY BOROUGHS OF THE DEAD
Join us around the campfire to share and listen to horrifying tales of ghosts, monsters, and everything else that goes bump in the night. Held in the backyard of Catland Books, Brooklyn’s finest occult bookstore, each storyteller will have 10 minutes to share their ghoulish tale for the audience. The raconteur with the best story will receive two tickets to a haunted Brooklyn walking tour complimentary of Boroughs of the Dead. The event will be hosted by Melissa Madara, one of the owners at Catland books, who has been a practicing witch for most of her life. In addition to offering consultations with tarot cards, Melissa is also skilled in scrying and wax reading and incorporates these different divination methods into her readings.
SUMMERLAND LOST: A GHOST STORY
Live spoken word performance by Grady Hendrix. The Wall Street Journal calls him “a national treasure.” His mother calls him “Sunshine.” Now, author Grady Hendrix brings his one-man show about psychic teenagers to Brooklyn with Summerland Lost: A Ghost Story. Full of shaved cats and biomechnical sex cults, this is the all-shocking, all-true tale of drunk Victorian teenagers who teamed up with the ghost of Ben Franklin and an Arctic explorer to answer the ultimate question: Is there life after death?
Dearest Sister (EAST COAST PREMIERE)
Laos/France/Estonia / Dir: Mattie Do
Hailing from the cinematically neglected country of Laos, DEAREST SISTER is a classically minded supernatural horror-drama about Nok, a young poor woman who moves in with her recently blinded cousin to help take care of her. While living with her afflicted family member, all seems well until she realizes that there’s a catch: her cousin is able to communicate with the dead.
We Are the Flesh (EAST COAST PREMIERE)
Mexico / Dir/Screenwriter: Emiliano Rocha Minter
Two down-and-out siblings seek refuge inside a rundown building, which is already occupied by a maniacal man who claims to be immortal. The desperate brother and sister concede to the man’s every command, most of which involve S&M, cannibalism, and some good old-fashioned incest. It’s just too bad that mental instability and homicide have to get in the way of their perverted goal of collective euphoria.
Screening with short film Mother of God
Dir: Gigi Saul Guerrero
A woman (Tristan Risk, AMERICAN MARY) wakes up to find herself bound to an altar and greeted by an elderly Mexican couple with a nightmarish plan for her.
Child Eater (WORLD PREMIERE)
USA/Iceland / Dir/Screenwriter: Erlingur Thoroddsen
Babysitting can be a real nightmare, especially for Helen who’s stuck looking after Lucas, a frightened boy who says he hears noises coming from his bedroom closet. Shortly after he makes those claims Lucas disappears, possibly at the hands of an infamous supernatural serial killer who, as legend has it, eats children’s eyes in order to keep his vision. Helen’s only option? Enter the dark, creepy woods where the mythical “Child Eater” lives to try to save Lucas. And its reign of terror will begin at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
Screening with short film Gryla
Dir: Tomas Heidar Johannesson
An unlucky man thinks the ass-whooping he’s about to receive from a hulking debt collector is going to be painful, but that’s nothing compared to the mythological creature at the end of the road.
Beyond the Gates (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Jackson Stewart
After reuniting to sell off their missing father’s video store, two estranged brothers (Chase Williamson, Graham Skipper) discover the store’s darkest product: an old VHS board game that might hold secrets about their dad’s disappearance. Unfortunately, the game is also ready to subject them to unimaginable and brutal supernatural terrors. Wearing its proud ’80s influences like badges of honor, first-time director Jackson Stewart’s BEYOND THE GATES impressively captures that kitschy decade’s horror eccentricities and manic energy. The result is one hell of a vibrant and gruesome roller-coaster ride. Beyond The Gates is the winner of the LA Film Festival Nightfall Jury Prize.
Broken (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
United Kingdom / Dir: Shaun Robert Smith
Haunted by a nightmarish childhood and multiple past demons, Evie (Morjana Alaoui, MARTYRS) looks to make a major life change by becoming a live-in caretaker for a former rock star turned quadriplegic invalid. As her patient’s demands and attitude continually get harsher and his friends grow increasingly more disrespectful by the day, Evie’s already-fractured sanity is pushed to its horrific breaking point. Anchored by a harrowing performance from Alaoui, British director Shaun Robert Smith’s BROKEN toes the line between psychological dread and explosive horror right up to its you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it ending.
Let Her Out (US PREMIERE)
Canada / Dir: Cody Calahan
Helen has had a tough life, and it all started when her prostitute mother tried to kill her in the womb 23 years ago. Now to make rough matters even worse, Helen suffers a brutal head injury that rattles something loose inside of her, something that’s determined to distort Helen’s reality while gradually making its way out of her—literally. Produced by Black Fawn Films, the on-the-rise Canadian team behind last year’s now-infamous gross-out flick BITE, this visually lavish creepshow finds its own clever and revolting ways to push the gore envelope, all while telling an impressively character-rooted story.
Screening with short film Pigskin
Dir: Jake Hammond
Prepping for a date with the high school football team’s quarterback should be exciting for cheerleader Laurie. But her physical insecurities have other, much more gruesome plans.
Fury of the Demon (US PREMIERE)
France / Dir: Fabien Delage
There’s a reason why so few people have seen iconic French director Georges Melies’ film LA RAGE DU DEMON: whenever it’s shown to an audience, the crowd inexplicably erupts into a frenzy of violence, mass hysteria and random death. One theory is that the world’s most dangerous silent film was actually made by an occult-loving one-time murder suspect Victor Sicarius; the other theories, however, are too bizarre to accept. In search of the truth behind LA RAGE DU DEMON, this wide-ranging documentary features accounts and opinions from historians, journalists and filmmakers like Alex Aja (HIGH TENSION) and Christophe Gans (SILENT HILL). Does a definitive answer await you, or will you, too, fall victim to LA RAGE DU DEMON’s powers?
Screening with short film The Monster
Dir: Bob Pipe
Looking to resurrect his screen career, a classic horror movie monster signs up to star in a modern slasher film. But once he falls in love with his beautiful co-star, the production is doomed.
The Master Cleanse (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Bobby Miller
All Paul (Johnny Galecki, THE BIG BANG THEORY) needs is a little away time to figure his life out, so he signs up for a spiritual retreat overseen by an oddball named Ken Roberts (Oliver Platt). Hoping to get over a recent heartbreak, Paul goes along with Ken’s strange routines, not the least insane of which have to do with a small army of cute yet destructive little monsters that would make those GREMLINS creatures blush. Going for black comedy with tinges of creature-feature playfulness, writer-director Bobby Miller makes his feature debut with this delightfully weird look at how people’s inner demons can get the best of them. Aided by a strong supporting cast, including Anna Friel (PUSHING DAISIES) and the great Angelica Huston, THE MASTER CLEANSE blurs the line between hilarity and repulsion with sharp precision.
Screening with short film Gwilliam
Dir: Brian Lonano
Fresh out of prison, an ex-con decides to get his rocks off in an unconventional way that would make GREMLINS’ Gizmo want to vomit.
Pet (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Carles Torrens
Dominic Monaghan (THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) plays Seth, an introverted and socially awkward animal shelter worker who randomly bumps into former schoolmate Holly (Ksenia Solo, ORPHAN BLACK), a beautiful and confident woman for whom Seth has always harbored a crush. But when his romantic advances are rejected, Seth takes matters into his own hands, kidnapping Holly and locking her up inside a cage hidden away in the shelter’s basement. If you think you already know where PET goes from there, you’re dead wrong. Once Holly is put inside those metal bars, Barcelona native Carles Torrens’ unpredictable psychological thriller upends expectations at every turn.
Screening with short film The Man Who Caught a Mermaid
Dir: Kaitlin Tinker
Obsessed with capturing a mythological mermaid, an old man suffers painful letdowns while fishing until, one day, he finally accomplishes the seemingly impossible. And then things get really bad.
Therapy (US PREMIERE)
France / Dir: Nathan Ambrosioni
Only 17 years old, France-born director Nathan Ambrosioni defies his teenage youthfulness with THERAPY, an inventive, fascinating and no-holds-barred combination of found-footage shocker and whodunit police procedural. After discovering a series of video recordings that show what appear to be brutal slayings by a masked killer, two detectives become obsessed with reviewing the footage in hopes of preventing further killings. But is there a far more sinister and elaborate plot at hand? Cutting back and forth between found-footage and traditional direction, Ambrosioni deftly balances visceral scares with mystery-box storytelling.
Trash Fire (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Richard Bates Jr.
Owen (Adrien Grenier, ENTOURAGE) and Isabelle (Angela Trimbur, THE FINAL GIRLS) are in the most toxic kind of hate-love with one another. After Isabelle finds out she’s pregnant, she demands that they take a road trip to visit Owen’s only living relatives: his grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan) and severely burned sister (AnnaLynne McCord). Unfortunately for Angela, Owen’s family’s personal demons are ready to play. Coming off of the SCOOBY-DOO-esque SUBURBAN GOTHIC, singular writer-director Richard Bates, Jr. returns to the grimness of his critically acclaimed debut, EXCISION, with this darkly funny, bleak and unflinching horror-comedy.
Without Name (US PREMIERE)
Ireland / Dir: Lorcan Finnegan
There’s something bizarre and nightmarish waiting in the woods, and its sights are set on Eric (Alan McKenna), a land surveyor who’s tasked with assessing the woodland area in question just as his marriage is about to crumble. Stressed out by his fractured home life, Eric is tragically susceptible to the woods’ powerful ability to enter the emotionally wounded man’s mind and wreak both physical and mental havoc on him. Incorporating disorienting and inventive visual tricks to bring the film’s scenic forest to life, first-time Irish director Lorcan Finnegan taps into an effective psychological dread to create a psychedelic and one-of-a-kind descent into madness.
Screening with short film The Sound of Blue Green and Red
Dir: Joshua Erkman
A married man thinks he’s found his missing wife inside a seedy roadside motel, but he’s wrong—horribly and deathly wrong.
HEAD TRIP: ALTERNATIVE SHORTS
Whether it’s through pitch-black comedy or blurred genre lines, these unpredictable and adventurous short films stretch horror’s definition into bold new directions.
NIGHTMARE FUEL: SCARY HORROR SHORTS – PRESENTED BY QUICKFRAME
With unconventional zombies, homicidal maniacs, and bloodthirsty ghosts, these short films were made with the sole intention of messing you up through pure in-your-face terror.
Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher (WORLD PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons
As if paying their ridiculous $1,400-a-month rent in Bushwick wasn’t bad enough, struggling artists Tim and Stuart can’t even enjoy the Brooklyn party scene without stumbling across mutilated bodies and a homicidal maniac’s reign of terror. The hardest fact of all to accept, though, is that the maniac is most likely one of their friends. With that whodunit set-up and their intimately authentic use of their hometown Bushwick setting, co-directors Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons turn Brooklyn into a giallo-inspired nightmare in this stylish and corpse-ridden ode to slasher movies.
The Sentinel (1977)
USA / Dir: Michael Winner
What better way to punctuate BHFF’s first year than by inviting New York City to screening the craziest Brooklyn horror movie ever made? Initially made to cash in on THE EXORCIST’s popularity, Michael Winner’s 1977 horror gem THE SENTINEL has justifiably earned serious cult-classic cred over the last three decades—it’s easy to see why. The plot, about a mentally disturbed fashion model (Cristina Raines) who moves into a Brooklyn brownstone that doubles as the Gates of Hell, is secondary to THE SENTINEL’s demented imagery, including a surreal-as-hell dinner party attended by a cat wearing a birthday hat and a controversial climax featuring dozens of real-life deformed people playing Satan’s minions. If you’ve never seen this twisted masterwork, here’s the perfect chance to catch up with one of the most insane horror flicks of the 1970s. Screening hosted by Syndicated Theater following our closing night film.
LOCALS ONLY: SHORTS BY BROOKLYN FILMMAKERS
CHAMBERS | Dirs. Cory C. Maffucci & Josh Haslup
ETA | Dir. William Nawrocki
LAST STOP CONEY ISLAND | Dir. A.K. Espada
MUTE | Dir. Kyle Greenberg
STITCHED | Dir. Heather Taylor
THE TOOTHBRUSH | Dir. David Otte
WANDERING | Dir. William Kaplowitz