Event Report: Freakshow Film Festival Showcases The Third Day

This past summer I had the pleasure of reporting on a newly formed classic horror festival operating out of central Michigan. Not in one of the major locations like Lansing or Battle Creek, mind you, but the fairly small dot in between known as Charlotte. The Freakshow Film Festival began at the historic Eaton Theater as a humble operation, but one with lots of potential. Over the following months they’ve continued to have showings of classic horror films, primarily at their second location, Windwalker Underground Gallery, just a block away from the theater. Due to work requirements, I’ve been unable to attend these showings, but it’s been reassuring knowing they’ve been able to continue.

During the crisp nights of October, the Freakshow returned to their original home at the Eaton Theater for a few Halloween themed showings. The group invited me to return for their October 29th showcase of the original classic Halloween, along with a Lansing made short film titled The Third Day. Beyond that, the group had planned an after party and Q&A session with the cast and crew of The Third Day, complete with wet bar and food. It was a full scale Halloween event, and I’d been offered the chance to host the Q&A.

Unfortunately, work interfered with my ability to watch the films in person, though my shift did end in time for me to be able to attend the party. Luckily, the short film’s director made it possible to see his work on my own time in preparation for the event.

The night of the show I arrived a little while before Halloween wrapped up, which gave me the opportunity to socialize not only with one of the actresses from the short, but also with both of the festival’s hosts. It turned out that that night was the final planned appearance of the show’s original host, Molotov the Clown, who was handing his duties off to his successor, Doctor Colonel Nutjob.

As the movie let out, I was pleased to see how much the audience had grown since my last visit. There was a healthy mix of old and new fans, even some families. Similar to my previous visit, it was a larger audience than I’d seen at some new releases this year, which is definitely a good sign for the group moving forward.

Finally, it was time for the party, which took place a short distance away at an event hall rather cheekily named The Hall. That meant it was time to put on my best car salesman smile for Q&A hosting duties. Thankfully, Doctor Colonel Nutjob provided some proper back-up with introductions and a few zingers.

The cast and crew up for questioning provided a nice range of personalities from the writer/producer/actress who was very much into horror, and her co-star who claimed to not like horror, an odd revelation from someone you recently witnessed dealing with the undead. Finally, there was the director, who’s previous work had been in the realm of documentaries, presenting this, his first fictional piece.

The story behind The Third Day is that everyone involved in its production knew each other in some form or fashion and came together to make this short for an online competition that had rules pertaining to run time, character names, and the final line of dialogue. Using those parameters, the lead actress wrote a tale about a young woman being bitten by a vampire, and the subsequent days post-bite which dealt with her transformation. The short didn’t win, and the group soon retooled the product with some new scenes and a total reedit in order to submit to a wider outlet of conventions and festivals, leading to an award at Scream Fest. Overall there were some good insights on the production, music acquisition, using Faygo as projectile blood, and even paying an actor with tea kettles. The whole crew expressed interest in maybe making a sequel or spin-off somewhere down the road. For now they’ve all returned to their fairly private lives.

Currently, Freakshow Film Festival has slowed down slightly for the holiday months. Their next event will be a special screening of the Christmas classic Silent Night, Deadly Night on December 17th, complete with presents for certain attendees. Beginning in January the group plans to return to at least two films per month with a few more special events sprinkled across the calendar. I also have it on good authority that they’re looking into premiering more independent fare and shorts. I for one would be pleased to see the Halloween party become a larger annual event.

I’ve gotta say I’m impressed with the Freakshow, and proud of how much it has grown in such a short time. In just a few months, it went from something of a local experiment to a legitimate event. If the group can continue at this pace, there’s a good chance of it becoming a focal point for Michigan-based horror fans. For anyone who wants to keep an eye on the group or attend an upcoming show, you can follow them at their Facebook page.

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Justin Passick

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