Event Report: Shriekfest 2017 Wrap-up

Staci Layne Wilson from Psycho Therapy on the Shriekfest Red Carpet

Don’t be fooled by her petite frame, curly blonde locks and pretty face… Denise Gossett is a force to be reckoned with! She’s a creator in the ultimate sense of the word as a mom, but she’s also brought countless characters to life as an always-working actress and she’s the lifeforce behind the long-running independent horror/sci-fi and film festival and screenplay competition, Shriekfest. Shriekfest just wrapped its 17th year of scaring souls in Hollywood, CA (October 5-8). And it will be in Orlando, FL (October 21) next for a fun-filled day and night of features and shorts.

I first discovered Shriekfest as a fan, then shortly after that I starting writing and reporting professionally for various horror websites and got the opportunity to meet and interview many fantastic filmmakers. The only code I hadn’t cracked was coming in from the ultimate angle as a participant, but this year Psycho Therapy, a short thriller I wrote and directed, actually played on the big screen amongst the best of the best! Shriekfest is not an easy one to get into – regardless of past history, it’s all about the quality of the flick and whether the judges deem it worthy.

Opening party vibes with the Michael Myers themed DJ

It was an exciting honor to be an Official Selection, to say the least. And it did feel a little different from the fan or the journalist POV… in a good way! Though, it’s all good at Shriekfest: No matter what my role, I’ve always felt a sense of inclusiveness and camaraderie in the shared love of the genre and indie “can do” spirit.

Denise really knows how to throw a party – and that’s how she kicks off the fest. The gala and red carpet, where Girls & Corpses did interviews and snapped pics, was in the heart of Hollywood at Bar Sinister, a ghoulishly goth club which is duplex to Boardner’s (famous for being one of the last places Elizabeth Short was seen before being bisected and becoming The Black Dahlia).

I arrived with Psycho Therapy star and producer Brooke Lewis and producer Brice Campbell. We soon connected with the lovely and talented Barbara Magnolfi of Suspiria fame, and enjoyed blood-red cocktails while the Michael Myers masked DJ spun spooky vinyl. I got a chance to chat with my Dread Central cohorts Jon Condit and Sean Decker. Sean recently helped produce The Basement, which had its big world premiere at Shriekfest. We were there on the set of The Basement a few weeks back, so it was awesome to see how it all came together. I really enjoyed the movie! (And I’m not just saying that – when I don’t care for a friend’s movie I don’t say much of anything…)

Brooke Lewis from Psycho Therapy on the Shriekfest Red Carpet

It was a blast to see Psycho Therapy on the silver screen at the Old Hollywood stronghold, The Raleigh, on Sunday. The audience – filled with fellow filmmakers, friends, fans, and folks I don’t know – really reacted to the short in the best possible way (gasps and giggles in all the right places!). It was such an honor to be included with so many killer shorts. I liked them all, but some of the standouts for me were: Nightlight, a cute “monster under the bed” story; Echoes of the Passed, a unique and covertly humorous take on the haunted house trope; and Miscast, a bewitching Halloween comedy.

Last night, the awards were bestowed upon the winners, and here’s how it all shook out:

Gnaw directed by Haylar Garcia took the Grand Jury prize for Best Horror Feature Film, Curvature directed by Diego Hallivis took the Best SciFi Feature Film Award, and The Glass Coffin directed by Haritz Zubillaga took the Best Thriller Feature Film Award.

Burn directed by Judson Vaughan took the Best Horror Short Film Award, The Things They Left Behind directed by Sara Werner won the Best SciFi Short Film Award and Classified directed by Kevin McMahon and Andy Dylan took the best Super Short Film Award.

The winner of the Best Horror Feature Screenplay went to The Heebies written by Andrea D. McGee, the winner of the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Feature Screenplay was Remote written by Marc Roussel, and the winner of the Best Thriller Feature Screenplay went to Rational Panic written by Robert Rhine.

Denise Gossett in the Girls and Corpses hearse

Richard and Anastasia Elfman as attendees on the Shriekfest Red Carpet

Cayleb Long and Jackson Davis from The Basement on the Shriekfest Red Carpet

Opening party vibes with Staci Layne Wilson, Barbara Magnolfi, and Brooke Lewis

The happy winners behind the Best Horror Feature, Gnaw

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Staci Layne Wilson

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