The busiest month of the year for horror fans started with multiple events to choose from, including the Big Bear Horro-Fi Film Festival in beautiful Big Bear Lake, California. The mountain location, with its vast forested areas, is perfect for telling campfire tales or watching horror movies. The festival itself took place in the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center with nighttime activities held on a ship, at a local nightclub, and in a restaurant, all great locations to have fun and be spooked.
The festival hosted workshops by some of the horror business’ greatest such as writer, magazine publisher, director, and producer Kerry O’Quinn; composer Harry Manfredini; and Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller. Feature films (classic and new), shorts, and medium-length films were all shown as part of the festival’s film competition and special screenings. Once the workshops and screenings stopped at night, pass-holders were treated to a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception before Friday night’s premiere of 11/11/11, which was followed by a post-premiere party at a local nightclub, where networking and mingling were enjoyed.
Saturday night’s activities, which I unfortunately had to skip, included a Haunted Booze Cruise on the ship Miss Liberty, which took the one-time sailors around Big Bear Lake with the High Country Paranormal Society’s Terry Copley and Henry Moreno as well as a psychic, tarot card, and palm reader. Also part of Saturday’s festivities was the Sleepaway Camp Costume Party, where the film was screened with Felissa Rose present and a costume contest was held with one of the prizes being an invitation to a very special Sunday brunch.
The main event, however, was the film festival so let’s focus on the movies. As very many films were screened, including Skew (review here) and Absentia (review here), here are the highlights as seen by yours truly (look for full reviews on most of these – and more – soon):
The Key to Annabel Lee by Staci Layne Wilson
A beautiful and entrancing short film. The reading of Poe’s piece by Ogre gives the short its personality and tone. The acting fits perfectly with the dreamy setting and cinematography.
I Am Nancy by Arlene Marechal
A must see for fans of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series and of Heather Langenkamp. In this documentary Heather explores the strengths and weaknesses of her character of Nancy through her own experiences and fans’ experiences with the series. It is at times funny, at times quite serious, and oftentimes very touching. What really makes the documentary about Nancy, and Heather, feel so real and personal is that Heather understands the fact that Nancy is secondary to Freddy to most people, and she has no problem poking fun at herself.
An Evening with My Comatose Mother by Jonathan Martin
At a little over half an hour long, this “short” tells a story that could very well have been turned into a full-length movie, but at the same time it works perfectly at its current runtime. This film is spooky in all the right ways, building tension and not relying on jump scares. The clown doll gave me the creeps the second it appeared on screen. The story, acting, décor, music, and effects are all more than good; they feel like they belong in a much bigger, more expensive movie, making this short entertaining and fun to watch.
ColdWater by Dave Parker
Andre has been asked by a friend to housesit at another friend’s home. The house that needs sitting is amazing and creepy, a character on its own; and at nightfall the house becomes downright scary. Statues seem to move, figures are seen in doorways… The tension, scares, and ambiance in general worked great for me and made this a scary experience (for most of the movie, that is; for more details see my full review, coming soon).
My own preferences out of the way, let’s not forget that the festival is also a film competition so without further ado here are the winners:
Outstanding International Feature – Die Farbe
Outstanding International Short – Betania
Outstanding Horror Feature – Beware
Outstanding Sci-Fi Feature – The Black Box
Outstanding Short – An Evening with My Comatose Mother
Outstanding Director – Huan Vu for Die Farbe
Outstanding Animation – Escape from Hellview
Outstanding Special Effects Make-Up – An Evening with My Comatose Mother
Outstanding Cast – Die Farbe
Outstanding Student Film – Decay
Outstanding Sound Editing – Die Farbe
For those curious about Die Farbe, here’s the synopsis: Arkham, 1975: Jonathan Davis’ father has disappeared. His tracks lead to Germany, to the Swabian-Franconian Forest where he was stationed after the Second World War. Jonathan sets out to find him and bring him home, but deep in the woods he discovers a dark mystery from the past. Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short novel “The Colour Out of Space”.
Our thanks to the organizers of the 2011 Big Bear Horro-Fi Film Festival. We look forward to seeing you again next year!
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