As the doors closed at the Erie Playhouse late Sunday night, it marked the end of the Eerie Horror Film Festival’s fourth and most successful year to date. Groups of friends, old and new, gathered in huddles exchanging emotional goodbyes and promises of next year’s event. For those of us who were involved in the inner workings of the fest, the locking of the doors behind us was bittersweet. We had invested so much of ourselves into the five-day event, and now it was over. There we stood, torn between farewells and sleep.
From the moment the event kicked off on Wednesday night with Adrienne Barbeau taking the stage to introduce John Carpenter’s The Fog, we knew the week was going to be a success. Attendance was as high as the crowd’s spirits, and things ran as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for. And smooth is a great word to describe the rest of the weekend. The EHFF board, staff members, and crew of volunteers were all at the top of their game from open to close, making this year’s events spectacularly professional and entertaining for all who attended.
Alongside the fantastic line-up of indie horror films from all over the globe being played at the Erie Playhouse throughout the entire happening, there was also The Carnival of Carnage Expo held across the street in the magnificent ballroom of the Avalon Hotel. Here is where attendees had the opportunity to spend time with some of the top names in the genre. The Expo also gave folks the chance to purchase ghoulish goodies from a variety of vendors.
Some of the show’s highlights included, of course, nearly non-stop, superb cinema and daily arrivals of special celebrity guests, and with an emcee like Joe Pilato … how can you not have a good time?
On opening night Eerie Horror Film Festival President Gregory Ropp and Adrienne Barbeau met with the Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, to discuss Ms. Barbeau’s career and the EHFF’s accomplishments and future at great lengths. Later that night Ms. Barbeau welcomed the guests to the Fest, and the festivities began.
Thursday brought James “Jimmy” Duval to the stage for a Q&A session with Sean Clark to talk about their new film The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond. Sean showed us the rough cut of a new Horror’s Hallowed Grounds and the trailer to his new film.
Jerry Only from the Misfits paid a visit to his fans at the Erie Playhouse on Thursday evening just before the Misfits’ performance at The Cell Block. He wanted to show his appreciation to those fans who weren’t able to attend the over 21 show. I for one know a lot of grateful fans who otherwise would have missed the chance to meet their idol were it not for his thoughtful stop.
Friday graced us with the beautiful Dee Wallace-Stone, who introduced Cujo and then followed the film up with an entertaining Q&A about the film and her career.
Friday also marked a major first for the EHFF since they moved the event to the Erie Playhouse last year. Local filmmakers Jason McCann’s The Beast in Me and Jason Hull’s Chasing Darkness played to a sold-out Playhouse. The EHFF hasn’t seen a sold-out show since Swamp Zombies played at the Roadhouse Theater in 2005. It was a very successful werewolves and vampires creature double feature.
The Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening was a total blast for the audience. Not only did the celebrity guests who were already there present the winners with their awards, but Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick of the 2006 Omen remake made a special appearance to hand out the award for Best Actor to Adam Pitman for his role in Paper Dolls, which also took the awards for Best Feature and Best Director (Adam Pitman and Brian Blair).
Tom Savini was the recipient of a special award from the City of Erie, and the Mayor recognizing his multiple achievements in special effects and film.
Jason McCann and Jason Hull were both inducted into the Eerie Horror Filmmakers Hall of Fame that was created in support of local and regional filmmakers.
David Bostaph and (yours truly) Melissa Bostaph were given the honor of receiving the Annual Evil Bunny Award (you wouldn’t believe me if I told you) for their/our outstanding management of the Festival.
The full awards list is as follows:
Best Feature Screenplay:
Shed by Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kolsch
Best Short Screenplay:
Fruit Farm by Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kolsch
Best Game Concept:
Crayon Drawn Cthulhu
Best Character Development, Environment Design and Game in Development:
Lara Belmont — Lump
Adam Pitman — Paper Dolls
Best Cinematography on Film (Sponsored by Fuji Film):
Gracie: Diary of a Coma Patient
Adam Pitman & David Blair: Paper Dolls
Happy Birthday to You (Y Que Cumplas Mucho Mas)
BEST OF THE FEST:
2007 Eerie Filmmakers Hall of Fame Inductees:
Jason McCann (Director — The Beast in Me)
Jason Hull (Director — Chasing Darkness)
After the Awards on Saturday the audience was treated not only to a viewing of the exceptionally entertaining vampire comedy Netherbeast Incorporated, but they also had the privilege of seeing Jason Mewes in full “Jay” glory even without Silent Bob. Jason and Netherbeast Inc. came close to having the Festival sell out the seats in the Playhouse for a second time this year.
Sunday may have been the last day of the fest, but it certainly wasn’t the least. Last minute Expo-goers got the chance to visit with the celebrities before they left for home, and the vendors were available for most of the day. Across the way at the Playhouse audiences were treated to films from local filmmakers such as Monster Mark Kosobucki’s Bloody Inheritance and Mark Steensland’s Dead @ 17.
The show went out with a bang when the guys from Random Creatureface Films did a Q&A following an encore showing of their film Summer School. The film had shown at last year’s Festival and was liked so much that Festival President Greg Ropp had asked them to come back this year for a special showing. Ben Trandem, Lance Hendrickson (no, not that one … this one is much better looking), and Mike Nelson took the stage to answer questions from the crowd and later signed DVD’s and other Summer School “supplies”.
I personally had the opportunity to speak with several of the celebrities throughout the event about their feelings regarding the Eerie Horror Film Festival, and the reviews were all great ones. Joe “Captain Rhodes” Pilato, who had returned for the second year in a row, said that he loved the town and wished he could stay longer. Michael Berryman, who had been to a previous EHFF event, was pleasantly surprised at how much the Festival had changed and grown in such a short time since his last visit. Dee Wallace-Stone couldn’t get over how wonderful everyone was, and Jason Mewes, along with the Ronalds Brothers, the Netherbeast Incorporated crew, ALL want to return for next year’s Eerie Horror Film Festival.
All in all I’d say this year’s Festival was a screaming success with record numbers of attendees, fantastic guests, superb films and an all-around great time had by all. The Festival’s President Gregory Ropp would like to send out his sincerest gratitude to all of this year’s guests, celebrities, and visitors alike who made this the Festival’s grandest year ever. Greg would also like to express his deepest appreciation to his Board members, parents, staff, and all the volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to making the Festival run so efficiently and flawlessly that he actually got to breathe this year.
Plans for 2008’s Eerie Horror Film Festival and Carnival of Carnage Expo are already under way, so you’d be wise to keep an evil eye on this event. It gets bigger and better ever year, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon! See you next year!
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