The New York Horror Film Festival is quickly becoming a powerhouse on an East Coast in dire need of more creepy happenings. Every year the show’s organizers strive to deliver a selection of films that is all at once diverse, entertaining and evil as all hell. Before each feature film the audience is treated to a set of short films as well. Some are quick little thoughts of bloody carnage while in others you can see a full length brother waiting to be born. Since the Halloween season is jam packed with events, regrettably, I was only able to attend the second night’s festivities. Here’s what was on tap…
Foet directed by Ian Fischer: Elitism is taken to a new level as a bored, rich woman discovers you can go to extreme lengths to accessorize. Ever wonder what happens to all those aborted children all over the world? Here’s one answer!
Halfway directed by Karl Holt: From the man who brought us last year’s hit Eddie Loves You, in which an unloved plush toy goes berserk on his former owner, we now get a tale in a darker color. A man awakens in a featureless room with a large burlap sack in front of him, which soon begins to writhe and moan. Do you open the bag to help what could be a fellow captive or instantly do your best to escape your confines? The answer is the most unsettling selection of the evening.
Criticized directed by Richard Gale: It’s every reviewer’s nightmare. A newspaper movie reviewer is kidnapped by a psychotic director who seeks retribution after a career crippling review. All at once funny and horrifying, this short had the audience squirming in their seats.
Far Out directed by Phil Mucci (review here): A quick little blast from the past. A wild, drug feuled ’60s party offers far more than free love to its guests. Again, we have a selection that succeeds in spraying blood across its landscape while making those of us messed up enough to get the joke laughing with evil glee. That has always been the best combination for me.
Hostel – Director’s Cut: This was the standard Hostel film we’ve all seen, but with a brand new ending tacked on. You’ll remember Paxton is in the clear after the Asian girl hurls herself in front of an oncoming train. He settles into his seat and as he begins to calm down, he hears the voice of the creepy, hands on “doctor” he’d seen dissecting his friend only hours prior. The doctor greets a young girl on the platform who is clearly a relative and escorts her to the bathroom while he enters the men’s room himself. As in the original, Paxton follows but this time does not attack.
The man exits the stall and finds a scalpel sitting on a nearby sink, a simple glimpse of what could have been. As you come to think Paxton just doesn’t have it in him to kill again, so up close and personally, we notice the man’s little relative is not coming out of the lady’s room. Finally entering to check on her himself, he exits seconds later frantic, screaming her name. We pan across the platform as a train is pulling out of the station. Seated at a window is Paxton, the young girl held tightly in his arms, his hand clasped over her mouth as she struggles to get free. We see a look of anguish on Paxton’s face as the train rumbles out of vision and one of complete terror on the face of the young girl. The hunted has become the hunter, but in a far less appealing and darker turn than we’ve come to know.
Eli Roth was on hand to discuss this alternate ending, explaining the movie company gave him free rein to use whichever ending he desired. Ultimately, they chose one that would smack more of revenge on the evil characters rather than a sort of eye for an eye and ultimately unsympathetic twist. Roth took questions from the audience, launching him into classic Eli “tales of the ridiculous” mode. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Eli do a Q&A solo, you are missing out!
Ever the king of story divergence, Eli treated us to tales entitled “the little girl on the set whose mom was smoking hot” and “dinner with crack heads”, my all-time favorite. Roth was kind enough to take the fans outside and pose for countless pictures, signing anything they’d brought with them. For anyone who likes to badmouth the guy, you need to understand the lengths he goes to to meet with horror fans and talk to them like a real, normal guy. The same can’t be said of a lot of Hollywood people.
The night was highly enjoyable, and the staff of the New York Horror Film Festival handled the large crowd with ease. Dread Central’s usual contribution of pins, tattoos, comics and posters were on hand to make sure every guest came away with a nice bag of free swag. If you missed the show this year, you can now commence kicking yourself in the ass and mark your calendar for next October. The New York Horror Film Festival will return, bigger and better than ever.
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