You’ve got to love October, because everyone gets into the Halloween spirit, and we welcome a glut of horror movies and Halloween-themed clothing, TV, music, decorations, food… pretty much everything.
Horror movie fans had the chance to have their bloodlust slaked during this past month, as two major macabre film festivals took place in Los Angeles: Beyond Fest and Screamfest.
The inaugural Beyond Fest (October 10-31) kicked off with a sickening slate catered to genre nerds looking for both new, never-before-seen films and repertory screenings of classics you might only find in the most primitive cult video store.
While LA routinely receives a healthy dose of genre fare from such institutions as The Cinefamily and The New Beverley, it’s pretty rare to get a festival that exclusively present us with the more subversive, grotesque and just plain gnarly cinematic offerings making the rounds today. Co-produced by the Cinematheque and a collective of big-screen enthusiasts called Amity, its slate incorporated special presentations by the likes of fanboy web operation Nerdist and Italian prog-rock band Goblin.
Beyond Fest featured a month packed with amazing horror programming, which began with a screening of Assault on Precinct 13 to celebrate the release of the new soundtrack – complete with a live performance by composer Alan Howarth. Other events included a 35mm print of The Omen with director Richard Donner in person; a screening of Pieces with live score by Umberto; the Los Angeles premiere of A Field in England and U.S. premiere of The Borderlands; a werewolf double feature with Joe Dante; live concerts with Dario Argento composers Goblin – complete with screenings of Tenebrae, Suspiria, and Deep Red; a Jorg Buttgereit double feature with the director in attendance; and a screening of Nightbreed – The Cabal Cut with Clive Barker in attendance.
Notorious German director Jörg Buttgereit joined us with his unique shockers NEKROMANTIK and SCHRAMM: INTO THE MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER. Japanese auteur Sion Sono slashes crimson across the screen in his latest masterpiece, the outrageous WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? Sneak previews included the sci fi thriller THE LAST DAYS ON MARS, starring Liev Schreiber, and the alien abduction shocker ALMOST HUMAN, fresh from Fantastic Fest. “The repertory screenings are either films that don’t get screened very often, or if it’s something you’ve seen, like ‘The Mummy,’ we’re applying a completely different spin on it by partnering with really great people,” said Christian Parkes, an Amity principal and fest co-producer. “We wanted a blend of the old and new. The repertory films bring in a certain audience, but we wanted to expose that audience to some great new titles out there that might not otherwise be screened in Los Angeles.”
Beyond Fest debuts horror, sci-fi, fantasy and what it calls badass movies from established talents worldwide, presents classic and cult films in intriguing ways and showcases the music that gives horror pics their extra tingle. Do not miss the next edition!
Cinematheque locations: The Egyptian in Hollywood and The Aero in Santa Monica.
On the other hand, the 13th edition of Screamfest run until Oct. 17 at the Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood. Screamfest, which concentrates on new independent chillers from around the world, seeks to hook up directors, writers and talent with distributors, agents and producers.
Family-owned arthouse chain Laemmle is equally pleased to host Screamfest at its two-year-old state-of-the-art venue. “It’s particularly gratifying to see how Screamfest has grown over the years, so that L.A. has a quality festival to represent this genre. And how can you not have a horror film festival just a stone’s throw from Universal?” said company president Greg Laemmle, whose relative Carl Laemmle founded the studio known for “Frankenstein,” “Dracula” and other classic frightfests.
While Screamfest will showcase scary stuff from India, Iceland and even the first-ever Israeli zombie and serial killer movies, its location this year is especially appreciated by locals. In its first venture north of the Hollywood Hills, Screamfest should go a long way toward turning the San Fernando into Death Valley.
“We want to try different areas and mix it up for fans,” said founder and director Rachel Belofsky. “We were at the Chinese for a while, at L.A. Live last year and, for our second and third years, at the Fairfax. It’s really great to bring the festival to the Valley. There are tons of horror fans here.” “Most of the horror people I know are thrilled that it’s in the Valley,” said Jace Anderson, the Studio City-based co-writer and -producer of “Schism,” which plays Oct. 12. “There’s a thriving little horror-film community here in the Valley, so we’re really excited.”
Screamfest is probably most famous for discovering Oren Peli, creator of the “Paranormal Activity” found-footage franchise. A new thing this year will be Matador Pictures choosing one of the shorts filmmakers to direct a feature.
By: Jose Luis Garcia