Brooklyn Horror Film Festival: inaugural lineup / tickets
The inaugural Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, which we mentioned back when we premiered the excellent Darkness video, has announced their full lineup of titles. Going down on October 14-18 at a variety of venues in Brooklyn, the fest has 12 features and 25 shorts in competition, as well as a few centerpiece films, and a selection of Brooklyn-centric films (like the 1977 classic The Sentinel). BHFF aims to highlight a number of lesser known and foreign filmmakers who might be new to audiences, so it’s a good chance to go buy a ticket, sit down, and see what you get.
The highlighted films include the festival opener, Dearest Sister, a film from the Lao filmmaker Mattie Do (who has the distinction of being not only the first horror filmmaker in the country’s history, but the first female filmmaker in the country’s history). The mid-fest centerpiece film is Mexico’s We Are the Flesh, which seems legitimately disgusting (I’ll leave it to you all to read the descriptions of the films below). And things close out with the Icelandic film Child Eater, which, you know, is called Child Eater.
Tickets for the fest are available now for individual movies (festival badges are sold out). Check out the full program, and the trailer for Dearest Sister, below.
Dearest Sister (EAST COAST PREMIERE)
Laos/France/Estonia / Dir: Mattie Do
Hailing from the cinematically neglected country of Laos, DEAREST SISTER is a classically minded supernatural horror-drama about Nok, a young poor woman who moves in with her recently blinded cousin to help take care of her. While living with her afflicted family member, all seems well until she realizes that there’s a catch: her cousin is able to communicate with the dead.
We Are the Flesh (EAST COAST PREMIERE)
Mexico / Dir/Screenwriter: Emiliano Rocha Minter
Two down-and-out siblings seek refuge inside a rundown building, which is already occupied by a maniacal man who claims to be immortal. The desperate brother and sister concede to the man’s every command, most of which involve S&M, cannibalism, and some good old-fashioned incest. It’s just too bad that mental instability and homicide have to get in the way of their perverted goal of collective euphoria.
Screening with short film Mother of God
Dir: Gigi Saul Guerrero
A woman (Tristan Risk, AMERICAN MARY) wakes up to find herself bound to an altar and greeted by an elderly Mexican couple with a nightmarish plan for her.
Child Eater (WORLD PREMIERE)
USA/Iceland / Dir/Screenwriter: Erlingur Thoroddsen
Babysitting can be a real nightmare, especially for Helen who’s stuck looking after Lucas, a frightened boy who says he hears noises coming from his bedroom closet. Shortly after he makes those claims Lucas disappears, possibly at the hands of an infamous supernatural serial killer who, as legend has it, eats children’s eyes in order to keep his vision. Helen’s only option? Enter the dark, creepy woods where the mythical “Child Eater” lives to try to save Lucas. And its reign of terror will begin at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
Screening with short film Gryla
Dir: Tomas Heidar Johannesson
An unlucky man thinks the ass-whooping he’s about to receive from a hulking debt collector is going to be painful, but that’s nothing compared to the mythological creature at the end of the road.
Beyond The Gates (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Jackson Stewart
After reuniting to sell off their missing father’s video store, two estranged brothers (Chase Williamson, Graham Skipper) discover the store’s darkest product: an old VHS board game that might hold secrets about their dad’s disappearance. Unfortunately, the game is also ready to subject them to unimaginable and brutal supernatural terrors. Wearing its proud ’80s influences like badges of honor, first-time director Jackson Stewart’s BEYOND THE GATES impressively captures that kitschy decade’s horror eccentricities and manic energy. The result is one hell of a vibrant and gruesome roller-coaster ride. Beyond The Gates is the winner of the LA Film Festival Nightfall Jury Prize.
Broken (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
United Kingdom / Dir: Shaun Robert Smith
Haunted by a nightmarish childhood and multiple past demons, Evie (Morjana Alaoui, MARTYRS) looks to make a major life change by becoming a live-in caretaker for a former rock star turned quadriplegic invalid. As her patient’s demands and attitude continually get harsher and his friends grow increasingly more disrespectful by the day, Evie’s already-fractured sanity is pushed to its horrific breaking point. Anchored by a harrowing performance from Alaoui, British director Shaun Robert Smith’s BROKEN toes the line between psychological dread and explosive horror right up to its you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it ending.
Let Her Out (US PREMIERE)
Canada / Dir: Cody Calahan
Helen has had a tough life, and it all started when her prostitute mother tried to kill her in the womb 23 years ago. Now to make rough matters even worse, Helen suffers a brutal head injury that rattles something loose inside of her, something that’s determined to distort Helen’s reality while gradually making its way out of her—literally. Produced by Black Fawn Films, the on-the-rise Canadian team behind last year’s now-infamous gross-out flick BITE, this visually lavish creepshow finds its own clever and revolting ways to push the gore envelope, all while telling an impressively character-rooted story.
Screening with short film Pigskin
Dir: Jake Hammond
Prepping for a date with the high school football team’s quarterback should be exciting for cheerleader Laurie. But her physical insecurities have other, much more gruesome plans.
Fury Of The Demon (US PREMIERE)
France / Dir: Fabien Delage
There’s a reason why so few people have seen iconic French director Georges Melies’ film LA RAGE DU DEMON: whenever it’s shown to an audience, the crowd inexplicably erupts into a frenzy of violence, mass hysteria and random death. One theory is that the world’s most dangerous silent film was actually made by an occult-loving one-time murder suspect Victor Sicarius; the other theories, however, are too bizarre to accept. In search of the truth behind LA RAGE DU DEMON, this wide-ranging documentary features accounts and opinions from historians, journalists and filmmakers like Alex Aja (HIGH TENSION) and Christophe Gans (SILENT HILL). Does a definitive answer await you, or will you, too, fall victim to LA RAGE DU DEMON’s powers?
Screening with short film The Monster
Dir: Bob Pipe
Looking to resurrect his screen career, a classic horror movie monster signs up to star in a modern slasher film. But once he falls in love with his beautiful co-star, the production is doomed.
The Master Cleanse (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Bobby Miller
All Paul (Johnny Galecki, THE BIG BANG THEORY) needs is a little away time to figure his life out, so he signs up for a spiritual retreat overseen by an oddball named Ken Roberts (Oliver Platt). Hoping to get over a recent heartbreak, Paul goes along with Ken’s strange routines, not the least insane of which have to do with a small army of cute yet destructive little monsters that would make those GREMLINS creatures blush. Going for black comedy with tinges of creature-feature playfulness, writer-director Bobby Miller makes his feature debut with this delightfully weird look at how people’s inner demons can get the best of them. Aided by a strong supporting cast, including Anna Friel (PUSHING DAISIES) and the great Angelica Huston, THE MASTER CLEANSE blurs the line between hilarity and repulsion with sharp precision.
Screening with short film Gwilliam
Dir: Brian Lonano
Fresh out of prison, an ex-con decides to get his rocks off in an unconventional way that would make GREMLINS’ Gizmo want to vomit.
Pet (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Carles Torrens
Dominic Monaghan (THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) plays Seth, an introverted and socially awkward animal shelter worker who randomly bumps into former schoolmate Holly (Ksenia Solo, ORPHAN BLACK), a beautiful and confident woman for whom Seth has always harbored a crush. But when his romantic advances are rejected, Seth takes matters into his own hands, kidnapping Holly and locking her up inside a cage hidden away in the shelter’s basement. If you think you already know where PET goes from there, you’re dead wrong. Once Holly is put inside those metal bars, Barcelona native Carles Torrens’ unpredictable psychological thriller upends expectations at every turn.
Screening with short film The Man Who Caught a Mermaid
Dir: Kaitlin Tinker
Obsessed with capturing a mythological mermaid, an old man suffers painful letdowns while fishing until, one day, he finally accomplishes the seemingly impossible. And then things get really bad.
Therapy (US PREMIERE)
France / Dir: Nathan Ambrosioni
Only 17 years old, France-born director Nathan Ambrosioni defies his teenage youthfulness with THERAPY, an inventive, fascinating and no-holds-barred combination of found-footage shocker and whodunit police procedural. After discovering a series of video recordings that show what appear to be brutal slayings by a masked killer, two detectives become obsessed with reviewing the footage in hopes of preventing further killings. But is there a far more sinister and elaborate plot at hand? Cutting back and forth between found-footage and traditional direction, Ambrosioni deftly balances visceral scares with mystery-box storytelling.
Trash Fire (NY PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Richard Bates Jr.
Owen (Adrien Grenier, ENTOURAGE) and Isabelle (Angela Trimbur, THE FINAL GIRLS) are in the most toxic kind of hate-love with one another. After Isabelle finds out she’s pregnant, she demands that they take a road trip to visit Owen’s only living relatives: his grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan) and severely burned sister (AnnaLynne McCord). Unfortunately for Angela, Owen’s family’s personal demons are ready to play. Coming off of the SCOOBY-DOO-esque SUBURBAN GOTHIC, singular writer-director Richard Bates, Jr. returns to the grimness of his critically acclaimed debut, EXCISION, with this darkly funny, bleak and unflinching horror-comedy.
Without Name (US PREMIERE)
Ireland / Dir: Lorcan Finnegan
There’s something bizarre and nightmarish waiting in the woods, and its sights are set on Eric (Alan McKenna), a land surveyor who’s tasked with assessing the woodland area in question just as his marriage is about to crumble. Stressed out by his fractured home life, Eric is tragically susceptible to the woods’ powerful ability to enter the emotionally wounded man’s mind and wreak both physical and mental havoc on him. Incorporating disorienting and inventive visual tricks to bring the film’s scenic forest to life, first-time Irish director Lorcan Finnegan taps into an effective psychological dread to create a psychedelic and one-of-a-kind descent into madness.
Screening with short film The Sound of Blue Green and Red
Dir: Joshua Erkman
A married man thinks he’s found his missing wife inside a seedy roadside motel, but he’s wrong—horribly and deathly wrong.
HEAD TRIP: ALTERNATIVE SHORTS
Whether it’s through pitch-black comedy or blurred genre lines, these unpredictable and adventurous short films stretch horror’s definition into bold new directions.
DISCO INFERNO Dir. Alice Whittington
A sultry cat burglar attempts to rescue a beautiful damsel-in-distress in this surrealistic explosion of old cinema influences and occult imagery that gloriously epitomizes “WTF!”
EVELESS Dir. Antonio Padovan
Trapped in a dystopian nightmare, two men desperately try to prove that the opposite sex isn’t just a myth.
THE PUSH Dir. William Joines
A working woman in New York City battles psychological torment after witnessing a violent incident in an NYC Subway station.
EMPTY BED Dir. Brandt Shandera
a Late at night, a mother’s worst fears come to life after she notices that her son isn’t in his bed.
VENEFICA Dir. by Maria Wilson
Hoping to prove herself worthy of becoming a legitimate witch, a young woman (played by the film’s director, Maria Wilson) prepares the ultimate sacrifice.
SHORTY Dir. Anna Zlokovic
Not human but also not quite alien, Laura (Mary Loveless, EXCESS FLESH) satiates her hunger for acceptance by preying on unsuspecting victims until she meets an unlikely match.
NIGHTMARE FUEL: SCARY HORROR SHORTS
PRESENTED BY QUICKFRAME
With unconventional zombies, homicidal maniacs and bloodthirsty ghosts, these short films were made with the sole intention of messing you up through pure in-your-face terror.
DAWN OF THE DEAF Dir. Rob Savage
An inexplicable sound turns everyone who everyone who hears it into a flesh-eating zombie; meaning, it’s up the city’s deaf residents to survive.
THE PUPPET MAN Dir. Jacqueline Castel
Powered by an original score composed by John Carpenter (who also co-stars), this stylized, neon-drenched fever dream pits a young woman and her friends against an inhuman killer.
TILLY Dir. Robert Kotecki
A little girl fears the monster she thinks lives in her bedroom. If only she’d pay closer attention to the real threat in her family’s house.
PLAYBACK Dir. Nathan Crooker
Shot in an extended single take, this lean and mean shocker follows a young man who watches a homicide on his TV and quickly realizes he’s seen the murder’s location before.
THE STICKS Dirs. Russell Davison and Jamie Delaney
On a bright and scenic day, two friends take a leisurely stroll into the woods. They should have just minded their own business.
THE HOME Dir. L. Gustavo Cooper
Home invasion gets nasty as a woman (Alex Essoe, STARRY EYES) who’s just given birth is forced to fend off homicidal invaders inside a home for unwed mothers.
THE STYLIST Dir. Jill Gevargizian
Before closing her beauty salon for the night, introverted hairstylist Claire (Najarra Townsend, CONTRACTED) has something special in mind for the evening’s final client.
Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher (WORLD PREMIERE)
USA / Dir: Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons
As if paying their ridiculous $1,400-a-month rent in Bushwick wasn’t bad enough, struggling artists Tim and Stuart can’t even enjoy the Brooklyn party scene without stumbling across mutilated bodies and a homicidal maniac’s reign of terror. The hardest fact of all to accept, though, is that the maniac is most likely one of their friends. With that whodunit set-up and their intimately authentic use of their hometown Bushwick setting, co-directors Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons turn Brooklyn into a giallo-inspired nightmare in this stylish and corpse-ridden ode to slasher movies.
The Sentinel (1977)
USA / Dir: Michael Winner
What better way to punctuate BHFF’s first year than by inviting New York City to screening the craziest Brooklyn horror movie ever made? Initially made to cash in on THE EXORCIST’s popularity, Michael Winner’s 1977 horror gem THE SENTINEL has justifiably earned serious cult-classic cred over the last three decades—it’s easy to see why. The plot, about a mentally disturbed fashion model (Cristina Raines) who moves into a Brooklyn brownstone that doubles as the Gates of Hell, is secondary to THE SENTINEL’s demented imagery, including a surreal-as-hell dinner party attended by a cat wearing a birthday hat and a controversial climax featuring dozens of real-life deformed people playing Satan’s minions. If you’ve never seen this twisted masterwork, here’s the perfect chance to catch up with one of the most insane horror flicks of the 1970s. Screening hosted by Syndicated Theater following our closing night film.
LOCALS ONLY: SHORTS BY BROOKLYN FILMMAKERS
CHAMBERS | Dirs. Cory C. Maffucci & Josh Haslup
ETA | Dir. William Nawrocki
LAST STOP CONEY ISLAND | Dir. A.K. Espada
MUTE | Dir. Kyle Greenberg
STITCHED | Dir. Heather Taylor
THE TOOTHBRUSH | Dir. David Otte
WANDERING | Dir. William Kaplowitz