For ten nights starting tonight (October 8, 2015) the Spooky Movie International Film Festival will bring audiences at the American FilmInstitute's AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Springs, Maryland a veritable smorgasbord of the best in new horror cinema from around the world. Fans of spooky movies will be able to choose from more than 40 short films and feature films on this year’s slate.
The Spooky Movie festival materialized onto the greater DC area horror scene way back in the bygone days of 2006. The goal of the event was giving fans in the D.C. area an enjoyable look at the indie genre scene as well as giving indie filmmakers a chance to showcase their works in front of both audiences and festival guests who worked in the industry. The festival itself is the child of DC area filmmaker and horror fan Curtis Prather, but it in part sprang from the long running Spooky Movie Television show hosted by Dr. Sarcofiguy (the multi-talented John Dimes) and produced by Prather.
The first Spooky Movie festival ran a relatively short three days while featuring such films as Teddy Scares, Pervert!, Two Front Teeth, and the Korean frightener The Red Shoes. On top of having some of the filmmakers involved with the films in attendance for Q&As and meet and greets, there were additional draws for both the local and international crowds with appearances by Dr. Sarcofiguy and legendary DC area TV and internet horror host Count Gore de Vol (Dick Dyszel).
Over the last nine years the festival has grown in leaps and bounds, attracting talented filmmakers and creators from all over the United States and around the world. A short list of films that have gone on to more notoriety and fame that have been a part of the festival’s annual lineups includes titles like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Willow Creek, Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman, Eat Your Heart Out, 99 Pieces, The Slaughter, Electrical Skeletal, The Dollhouse, No Through Road, Night of the Hell Hamsters, Colin, Broken Springs, S&Man, Zombie 108, and Ninjas VS. Monsters to name but a very few.
The festival has also hosted screenings of classic films like the silent era’s Der Golem (with performance artist Bobo Golem providing a live performance soundtrack on a host of different instruments that included a Theremin) and Two Thousand Maniacs. There has also been an effort made over the years to maintain its connection to the horror host community with the continuing appearances (and occasional hosting duties) by the likes of Dr. Sarcofiguy, Count Gore de Vol, Mr. Lobo, and members of the cast of the Northern Virginia/DC area horror host troupe Monster Madhouse.
In 2008 and 2009 the Spooky Movie Television program returned to the airwaves and two Festival of Horrors DVDs were released. Each of these further showcased a sampling of the short films screened at the festival itself. The Spooky Movie Television program was once again hosted by Dr. Sarcofiguy, but now he had a new co-host in the form of Boo de Pest (played by the lovely and talented indie horror actress Leanna Chamish). The two Festival of Horrors DVDs contained a total of 14 short films and were hosted by Count Gore de Vol. At this point they’re somewhat hard to find, but they’re absolutely worth looking for.
The festival’s major and related events have brought a host of offbeat celebrity filmmakers and their films into town for Q&As or How To sessions over the years. Lloyd Kauffman hosted a screening of Troma’s Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead that was followed up with a two hour Master’s Class based on his “Make Your Own Damned Movie” series. Teller (the silent half of Penn & Teller) brought along Play Dead for one such screening and Q&A where, yes, he actually spoke. Back in 2013, one of the big attractions was Bobcat Goldthwait screening his found footage Bigfoot film Willow Creek with a post-screening Q&A. That was a part of a multi-night retrospective of Goldthwait’s films that examined his evolution as a filmmaker.
Small aside here- Bobcat Goldthwait has truly become an amazing, interesting, and entertaining filmmaker. I say that now in 2015 with no sense of irony. However, if anyone had 30 years ago told me that the screaming, screeching comic who did little for me then would be one day become a filmmaker who created films I sought out upon hearing about them… Well, let’s just say I would have suspected them of ingesting way too many illegal recreational substances. Never judge a book by the cover, or a creator by their first act.
This year’s festival looks as stacked with incredible talent and entertaining films as ever, if not more so. Some films, such as Kyle Rankin’s Night of the Living Deb, are making the North American debut while still others, such as Christopher G. Moore’s horror/comedy Knob Goblins, are having the world premiere at the festival.
There are even some films for those who seek the extreme. The highlight film for Sunday the 11th is Chad Archibald’s Bite. This is a film with a rep of being so shocking that ambulances and paramedics were called in to its premiere screening at the Fantasia Film Festival over the summer.
Other highlights of the festival include events of a more lighthearted nature. The closing night capper will be The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a preshow produced by Peaches Christ. The movie will have two screenings, one at 9:00 PM and one at midnight. The first screening will have the Peaches Christ produced preshow filled with “songs and surprises.” The midnight screening will have a “shadowcast” performance by DC area all-stars.
The Spooky Movie International Film Festival runs from October 8-17 this year. Tickets are available for individual nights or in the form of the All Fest Pass (which is by far the better deal if you plan to catch most of the screenings.) If you’re in the Silver Springs, Maryland area during the festival, stop in and check out what they have to offer. If this year doesn’t fit on your schedule, keep on aye on the festival’s official website social media for possible related events throughout the year and word on next year’s festival.
The Spooky Movie International Film Festival can be found online at its official website here, its Facebook page here, and at its Twitter page here. The festival’s full slate of films and scheduled screenings can be located at its official website.
Jerry Chandler is a serious horror geek with a lifelong love of trying to find books and movies that can scare the spit out of him. When not watching and reading horror, he can sometimes be found helping to make horror with his filmmaking family in NC, Adrenalin Productions. He loves Halloween slightly more than Christmas, and almost as much as Dragon Con. When not writing here, he can be found at his other homes on the web by looking at his own blog, his Twitter, and his Facebook.