Sadly, After Dark Films festival of over the top horror movies, “Horrorfest: 8 Movies to Die For”, only lasted for four years. Horror films have a small but devout army of fans, and such a small niche isn’t enough to keep a film festival going year after year. Although Horrorfest III was the weakest season among its four year run, Horrorfest as a whole has delivered some of the most intense scares I’ve ever experienced. Horrorfest III may have had some weaker fare, but the best movies of that year were as good as anything Horrorfest has offered.
The Weakest of the Herd
Horrorfest bills itself as a film festival “too extreme” for mainstream horror audiences. Horrorfest III featured two films that I felt were weak by even casual horror fans’ standards. Maybe I’m too jaded by the ugliness of the world, but “Slaughter” didn’t get my blood pumping. The story weaves its way through themes of domestic violence, incestuous rape, and murder, claiming to be based on true events. Still, it left me flat. Aside from some tooth pulling, all the violence happens off screen. The final moments of the film are obviously intended to end with a bang, but cut to black for what could have been the most emotionally wrenching moment of the story. “Slaughter” wasn’t terrible; it simply doesn’t reach the bar that Horrorfest has set for itself.
When I saw “The Broken” in theaters, I wasn’t sure what to think. Maybe I’d missed the point. Maybe some people are really terrified of slow motion car crashes. Seeing the film again on DVD, I noted a passage by Edgar Allan Poe displayed before the movie begins. As an English teacher who has taught Poe many times, I was intrigued, and looked deeper into the film for relevant themes. While this film does remind me somewhat of a work by the father of American horror literature, it utterly fails in execution. By any standards, it’s one of the most boring “horror” films I’ve ever seen. It’s worth saying that I’m a seasoned horror fan, and “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”. If you like lighter, “suspense” fare, you might enjoy “Slaughter” and “The Broken”.
“Autopsy” is the Grindhouse style picture from Horrorfest III. Although there was no nudity depicted, the movie managed a youthful sexiness, and had a good looking cast. The violence and gore was, of course, so over the top it went to camp. “Autopsy” was a unique story that was a gory, grisly good time, with good acting and a fun story.
This season’s champion is “Perkins 14”. It’s not the onscreen violence or special effects that drive the horror in this film; it’s the impact of the story as a whole. If you are a parent, this movie will clench your heart. Fourteen children have disappeared in a sleepy little town, victims of abduction. Ten years later, one victim’s father, an obsessed Sherriff’s Deputy, discovers the man who has abducted and tormented the children, turning them into mindless, violence-crazed, zombielike killers. Unwittingly, he unleashes Perkins’ 14 victims on the unwary town; a crazed cannibal apocalypse ensues.
“Perkins 14” is well written, with good pacing and performance, and some gruesome deaths. Ordinarily, I have no sympathy for the victims in horror films, especially zombie scenarios, where they often make stupid, avoidable errors that lead to their demise. In “Perkins 14”, it’s the bonds of familial love that the characters can’t let go of, which lead to their doom. Even my stony heart can’t help but feel the horror of that.
Season as a Whole
The rest of Horrorfest III was full of gems. Korean horror film, “Voices” was fantastic, definitely as good as any film by the great director Takashi Shimizu. My wife and I agreed that “Voices” was a hit, and we usually don’t agree on what makes a good scare. Although, very different, “From Within” had a lot of the same dark, eerie themes as “Voices”. A tale of morality gone wrong, and supernatural vengeance, “From Within” broods with evil and despair. The ending photo montage during the credits hits the awesome ending home for a grand slam.
“Dying Breed” is your basic “don’t go where you don’t belong” horror theme, but it is handled with some truly gruesome imagery and twists that make the familiar plot worthwhile. I really enjoyed this one. Lastly, “The Butterfly Effect III” was also a home run. Although bloody, and at times gruesome, I found it to be more of a sci-fi film than a horror flick. However you classify it, it was awesome. Pay close attention at the very end of the film or you might miss the subtle implication that really hits the horror of the ending home. My wife had to point the tiny detail out to me, and it really makes the villain’s evil ingenuity shine.
Joe Capristo and his wife, Cappuccino Cass are avid horror movie fans. They planned their wedding so they’d always have Horrorfest to celebrate their anniversary with, but Horrorfest wasn’t meant to last. Their favorite Horrorfest memory is meeting the writer of “Perkins 14” at the screening they drove two hours to see.
Also by this Author:
The Five Scares Used in Horror Movies
Horrorfest “8 Movies to Die For” is a Strong Start to a Broad Collection
Horrorfest 2 Has the Most Innovative Scripting