The third and final day of IHFF. Three days of madness, mayhem and movie theater food. Seriously, if I never eat another M&M in my life I don’t think I’ll be sad. Yes, I know I could go down to the Subway down the street, but movie theaters make most of their money off of concession sales, and with everything that’s going on with the Portage, I would have felt guilty. Le sigh.

Due to some IRL stuff running overtime, I ended up arriving late–the first short of the day, The Barn, had already started.

* * *

I wanna hear you scream: There was a screaming contest between two of the movies (I don’t remember which ones). Kelsey Zukowski, who co-wrote and acted in What they Say, won. Personally, I think the guy in the Fender t-shirt should have gotten second place, but that’s just me.

It’s magic! Fuck you!: A local illusionist named Ron Fitzgerald, in addition to hosting the screaming contest, also did a quick magic trick with a Phantasm sphere. For some reason, it reminded me of Dick in a Box (my mind works like that sometimes).

* * *

Short Film Block

The Barn (Corey Norman, 2011)

I came in maybe halfway through this, so I can’t fairly judge it. But I can say that I really, really liked what I saw, and I’m hoping to get to the whole thing.

The Curse (Gabriel Sabloff, 2012)

I didn’t really get all of what was going on with this one, but the pace was fast enough that I didn’t really care. It does seem to me that, like Afraid of Sunrise, this would make a much better TV series pilot than short film.

Divination (J.T. Seaton, 2011)

Look, it’s Lynn Lowry, of The Crazies/I Drink Your Blood/They Came From Within or Shivers or whatever we’re supposed to call it nowadays fame! Fun little supernatural-revenge tale, but not particularly substantial. Enjoyed it enough at the time, but it’s one of the films that has slipped off my brain since then.

Incubator (Jimmy Weber, 2011)

Quick, nasty, and to the point. One of my favorite quickies of the weekend.

House of Mirrors (Brian Shotwell, 2012)

Decent story ruined by horrific acting, most specifically the guy. Who played. The rock star. He talked exactly. Like this. Through the entire thing. Who? Was he? I don’t know. I can’t say. I find it. A particularly. Compelling question.

And the editing…ye gods, the editing. It was painfully obvious that all of the conversations were cobbled together in post from disparate takes. Whenever someone’s done speaking, there’s almost always a three- to five-second pause before the next person starts talking, and nobody ever interrupts anyone. Plus, I think there’s one conversation in the entire film where both participants are in shot simultaneously.

The phone conversations are the funniest. Nobody starts these conversations with “Hello.” Either the caller immediately starts plowing through his sentences (or. If it’s the rock star. He pauses. A lot) the minute the recipient picks up the other end, or nobody speaks for a full minute before the recipient screams “Who the fuck is this!?”

I’m not going to comment on the script; it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I nearly dozed off at several dozen points so maybe there was some central point I missed.

I’m going to be honest: not only is this the worst film I saw all weekend–it even manages to beat out Deadline–it is very probably the single worst movie I have watched for Forced Viewing. I may actually pick this for a future podcast, because I want Jason and Jori to validate for me how terrible it is.

Short film: House of the Degenerate Brain-Eating Mutant Fog Insects (Patrick Love, 2012)

This one actually wasn’t on the program: it ended up getting screened as a bonus because the day’s programming was so far ahead of schedule. It was apparently conceived as an homage to Ed Wood. I’ve never actually seen an Ed Wood movie (in fact, I don’t even think I’ve seen Ed Wood all the way through) so there’s probably a lot that was lost on me.

Interesting note: it was a co-production involving Spook Show Entertainment (which runs the festival) and two or three of the production companies that were responsible for two-thirds of the festival’s programming, which means that all the actors in those movies were also in this one (the Ed and the Awakening crew, the Romines, Heather Dorff). If the entire weekend were rolled up into one short film, this would be it.

Hand of Glory (Stuart Wahlin, 2012)

I was really, really impressed with this one. Writer/director Stuart Wahlin said right up-front that it isn’t really horror, and he’s probably right–although I don’t know what genre I’d say it’s part of, other than “urban fantasy” in a vague sense. It contained the final, and best, Heather Dorff performance of the weekend–she showed the same sort of bravery/vulnerability here as in What They Say.

Also, the film is about one of my favorite themes: the futility of trying to “fix” people that are “broken” (which is, remember, why I love Martyrs so goddamn much).

Short Film Block

Love Bug (Ben Kent, 2011)

Duty of Living : Day of the Dead :: Love Bug : Shaun of the Dead. Predictably, I liked Love Bug a lot more. Hilarious zom-com action. Even the CGI fire was forgivable.

Purity (Gustavo Montaña, 2011)

A quick stab with an icepick. I wasn’t entirely satisfied–this is one that, I think would have been improved with a bit more clarity, but I still enjoyed it.

The Fear (Sung In Sohn, 2011)

I think this is supposed to be a CGI-animated representation of a gory nightmare. I think. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really do it for me.

Ritual (Andre Noe, 2010)

This is a Phantasm fan film, basically asking the question “What if the Tall Man was one of Lavender’s alternate forms, and not the other way around? Also, what if Lavender dressed like the main vampire from Razor Blade Smile?” It’s fun, but I have to be level–fan films are one of the aspects of fan culture that I’ve never quite “gotten.”

* * *

This is the point at which I went home–I can only stay out so late on a Sunday night, ya know. So I ended up missing Not Another B-Movie. I’ll try to get to that one at some point in the future.

Another thing they did after I left was give out awards:

Actor: Juan Reidinger, The Duty of Living
Actress: Courtney Monsma, Dorothy
Cinematography: Vamperifica
Horror-Comedy: Vamperifica
Director: Justin R. Romine, What They Say
Editing: What They Say
Feature Film: Vamperifica
SFX: Below Zero
Short: Dorothy
Sound: The Duty of Living
Supporting Actor: Christian Gray, Plastic
Supporting Actress: Wendy Wisely, The Duty of Living
Directors’ Choice Award: Afraid of Sunrise
Special Recognition: Vamperifica, What they Say, The Duty of Living, Below Zero

However, the only awards that matter are the ones I give out!

Feature: Vamperifica
Long-length short (30-60 min.): Hand of Glory
Medium-length short (10-30 min.): 8
Quickie (10 min. or less): Slash in the Box
Actor: Dave Nilson, Mind of a Mad Man (honorable mention: Martin Yurkovic, Vamperifica)
Actress: Heather Dorff, Hand of Glory
Supporting Actor: Christian Gray, Plastic
Supporting Actress: Elissa Dowling, Raymond Did It
SFX: Incubator

And that’s it. Saw a lot of good movies and a few terrible ones. Even if most of them were bad, Vamperifica, 8, Incubator, Slash in the Box and Hand of Glory would have made it all worth it.

Next event up might be Sci-Fi Spectacular 6 in late April. Most Spectacular programs have some overlap with horror; Spectacular 6’s program features one movie I’m definitely going to review (Corman’s original Little Shop of Horrors) and two others that I’ll probably review (Attack the Block and The Theatre Bizarre).

Support indie horror. Save the Portage Theater. Rock over London, rock on Chicago.

4 thoughts on “Indie Horror Film Festival 2012: Day Three

  1. In regards to the Barn “I came in maybe halfway through this, so I can’t fairly judge it. But I can say that I really, really liked what I saw, and I’m hoping to get to the whole thing.”

    Drop me a line at the email I provided with this post and I’ll be more than happy to send you a DVD copy of the film.


  2. Daniel,
    I want to thank you for your comments about “Mind of a Madman” and your comments about my performance in it. I am of course honored to just have been nominated but your thoughts as an expert in the genre that I should have received best actor mean a lot to me. It was extremely challenging and rewarding role to play. Anyway, I just wanted to drop you a note and say thank you.



    1. You’re very welcome! Mind of a Mad Man was definitely one of the highlights of the Festival and I’m glad to have the opportunity to spread the word about it. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


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