Fantastic Fest 2015: Day Two

On day two: the quirky Dutch crime drama The Glorious Works of G.F. Zwaen; Darling, the latest psych-horror from the director of Pod; the highly-buzzed Green Room, starring Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Murder Party); and more.

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Chicago Critics Film Festival 2015: Midnight Insanity

The Chicago Critics Film Festival 2015, featuring Restoration and a “midnight movie” program of five short films.

So a couple of years ago I saw a short film named Air Conditions at a Terror in the Aisles event and I fell in love with it immediately. Its director, Ryan Oliver, premiered his follow-up effort Restoration last October, and it’s garnered enough regard to play this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival at the Music Box Theater.

At forty-five minutes, Restoration just about qualifies as feature-length so local filmmaker and critic Collin Souter curated a selection of short films to accompany it, which he dubbed “Midnight Insanity.”

When introducing the short film block, Souter explained that not all the selections qualified as “horror” but they all fit the “midnight movie” aesthetic.

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Chicago Horror Film Festival 2014

Four features (Dead Girls, Dr. Liebenstein, Alice D. and Stormy Night) and two short films from the 2014 Chicago Horror Film Festival.

The year-plus-long closure of the Portage Theater orphaned a number of events, one of which is the Chicago Horror Film Festival, organized each fall by filmmaker Willy Adkins and his production/promotion company Breaking Fate Entertainment (apparently the successor to his previous Spook Show Entertainment concern). Even though the Portage is open again this year’s CHFF was held at an alternate venue, a very interesting one: an assembly hall at a high school, specifically Carl Schurz High School in Chicago.

The stated focus of the CHFF (and its sister event, the Indie Horror Film Festival, held in spring) is on independent genre cinema, but obviously “independent” has a bit of a vague definition. While CHFF and IHFF do occasionally screen larger-budget works with (comparatively) well-known actors, what I really associate the festival with “backyard horror”: low-budget productions made far outside the usual centers of the entertainment industry. Such enterprises are by necessity low-budget, tend to have strongly regional vibes, and rely on local acting communities for their casts.

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