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.