Horror is not a dying genre of film, but it does generate a lot of death. Nowhere was that more in evidence that at the first annual Scared Stiff Horror Film Festival (SSHFF). The body count was only exceeded by the number of body parts, as there was no lack of dismembered corpses.
You would think screening of such movies would take place in dingy old theaters one step from condemnation. Not in this case. The flicks were all shown at the Palmer Historical and Cultural Center in the village of Three Rivers. It is a lovely restored old church that is now run as a non-profit. The well-appointed venue had excellent acoustics. It was a good choice for the locale.
The man behind the SSHFF was Geno McGahee. Geno is a Western Massachusetts filmmaker and one of the people behind the Scared Stiff Reviews website. Geno provided a four-movie lineup to cause pacemaker failure in the most jaded fan.
The first production, Call Me Crazy is your usual tale of a vampire and cannibal interacting. She has been institutionalized because she sucked her boyfriend’s blood because he wouldn’t marry here. Society is so judgmental. Despite their differing predilections, the kids find love in a hopeless place.
The second film is a standard plot, outcast gets revenge. Mr. White is about a tormented boy who gets to turn the tables. After exacting what cannot be termed an unjust retribution, he is stopped by the object of his adoration. He, however, will not be denied revenge in the next generation.
After intermission, the second half began with The Cabin. Though the denouement was the usual death, the movie itself was tightly done. Only two actors are ever on screen. That’s enough. From his first appearance, Jason Vail, playing John, has an understatement of menace. There is nothing overt that can be noted, but he gives enough subtle clues that Morgan Monnig, as Laura should have gotten the message before they arrived at the cabin had she been a little sharper on the uptake.
The grand prize went to Blood Slaughter Massacre. It should have gotten an award for truth in titling. It’s a no obfuscation zone. There was no lack of blood or dearth of slaughter. Put them together and you have a massacre.
After a slaughter, there is an official cover-up. The guilty party escapes. One cop is scarred and turns to alcohol for solace. This of course leads nowhere ad when the case reopens after the protagonist returns to set thing aright by sacrificing the children of those who done him wrong, the booze soaked constable is a few steps behind. No matter, the ultimate target, against odds, prevails. She is going to have to get a new set of BFFs, as all her old ones are dead. They were not exactly denizens of Plato’s Academy so it’s kinda win-win for the lass
Post Blood Slaughter Massacre, we captured the movies creative team on video. It’s much more than an interview about the movie. It goes in few different directions. They talk about film making in general, and in NYC in particular with its production community. Also about finding resources and how they came to filming horror. It’s almost a seminar. Watch and enjoy.
So Geno put on a good show and for a first effort it was commendable. True, the crowd could have been larger, but every journey starts with that clichéd first step. For what transpires next, watch this space.