The NYC Horror Film Festival keeps rocking throughout the weekend, now on its final day, completing its 14th year. This year emanating from the Cinepolis Chelsea in Manhattan, the festival is the city’s longest-running horror fest and was created by the late Michael J. Hein. Over 50 feature and short films are being screened, and on Saturday night I took in 6 more total (2 features, 4 shorts). The highlight of the evening was the honoring of scream queen Adrienne Barbeau with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Barbeau was on hand with her family in a packed house ceremony. The festival continues today at noon culminating with the Awards Ceremony in the evening.
First up was the short film, The Fisherman by director Alejandro Suarez Lozano. Set in Hong Kong, the film is about a one-handed old fisherman on his last legs who battles the depths one more time. That set the stage for White Coffin by Daniel de la Vega. The story is of a mother fighting supernatural forces in order to get her daughter back. The film was creepy and atmospheric and was received well by the audience.
Then it was time to meet and greet a legend. After a video tribute, Adrienne Barbeau was introduced to a standing ovation. Looking unbelievable, Barbeau met her adoring fans and participated in a near 20-minute Q&A. Some of the highlights:
Despite being a famous scream queen, she admitted to not liking horror, never seeing Psycho, and only watching Halloween once, while with the film’s director, her then-husband John Carpenter.
She felt she’d be pigeonholed as a TV actress from her role on the Bea Arthur sitcom Maude, but Carpenter got her into horror with The Fog and she accidentally was pigeonholed into that genre.
She’s written two vampire novels. The second, Love Bites, is being optioned into a film, in which she is co-writing the screenplay.
She’s very close with Tom Atkins, another horror vet and recipient of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from NYCHFF.
At 71, she still has drive and desire to keep going in multiple phases on the entertainment world.
Her most challenging role was that of Billie in Creepshow because she doesn’t drink and thus didn’t know how to act like a drunk.
The final series of films went on as Adrienne Barbeau took red carpet photos with fans. A trio of short films played and again, the continuing theme of the festival, the shorts were truly great. The first, Trunk Space by director Max Silver (whose proud mother was in the crowd) was a twist on The Hitcher story, with a fantastic ending. Next up was John Putch’s Small Platelet Dining, a 9-minute Tinder-based date movie that actually got some “aw” moments before a bloody finale. Next up was Hunger by Justin Hall. Imagine Kevin Smith’s Tusk meets M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit.
Last but certainly not least, The Everglades Killings… “What the f***!?” was the question asked to directed Ben Wilder after the screening. A throwback to the video nasties of the early 80s, the film revels in its own filth. It starts as a typical Spring Break movie with tons of sex-crazed youngsters who were certainly not paid by the clothing worn. According to Wilder in the Q&A, he wanted them all to be intentionally unlikeable so he could kill them all. When they are diverted to the Everglades by a bartender, played by horror queen Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead), they are picked off one by one by a pair of psychotic hillbillies. Working with only a piecemeal script, Wilder and his crew filmed over a long weekend in Florida. This was a guerilla film, filled with disgusting and disturbing content that feels like it belongs amongst the sickening films of yesteryear. No other genre can produce a film like this and get a loud positive reaction.
Another fantastic night filled with exciting quality short films, and some crazy features. Sprinkle in an appearance by one of horror’s legit legends, Adrienne Barbeau, and there’s a reason the NYCHFF dominates the festival scene. This afternoon, Sunday, November 13th, the festival concludes with a full day of films starting at noon and culminating in the NYCHFF Awards Ceremony, where awards will give to the Best Shorts, Best Features, and to all aspects of acting and filmmaking.
Get to Cinepolis Chelsea, located at 260 West 23rd Street in Manhattan, and get tickets and check the film schedule at their site nychorrorfest.com.