With Halloween quickly approaching, the New York City Horror Film Festival took over the Cinepolis Chelsea in Manhattan this past weekend. When all’s said and done, over 40-feature length and short genre films will be screened. Filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, and more showed up to support their films and take part in Q&As with the audience. Friday night, the cast and crew from The Night Watchmen showed to support their indie-horror comedy and it made another great night of horror.
One of my favorite parts of this film festival are the quality short films that precede each feature. Grandma’s House by Joshua Giuliano was perfect to set the tone for the first program. In the 11-minute film, a sweet old lady (Lana Locke) sits in her rocker listening to classical music on her record player before blowing out some candles and heading up to bed… slowly. We see she’s not alone in the house, but rather than go the traditional route of home invasion thriller, Giuliano flips the script in a hilarious and almost poetic way. I won’t spoil it, but anyone with a Jewish or Italian grandma knows how accurate the film gets at the end.
The Night Watchmen was next, and writers and co-stars Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca were there with other members of the cast and crew. This movie was exactly what you think of when you hear “horror comedy.” It was interesting to listen to the two writers discuss how to market the film, focus more on horror or comedy? It reminded me of my wife who hates gory horror but credits Shaun of the Dead as one of her favorite films. The Night Watchmen plays like Shaun of the Dead, only with vampire clowns rather than zombies. That’s right, vampire clowns. The plot: a world famous clown and his circus troop travel to Eastern Europe (vampire country), where they die under mysterious circumstances. The body of Blimpo the Clown is accidentally delivered to the loading dock of a newspaper company being watched by the Keystone Kops of night watchmen, Ken, Jiggetts, and Luca (Ken Arnold, Kevin Jiggetts and Dan DeLuca). They welcome the new guy (Max Gray Wilbur) who they dub Rajeeve and the four do everything but their jobs of watching the cameras… unless it’s to check out the female work staff, among them Karen (Kara Luiz).
The real fun of this movie is the script and the interplay of the characters. Despite an 80+ minute run time, The Night Watchmen gives enough time for the audience to know these moronic yet lovable shnooks. They have hilarious running gags; Jiggetts is the whitest black man alive, Luca is a silent assassin in witness protection, not remembering the name of Karen’s not-as-attractive friend. And when Blimpo comes to and vampires take over, the violence and bloodshed is of fairly epic proportions reminiscent of blood splattering horror-comedies like Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive. The film also features cameos from James “Dexter’s Dad” Remar, The Sopranos Matt Servitto and scream queen Tiffany Shepis. This was my favorite of the feature films at the festival, and I can’t wait for the sequel. The Night Watchmen is an instantly rewatchable classic to be.
Next up Program 2 Friday night, was Habit, written and directed by Simeon Halligan. Habit is less horror and more psychological and emotional thriller. The story centers on siblings in Manchester, England who struggle, even as adults to deal with their mother’s suicide when they were kids. Mom was hiding the fact that the family has particularly nasty habits, including blood, murder, and cannibalism.
Another successful night of films, but I personally have to recommend The Night Watchmen which was highly entertaining and just flew by. The New York City Horror Film Festival wrapped its 2017 festivities Sunday. Check out the entire film list on their website.
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