The NYC Horror Film Festival had a huge day planned on Saturday. The third day of the festival opened at noon and played all through the night with a main event featuring the Candyman, Tony Todd, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. The 16th year of the festival originated by the late Michael J. Hein saw packed houses this year since Thursday and already set their festival attendance record. I got to the Cinepolis Chelsea at around 4:00pm, right in time to catch two awesome programs including a feature that is likely to end up in my Top 10 horror films of 2018.
The first program I saw started with two shorts, the first was by festival veteran Conscian Morgan called The Familiar Finger of Culture. This was a dark black and white tale of an escort trying to provide for her child who ends up at the wrong house on the wrong night with the wrong old man. The second was The Last Seance by filmmaker Laura Kulik. This reminded me of Mike Flanagan’s Ouija: Origin of Evil as two sisters try to help a family reconnect with a lost child and encounter an evil presence. The family was atmospheric and genuinely scary and had audience members asking how the young filmmaker got so much out of her budget.
The first feature of the evening was Rob Grant’s Alive. This was a taut little thriller starring Thomas Cocquerel and Camille Stopps as two people who awake in a dark and shuddered abandoned hospital bandaged and immobile. Thankfully (maybe) they are joined by a mysterious doctor played by a scenery-chewing Angus Macfadyen. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it is a new take on an old classic and has an shock ending that elevates it to memorable territory. Co-writers and producers Jules Vincent and Chuck McCue were there to discuss the film, their director Rob Grant, and their inspirations which ended up being an NFL football commercial!
Next up was one of the best programs I’ve seen in my years attending NYCHFF. First we got the first 6 minutes of a new Australian zombie series, Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead, which was fantastic featuring some cool fights and tons of blood. After that we got our feature which felt like it was made with me in mind. Director Stewart Sparke introduced his film Book of Monsters as an homage to everything ’80s horror. And boy was this a loving tribute. A trio of friends throw a party for one’s 18th birthday and the party becomes a bloodbath when a quintet of monsters arrive courtesy of an ancient book. The girls and their friends unite to fight back using chainsaws, swords, axes, and more. This felt like the blood-soaked love child of Evil Dead 2 and Shaun of the Dead and it was glorious. The cast, including our final girl trio of Lyndsey Craine (Sophie), Michaela Longden (Mona), and Lizzie Aaryn-Stanton (Beth), were there with Sparke to discuss the rigors of shooting horror films and the likelihood of a sequel or spinoff.
Later that night, Tony Todd, veteran of 200+ credits on IMDb and icon in the horror community, was honored with the NYCHFF Lifetime Achievement Award. He conducted a near 30-minute Q&A with a packed auditorium before hanging out for several hours talking to fans and enjoying an amazing Candyman-themed cake for his birthday, which falls on Tuesday.
Check out the details of the festival at their official site and stay tuned to Geeks of Doom for a full recap of Tony Todd’s award celebration.
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