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Event Recap: BRUCE CAMPBELL’S HORROR FILM FESTIVAL Nights 2-4!

Bruce Campbell's Horror Film Festival 2016

NIGHT TWO

Night Two of BCHFF kicked off with the Chicago premiere of PET. It’s a bizarre film to say the least.

Plot Synopsis: Seth works at an animal shelter, and for years has been secretly in love with a waitress named Holly. When he repeatedly fails in his attempts to woo her, he naturally decides to lock her in a cage at the shelter where he works. And that’s just the beginning…

The film stars the wonderful Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings films) and Ksenia Solo (TV’s Lost Girl).

Following the screening of PET, the Doug Benson Movie Interruption was next.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. Doug Benson is a comedian, who along with a friend of his, and a very special guest provides commentary throughout a film that plays on the big screen. Think MST3K sort of vibe. The special guest was none other than Bruce Campbell and they provided commentary for his Army of Darkness film.

BCHFF Bruce Campbell
The man himself, Bruce Campbell

At first, I really was not sure what to think and it seemed kind of stupid but once the film started rolling and Bruce was into his antics, I changed my mind quickly. It turned out to be 90 minutes of hilarity and was actually quite interesting with anecdotes from Bruce about the making of the film. This is not something that can be reproduced on Blu-ray or DVD, it has to be seen live. It turned out that I laughed so hard it hurt at times.

Following the Doug Benson Movie Interruption was a surprise screening of ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Season 2, Episode 1. On tap for the premiere was Bruce Campbell, along with series stars Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo.

If you watch and follow ASH VS EVIL DEAD, and have seen the first season on STARZ Network, you already know how great of a show it is. But it looks as if Season 2 will ramp things up even more judging by the first episode. More blood, more gore, more comedy. Campbell himself stated that Season 2 is more intense than Season 1, with more of everything.

Next up in the Night Two lineup was the World premiere of SHOW YOURSELF, a ghost story from director Billy Ray Brewton.

The director and cast were in attendance and spoke about the film afterwards.

The evening’s final film and midnight movie was a 30th Anniversary screening of the Stuart Gordon classic, FROM BEYOND, with star Barbara Crampton on hand.

“Obsessive scientist Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) successfully discovers a way to access a parallel universe of pleasure by tapping into the brain’s pineal gland. When he is seemingly killed by forces from this other dimension, his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), is accused of the murder. After psychiatrist Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) and detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree) take the case, the trio risks a return to the other world in order to solve the mystery. From Master of Horror, Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator)!”

Immediately following the screening was a Q&A with Barbara Crampton, which was worth the price of admission for me.

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NIGHT THREE

The evening started with the Chicago premiere of Darren Lynn Bouseman’s (Saw II-IV, Mother’s Day) ABATTOIR.

Plot Synopsis: How do you build a haunted house? Ask the enigmatic Jebediah Crone, the main suspect in a case of stolen rooms where horrific tragedies have occurred.

Director Darren Lynn Bouseman was in attendance and provided a Q&A with the audience after the screening. (My review of ABATTOIR will be coming soon!)

Watch my video of the Q&A with DLB. (I apologize for the quality but it was pretty much dark in the theater with hardly any lighting.)

The second film of the night was the Chicago premiere of BEYOND THE GATES. Director Jackson Stewart, Barbara Crampton, Chase Williamson & Brea Grant were in attendance.

Plot Synopsis: Seven months after their father’s disappearance, two brothers reunite to liquidate the family video store. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse when they find an old VHS board game with evil powers, and all hell breaks loose.

There was a Q&A with Director and cast members following the screening. This was an interesting film that was reminiscent of The Gate, Jumanji, and The Demon’s Rook.

BCHFF Beyond The Gates Cast Q&A
Beyond The Gates cast Q&A
BCHFF Barbara Crampton and Me
Yours truly with the lovely Barbara Crampton

Next up was another Chicago premiere; I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. This film featured a unique turn by veteran actor Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future films, Taxi) in a role you would never expect to see him in. It was an award worthy performance for Lloyd.

Plot Synopsis: In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.

In an ultra-rare convention appearance, Christopher Lloyd was on hand to answer audience questions after the film. It was wonderful to see an actor of Lloyd’s stature on hand and talking about his newest film.

(Apologies for the ultra-grainy pic of Christopher Lloyd)

BCHFF Christopher Lloyd talks I Am Not A Serial Killer

Next was one of the highlights of the evening for me. Writer/director Fred Dekker was on hand to receive the first annual “Groovy As Hell” award from cast mates in MONSTER SQUAD, Andre Gower (Sean) and Ryan Lambert (Rudy). The award was a chainsaw with the award inscription on the blade.

Following the award presentation was the 30th Anniversary screening of MONSTER SQUAD.

Director/writer Fred Dekker, along with cast members Andre Gower and Ryan Lambert were in house to answer questions following the film.

What could follow a screening like that? Well, the world premiere of FOUND FOOTAGE 3D does. This film makes horror history as the first ever 3D found footage film. The director Steven DeGennaro, along with the full cast was in attendance for this one.

Plot Synopsis: A group of low-budget filmmakers sets out to make “the first 3D found footage horror film,” but find themselves *in* the first 3D found footage horror film when the evil entity from their movie escapes into their behind-the-scenes footage.

This film totally caught me by surprise! I really loved this movie! The 3D in the film was some of the best 3D that I’ve ever seen. Besides that, the film really is good. FOUND FOOTAGE 3D is the best FF film since the original Blair Witch Project and possibly the best FF film ever! You will definitely be reading a lot more about this film.

The midnight movie was THE GREASY STRANGLER. This film is not for all tastes due to the fact it has several vomit inducing scenes that might turn some off.

Plot synopsis: The Los Angeles-set tale follows Ronnie, a man who runs a Disco Walking tour along with his browbeaten son, Brayden. When a sexy, alluring woman comes to take the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her attentions. It also signals the appearance of an oily, slimy inhuman maniac who stalks the streets at night and strangles the innocent, soon dubbed ‘The Greasy Strangler’.

This is a film to catch, in my book. Watch at your own risk.

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Night Four

The fourth and final night kicked off with a screening of a shorts block – Short Trip to Hell. This block of horror shorts was fun with some great ones in the mix. The shorts screened included:

DEATH METAL, GWILLIAM, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT’S KILLING THEM, KOOKIE, MADRE DE DIOS, NIGHT OF THE SLASHER, PORTAL TO HELL.

Next up was a special 25th Anniversary screening of BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY with director Peter Hewitt and star William Sadler in attendance.

For fans of the Bill & Ted series, this was a great experience to watch the film again and listen to Hewitt and Sadler wax about the making of the film in a Q&A following the screening.

I was never a big fan of the films so didn’t enjoy this screening as much. It was probably my least favorite film that screened during the BCHFF.

Next up was the Chicago premiere of HERE ALONE. This was another post-apocalyptic horror film that had its heart in the right place, but overall was just okay.

Plot Synopsis: A young woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious epidemic that has decimated society and forced her deep into the unforgiving wilderness.

ANTIBIRTH followed, which was another Chicago premiere. This film starred two amazing ladies, Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny. There was another guest star that I haven’t seen in quite some time, Meg Tilly.

Plot Synopsis: Hard-drinking, pill-popping, bong-ripping Lou (Natasha Lyonne) and her best friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny) spend their days adrift in a druggy haze. But one wild night out becomes a bad trip that never ends when Lou wakes up with symptoms of an unexplained, highly abnormal pregnancy. Spiked with blasts of hallucinatory color, surreal shocks, and subversive comedy, the audacious feature debut is a no-holds-barred descent into delirium.

Finally, the closing film of the BCHFF was SIREN. This was another Chicago premiere. SIREN is a spinoff of a segment in the original V/H/S anthology. It appeared there as the short “Amateur Night”. The film features the returning actor Hannah Fierman in the feature length film version of that short. I really enjoyed the short film in V/H/S and was glad to see it in a full-length version. The film is very enjoyable and so needed to be explored further in a full-length film.

Plot Synopsis: A bachelor party becomes a savage fight for survival when the groomsmen unwittingly unleash a fabled predator upon the festivities. A feature adaptation of the segment “Amateur Night” from the 2012 horror anthology “V/H/S.”

Director Gregg Bishop and cast member Chase Williamson were on hand to talk about the film following the screening.

In closing, this year’s Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was a step up from previous years. The selection of films was awesome and the event coordinators had it together this year. Kudos to festival director Josh Goldbloom for putting on a great fest this year. Not all the kinks were worked out but they get better and better every year.

Next year I suggest they work on spacing the films out a little bit more because there were a few cases when the credits were rolling on one film and when going to the next theater for the next film in the lineup the theater was packed and I almost couldn’t get a seat. So it was either leave one film early to get a seat in the next theater or stay for the credits and get a shitty seat at the next. Just something to work on guys.

Seeing The Chin himself, Bruce Campbell announce and participate in several of the films is always a great time as Campbell is always a fan favorite and rightly so. Here’s to next year fellas!

Pentagram 4 star ratings 2

4 out of 5 Pentagrams!

Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival 2016 3

Written by Michael Juvinall

I am a Horror journalist, producer, ravenous Horror fiend, aficionado of the classic Universal Monsters, Hammer Horror, Werewolves, and all things Horror.