On the weekend of October 12-14, I descended into the Colorado Rockies into Telluride to cover the Telluride Horror Show 2018. The output of the festival’s programmers is continually impressive. With this year’s fest, they’ve topped themselves yet again. Telluride Horror Show is one of my favorite genre fests I’ve had the pleasure of attending. No hyperbole, this is bar none one of the strongest genre fest around. Not only is the town one of the most picturesque places in America, it also wholeheartedly embraces the horror community for the weekend. I got to watch 15 different programs this year, 14 features and one shorts block. I’ll break down each film and event by day that I attended.
The first day started off with an ice cream social that included a cake in the form of one of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I couldn’t get a picture of it in time, because by the time I got to it, everyone had gotten slices of it and it was no longer a Klown. Take my word for it, it was pretty dope. This was a nice way to get acclimated as the fest began.
MEGA TIME SQUAD
Talk about starting the fest with a bang. After missing the first screening of the fest, Open 24 Hours, due to my poor timing and the fact the film’s screening had filled up (the fest had great attendance this year), I got to see kick things off with what would become one of my favorite films of the year. Mega Time Squad is a New Zealand import about a time traveling small time crook and the misadventures he stumbles upon as he’s hunted down by his former crime-lord boss. I never stopped smiling from start to finish with this film. Mega Time features a star making performance from Anton Tennet as well as a next level hilarious performance from Jonny Brugh from What We Do in the Shadows. Similar in vein to the kiwi Deathgasm, Mega Time is a laugh a minute, adrenaline fueled riot that I can’t wait to check out again as soon as possible. First of the fest, and easily my favorite. 5/5
In between Mega Time and the next film, Creepy Campfire Tales were read in the park across the street from one of the theaters. Authors Jeremy Robert Johnson and Paul Tremblay read excerpts from their stories to an excited circle of fans. This was the perfect way to slip into the Halloween/Fall spirit.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE
My head was spinning following up Mega Time Squad with my second favorite movie of the fest, Anna and the Apocalypse. This is a high school set musical that is also a zombie movie. Being a zombie genre mash-up, Anna feels like a spiritual relation to Shaun of the Dead. Don’t let that comparison belittle the film, however. Anna is a wildly original and extraordinarily satisfying film. The zombie carnage works well, but I also cared about the fleshed out main characters. Top to bottom, the whole cast delivers pitch perfect performances. Every single actor in this film could become a gigantic star. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the songs here, too. Genre aside, this film works as a musical in its own right. The songs are incredible and unforgettable. You will have them stuck in your weeks for to come after watching this film. I will be seeing this one again for sure when Orion releases the film around the Thanksgiving season. 5/5
“Something Weird This Way Comes” Shorts Block
I ended my Friday with a block of seven shorts that delivered on the promise of the block’s name. I love weird shorts, the stranger the better. So I was all in for this lineup. First up, was Who’s That at the Back of the Bus?, a short that was both creepy uncomfortable and hilarious. A woman riding on the top section of a double-decker bus catches a strange figure peering out the window in the reflection in front of her. It features one perfectly timed out and effective jump scare and a hilariously over the top ending. Next up was BFF Girls, a live action send up to ridiculously sexualized anime. This one had me smiling and laughing out loud from start to finish. It leans hard into the gross and that made me love it even more. That one was followed by Fetish, a longer short about a man trying to overcome his foot fetish to find love. I was thoroughly engaged in this one from start to finish. I loved watching the main character and his misadventures in love. With a sick twist at the end, Fetish feels like a cross between John Waters and Eli Roth. The director and star of that film, David Lee Hess, was present for the screening. After that, Hair Wolf screened. This hilarious short follows a hair salon in a black neighborhood being overtaken by hipster white girls. I laughed a lot in this stylish romp filled with obvious social commentary. The shorts hit a bit of slog for me with the next three that rounded out the block. Sybil is a short about a mortician who becomes obsessed with a cadaver. We’ve seen this kind of story be done before and we’ve seen it done better. The final shot of the short is quite good, though, but not worth the wait of this overlong piece. Maw followed next and is my least favorite thing I saw at the festival. A man has a sexual obsession with being attacked by an animal or a monster and tried to make his wicked dream come true. It’s a good, weird premise, but it isn’t delivered on at all in this 20 minute, too long for its own good short. Finally, Crying Bitch closed out the block. I was really excited to see this Asian short that about a wife, tired of being cheated on, getting revenge on her husband. While there’s some cool bizzaro imagery in the final minutes, it’s too little too late that for this short that doesn’t lean enough into the weird it’s trying to embrace.
I rounded out the night with some Killer Karaoke after the movies. I love that karaoke is a thing that most festivals are embracing now. It’s a great way to meet people you’re going to be spending the rest of your weekend with. I heard a couple bangers belted out by some festival attendees, but I didn’t jump up there to do one myself. I was too pooped after all the films.
Day 2 kicked off with the US premiere of Deadtectives, a spoof of paranormal research shows. It follows of group of ill-equipped ghost hunters as they encounter an assignment that may include some actual, real ghosts. I thought this one was cute and occasionally funny, but nothing really special or original. The cast gets to really play here as the ghost hunter team gets to act like baffoons during most of the film’s run time. There’s some clever stuff when the team has to team up with an actual ghost to help solve the mystery. The audience seemed to really eat this one up, but I thought it was just okay. Still, worth a watch though. 3/5
YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER
Hot off the premiere of the film on SYFY, You Might be the Killer came through Telluride with the director in tow. The film itself, based a Twitter thread shitpost between two improv comedians, follows a camp director who calls his horror fan best friend to find out who hacked up all the counselors at his camp. The title let’s you know where it goes from there. People who spend a lot of time on Reddit or people that talk more about horror films than watch them will love this movie. There are know-it-all references firing on all sides. It’s a really well paced and fun film overall. It just is a film that’s more about the genre than a genre film itself. The director, Brett Simmons, led a really fun Q&A after the film where he discussed bringing a a twitter thread to life. 4/5
Come back tomorrow to see Part 2 of 3 of my coverage.