I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
Of the 2016 films at BCHFF, I am Not a Serial Killer was by far the most impressive film of the fest. Starring young Max Records as John, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies and growing up in a small town. When a series of murders begin happening, he begins to suspect his neighbor (played superbly by Christopher Lloyd) is the one behind the killings...or are there other forces at hand? It made for one of the more complex films of the festival with the perfect combination of a coming-of-age tale and the supernatural. This isn't just a good horror film, it's one of the best movies of 2016.
SATURDAY AUGUST 20TH
BEYOND THE GATES
What's impressive about the BCHFF, is they don't just show the big budget films or the classics, there's also a place for independent films such as director Jackson Stewart's Beyond the Gates. It revolves around two brothers (Graham Skipper & Chase Williamson) whose father mysteriously disappeared. When they reunite to clean out dad's old movie store, they stumble across a VCR board game called Beyond the Gates. The problem is, once you start playing, you have to finish, leading to a possibly bloody outcome or finding their dad's whereabouts. It makes for a campy good time, with a bit more character development than needed, but I loved the appreciation for story. It was not the best movie at the festival, but this was also an impressive effort, including an excellent, over the top appearance from Barbara Crampton.
Rosemont, Illinois- This was the second year that AMovieGuy.com attended the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Fest. After a dip of the toes approach last year, it was time to let loose, and reveal how much love I have for this festival of scares. It helps that the horror genre has become not just the typical blood and guts-athon that some may still believe it is. I truly feel that there is an art form to these style of films, especially since directors keep getting better at it and coming up with more inventive ways to scare the pants off of audiences. That is why the 2016 Bruce Campbell Horror Film Fest was another great success. Here are some of the highlights from the past weekend:
SUNDAY AUGUST 21ST
BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY
A movie that I liked as a kid was Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. It's not necessarily a high quality film, as it's more of a miracle that it's even good. This was a sequel, to a movie that nobody would have thought should have one, but those characters of Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) stuck with a lot of people in the late 80's and early 90's for one big reason: they're fun! That's why it was exciting to see the duo back on the big screen for the closing night, with the man who played death himself-The Grim Reaper- William Sadler in person for a Q & A. It was good to remember how many times I laughed watching Bogus Journey, even with the corny ending with the song from Kiss closing. The big highlight is the hilarious face off vs. death in multiple board games like Clue and Battleship, it was always a laugh out loud moment.
THE MONSTER SQUAD
I am not sure how a movie like The Monster Squad could have slipped through the cracks of my childhood, but here I was watching it for the first time. At least I was watching it on the big screen, with a sold-out audience to remember it with, and what a memory it is. The Fred Dekker film about a group of misfit kids, who are troubled with the task of taking down a gang of classic monsters (Dracula, The Mummy, Wolf-man, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein). It fits right in the area of The Goonies or E.T., but it has a bit more nostalgia and appreciation for the monsters of past. It's fun, it's wild, and even features the special effects of the great Stan Winston. It was a reminder of how fun a movie can be, when watched with the perfect cast.
OPENING NIGHT- THURSDAY AUGUST 18TH
The newest film from Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead re-make) arrives at theaters this Friday, but fans got an early screening to start the festivities in a perfect creepy style. Don't Breathe is a smart film, about three friends who attempt to rob the house of a blind war veteran and find themselves trapped in a place they don't want to be. Alvarez and lead actor Stephen Lang were on hand to discuss the movie, talk about the films early success at SXSW, how it felt to make audiences squirm, and acting in the role of The Blind Man. There was a big applause at the end and it continues what has been a good year for the horror genre. I will have a full review plus an interview with Alvarez and Lang this weekend.
FRIDAY AUGUST 19TH
30TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING- FROM BEYOND
This was the first time I had ever seen H.P. Lovecraft's 1986 Sci-fi/Horror classic From Beyond. Director Stuart Gordon had made Re-Animator the year previously, so it only made sense that he stepped into the gooey, slimy, blood soaked shock that this film was. It was fantastic to watch on the big screen, with the BCHFF crowd “oohing” and “ahhhing” at the strangeness of it all. Actress and horror genre legend Barbara Crampton was there to talk with fans after. It really is a film that has no shame for the things that matter in horror which is combining the gore with strange and shocking it's audience in the process. It fits in with classic 80's horror films, such as John Carpenter's The Thing or Tom Holland's Fright Night.