TELLURIDE – Telluride is known for its film festivals.
There’s the socially conscious Mountainfilm Festival that kicks off the summer’s thriving tourist season over Memorial Day weekend, leaving audiences to ponder how they can make the world a better place. Then there’s the ultra-prestigious Telluride Film Festival that draws Hollywood glamour and, with its proven prescience for picking Oscar-winning films, lets the rest of us feel like movie industry insiders for one long, Labor Day weekend.
The Telluride Horror Show, a showcase of hot, new, independent horror films making its debut this weekend, October 15-17, pretends to be neither of these.
Forget weighty documentaries shedding light on injustice and high cinematic art. The newest addition to Telluride’s film festival scene promises a weekend filled with everything from dark comedies to over-the-top grindhouse gore flicks and just about every twisted and unnerving genre in-between – all in the name of ridiculous, implausible good fun for those of us who consider having the bejeezus scared out of us the purest form of entertainment.
“All the movies are all so different, they’re all kind of an event within themselves,” said Festival Director Ted Wilson of the 17 feature films and 22 shorts screening this weekend.
“My advice to people is to take a risk and walk into a movie you wouldn’t otherwise see.”
That may be good advice, but for those of us who’d like something more concrete The Watch managed to wring some recommendations out of Wilson, who considers a film that leaves him too scared to walk up a set of dark stairs the pinnacle of horror success.
Hands down, Wilson is psyched about his most recent additions to the festival program (so new they aren’t even listed there) that will close the festival on Sunday.
First there’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, a horror comedy by director Eli Craig about two hillbillies suspected of being killers by a group of college kids camping near the duo's West Virginian cabin, that played at Sundance and won an Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Conference and Festival.
“I’m beyond excited about the fact that we were able to land that at the last minute,” said Wilson, noting that Craig “went out of his way to get us his film” because he has been to Telluride and wanted to show his film here.
Machete Maidens Unleashed! by Australian director Mark Hartley chronicles Filipino genre filmmaking in the 1970s and 1980s when “no budget, no scruples, no boundaries and – more often than not – no clothes” ruled the day. It features interviews with cult movie icons Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and Horror Show Vault Keeper Jon Davison, who has agreed to screen his personal 35mm print of the original 1978 cult classic he produced, Piranha (Sunday, 2 p.m., Nugget), and will follow it with a question and answer session.
If over-the-top graphic gore and sexual content make you tick, don’t miss Satan Hates You (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Sheridan) about Marc, a homicidal maniac driven by demons, and a young and wild Wendy who lives fast and hard without considering the consequences. It also features a squirm-inducing scene that will make you see local funny-man Jeb Berrier in a new and disturbing light.
In the same genre is Someone’s Knocking at the Door (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Nugget), which gives a nod to 1970s indie splatter films in a story about six college classmates on a drug- and sex-filled weekend.
For those who would like to steer clear of the blatantly gruesome in favor of psychological intensity Phasma Ex Machina (Friday, 7:30 p.m., Nugget) is a sure pick in its exploration of the grey area between life and death.
“It’s a smart film, well-written, and has no gore whatsoever,” described Wilson.
Horror comedy Strigoi (Saturday, 10 a.m., Nugget), which introduces us to a myth about souls that rise after death to seek justice for wrongdoing against them, and Bitter Feast (Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Nugget), about a celebrity television chef who seeks revenge against the influential food blogger who ruined his career, also feature in the smart, well-written, not-overly-gory category.
Japanese film Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (Saturday, 8 p.m., Nugget) is so gory with “blood and guts just raining down” that it’s funny, said Wilson, describing the movie as cartoonish in nature.
Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives (Friday, 10:15 p.m., Sheridan), is also a winner in the “total comedy” category.
“Go laugh and have a good time,” said Wilson.
Most feature films are preceded by film shorts, but those fond of the briefer style have a chance for immersion during Saturday Morning Shorts (Saturday, 10 a.m., Sheridan), offering a showcase of works by talented young independent filmmakers.
The world premier of Horror Show Guest Director Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Sheridan), written and directed by the man behind blockbusters like Fright Night and Child’s Play, offers a peek at his brand new series of shorts created in the tradition of anthology shows like The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Tales from the Crypt, and will feature a question and answer session with the legendary filmmaker following the screening of his three nine-minute films.
The Telluride Horror Show opens this Friday with a pig roast (free pig, cash bar) at the Sheridan Opera House from 5 to 7 p.m. that is included in the price of a three-day Festival Pass ($120). Non-passholders can purchase a separate ticket for $20. Tickets for individual screenings may also be purchased at the door for $15 each, or purchase five tickets in advance for the price of four ($60).
For passes and more information including schedules, trailers and details on all the films and special guests visit www.telluridehorrorshow.com.