On May 19th, 2018, Nevermore-Horror attended the first ever Northwest Horrorfest, which featured filmmakers hailing from the Pacific Northwest and promoted by the illustrious Olympia Film Society. It was well worth the trip from Seattle to visit Olympia, Washington (WA state’s capital) for this amazing event. As we arrived at the venerable Capitol Theatre in the historic district, we instantly knew that this could be an opportunity to get our feet wet in Olympia’s underground horror scene. We arrived early to look around and take some pictures of the place. At that time it felt as if we were outsiders, Seattle onlookers violating the sanctity of some hallowed temple, that is until we met the delphic Jonah Barrett. Jonah was our first point of contact, and although he was super busy, he took out some time to tell us the history of the theater. Built in 1924, the Capitol Theatre was once a vaudeville stagehouse, complete with a huge balcony, an upstairs bar, all wrapped up in an Art Deco time capsule. It created the ominous setting for a night of horror on the big screen.
After the doors opened, the audience wove themselves into their seats. We were promptly exposed to Ian and Tori Bracken of Bracken Basement Productions. Ian and Tori were the delightfully belligerent hosts for the evening and they would be our guides throughout the night.
The festival started off with a trailer for a film by Christal VanEtten (Director) and Anthony Dluzak (writer/ co-director), called The Magician’s Curse.
Anthony Dluzak puts on Tacoma’s Friday Night Frights at the Blue Mouse Theatre in Tacoma, Washington. Christal (Red VanGoul) VanEtten keeps her readers updated in the world of horror at thesuperghoul.com.
The short films were in the first round of viewings. Faceophobia, directed by Syd Boyle is about a man with a horrible phobia of people who touch their faces. The second short was titled, Time Heals No Wounds, an 11 minute short about love and time travel, directed by Jordan Barnes-Crouse.
The festival kicked it into full swing with the next batch of films. I Love You, Puppet Man, directed by Bry Troyer, features a mad scientist who is obsessed with contacting the dead. I Love You, Puppet Man was just of taste of Troyer’s lighthearted approach to horror. He reminds us of the whole reason we all got involved in horror in the first place: It’s fun! Troyer’s next release is a full-length feature titled They Reach, and after Puppet Man, I really can’t wait to see it. If you can spare it, throw a few bucks at Troyer’s IndieGoGo so he can get this film out to the rest of us! Here is the trailer for They Reach.
The next offering for the Northwest Horrorfest was Bad Faith, a film by the aforementioned Jonah Barrett. Bad Faith takes viewers down the path of mental illness and how it can affect people’s personal and professional lives. Although I wouldn’t classify this so much as a horror film, I can admit that the film can be a scary reminder of how close we all are of falling into despair and alienating those around us. You can drop into Jonah’s YouTube channel and keep tabs on his upcoming projects and you can also watch Bad Faith in its entirety.
Between the short films and the feature, Tori and Ian Bracken hosted the panel of directors for a Q and A. We learned about some of the challenges that need to be overcome when filming on a budget in the Pacific Northwest. There was some discussion about the value of attending film school, and then some pretty cool prizes were raffled off from a local comic shop.
Finally, the piece de resistance was the only feature-length film of the evening. Buzzard Hollow Beef, written by Tara C. Hall, and directed by Joshua Johnson, really took me by surprise. Buzzard Hollow Beef has the hallmarks of the cannibal survival horror genre, without being clichÃ© or worn out. It is a truly original film. I really wish I could talk more about the film but there is just too much of a risk of giving it away. The real strength of this film was in the writing and the strong themes which were wrapped up in a tongue in cheek social commentary about modern America. Talking to Joshua Johnson after the show, he said that this interpretation of the film wasn’t far off. After all, horror is supposed to hold up a mirror to society and show us what we should really be afraid of. Buzzard Hollow Beef is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can check it out at no extra cost. The Blu-ray is coming soon so that will also be an option.
Joshua Johnson also revealed that he is working on a couple more films that should be out in the not too distant future. You should really keep an eye on A Man and A Woman Productions.
I expected the Northwest Horrorfest to be a lot of fun, but I didn’t expect to meet such a treasure trove of wonderful people from the region who were extremely enthusiastic about creating horrific works of art. I am looking forward to watching these exciting artists continue to produce original and thoughtful movies. Make sure you attend next year’s Northwest Horrorfest, and if you ever find yourself in Olympia, WA before then, go watch a film at the Capitol Theatre and support the Olympia Film Society.
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.