On July 16, American horror cinema lost one of its greatest voices when George Romero died from lung cancer at the age of 77. With a career spanning over four decades and numerous film and television projects, Romero left an indelible mark on pop culture and inspired generations of filmmakers. He also holds a special place in the hearts of Pittsburgh film fans, as his iconic Living Dead series made Southwestern Pennsylvania the birthplace of the modern zombie. On July 22, Waterworks Cinemas honors his life and work with a special event.
The theater will host a Zombie Party featuring a screening of Night of the Living Dead and undead-themed activities. Those dressed in their best zombie outfits can receive professional makeovers by artists of Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects Program. Later in the evening, zombified guests can show off their horrific transformations and compete for top prizes during a pageant judged by macabre makeup experts and other horror gurus.
The Waterworks Cinemas Zombie Party begins at 10 p.m. The pageant takes place at 10:30 p.m. The Night of the Living Dead screening takes place at 11:15 p.m. Tickets are limited and available now for purchase in the theater lobby or online. Please note that Waterworks only offers luxury recliner seating.
Horror Realm blows in this March with plenty of movies, events, merchandise and guests appearances to excite area horror fans.
The latest annual spring show takes place from March 3-5 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Green Tree and features a 10,000-square-foot dealer room with vendors selling DVDs, collectible figures, t-shirts, posters, jewelry, and clothing. There’s also a film program, celebrity Q&A sessions, costume and tattoo contests, and parties.
The guest lineup includes Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead, Amityville II: The Possession, TerrorVision), Phantasm franchise star Reggie Bannister, Tuesday Knight (Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), Tiffany Shepis (Sharknado 2: The Second One, Tales of Halloween, Nightmare Man) and many more.
The schedule features screenings of local films such as Possessed – The Making of The Redsin Tower by Toe Tag Productions and CarousHELL by Silver Spotlight Films, as well as the 1982 slasher hit The Slumber Party Massacre. There will also be a tribute to the late midnight movie icon Chilly Billy Cardille, a live Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast performance by the JCCP, and a short film showcase.
See a full convention schedule at the Horror Realm website.
Tickets cost $100 for VIP passes, $40 for weekend passes, $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Active duty military and veterans receive one free single day admission with valid ID. Children 12 and under are free with an adult admission. Tickets are available for purchase at the door or in advance at Showclix.
The Hollywood Theater will finish off the month with Janu-Scary, a selection of five independent horror films from the US and around the world. See details and schedule below:
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
In the latest from director Andre Ovredal (Trollhunter), coroner Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) run a family-owned morgue and crematorium in Virginia. When the local Sheriff brings in a dead Jane Doe it seems like just another open-and-shut case. But as the autopsy proceeds, Tommy and Austin discover that her insides have been scarred, charred and dismembered — seemingly the victim of a horrific yet mysterious ritualistic torture. As they piece together these gruesome discoveries, an unnatural force takes hold of the crematorium. While a violent storm rages above ground, it seems the real horrors lie on the inside.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe screens at 7 p.m. from January 31–February 2.
The Eyes of My Mother
Set in a secluded farmhouse and shot in crisp black and white, writer/director Nicolas Pesce’s feature debut follows a mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, as she teaches her daughter, Francisca, to understand anatomy and be unfazed by death. One afternoon, a mysterious visitor horrifyingly shatters the idyll of Francisca’s family life, deeply traumatizing the young girl, but also awakening some unique curiosities. Though she clings to her increasingly reticent father, Francisca’s loneliness and scarred nature converge years later when her longing to connect with the world around her takes on a distinctly dark form.
The Eyes of My Mother screens at 7 p.m. from January 27–January 30.
Under the Shadow
Tehran, 1988: As the Iran-Iraq War rumbles into its eighth year, a mother and daughter are slowly torn apart by the bombing campaigns on the city coupled with the country’s bloody revolution. As they struggle to stay together amidst these terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment.
Under the Shadow screens at 7 p.m. from January 29–February 1.
In the middle of a routine patrol, officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it’s too late.
The Void screens at 7 p.m. on January 28.
We Are the Flesh
A young brother and sister, roaming an apocalyptic city, take refuge in the dilapidated lair of a strange hermit. He puts them to work building a bizarre cavernous structure, where he acts out his insane and depraved fantasies. Trapped in this maddening womb-like world under his malign influence, they find themselves sinking into the realms of dark and forbidden behavior. A visionary and bizarre slice of Mexican arthouse cinema, We Are The Flesh is an extraordinary and unsettling film experience, a sexually charged and nightmarish journey into an otherworldly dimension of carnal desire and excess, as well as a powerful allegory on the corrupting power of human desire.
We Are the Flesh screens at 9 p.m. from January 27–February 2.
Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door. Guests can also buy a $30 festival pass for all five films.
The holidays are over, which means it’s time to get back to business – horror business. On January 7, the Mr. Roboto Project will present Halloween In January, a night of frights, fun and food for a good cause. See the complete screening schedule and details below:
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Director George A. Romero created a cultural phenomenon with this Pittsburgh original about a group of survivors trapped in abandoned farmhouse by undead hordes hungry for human flesh.
Last Man on Earth (1964)
This early film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend stars Vincent Price as a doctor living in a world where an epidemic has transformed the human race into zombie vampires. This screening will feature the colorized version of the film.
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
Christopher Lee plays Count Dracula one last time in this Hammer horror selection about the dark prince’s plans to unleash a deadly plague on 1970s London. Peter Cushing also stars as a descendent of Dr. Van Helsing.
Doors for Halloween In January open at 5 p.m. The event includes free popcorn and drinks. Admission is a $5-10 rolling donation. All proceeds benefit the Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
Filmmaker Anna Biller has created quite the buzz with her second feature The Love Witch, a horror-thriller about magic, madness, and murder. Described as a “tribute to 1960s Technicolor thrillers” that “explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism,” the film follows Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a modern-day witch who uses spells and potions to get men to fall in love with her. The work has garnered critical praise for its sumptuous throwback style and bold take on feminism, as well as for Robinson’s strong breakout performance.
It’s also been touted as a treat for cinema buffs that recalls the style of French filmmaker Jacques Demy, 1960s sexploitation films, and Hammer horror.
As The Love Witch prepares to make its Pittsburgh premiere at the Hollywood Theater, Biller talked to Steel Cinema about the film’s personal significance, her extremely varied cinema diet, and having total creative control.
What inspired you to make The Love Witch?
It was a lot of things. I always like to make films about interior female experience, and I thought the figure of the witch was a good vehicle for that since the witch is a figure of so much projection and hysteria. I also was going through a rough period in my personal life, and I wanted to put that feeling of personal heartbreak on the screen. I joke that the movie is an autobiography, but people who know me well know that that’s really not that much of a joke! It’s a film that combines many aspects of my personal life, and it’s very coded.
You said in an interview that you’re influenced by Pre-Code Hollywood films and exploitation films of the 1960s and 70s. What about their style and themes resonate with you?
Well, I don’t think that I said I was interested in exploitation films; that’s what everyone else says. I did look at one exploitation film in preparation for the film – Mantis in Lace – but that film deals with similar themes as The Love Witch and was shot by the great László Kovács. I do like some of the color of giallo films, but I wasn’t watching giallo films to prepare for this movie — I was watching Hollywood Technicolor films, especially [Alfred] Hitchcock.
The themes that interest me most are from Pre-Code and noir films, because they’re often about women getting by in a man’s world. I’m not interested in misogynistic films, even when they’re visually arresting. My brain just sort of shuts down when women are being grossly objectified and especially when they’re being senselessly murdered. So I’m not into Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for instance, which is a film people often insist I was influenced by. I’m much more influenced by a film like [Carl Theodor] Dreyer’s Gertrud, which has the same theme my film has of a woman being disappointed with the men in her life who fail to love her properly, or a film like John Brahm’s The Locket, which is about discovering the roots of a woman’s psychopathology.
Are there other films or filmmakers you’re influenced by?
My first loves in cinema were the old Hollywood musicals, noir films, Pre-Code films, dramas, and screwball comedies. Later I came to appreciate foreign cinema, especially European and Japanese cinema. My parents were cinephiles, so as a child I was taken to films in the theater such as Murder in the Cathedral or The Seven Samurai or Satyricon, as well as nitrate prints of films such as Dames and Gold Diggers of 1933. All of that had a huge influence on my later tastes.
How do you maintain your own style while still paying homage to a certain era of filmmaking?
What I would say is that using classic cinematography and design techniques is my style. I was bottle-fed on classic films and they’ve always been part of my DNA. I don’t set out to create a retro look actually, or to pay homage to the past. I’m always just trying to learn my craft better, and I learn it from the films I love best, which are mostly from a few decades ago.
You occupy a lot of roles in your films, including directing, producing, writing, editing, and scoring, right down to costuming. What do you find the most challenging?
I think composing music is the most challenging since I have the least experience in it. I sometimes wish I had more than one life so I could spend 100 percent of one of my lives just studying music. But design is always the most difficult in terms of just how insanely time consuming it is. I would say that on any given film, I spend 90 percent of the time designing and making things, and 10 percent on everything else. The most difficult thing technically is the writing.
It’s probably no coincidence that, given our current political and social climate, empowered or resilient female characters are becoming more prominent in film right now. Where do you think The Love Witch fits in this new wave?
Just within the past week, since the election, The Love Witch has suddenly become more relevant. I used to get reactions from people where they’d think gender was an irrelevant thing to talk about since we’ve already achieved gender equality. Now suddenly everyone sees the enormous significance of the gender issues in the film, and that they are not obsolete but extremely timely. I’ve been creating these types of female characters in films for years, but it’s only now that people are taking that seriously, which is fantastic.
Hollywood has banked on emerging indie filmmakers for a lot of projects lately. If you were ever approached for a big-budget film, do you think you’d accept? If so, what would you want to direct?
If someone wanted to hire me to direct a big budget film, I’d probably demand to write the script and to get final cut. But it’s a very abstract question, since without knowing the specifics of an offer I can’t really answer how I’d respond.
The main question for me is the question of control. No one wants to spend their time doing something when they’re not going to like the final result. So I’d have to have a lot of control to have it work for me or work with people with similar artistic goals.
The Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Horror Project challenged 21 teams to write, shoot, edit, and score their own horror shorts over the course of a single weekend. On October 20th and 21st, the resulting films will premiere at the Hollywood Theater and compete for a variety of awards. See screening schedule below:
Autumn Wind Films – Glenn Syska
Dreaming Droids Productions – Paul Nandzik
Everlasting Productions LLC – Steve Sensebaugh
Gaff Tape and a Prayer – Mike Hanley
Hutchins Films – Jesse Hutchins
IFT CCAC SOUTH – Brendan Smith
Long Knuckle Studios – David Kost
R. Walker Productions – Rodman Walker
Team MGBG Films – Bryan Ghingold
Vaginal powers – Amanda Menendez
Written In Blood Productions – Michael Carbonara
BA …is the name – JP Russell, IV
Dunndo Studios – Troy Jackson
Eyes On Entertainment – James Garvin
Falling October Productions – Alexander Cronin
Haunted Hillside Productions – Elisabetta Pontillo
Locust Street Entertainment – Lance Parkin
PAS Productions – Valerie Gaisor
ShadowFrame – Jason Boyer
Titan Terror Studios – Emily Bondi
Westmonster Productions – Tyler Helvin
Audience members may vote on their favorite films after each group showing. All tickets cost $5 and are available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets.
It’s that time of year again, and Pittsburgh has tons of movie events to get you in the Halloween spirit. Scare yourself all month long with festive horror screenings, parties and festivals.
Midnight at the Manor – Manor Theatre
Enjoy a lineup of horror movies at Manor Theatre during the fifth annual Midnight at the Manor. Selections include Green Room on October 1st and It Follows on October 22nd. Keep checking the website for more films and details. All screenings will take place at midnight.
Haunted Oaks Film Festival – Oaks Theater
On October 1st, the Oaks Theater will showcase locally made short films during the second annual Haunted Oaks Film Festival. Selections include Candy by Nelson Vicens, Last Rain by the Carnegie Screenwriters, and Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Horror Project winner Daisy. Audience members can also vote for the best films of the festival. A pre-show cocktail hour featuring special $5 drinks begins at 6 p.m. Films begin at 7:30 p.m. Auditorium tickets cost $10, $12 for VIP table seating, and are available for purchase at Showclix or at the door.
October Sunday Night Series – Regent Square Theater
Regent Square Theater presents an impressive roster of classic horror movies during their month-long October Sunday Night Series. Selections include Dracula on October 2nd, The Invisible Man on October 9th, The Bride of Frankenstein on October 16th, The Wolf Man on October 23rd and The Creature from the Black Lagoon on October 30th. All screenings take place at 8 p.m.
Halloween Movie Nights – AMC Loews Waterfront
The Classic Movie Nights series at AMC Loews Waterfront takes a spooky turn with Halloween Movie Nights. Selections include Donnie Darko on October 5th, Poltergeist on October 12th, Psycho on October 19th and Halloween on October 26th. All screenings take place at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5, $10.50 for reserved seating.
October Movie Nights – Mixtape
The Garfield coffee and cocktail bar Mixtape will screen a host of horror movies as part of their weekly October Movie Nights series. On October 6th, it’s the horror comedy The Addams Family followed by Wes Craven’s meta-slasher classic Scream. On October 13th, its Hocus Pocus followed by the 2013 remake of Carrie. On October 20th, it’s Beetlejuice followed by Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake. On October 27th, it’s a special Nightmare Edition with Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas followed by the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Films start at 7 and 9 p.m. Admission is free and includes complimentary popcorn. Guests must be 21 and over.
Halloween Spook-Tacular – Dependable Drive-In
Families and hardcore horror fans alike will find plenty of fun at Dependable Drive-In‘s Halloween Spook-Tacular. On October 14th, the theater will open at 5 p.m. with trunk-or-treat for the kids and contests for the best costume and best-decorated car. A kid-friendly double feature with Hotel Transylvania 2 and Monster House begins at 7:15 p.m. Afterward, adults can enjoy more R-rated frights with Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. There will also be pumpkin funnel cakes and hot apple cider at the concession stand. Admission is $8 for adult, $3 for kids ages 5-11.
Living Dead Weekend – Living Dead Museum
The Living Dead Museum will once again host a weekend of zombie-themed fun for the whole family. From October 14th through October 16th, horror fans can partake in activities such as a George Romero double feature at the Strand Theater and guided Living Dead film location tours. Guests can also enjoy numerous activities in EDCO Park, including discussion panels and meetups with Living Dead cast and crew members, parties, vendors, and more. See the Living Dead Weekend website for a complete schedule, guest list and ticket prices.
Halloween Party with Doug Bradley and The Innocents – Hollywood Theater
On October 15th, horror icon Doug Bradley, star of the Hellraiser series, will stop by the Hollywood Theater for the venue’s annual Halloween party. The event includes a screening of the 1961 film The Innocents. Based on the Henry James novella Turn of the Screw, the British tale stars Deborah Kerr as a governess who believes the two children under her care are being possessed by a malevolent spirit haunting their house. There will also be festive treats, a costume contest with prizes, and photo and autograph opportunities with Bradley. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to 12 at Showclix, $8 for members, $15 at the door. BYOB is prohibited for this event. The theater will sell beer and wine.
Haunted Psychedelic Creep Show Vault – Spirit
On October 21st, the creatures of the night will make some cool music at Spirit when the venue presents a DJ lineup spinning horror movie-inspired disco, as well as synthwave, witch-house and black techno. Headlining the event is Antoni Maiovvi, co-owner of the Euro-horror dance music label Giallo Disco Records. Maiovvi scored the neo-Giallo film Yellow, which screened at Film 4 Frightfest, Sitges 2012, Berlinale and Cannes. The evening begins at 9 p.m. Cover is $7. This is a 21 and over event.
Silent Horror Classics Marathon – Row House Cinema
On October 23rd, Row House Cinema will go quiet for a full day of silent horror cinema. The event includes screenings of Vampyr (1932), Nosferatu (1922), Faust (1926) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). The Silent Horror Classics Marathon begins at 1:15 p.m. Showtimes and tickets are available at the Row House website.
Midnight Radio’s Night of the Living Dead N’at – Bricolage
From October 27th through November 12th, Bricolage some adds levity to the zombie apocalypse with Midnight Radio‘s horror comedy show Night of the Living Dead N’at. The twisted, 1940s radio-style take on George Romero’s definitive 1968 film Night of the Living Dead comes complete with live foley work, commercial spoofs and performers juggling multiple roles, as well as live musical accompaniment by Cello Fury. Audience members can also enjoy a special pre-show happy hour with free drinks and activities. Tickets cost $35, $25 for students with valid ID, and are available for purchase at the Bricolage website.
Conflict Kitchen will stay open late for a special event. On September 16th, the eatery, which serves cuisine from countries with which the US is currently in conflict, will complete their focus on the food, culture and politics of Iran with a free outdoor screening of the 2014 film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps and other sordid souls, is a bastion of depravity and hopelessness where a lonely vampire (Sheila Vand) stalks its most unsavory inhabitants. But when boy (Arash Marandi) meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom.
Considered to be the first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s directorial debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.
The Conflict Kitchen screening of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will take place at 8 p.m. Food will be available for purchase.
Fans of guts and gore should head to the Riverside Drive-In for an exclusive, one-night only event. On September 16th, the outdoor venue will screen three movies, including one shot by Pittsburgh filmmakers, for its Independent Horror Film Fest. See schedule and details below:
The Dooms Chapel Horror (2015)
Described as a “creature feature with heart,” The Dooms Chapel Horror follows Kyle (Austin Madding) as he returns to his hometown after a 10-year-long absence. Blamed for the death of his brother, Ryan (William Ryan Watson), he hopes to clear his name by proving that his brother’s death was an accident. But something in the woods promises to take even more from Kyle.
The Barn (2015)
Set in Halloween 1989, this selection from the Pittsburgh-based company Nevermore Production Films follows best friends Sam and Josh as they try to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within.
Night of Something Strange (2016)
Five teenage friends set out for the beach on their Spring Break vacation. Good times are cut short when one of the group members contracts a deadly sexual transmitted disease during a bathroom stop. When they stop for the night at an isolated motel, the real terror begins when the STD virus starts running rampant, turning those infected into the living dead. However, there’s more going on at the motel than meets the eye.
Gates for the event open at 7 p.m. Admission is $8.
Riverside Drive-In will get down with some weird and wild horror movies during the tenth annual Super Monster-Rama. On September 9th and September 10th, the venue will present a lineup of eight films in 35mm print format, among them four Spanish horror curiosities, the original Dark Shadows feature films and other surprises.
Horror of the Zombies (1974)
Spanish writer/director Amando de Ossorio‘s work finds two swimsuit models and their rescuers run afoul of a a mysterious ship full of undead mummies. Alternatively known as The Ghost Galleon.
Night of the Howling Beast (1975)
The Spanish horror selections continue with this bizarre romp about an adventurer transformed into werewolf by two sexy vampire women while hunting a Yeti in the Himalayas. Also known as The Werewolf and the Yeti and Hall of the Mountain King.
House of Psychotic Women (1974)
A drifter becomes involved with three strange sisters in a French village being terrorized by a killer who murders blue-eyed women and gouges out their eyes. Originally titled Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll.
Curse of the Devil (1973)
A man is turned into a werewolf by the modern-day descendants of a witch executed by his ancestors.
House of Dark Shadows (1970)
The feature film based on the gothic TV soap opera Dark Shadows follows vampire Barnabas Collins as he searches for a cure to his affliction so he can marry the incarnation of his lost love.
Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
The sequel to House of Dark Shadows centers on painter Quentin Collins and his wife Tracy after they move into Collinwood Mansion and find themselves plagued by ghosts and spirits of his ancestors who used to be witches.
The House That Dripped Blood (1971)
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing star in this anthology of four horror stories revolving around a mysterious rental house in the UK.
The Bat People (1974)
After being bitten by a bat in a cave, a doctor undergoes an incredible transformation and goes on a killing spree.
Gates open during normal hours at 7 p.m. with films starting at dusk. Each evening will also include an array of vintage monster and exploitation movie trailers, cartoons, and short subjects in between features. Admission is $10 per person each night, free for children 12 and under with parent or adult guardian.
Overnight camping is available on both nights for an additional $10 per person. Gates open early on Friday afternoon for early arrivals and campers. Concessions will be available for lunch as early as possible. Breakfast and access to restroom and shower facilities are provided.