When failed filmmaker Doug Stevenson leaves his video camera in the local park overnight, he accidentally records something horrific. To top it off, it might have something to do with his new neighbors that moved into his quiet suburban neighborhood. With the help of his bumbling teacher buddies, Doug goes on a wild ride to save himself, his friends, his ex-wife, and the entire neighborhood. Directed by Ben Dietels and starring Steve Rudzinski, David Ogrodowski, Jack Davis, and Vincent Bombara.
Slaughter Drive screens at 7:30 p.m. Guests are encouraged to wear their best Halloween costume for a contest to win a BPO DVD prize pack. Tickets cost $5 at the door.
On October 9, local horror fans will get a special treat when the Hollywood Theater presents the Pittsburgh premiere of Victor Crowley, the secretly produced reboot to the popular Hatchet slasher franchise.
Starring Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7 – X) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow), the new film from writer/director Adam Green takes you on a horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou. In 2007, 49 people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past. [Synopsis courtesy of Drafthouse Films]
Victor Crowley screens at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. The event includes a special appearance by Adam Green. Tickets cost $15, $12 for Hollywood members.
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.
The Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival – Riverside Drive-In Theatre
On October 6-7, the Riverside Drive-In Theatre will present a creepy crop of short and feature-length independent works for the second annual Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival. See schedule below:
7:35 p.m. – The Blood Shed
8 p.m. – Close Calls
10:30 p.m. – Pool Party Massacre
12 a.m. – 3 Dead Trick or Treaters
7:35 – 8 p.m. – The Stylist and Knob Goblins
8 p.m. – Circus of the Dead
10 p.m. – Family Possessions
11:45 p.m. – Shorts Block with John The Carpenter, Born Again, and Gwilliam
12:20 a.m. – Space Babes from Outer Space
Admission to the Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival costs $8 per night.
Haunted Oaks Film Festival – Oaks Theater
On October 7, the Oaks Theater will showcase 13 locally made short films during the Haunted Oaks Film Festival. Selections include Blue Mountain Motel: The Innkeeper by Nathan King and Seth Smiley and the 2016 48 Hour Horror Film Project film When Madness Creeps In. The event also includes a cocktail hour where guests enjoy $5 and mingle with cast, crew and fellow horror lovers, a directors Q&A, and a chance to cast your ballot for the Audience Award. Films begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10.
Manor At Midnight – Manor Theatre
The freaks come out at night when the Manor Theatre presents their latest Midnight at the Manor movie lineup. The schedule includes David Cronenberg’s The Fly (October 7), the horror comedy What We Do In The Shadows (October 14), a restored print of Night Of The Living Dead (October 20 and 21), and The Shining (October 28). All shows will start at midnight, with the exception of Night Of The Living Dead. Please note that there will be two Night Of The Living Dead shows each evening at 10:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.
Row House Cinema: Midnight Edition – Row House Cinema
Row House Cinema will present three horror hits for their Midnight Edition series. Selections include the 2014 indie Goodnight Mommy (October 7), the J-horror classic Ringu (October 21), and the Guillermo del Toro film The Devil’s Backbone (October 28). Tickets to all shows cost $10.
AMC Waterfront 22: Classic Movie Nights – AMC Loews Waterfront 22
AMC Loews Waterfront 22 will inject some horror into its Classic Movie Nights series with a few spooky selections. On October 6, it’s the 1975 cult musical Rocky Horror Picture Show, followed by the witchy romantic comedy Practical Magic on October 11, Friday the 13th on Friday, October 13 (of course), The Lost Boys on October 18, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice on October 25, and The Crow on October 30. Tickets cost $5. VIP seating is also available.
Friday the 13th Movie and Beer Tasting – Oaks Theater
On October 12, enjoy a bloody good time when the Oaks Theater pairs beer with a screening of the slasher classic Friday the 13th. The 1980 film pits a group of teen camp counselors against a killer with a ruthless vendetta. Event begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8.
The Old Dark House – Hollywood Theater
From October 13-15, the Hollywood Theater resurrects a lost horror gem when it shows the new 4K restoration of The Old Dark House (1932). Bride of Frankenstein director James Whale added a comic spin to his adaptation of the 1927 J. B. Priestley novel Benighted, which follows a group of lost travelers who take refuge in a gloomy, secluded mansion. The atmospheric thriller features a post-Frankenstein Boris Karloff, Melvin Douglas, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey and Gloria Stuart of Titanic fame. Tickets cost $5-8.
A Celebration of George Romero – Various venues
Pittsburgh will come together to honor a late horror master when Row House Cinema and company present A Celebration of George Romero. From October 13-19, the week-long tribute will feature screenings and programming presented by several local businesses. Events include Romero movies at Row House Cinema, the “resurrection” of the Pittsburgh zombie store House of the Dead, a mini Zombie School with The ScareHouse, a #RomeroWasHere Scavenger Hunt at Romero film locations throughout Western Pennsylvania, and a horror-themed trivia night at the Row House Cinema sister store, Bierport. The Douglas Education Center will also present makeup and special effects demonstrations by George A. Romero’s Filmmaking Program and Tom Savini’s Special Makeup and Effects Program. Event dates and times are available at the Row House Cinema website.
Living Dead Weekend – Living Dead Museum
The Living Dead Museum will once again host a weekend of zombie-themed fun for the whole family in Evans City, PA. From October 20-22, enjoy numerous activities in EDCO Park, including discussion panels and meetups with Living Dead cast and crew members, a pet walk and costume contest, parties, vendors, and more. The event will also honor the late George Romero with a double-feature screening of his films Day of the Dead and Knightriders at the Strand Theater. Ticket prices vary.
Row House of Horrors – Row House Cinema
From October 20-31, Row House Cinema scares up more great movies for Row House of Horrors. Selections include the wacky sequel Evil Dead 2, the 1982 American horror classic Poltergeist, the 1993 comedy Hocus Pocus, and director Dario Argento’s 1977 work Suspiria.
Hollywood Theater Halloween Party with The Lost Boys – Hollywood Theater
On October 21, vamp it up for the annual Hollywood Theater Halloween Party. The event features a vampire theme in honor of the evening’s screening of The Lost Boys, the 1987 film about two brothers who discover their town is a haven for blood-sucking teens. Don your best vampire look and compete in the costume contest, which includes a category for the best 1980’s-inspired vampire. Transform yourself into a Reagan-era monster at the 1980’s hair bar and vampire makeup station. There will also be vendor tables, a raffle, tasty treats, and other scary fun. Doors open at 7 p.m. The screening takes place at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15, $12 for Hollywood members, $20 day of event. The event is BYOB.
48 Hour Film Horror Project Festival – Oaks Theater
The Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Horror Project challenged 19 teams to write, shoot, edit, and score their own horror shorts over the course of a single weekend. On October 28, the resulting films will premiere at the Oaks Theater and compete for a variety of awards. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the door.
Silents, Please! Nosferatu with the Andrew Alden Ensemble – Hollywood Theater
On October 29, the chamber music group Andrew Alden Ensemble will provide live musical accompaniment to the 1922 silent film Nosferatu. Presented as part of Hollywood Theater‘s Silents, Please! series. German director F. W. Murnau‘s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula follows the blood-thirsty Count Orlok as he relocates from his castle in the Carpathian mountains to a small German town, where he feeds on the unsuspecting populace. Tickets cost $8-10.
From September 8-9, the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama returns to the Riverside Drive-In with a weekend full of spooky, silly, and super weird films. The latest batch offers a mix of beloved cult classics and bizarre gems. See details below:
The Tingler (1959)
Vincent Price stars in William Castle‘s wonderfully ridiculous film about a mad scientist who unleashes a creature that feeds on fear.
Munster, Go Home! (1966)
Based on the hit 1960s TV show, the movie follows the Munster family as they travel to England to claim an estate.
The Horror of Party Beach (1964)
A seaside town comes under attack by bloodthirsty monsters from the deep in this horror musical. Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans will recognize this one.
Atomic Age Vampire (1960)
When a woman becomes disfigured in a car accident, a scientist tries to restore her beauty with a treatment that has dire consequences. Despite the misleading title, this Italian horror curiosity does not feature an actual vampire.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
In this camp favorite, a woman takes revenge on her cheating husband after an alien encounter transforms her into a giantess.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Scientists stumble upon an aquatic missing link while exploring the Amazon in this sci-fi monster classic.
It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)
An alien life form terrorizes the crew aboard a spacecraft sent to investigate a downed ship. Because of their many similarities, the film is seen as the inspiration behind Ridley Scott’s Alien.
She Demons (1958)
Three people become stranded on a mysterious island, where they must contend with deformed humanoid women and a Nazi mad scientist.
Half Human (1958)
The American edit of a Japanese monster movie goes on the hunt for the Abominable Snowman.
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.
Last August, local horror filmmaker Fred Vogel started shooting his eighth feature film in Pittsburgh. On August 17, the Hollywood Theater will premiere the finished product, The Final Interview, a thriller about a desperate reporter and a killer.
Veteran TV journalist Oliver Ross (Grainger Hines) visits Western Penitentiary for a live broadcast. There he confronts Darius Tidman (Damien Maruscak), a death row inmate and infamous Pittsburgh murderer, hours before his execution. The face-to-face interview is a last-ditch effort for Ross to salvage his declining career. While he spars verbally with Tidman on air, behind the scenes he wrestles with his own personal demons as his ex-wife and show director Rhonda Cox (Diane Franklin) attempts to keep him on track and guide him through the broadcast. Oliver must push through a dark world of the murder and his own mind.
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.