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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[October 19, 2006]
Man and Oculus dominated the third
annual Tabloid Witch Awards,
the Hollywood Investigator's no entry fee contest that was established
to bring attention to little-known horror filmmaking talent.
All seven films will be screened
at the Santa Monica Public Library, with
attending actors and filmmakers participating in a followup Q&A, on
December 9, 2006, from 12 noon to 5:15 pm.
And now, here are the seven
horror films that were the best of the entries we reviewed:
* Best Horror Feature -- Nightmare
Although borrowing from other
horror films, the 90 minute Nightmare
Man features beautiful compositions, a multi-colored lighting
that evokes Suspiria,and Terror,
a strong cast and music soundtrack, and a story propelled by an energy
reminiscent of Evil
A woman (Blythe Metz) suffers
nightmares about a demon she calls "the nightmare man." People think
she's crazy; she thinks her pills keep the demon at bay. One day
her hubby (Luciano Szafir) drives her to an asylum, when they run out of
gas and she loses her pills. Leaving them stranded in the forest,
all alone aside from some sex-crazed twentysomethings playing "erotic
truth or dare" in a nearby rustic house.
"I wanted to pay homage
to three decades of horror movies. I wrote the first draft of Nightmare
Man in seven days. The first act is a '70s style suspense
flick with Ellen in the car. Subtle shadows, creaking noises. Then the film enters the '80s with a Halloween/Friday
the 13th stalk & slash scenario. Then the '90's with Army
Knight supernatural moments."
"We shot the film in 15 days
in Big Bear during August 2005," said Kanefsky. "A tricky shoot; we had
short summer nights and almost the entire film occurs at night. Seven
to eight hours of usable darkness every night. My incredible DP,
Paul Deng, made it work. Our record was 78 setups in a 16 hour day. Almost the entire car sequence in the first act of the film.
"We shot Nightmare
Man on HD, using a Panasonic Vericam 24p. We wanted the
first half to have a slightly grainy look and then the second half to go
into Suspiria and Creepshow kind of colors.
"When the supernatural elements
take over, anything goes. I think the film balances a realistic look
with a more surreal third act quality. The demons let us play with
the colors. That was fun."
Metz's strong performance
is matched by co-star Tiffany Shepis, who finds herself in a Bruce
Campbell-type role as the last survivor battling the demon.
Her smirks and glares and
nasty barbs also evoke Angelina Jolie's Lisa in Girl
"It's funny you mention Girl
Interrupted," remarked Kanefsky, "because Tiffany is a huge
fan of that
book and would have killed to be in that movie.
"I like to work with actors
I have relationships with," said Kanefsky. "I discovered Metz when
Hyde on NowCasting.com. I knew
she'd be right for Nightmare
Man,so I never auditioned anyone
for that role. I'd worked with Shepis on six films now. She's
a good friend and we are very close.
"James Ferris was also in Hyde. I was impressed and offered him Nightmare
Hanna Putnam was a classic Hollywood discovery story. She was a waitress
at Cantor's in Hollywood. Clu Gulager, a veteran actor and friend,
invited her to a bar I hang out in. She had the perfect look for
the character and we set up an audition. She nailed it.
"She'd just moved to Hollywood
a few months earlier and there you go. I cast her in my next film
too. We stumbled upon Richard Moll (Night
Court) and got lucky. He lives in Big Bear, where we were filming,
and agreed to a cameo for one night. Jack Sway I found on NowCasting.com. So we only auditioned two roles in the movie."
Shepis does commit one on-screen
blooper. Her character is skilled in weaponry: rifles and crossbows.
Yet when turning, she swings a loaded crossbow past Hanna Putman. An experienced weapons expert would have taken care not to point at anyone. And this is before any killers appear, so it's not as if Shepis's character
is too hysterical to know better.
Man benefits from Christopher Farrell's music, which parallels
the film, supporting and heightening the drama throughout. "I've
worked with Chris since 1996," said Kanefsky. "He's scored nine movies
for me. I temp my movie with music, and Chris uses that and our discussions
to create the score. I hear pieces to see if he's on the right track. When we lay the music, we work with Matt Bobb, our sound mixer, to find
the right balance.
"I wanted wind and wind chimes
as a strong influence in Nightmare
Man. I'm a also huge Jerry Goldsmith fan and have temped
almost every movie with her music. Chris wanted me to try something
new this time, so the scores to Dog
Soldiers and Dead
Calm became big influences.
Man.was completed in May 2006.
American World Pictures is handling the international sales and Turtles
Crossing is handling domestic. We've had a few offers. I have a treatment ready for a sequel. I'm almost finished with my
latest flick, Pretty Cool Too. A sexy teen comedy with many actors from Nightmare
Man. But I plan to return to horror soon and have potential
projects in the works.
Running at 32 minutes, Oculus.is
a masterpiece of minimalist horror, using little more than one actor, a
room, and a mirror to create a sense of unease that slowly builds into
Its story concerns occult researcher Timothy Alan Russel
(played by Scott Graham) investigating a reputedly haunted mirror with
both his high-tech paraphernalia (cameras, recorders, phones, alarms, IV
tubes) and live subjects (a plant and a dog). But the mirror holds
secrets that result in Russel's physical and mental deterioration over
the course of the film.
Says director/co-writer Mike
Flanagan, "I was disheartened that many modern horror trends lean more
toward gross-out comedies than real horror. Once, drunk at a party,
I said to [co-writer] Jeff Seidman that a competent director could make
a truly frightening film without any genre requirements that Hollywood
is leaning on these days. For instance, doing away with the over-the-top
and returning to the lesson of Jaws.--
it's not what you see that scares you most, it's what you don't.
"And setting the film in
a bright, sterile environment rather than in the overused and over stylized
darkness and shadows. We got to talking about it, and once we hit
on the 'one guy alone in a bright room' idea, we got real excited trying
to make it scary."
Such a conceit relies heavily
upon the actor playing that "one guy," and Flanagan was well served by
Graham. "I'd worked with Scott Graham on my third feature, Ghosts
of Hamilton Street," said Flanagan. "He
was cast in that film via an open casting call in Baltimore and did a fantastic
job. Knowing we wouldn't have much money for Oculus,
and not wanting to gamble on an actor I didn't know for such a crucial
role, I told him it was his if he wanted it, and was willing to fly out
to L.A. for a week."
The "bright room" was the
back room of a Venice Beach coffee shop. "The owner was a freelance
photographer and artist, and that was her studio," said Flanagan. "We found
them through an ad on Craigslist.and
paid a very low rental rate for the four day shoot. It was a terrific
spot, but not air conditioned. The temperature was a constant 110
degrees. [Note to aspiring filmmakers: film lights are hot! And
we had to stop shooting whenever they made espresso out front, and during
peak business hours as we could hear the customers ordering coffee."
much of it tension by incessantly and erratically altering our viewpoint
of events, sometimes depicting events directly, sometimes through one of
Russel's monitors. The technique also helps alleviate the potential
monotony of seeing the same guy in the same room for a half hour.
"We shot on a Sony
HDR-FX1 and the consumer cameras (all 1-chip DVs) that are set
up in the room as props," said Flanagan.
"Rather than cut directly
to these consumer cameras' footage, I thought filming the monitors themselves
would look more authentic."
multiple visuals is a layered soundtrack of alarms and ring tones, real
imagined, that bombard Graham as the mirror erodes his sanity.
"Our sound was captured using
wireless lav mic under Scott's shirt and a boom on another channel as a
backup," said Flanagan. "It was very thin, clean sound. All
the other noises (alarms, phones, atmosphere, voices, etc.) were done in
post, using a combination of the SmartSound,
ambient library, and foley.
"The sound design took longer
than the picture edit. Much longer."
Contributing to the production's
hardships was its small crew. "The room was so small, we could only
fit about three people in there at a time while shooting," said Flanagan. "I shot the film myself, not because I think much of myself as a DP, but
because it was economical. The sound was tethered to the camera,
and I watched the levels in the eyepiece for peaking. In retrospect,
I wish I had a DP. This was the first time I've directed without
one. I don't think I'll do that again."
And there will be another
subtitled: "Chapter 3, The Man With the Plan." Explains Flanagan,
"This short is just one installment of an anthology about the mirror. We outlined nine stories, of which this is the third. When it came
to shoot, we looked for the story that'd be the most realistic for our
budget and also best orient the audience to the 'legend' of the mirror. The idea is to shoot one 'Chapter' a year, and eventually combine the first
three into a feature film."
Mike Flanagan graduated Towson
University's film program in Baltimore. He has directed for ESPN,
Discovery, and the National Lampoon Network's The
Gleib Show. He's completed three
feature films. Right now he's shopping projects to studios with his
screenwriter partner, Jeff Howard. "I'm looking forward to getting
out of the indie scene," says Flanagan.
Shorts remain the primary
calling-card for independent and student filmmakers, though unlike last
year, 2006's Honorable Mentions also include a feature.
But one thing hasn't changed. Our Honorable Mentions are not easy to win. Recipient films are all
entertaining and proficient, deserving of attention from industry and fans.
* Zombie Island
Zombies remain popular with
horror filmmakers, resulting in an unfortunate glut of entries with little
originality or artistry. So if you're gonna submit a zombie film,
you'd best think real hard about how to stand out from the pack.
Island goes that extra mile. Running at only 12 minutes, its
story offers an original twist on zombies, and its visuals tell that story
with polish, and even a darkly brooding beauty.
The tale opens with a town
local (played by Mark Borchardt of American
Movie) who tells three friends about a boatman who'll take you out
to "Zombie Island," where you can hunt zombies on safari.
You not only get to kill
'em -- you can take home their body parts as trophies for your wall!
"The idea for Zombie
Island came from the name," said writer/director Bill Whirity. "From there I fleshed it out into a short film for my horror class (taught
by Dan Dinello of Shock
Treatment and Strangers
With Candy). Its influences include Evil
Dead II and Army
of Darkness, and to a small extent Shaun
of the Dead, because of their mix of horror and humor. And the.Resident
Evil games. Hence the subtext of kids being desensitized by video
games and not taking the situation seriously; they make a game out of killing,
with a point system and a winner."
Whirity chose his actors
from among those he'd worked with before, and wrote his script with them
in mind. He gave Mark Borchardt a cameo because, "I figured it'd
be nice to have someone who's such a horror buff in the film."
Island is set in Canada, yet shot in Rolling Prairie, Indiana --
a twist from the usual "runaway production" scenario. "The area was
near my friend's cottage. It looked desolate but was also close to
where we could stage our base camp," said Whirity. The film was shot
on a Panasonic
dvx-100. "In 24p mode, not 24pa, so it was actually 29.97fps
but had the 24p look. This helped us avert the problems encountered
with 24pa importing, then still a new and somewhat cloudy concept."
enhanced Zombie Island's beautiful visuals -- saturated
colors, sepia tones, black & white scenes with one color. Another
aesthetic plus was the occasionally herky-jerky motion that underscored
the friends' panic as zombies overtake them.
"It was mostly color correction
Cut Pro," said Whirity. "I tweaked some Magic
Bullet filters. Most people don't learn Magic
Bullet. They just do a basic drag and drop effect apply. But
if you sit and learn and play with the settings, you can get a look that's
less of a stock look that everyone else is using.
"The scenes with B&W
and some color was done in Final
Cut Pro, for two reasons: (1) to emphasize certain elements such as
blood, and (2) to practice achieving this effect. But the footage
got such a great response, I decided to keep it in. It was inspired
by films such as Sin
City or Pleasantville.
"The jerkiness was achieved
by changing the shutter speeds. It's a basic concept seen in films
Private Ryan. I used it on fast actions (e.g., chase scenes)
give it a creepier feel. That, combined with handheld camera work,
builds tension better than a smooth, wide tripod shot."
Whirity has advice for aspiring
filmmakers. "Shoot, shoot, shoot! Practice makes perfect and
tape is cheap, so go out and make practice films. Know your equipment. Don't just learn how to use it, learn why you use it the way you do. Research what the different settings do, rather than just knowing it looks
cooler if I push this button.
"Don't obsess with your stuff
looking like film. If you're not shooting film, don't pretend you
are, using film grain filters or whatever. Whatever you're shooting on,
own it. Digital is its own monster, and by embracing it, your films
will be unique. If your movie's good, people won't notice what it's
shot on. It's only when people are not being entertained that they
start to notice technical things. More than anything technical, you want
to put most of your effort into making your story engaging."
Bill Whirity graduated Chicago's Columbia
College in 2005 with a film degree. He's completed several
short films and a feature, Broke. A
Chicago native, he lives in Los Angeles where he's directed internet commercials
for Digital Innovations while developing his own projects. He can
be contacted through MySpace.com/Zombie
Island or email@example.com.
Some eighty years after its
release, the surrealist Un
Chien Andalou continues to inspire film students. Last
year it was Slinky
Milk that represented horror-surrealism at the Tabloid Witch;
this year it is Aldo E. Serrano's 4 minute short, Moloch.
no discernible story, but rather is a stream of images, often violent and
despairing, shot under diversely stylistic lighting setups. But curiously,
although Serrano acknowledges Un
Andalou as an influence (along with Requiem
for a Dream, Spun and.Irréversible),
he'd thought he was shooting a story about a woman possessed by an evil
"My funding was limited,"
explained Serrano, "so I took parts of my previous scripts, used few characters,
and tied them into a short story with a nonlinear structure and a dismay
of visuals. It's about a young girl possessed by an evil doll, which
allows her to see into her fierce future. But after having a private screening,
many had different views on what the film was about, giving it its own
personal plot and feel."
Serrano cast his actors via NowCasting.com.
"Auditions were held at The
Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. After selecting
actors out of 63 submissions, I gave them a brief rundown of the film and
emailed them the script. During auditions I had every actor tell
me a bit about themselves, pick the most comfortable part of the script,
act it out, then tell me the most uncomfortable period in their life, be
it abuse, rape, or molestation. This was completely optional. Although
the camera was rolling, not one actor held back from telling a heartfelt
story. Many broke into tears and used this emotional energy for the
next part of the audition, which involved them acting out the most uncomfortable
part of the script.
"Few actors put true feeling
into the scene. Many, I felt, were holding back. After auditions,
I chose not to review any of my notes or footage. Three weeks passed.
I needed to see which actor mentally stood out most. After reviewing
carefully, one actress completely stood out: Mirelly Taylor.
"Taylor has done many independent
films such as Kiss
Me Again and Shades of Crimson,
but what sold me about Taylor, besides her natural talent and stunning
look, was her background growing up as a violent, depressing teen. She
was the girl in my script."
Serrano credits Moloch's
diverse "look" to DP Juan Rodriguez and extensive post production work. Rodriguez used a Panasonic
DVX100a 24p, with additional scenes shot on Kodak Super-8 Kodachrome
40 film. But only the video survived.
"The Super 8 film was
lost in the processing," said Serrano. "Luckily, I'd filmed the same
scenes with the Panasonic for coverage.
"I mixed the sound after
hours listening to libraries' Sound FX, recording foley with a DAT-recorder,
and ADR. After 26 mixes on Pro Tools,
I chose a soothing Japanese meditation song in the background and high-pitched
Sound FX in the foreground. Each piece of audio was carefully picked
to set a distracting psychological mood, such as in A
Moloch was shot at The Art
Redondo Beach, and Riverside.
Serrano has since graduated
The Art Institute, receiving an Associates of Science in Video Production
degree. He credits some of his skills to having mentored under directors
Patrick Scott and Abigail Severance, and film technicians Stephen Lovejoy,
Guy Toubes, Stephen Belafonte, and Lorraine Schreyer.
an old-fashioned suspense film. With little blood or gore, this 20
minute short presents an imaginative coed left alone in her sorority house
her sisters are away on a ski trip.
A stranger knocks late one night,
claiming to be a police detective and warning of a murderer
loose in the
neighborhood. Later, a classmate comes visiting. Is the killer
lurking outside? -- or is it classmate, or the detective, or the coed herself? Or is it all in her mind?
Writer/director Kenny Selko
cites Hitchcock, The
Twilight Zone, and film noir as influences. "I wanted to create
a film that was dark and stylized, with a certain amount of tension throughout.
I also wanted to echo the 1950s in terms of dialogue pacing, and the overall
look and feel.
Selko found his cast in
the usual way. "I held auditions for all the roles and saw numerous
actors. Both male roles (Jerod Edington, Guy Nardulli) were cast through
this process. Jerod Edington referred Mandy Amano to me."
Alone was shot with an Arri SR2 camera on Super 16mm Kodak Vision 2 film, then
transferred to HD and edited on HD (D5).
"We did the final mix at
a small post house in Burbank," said Selko. "A re-recording mixer
who works at Disney came over on a Friday night and Sunday morning, and
mixed the final. The mix was a surround 5.1 with a stereo knock off."
Selko's DP, Chris Gosch,
has his own production company, The
Company. "Chris shot the film, provided the camera, the
trucks, camera assistants, grips and electricians, a steadicam
rig. He has a long background shooting music videos, TV, features..He
was so familiar with his equipment and crew, we were able to move fast
and get in a ridiculous amount of setups in three days."
Apart from easy access to
top professionals, another advantage enjoyed by Los Angeles filmmakers
is that ideal locations can always be had -- for a price.
"The film was shot in a
Studio City house," said Selko. "The owner lives there but constantly
rents the place for shoots. It was completely secure, with plenty
of parking, and space for equipment and crew.
"At the end of each
day we just walked away. No need to wrap the equipment. That
gave us more time to concentrate on making the film.
Like many directors, Selko
shot his short hoping it'd lead to bigger things -- and in his case, it
paid off. "Nothing I've sold has been produced, which is very frustrating. Writing and directing something on my own -- even a short film -- seemed
like a good way to exorcise some frustration. I want to see my scripts
become films. This is the goal of any screenwriter. Alone.was
a step forward. It was conceived as a directing sample for a feature
script I'd written. That feature has since been optioned by ATB Entertainment
and is on schedule to shoot later this year in New Orleans."
Based on H.P. Lovecraft's short
Thing at the Doorstep, the 78 minute Strange
Aeons is yet another Cthulian saga of a scholar/sorcerer trying
to open the portals to another dimension so that the evil Old Ones may
re-enter our world and do their worst.
How did director Eric Morgret
obtain the rights to the Lovecraft story? Some of Lovecraft's work
is in public domain, some not, and some in a gray area. Was it a
hassle? "That's kind of tough to answer," said Morgret. "The
best advice I can give is to Goggle "Lovecraft copyright." Two great
sources on film rights and Lovecraft can be found at HPLfilmfestival.com,
run by Andrew Migliore, and Unfilmable.com,
run by Craig Mullins. [The latter site now appears defunct. - ed. 3/19/11]
Aeons boosts some nice visuals, impressive special effects, an affecting
musical score by Richard Temple, and a strong cast of supporting actors,
most notably Peter Anthony Holden as the evil sorcerer and Jerry Lloyd
as a less bad sorcerer who explains it all to Miskatonic University professor
Dr. Dan Upton (J.D. Lloyd).
The film required five months
to cast. "We did open auditions at local theaters and stage groups,"
said Morgret. "Many roles were easy to cast with local Seattle actors. Jerry Lloyd was a slam dunk, one of the strongest auditions I have ever
"The two male leads [J.D.
Lloyd and Erick J. Robertson] had appeared in a short version of The
Thing on the Doorstep. Lloyd had auditioned for us on a movie
that never went beyond auditions.
"We thought he was great,
so when he showed up to audition for the short, we cast him on the spot.
When the feature came together, we brought him back.
"Robertson was cast in an
open audition. I believe his monologue was Puck. He played
the same role [that of Upton's student] in both the short and the feature.
"The hardest role to cast
was Asenath Waite. [A villainous student who seduces Derby for evil
ends.] We had several candidates, even a lady that had been on America's
Next Top Model. At our first table read, we still had no Asenath."
Morgret promoted Angela
M. Grillo, who'd already been cast in the minor role of a nurse, after
Grillo read her role. "She did an amazing reading, and partly on
a great recommendation from fellow actor, Kathleen Schroeder, we cast Angela. She turned out to be a joy to work with and a real talent.
"That goes for the entire
cast. I'm not just blowing sunshine."
Aeons was shot in the Seattle area. "Our locations guy, Michael
Falcone, was checking an empty house we hoped to use for exteriors. Turned
out its owner -- Jesper Myrfors of Magic
the Gathering fame -- is a Lovecraft fan. He also owned
a large mansion in the area. A 19th century house of ill repute he
was renovating, filled with period furniture and great accommodations. That house accounted for thirteen of our locations.
"Other locations include Shoreline
Community College and the "asylum." I was asked not to name the
asylum; the current owners and residents wouldn't appreciate it. Another location was the Upton residence in Bellingham, Washington. A beautiful mountain view and huge picture windows we desecrated with evil
symbols. We got the site because our writer, K.L. Young, knew the
Its impressive special effects
include an evil sorcerer (played by Peter Anthony Holden) in a pure white
room. "The white room was created by setting up white sheets and
lighting them with no gels," said Morgret. "I then ran it through Magic
Bullet's color correction filter system to give it the "blown-out"
Morgret attended the Art
Institute of Seattle, where he met Strange Aeons.scripter Kelly
L. Young. "We started working on various projects together
including shorts, commercials, and technical videos. We also attended The
Film School in Seattle taught by notables Stewart Stern and Tom Skerrit.
a great school all about the art of telling stories in movies.
It's nice to see a filmmaker
come back after having grown. Paul Carty won his first Tabloid Witch
Honorable Mention in 2004 for his computer animated Jeremy's
Wake-Up Call. Although his new effort, The
Kooky Kastle, is another Honorable Mention, it is the better film,
displaying superior animation skills and greater originality.
Most horror film fans also
love amusement park "haunted rides." Carty recreates that experience
in his 12 minute short, which is essentially a virtual ride through one
such theme park attraction.
No characters. No story.
YOU are the character. The "story" is your trip through the ride,
from the moment you buy your ticket, till you emerge safely from the dark
Kooky Kastle is loosely based on a dark ride from the now defunct
Paragon Park in Hull Massachusetts," said Carty. "When I was a child,
my family would visit the park a few times every summer. The
Kooky Kastle was my favorite ride with its cheap but creepy wooden
decor and paper-mache characters."
Although Carty used the
same software as before, he's gotten better at it. The
Kooky Castle is more polished than Jeremy's
Wake-Up Call. It even has a TV broadcast -- one that plays
and changes channels -- inserted into the animation.
As before, voices throughout The
Kooky Kastle are provided by Carty and his family.
Carty's education is in graphic
design. He's done music production for TV ads, websites, and corporate
videos. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tabloid Witch Awards
is The Kooky Kastle's first contest entry.
* Additional Winners
Mirelly Taylor is a powerful
presence in Moloch and we'd like to see more
of her work. But with only a few minutes of screen time and no dialogue,
she's given little material with which to overcome the strong performances
of Nightmare Man's Blythe Metz and Tiffany
Man begins as Metz's film, then ends with Shepis. The two
really co-stars rather than lead versus supporting actress. But Metz
dominates more of the film, and has the more difficult task of acting beneath
heavy makeup. So we award Blythe Metz as Best Actress of 2006.
Some good actors this year,
such as Nightmare Man's James Ferris and Zombie
Island's ensemble cast.
But Scott Graham's portrayal
of a paranormal investigator's slow descent into madness in Oculus clearly earns
him.Best Actor honors.
Having given Best Actress
to Metz, we're pleased to be able to award Best Supporting Actress to Shepis for Nightmare Man, in which her
physical resemblence to Girl
Interrupted's Angelina Jolie is matched by her character's fate.
We hope the Tabloid Witch
comforts Shepis in the asylum.
Damn, but a lot of folks
in this year's horror film crop end up insane or committed!
Peter Anthony Holden did
good work as a Lovecraftian sorcerer in Strange Aeons,
but the edge for Best Supporting Actor goes to Jerry Lloyd as another
scrawling Chutulian symbols on his padded cell walls.
This was perhaps the hardest
category to judge. Nightmare Man had
some beautifully lit scenes, and we loved Zombie
Island's visual artistry.
But for its diversity of moody lighting
setups and surreal visuals, all packed in a brief four minutes, we award Best
Cinematography to Juan Rodriguez for Moloch.
Several films showed great
care in their soundtracks, but Oculus's layered
mix went the furthest in aesthetically supporting the story. The
variety of sounds both erode Russel's sanity and shock us on their own
accord (such as the jarring ring tones from the mouths of demons). Flanagan
easily wins Best Sound for Oculus.
Man uses music the way Oculus uses
sound effects. Christopher Farrell's composition parallels and supports
the story, heightening the tension at every dramatic twist. It's
what a movie soundtrack is supposed to do.
Christopher Farrell earns BEST
MUSIC SOUNDTRACK for his work in Nightmare Man.
* The Final Tally
* Best Horror
Feature Film ............. Rolfe Kanefsky (Nightmare Man)
* Best Horror
Film ................. Mike Flanagan (Oculus)
* Best Actress
............................... Blythe Metz (Nightmare Man)
* Best Actor ..................................
Scott Graham (Oculus)
* Best Supporting Actress ..............
Tiffany Shepis (Nightmare Man)
* Best Supporting Actor .................
Jerry Lloyd (Strange Aeons)
* Best Cinematography ..................
Juan Rodriguez (Moloch)
* Best Sound .................................
Mike Flanagan (Oculus)
* Best Music Soundtrack ................
Christopher Farrell (Nightmare Man)
Reviewing entries over the course of a year exposes one to current trends
in horror. Here's some of what we've seen:
1. Where are the women? Most films submitted
this year had all male casts. Only one film had a predominantly female
cast -- and most of them did time braless, or in a shower, or on a trampoline
(sic!). Why so few interesting horror roles for women?
And never mind the casts -- almost all the filmmakers were men. In
2005, two of seven filmmakers we honored were women. This year, none.
Torture films. Several entries seemed
to have been "inspired" by Hostel,
being little more than a man strapped in a chair, at the mercy of another
man, who pounds nails into his feet and groin, severs his fingers and toes,
etc. Disturbing, but only in a crude sense.
Where is the imagination? The dark "sense of wonder" of The
Twilight Zone and X-Files? Horror is more than snuff. Horror is exposure to transcendent evil.
Sure, there's a place for Hostel. Even so, we wonder when this "torture cycle" will end?
3. Zombies and slashers. Ever popular,
but rarely original. For every Zombie
Island or Stiffs
By Sid (2004's Best Short Horror Film), there are packs of grunting
knockoffs who do no more than saunter about and eat flesh.
Been there, done that. If you're going to film a traditional monster,
you'd better show us something new.
Open with a bang, then fizzle. It's
amazing how many films had strong opening credits. Great music, great
graphics. And then ... crapola. Perhaps the filmmakers farmed
the credits to some professional effects house. If only all cool
credits were followed by a film to match.
5. Wither NYU? Film
school grads have been well represented among Tabloid Witch honorees from
the start, with NYU alum winning in 2004 and even dominating 2005. But
this year NYU was nowhere in sight. Why?
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