News tips and press releases may be sent to editor at All submissions become property of the Hollywood Investigator and deemed for publication without compensation unless otherwise requested. Name and contact information only withheld upon request. Prospective reporters should research our Bookstore.


About Us







Fine Arts


Media & Copyright


Public Square



War & Peace


Horror Film Aesthetics

Horror Film Festivals

Horror Film Reviews

Tabloid Witch Awards

Weekly Universe





by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [October 19, 2006]





[]..Nightmare 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 Man


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 Dead.

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.

"Evil Dead was always a role model," said writer/director Rolfe Kanefsky. "My first flick, There's Nothing Out There, was influenced by Evil Dead 1 & 2. And my other film, The Hazing. The biggest influence, though, is probably Trilogy of Terror's Zuni Fetish doll. Nightmare Man's mask and final moments are inspired by that Dan Curtis classic.

"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 of Darkness/Demon Knight supernatural moments."

Well, okay. However, the 1970s was also noteworthy for its Rosemary's Baby/Exorcist cycle of supernatural horror, and Evil Dead (the roots of Army of Darkness) kept supernatural horror a vibrant presence in the 1980s. But okay.

"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 Interrupted.

"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 casting Jacqueline Hyde on 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 Man. 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 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.

Nightmare 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.

"Nightmare 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.

Rolfe Kanefsky may by contacted through:





* Best Horror Short -- Oculus


Running at 32 minutes, 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 terror.

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 visuals 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."

Oculus.builds 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."

Complementing.Oculus's multiple visuals is a layered soundtrack of alarms and ring tones, real and imagined, that bombard Graham as the mirror erodes his sanity.

"Our sound was captured using a 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 film. 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.

Flanagan may be contacted at





* Honorable Mention



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.

Zombie 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."

Zombie 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 houses 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."

Extensive post-production 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 in Final 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 like Saving Private Ryan. I used it on fast actions (e.g., chase scenes) to 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 Island or





* Moloch


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.

Moloch.has 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 Chien 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 doll.

"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 "Auditions were held at The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. After selecting 30 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 Clockwork Orange."

Moloch was shot at The Art Institute, 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.

Serrano may be contact at:





* Alone an old-fashioned suspense film. With little blood or gore, this 20 minute short presents an imaginative coed left alone in her sorority house while 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 lighting, 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."

Selko may be contacted at:





* Strange Aeons


Based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story, The 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, run by Andrew Migliore, and, run by Craig Mullins. [The latter site now appears defunct. - ed. 3/19/11]

Strange 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 seen.

"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."

Strange 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 owner."

Strange Aeons was shot with a Sony DSR-250 DVCam, then used Magic Bullet to de-interlace the video and give it some "film" look.

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" look.

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. It's a great school all about the art of telling stories in movies.

Strange Aeons is still seeking distribution. Morgret may be reached through Maelstrom Productions.





* The Kooky Kastle


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 tunnels.

"The 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.

"I used Cinema 4D for the 3D work," said Carty. "Final Cut for assembly and editing, Digital Performer for sound, and Adobe Photoshop for textures."

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

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 Shepis.

Nightmare Man begins as Metz's film, then ends with Shepis. The two are 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 sorcerer 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.

Nightmare 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


Tabloid Witch Award Winners


* Best Horror Feature Film ............. Rolfe Kanefsky  (Nightmare Man)

* Best Horror Short 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)


Tabloid Witch Honorable Mentions


* Bill Whirity  (Zombie Island)

* Kenny Selko  (Alone)

* Aldo E. Serrano  (Moloch)

* Eric Morgret  (Strange Aeons)

* Paul Carty  (The Kooky Kastle)


* Horror Film Trends for 2006

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.


    2. 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.


   4. 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 out 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?

Copyright 2006 by



"Hollywood Investigator" and "" and "Tabloid Witch" and "Tabloid Witch Award" trademarks are currently unregistered, but pending registration upon need for protection against improper use. The idea of marketing these terms as a commodity is a protected idea under the Lanham Act. 15 U.S.C. s 1114(1) (1994) (defining a trademark infringement claim when the plaintiff has a registered mark); 15 U.S.C. s 1125(a) (1994) (defining an action for unfair competition in the context of trademark infringement when the plaintiff holds an unregistered mark). All content is copyright by unless otherwise noted.