Women of Horror Film Festival – Chicago 2009 – We Are Movie Geeks

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Women of Horror Film Festival – Chicago 2009

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We Are Movie Geeks (Travis and Kirk) attended the Horror Society’s Women of Horror Film Festival at the historic Portage Theatre in Chicago on Saturday, April 25. The festival ran from 5pm until after midnight and was packed full of all kinds of horrific films written, produced, directed by and starring women of the horror genre. In addition to the films being screened, the event included vendors in the lobby, a charity raffle and auction benefiting the Lynn Sage Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, trailers for coming films and opportunities to meet and speak with talent involved in making some of the featured films. The event was a great time and we got to hang out with some really cool filmmakers and fans of the horror genre. We’ve taken the time to share our thoughts on the films we screened below, so check it out and be sure to search out these great movies for yourself.


Travis’ thoughts: Director Donna Davies (The Kitchen Goddess, Zombiemania) has made a new documentary that is both extremely entertaining and also insightful in revealing the truth about women and the horror movie genre. ‘Pretty Bloody: The Women of Horror’ begins with a very candid conversation with Jovanka Vuckovic, editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue Magazine, one of the largest horror publication’s in the world. The film tackles the history of women in the horror genre beginning with Maila Nurmi, also known as the legendary Vampira. ‘Pretty Bloody’ focuses a lot on movie in the horror genre, but also delves into literature as well. Interviews with Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon, Tanya Huff, Mary Lambert, Heidi Martinuzzi and more allow for a diverse yet unified understanding of the woman’s role in the horror genre, from the writer to the director, from acting to creating cultural icons, the genre wouldn’t be the same without the many contributions from the women of horror.


Kirk’s thoughts: This short film by Heidi Martinuzzi and Leslie Dano was shown at the fest as well as featured in ‘Pretty Bloody,’ and it was the best film I saw all night at the fest.   ‘Wretched,’ tells the story of a couple, a younger woman (Jaime Andrews) and an older man (Joe Bob Briggs).   They are clearly unhappy.   The young woman suffers from severe depression, and the ever-increasing insults to her thrown out by the husband do nothing to ease her suffering.   The woman also suffers from bulimia, and she constantly travels to the restroom to purge herself.   The whole time, her inner monologue keeps telling herself that the most important thing is to keep control.

Throughout the course of their meal at a diner, the husband’s criticisms make the scene more and more uncomfortable for everyone involved, and Martinuzzi and Dano, along with cinematographer, Jessica Gallant, capture this sense of discomfort.   It permeates into the audience.   The woman’s voiceovers give you the sense you are watching something written by Chuck Palahniuk.   When all hell breaks loose, and the woman’s slow descent into insanity begins to manifest itself, we get some really nice horror effects courtesy of Gregory Nicotero.

‘Wretched’ is an incredible depiction of loneliness, depression, and the personal descent into hell that certain people go through.   It’s psychological horror at its absolute best, and it’s the kind of short film that makes you crave to see what these filmmakers have in store for us next.

Check out the trailer:

Also, visit the film’s official website.


Travis’ thoughts: Women’s Studies is a dark and campy horror film along the vein of the sorority slasher flicks of the 80’s but offers much more story and is built on a message that is clearly told through director Lonnie Martin’s vision. Sure, the movie could have benefited from a larger budget, but let’s not let that stop us from telling our stories. Women’s Studies is very much tongue-in-cheek and playful while still maintaining a dark and disturbing overtone to accompany it’s message that explores the difference between believing in something for yourself and being influenced by others to believe in something.

The film’s cast and it’s director were clearly passionate about this project and it shows in the final product. The only significant constructive criticism I’d like to offer the filmmaker is that the film did feel a bit long. While the movie won’t appeal to everyone’s taste, and I do have to admit that it took a little bit of digestion on my own part before I determined how I felt about the movie, it does have it’s qualities and is a fun movie if you allow yourself to go into it with an open-mind and leave your personal baggage at the door.


Kirk’s thoughts: ‘Sculpture’ is the latest horror film from director Pete Jacelone (‘Beef: You Are What You Eat’ and ‘Frat House Massacre’).   Written by Jacelone and Marv Blauvelt, ‘Sculpture’ is a psychological gorefest about a young woman who is seeking the perfect man.   Raine Brown plays Ashley Scott, an artist who is commissioned to create a sculpture of the perfect man.   What better way to create a life-sized sculpture than to use actual parts from bodybuilders?   Lots of hacking and slashing ensue.

This making of film shows the level of camaraderie amongst the cast and crew.   Jacelone and company have a passion for filmmaking, and scaring people is their most beloved art form.   The making of really whets your appetite for ‘Sculpture,’ and I can’t wait to see the film they have put together.

Check out the teaser for ‘Sculpture’ right here:


Travis’ thoughts:Death in Charge‘ is the first of two short films presented by AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women that screened at the Women of Horror Film Festival. Devi Snively (Raven Gets a Life, Confederate Zombie Massacre!) directed this dark and funny tale of caution in the style of the classic ‘Tales from the Crypt’ and E.C. Comic Books. ‘Death in Charge’ is told with tongue in cheek and the comedic timing is just about perfect, both from Death (Marina Benedict) who is mistaken as the babysitter expected to keep watch of little Whitney (Kylie Chalfa) while her mother goes out. Benedict is both dark and beautiful, she glows with an elegant ambiance similar to Cate Blanchett and Chalfa is incredibly talented in her performance as the smart, but misguided daughter. ‘Death in Charge’ is creative and original and a complete blast to watch! I couldn’t find an embeddable trailer for ‘Death in Charge’ but one is available on the film’s Official Website.


Travis’ thoughts:Side Effect‘ is the second of two short films presented by AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women that screened at the Women of Horror Film Festival. Liz Adams (Entangled, Red Upholstery) directed this highly acclaimed and fresh new take on the babysitter genre of horror. ‘Side Effect’ begins innocent enough, but when over-worked babysitter Lauren (Virginia Newcomb) takes her motivational pills intended to turn her stress into success, her ability to multi-task leads to a mostly unpredictable twist and one of the most horrific and gruesome endings I have ever seen filmed. Yes, that’s actually a compliment. Writer/director Liz Adams has also written a feature-length version of ‘Side Effect’ called ‘Blood Level’ which continues the story at a nearby high school where teens are eager to use the new drugs to spur their educational success. Check out the trailer for ‘Side Effect’ below…


Travis’ thoughts: ‘Phobia’ is a six-minute short from freshman college students Matt Storc and Jeremy Hull that placed in the top eight films selected in last year’s After Dark Short Film Festival. ‘Phobia’ is the first in a series of shorts the two young filmmakers intend to make on the subject of fear. Check out our interview with Matt and Jeremy after their film screened at the festival, followed by the film itself. Keep up the good work guys!

While we were hanging out at the Women of Horror Film Festival between screenings, we had a chance to talk with Anne Adams, director of ‘The Revenants‘ by Scott T. Barsotti. We were both really interested in seeing this interesting play, but alas, the weekly grindstone forced us back to work. The “relationship play with zombies” runs through May 24, so if you’re in Chicago or close enough to make the trek, this is certainly something to check out. Watch our short talk with Anne Adams as well as a video prequel-trailer for the play below…

Also throughout the evening, the Horror Society presented to us some trailers for upcoming films and films that the organization would be showing in an upcoming fest.

The Landlord



Unfortunately, and very unfortunately, the trailer for ‘She-Bang’ made its world premier at the Women of Horror Fest. Â  I say unfortunately, because this trailer was the coolest thing presented to us all night. Â  Basically, it’s an insane montage of what is going to be a 20-30 minute short about a number of rival, chick gangs who just beat the everloving shit out of one another. Â  It truly is a great trailer, and you should check out the official myspace page on it.

Ryan Oliver, the director of the film, told us the trailer should be up there sooner rather than later. Â  Do yourself a favor, check this shit out.

To give you a sampling of the goods, check out these stills and behind-the-scenes shots from myspace page:


If any of that entices you, check out their myspace page right now. Â  You won’t regret it if you do, but you might regret it if you don’t.

Serial: Amoral Uprising

Frat House Massacre

Tokyo Gore Police

As mentioned above, the Women of Horror Film Festival was held at the historic Portage Theatre in Chicago. Check the photos of the theatre below as well as some cast photos from Women’s Studies and of our friends Mindy, Kitsie and Jason from Dark Rider Films.

portagetheatre1 portagetheatre2 portagetheatre3
Mindy and Kitsie from Dark Rider Films Women of Horror Film Festival - In the Lobby Dark Rider Films' Jason Hignite, director of 'Lethal Obsession'
From Left to Right: Laura Bloechl, director Lonnie Martin, actress Cindy Marie Martin and actress Tara Garwood Actress Laura Bloechl (Iris) signs my Swedish Fish! Prizes available to raffle winners.