Horror movie fans should have their bloodlust slaked for the rest of this month, as two major macabre film festivals are hitting the City of Fallen Angels.
The (lucky?) 13th edition of Screamfest runs from Tuesday through Oct. 17 at the Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood, while the inaugural Beyond Fest commences a day later and plays out until Halloween night at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero in Santa Monica.
Screamfest, which concentrates on new independent chillers from around the world, seeks to hook up directors, writers and talent with distributors, agents and producers. Beyond Fest debuts horror, sci-fi, fantasy and what it calls badass movies from established talents worldwide, presents classic and cult films in intriguing ways and showcases the music that gives horror pics their extra tingle.
In its first venture north of the Hollywood Hills, Screamfest should go a long way toward turning the San Fernando into Death Valley.
"We want to try different areas and mix it up for fans," said founder and director Rachel Belofsky. "We were at the Chinese for a while, at L.A. Live last year and, for our second and third years, at the Fairfax. It's really great to bring the festival to the Valley. There are tons of horror fans here."
Family-owned arthouse chain Laemmle is equally pleased to host Screamfest at its two-year-old state-of-the-art venue. "It's particularly gratifying to see how Screamfest has grown over the years, so that L.A. has a quality festival to represent this genre. And how can you not have a horror film festival just a stone's throw from Universal?" said company president Greg Laemmle, whose relative Carl Laemmle founded the studio known for "Frankenstein," "Dracula" and other classic frightfests.
While Screamfest will showcase scary stuff from India, Iceland and even the first-ever Israeli zombie and serial killer movies, its location this year is especially appreciated by locals.
"Most of the horror people I know are thrilled that it's in the Valley," said Jace Anderson, the Studio City-based co-writer and - producer of "Schism," which plays Oct. 12. "There's a thriving little horror-film community here in the Valley, so we're really excited."
"Schism" director (and Anderson's husband) Adam Gierasch, who describes his new feature as off-kilter horror art-noir, concurs. "The Laemmle NoHo 7 is a perfect location - right in the middle of the arts district, there are a lot of good restaurants and bars. And most of the horror filmmakers I know live really close by."
Screamfest is probably most famous for discovering Oren Peli, creator of the "Paranormal Activity" found-footage franchise. A new thing this year will be Matador Pictures choosing one of the shorts filmmakers to direct a feature. There's also a genre writing panel on Oct. 15.
"The reason why we do the festival is to get genre filmmakers a leg up for their careers," Belofsky said. "We want these movies to sell during the festival."
Beyond Fest is made by and for genre fans. Co-produced by the Cinematheque and a collective of big-screen enthusiasts called Amity, its slate will incorporate special presentations by the likes of fanboy web operation Nerdist and Italian prog-rock band Goblin.
"We used to have an annual horror festival (at the Cinematheque), but it kind of ran dry, so this is a rethinking of it," said Grant Moninger, Cinematheque programmer and festival co-producer. "This has a lot more music and a totally different, hipper vibe."
The program will be wide and varied, including three nights of Goblin concerts followed by a Dario Argento Italian horror classic; director Richard Donner presenting his rarely screened 1976 hit "The Omen"; a double bill of hot new British fantasies, Ben Wheatley's "A Field in England" and Elliot Goldner's "The Borderlands"; and a Monster's Ball hosted by horror writer and director Clive Barker - come in costume.
"The repertory screenings are either films that don't get screened very often, or if it's something you've seen, like 'The Mummy,' we're applying a completely different spin on it by partnering with really great people," said Christian Parkes, an Amity principal and fest co-producer. "We wanted a blend of the old and new. The repertory films bring in a certain audience, but we wanted to expose that audience to some great new titles out there that might not otherwise be screened in Los Angeles."
While both camps are well aware of the other's existence, each is sanguine about the competition.
"It's fine," Belofsky said. "We do what we do, and the Cinematheque is great. What distinguishes us is that we really get behind the new independent horror."
"With the amount of people in Los Angeles, there's more than enough for us both to be successful," Parkes reckoned. "We want the city to be on the world stage from the genre standpoint, so we're all for it."
Information can be found at screamfestla.com and americancinematheque.com.
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