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Shriekfest Scares Up Great Films For Its Sweet 16

Across the street from Paramount, tucked in the lot of Raleigh Studios, is the one of the most successful and entertaining film festivals: Shriekfest! A celebration of horror, thriller, science fiction and fantasy genres, Shriekfest gives filmmakers and screenwriters a venue to showcases their work. Screening 52 (one of our favorite numbers) films over three days, Shriekfest was a very fun and exciting festival.

Walking into the screening room, Haley and I found ourselves amongst a group of friendly and creative artists who were finding seats to watch two hours of short films. We found our seats and sat in comfortable chairs. A pool of light settled on a podium to the right of the large screen. Stepping up to the podium was Denise Gossett, the founder and festival’s director.

Gossett, an amazing actress herself, she has been seen in commercials, television, and movies like Get the Gringo with Mel Gibson and I Saw the Light with Tom Hiddleston; she started Shriekfest 16 years ago and introduced the round of scary shorts to come.

First up was Eveless, a dark look at a dystopian future where a man’s stomach is sliced open, to give birth to a child. The blood and the pain is visceral as the man is put through the ordeal. Then after all the excruciating screams and the cutting of flesh do we, and the characters, find out that the baby is a boy – and with that, discarded like a piece of meat. The man, still reeling from the pain of the ordeal says, “let’s try again.”

This was followed by Monsters. Directed by Steve Desmond, this film is about a young girl who lives in an underground bunker with her family who warn her about going outside and encountering the monsters that have ravage the world.

Up next was one of Haley’s favorites, Pyotr495. Set in Moscow of 2014, with Russia’s anti-LGBT laws in effect. This is the story of Pyotr, a gay man who is trapped by a sadistic group who plans to torture the poor man. The tables are turned however, when Pyotr turns out to me something more than a frail boy.

Other shorts that were shown were Be still my heart, a dark comedy about a woman who falls in love with the angel of death and The Brentwood Strangler, the story of a serial killer who goes on a blind date. Then we were treated with The Disappearance of Willie Bingham, a clever piece about crime and punishment, and the 2001 inspired Flush. Roadside Assistance and The Chute were fun pieces and finally we completed the short films to one of the funniest, albeit, grossest satirical trailers I’ve seen in a while, The Shitting.

Up next were the three features of the evening, Peelers, Cold Moon, and Capture Kill Release.

Peelers, directed by Stevé Schelenz and penned by Lisa DeVita is about a small town strip club owner that must defend her strippers and her life from violent infected patrons who show up on the closing night of the establishment. If blood and boobs is your thing, then Peelers will not disappoint.

Cold Moon, directed by Griff Furst and written by Griff Furst and Michael McDowell is a tale about ghosts who take vengeance on a local bad man

Finally, we finished the screenings with Capture Kill Release. We featured this film on our site and I have to say this film was great. A found footage style film about a couple that plots to murder a random stranger for the thrill; but soon things start to turn ugly when one of the couple decides not to go through with the bloody scheme. When the lights came up at the end, I hand up to my mouth from the uncomfortable situations the couple had gotten themselves into- from pounding out the teeth of homeless, yet lovable, Gary, to the killing of a man and his mistress. Capture Kill Release was a great example of how effective the found footage genre can be when done right.

If any of these films sound appealing, then I recommend checking out the Shriekfest site and visiting the pages of the filmmakers to find out where to see these films. We here at 52 Weeks of Horror had a great time at Shriekfest and if you are budding filmmaker, a veteran director or writer, or a fan who wants to see the latest trends in horror, I suggest that next year you make the trip to Hollywood and see the talent that horror has to offer: you won’t be disappointed.

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