New York Horror Film Fest Materializes Upcoming Line up
by Stu Van Airsdale
Film festivals begin under varying degrees of pressures and conceptions. Sometimes a city is looking for a cosmopolitan boost of civic pride, while other times a group of filmmakers is just out to promote its own projects.
In Michael Hein's case, his idea emerged from his indignant opinion of other festivals' perceived mistreatment of horror films. "I basically said to myself, 'That's it.'" Hein recalled from his office in New Jersey. "I said, 'I'm calling in favors, and we're going to have a horror film festival in New York City.'"
And thus was born the aptly named New York City Horror Film Festival in 2002. Hein's festival has since blossomed into one of the nation's pre-eminent showcases for independent horror features and shorts from around the world, and will again host its event Oct. 20-24 in Manhattan.
Opening night festivities at Don Hill's nightclub in the West Village include screenings of 10 of the 40 short films in competition at the festival, ranging from Mike Nelson's World War II piece "The G.I." to Mike Shkolnik's outrageous "Zombie Vegetarians."
This year, co-sponsored by the Independent Film Channel and MTV Films, the festival's profile has become higher. The Tribeca Film Center will host screenings during four of the festival's five days, the centerpiece of which is an Oct. 23 gala honoring legendary director Tobe Hooper. Past festival honorees include horror film icons George Romero and Tom Savini.
Hooper will be in attendance to accept his award and introduce the East Coast premiere of his latest film, "The Toolbox Murders." The festival will close Oct. 24 with a screening of Hooper's 1974 masterpiece, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
"People know we're a respectable festival, regardless of our genre," Hein said. "Some people worry about coming to a 'Star Trek' convention or something, but that's not it at all. We work really hard to put on a respectable, classy festival."
Features in competition include Britain's "The Last Horror Movie," Robert Pratten's "London Voodoo," and Sean Tretta's "The Great American Snuff Film," which re-enacts a serial killer's journal and purports to close with an actual film made by the killer himself.
Also scheduled is a screening of cult director Jeff Lieberman's "Satan's Little Helper," starring Amanda Plummer, and an Oct. 24 panel discussion featuring filmmaker Bill Lustig and horror film critics Joe Kane and Michael Gingold.
[ For more information, please visit http://www.nychorrorfest.com. ]