(Editor’s Note: IndieWire has partnered with DIRECTV this month for A Celebration of Cinema — focusing on the latest indie and genre titles available on DIRECTV.)
Genre is a close-knit community. The independent filmmakers behind the bloody and wonderfully weird genre films rely on a small, dedicated fan base who respond to good filmmaking that pushes boundaries. Yet so much of this work exists outside of the mainstream, prompting us to ask the question: How do genre fans keep up with the latest films and filmmakers? IndieWire checked in with genre fans and hunted around the internet to find the answers.
In this sense, genre films are like other independent films, premiering at a handful of festivals with trusted curation can be the perfect platform to launch a movie. And while a number of films that draw from both the arthouse and genre tradition — for example “The Witch,” “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night,” and “The Babadook” — have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, more traditionally outre films rely on genre specific fests.
Tim League’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas has become the biggest juggernaut of these festivals as it markets itself as a “fan destination.” The weeklong festival’s unique programming mixes mainstream with the extreme and prides itself on being a celebration of movies.
The expansive three-week Fantasia Festival in Montreal completed its 20th year this summer. The festival’s adventurous curatorial voice, guided by co-director, Mitch Davis continues to grow as it has developed an avid following, which celebrates Davis’ unique ability to find gems that live far outside the mainstream.
Of the mega marquee festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival is the one that many believe supplies the best place for genre films to premiere. Getting one of the 15 slots at TIFF’s Midnight Madness section is what many in the field target. Yet another sought after “midnight” section premiere: Austin’s SXSW.
Other important regional festivals, like Mexico’s Morbido and London’s Frightfest, are trusted by genre insiders. Los Angeles’ BeyondFest has made tracks over the past few years, while Spain’s long-running Sitges Film Festival has been beloved for awhile. Meanwhile, everybody in the genre world is excited about the recent announcement that the programmers behind Stanley Festival — the old hotel-based fest inspired by the Kubrick’s “The Shining” — have found a new home at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, the actual building that provided the exteriors for the haunted Overlook Hotel in Kubrick’s classic film.
Websites & Writers
While a trip to one of these festivals is considered nirvana for genre fanatics, the reality is that a majority rely on a handful of websites to keep them plugged into festival discoveries and the general industry going ons.
Birth. Movies. Death, founded by Tim League, is centered around the same love of cinema that stems from FantasticFest. Like the companion festival, the site bleeds into the mainstream, but has its feet planted firmly in genre.
The glossy Entertainment Weekly — celebrating Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster and pop culture stars — might seem like an odd stop for genre fans, but EW’s Clark Collis remains one of genre’s most trusted writers. The same can be said of Michael Gingold, who was fired after 28 years as the editor-in-chief of Fangoria. Wherever Gingold’s work now appears, may it be Rue Morgue, Blumhouse, or even IndieWire, the Fangoria crowd will find him.
Speaking of IndieWire, our Deputy Editor and Chief Critic Eric Kohn is a very busy guy, but when he has time to let his genre fan flag fly his work is indispensable, in particular his annual “13 Best New Indie Horror Films” piece shines a light on the year’s best little known gems year after year.
Other fan web surfing destinations: “Bloody Disgusting,” “Dread Central,” and “Screen Anarchy.”
Genre Twitter hasn’t congealed into quite the same tight-knit community that arthouse film Twitter has, yet the feeds for the sites and writers mentioned above are must follows.
In taking a survey of what other Twitter accounts genre insiders are keeping tabs on, not surprisingly, many are following their favorite filmmakers. The Soska Sisters (@twisted_twins) — the identical twin sister filmmaking duo, who also host the genre game show “Hellevator” on GSN — are universally mentioned. Fans also keep tabs on the celebrated artisans behind genre’s severed body parts and splattered blood, which is why special makeup effects artist (also actor, writer, director) Tom Savini’s (@THETomSavini) feed helps makes followers really feel like they are part of the genre filmmaking community.
Music is a huge deal with genre fans and nobody is putting more love into soundtracks than Death Waltz Records (@deathwaltzrecs), which makes their Twitter feed essential.
Horror Honeys (@horrorhoneys) is “a collection of strong minded, badass women with foul mouths who are in love with all things horror,” so yeah, definitely click follow on them.
The meme heavy Horror Freak News (@HorrorFreakNews) does its best to keep readers up to date on the latest.
Genre is no different than any other corner of the media world; it too is branching into the world of podcasts. When we reached out for recommendations of what we should be listening to from our genre friends, these were the shows most commonly recommended:
“Last Podcast on the Left”: Covers all the horrors our world has to offer, both imagined and real, from demons and slashers to cults and serial killers
“Found Footage Files”: specializing in found footage style films.
“Tales From Beyond the Pale”: while this is not a way to keep up on the world of genre, it is incredible entertainment. The horror podcast — produced by Larry Fessenden and Glenn McQuaid for Glass Eye Pix — is inspired by 1930s radio dramas and re-opened the door for genre filmmakers to return to the tradition of radio plays.
(Editor’s Note: IndieWire has partnered with DIRECTV this month for A Celebration of Cinema — focusing on the latest indie and genre titles available on DIRECTV. This month’s exclusive premiere is “Trespass Against Us,” starring Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson available starting November 24. The Cutler family, part of the Traveler community for three generations, constantly clashes with police. Chad Culter [Fassbender] wants out of the family business, but extricating himself will not be easy. Find out more and how to watch here.)