Bigger, bolder and bloodier than last year is how Popcorn Frights Film Festival Co-Founders and Co-Directors Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman describe their second horror film festival.
They call it Florida’s leading international genre film festival, which this year presents a record 16 features and 17 short film premieres at the landmark O Cinema Wynwood theater. The Fright fest opens Friday, Aug. 12 and runs through through Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016.
“We’re thrilled that our Popcorn Frights Film Festival returns with a vengeance for its second year to bring the best and finest in international fear to the dark heart of Miami," says Shteyrenberg.
"Our program embraces everything outstanding about the horror genre as it aims to excite and unforgettably frighten audiences,” according to Ferman.
Opening Night features a spine-tingling double-bill presenting the Florida Premieres of the critically-acclaimed films "Fear, Inc.," a fiendishly twisted and deliriously fun love letter to genre movies, and "The Blackcoat’s Daughter," starring Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men), Emma Roberts ("American Horror Story"), and original music composed by the legendary Elvis Perkins.
Other buzzy titles in the lineup include "Evolution," an astonishingly beautiful and mesmerizing blend of body horror and surreal fantasy, the genre-bending shocker "I Am Not a Serial Killer" starring Max Records ("Where the Wild Things Are") and Christopher Lloyd ("Back to the Future") in a tour de force performance, the nightmare fueled "Antibirth" that features dynamite roles from Natasha Lyonne ("Orange Is the New Black") and Chloe Sevigny ("Boys Don’t Cry"), "Under the Shadow," a tense and atmospheric thriller set in a haunted Tehran apartment during the terrifying final days of the Iran-Iraq War, and the East Coast Premiere of "Abattoir," Darren Lynn Bousman’s ("Saw II") unsettling new nightmare centered on a mysterious haunted house.
Encompassing the ever-burgeoning independent arena, this year’s increased number of films straddle the arthouse and grindhouse, including "The Mind’s Eye," a mainlined shot of hyper-violent-telekinetic-carnage reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s "Scanners," the East Coast Premieres of "Beyond the Gate" starring the First Lady of Fright Films, Barbara Crampton ("Re-Animator"), and the audaciously twisted and shocking "Pet" that features a remarkably dark turn by Dominic Monaghan ("The Lord of the Rings'"), and Mickey Keating’s latest descent into insanity, "Carnage Park," that braids crime caper and survival story into one demented thrill ride.
Rounding out the program is the U.S. premiere of the gripping found footage thriller "Man Vs," the North American Premiere of the supernatural horror thriller "The Devil’s Doll," the action-packed post-apocalyptic vampire tale Daylight’s End, the visually stunning homage to the famed Italian Giallo genre, Francesca, and the retro throwback to classic 80s VHS horror flicks, The Barn.
Popcorn Frights prides itself on providing a fertile ground for new and exciting filmmaking talent, and this year will present 17 extraordinary short films, including SXSW award-winners Manoman and Night Stalker, as well as The Puppet Man starring John Carpenter, and "Portal to Hell," which features one of Roddy “Rowdy” Piper’s ("They Live") final performances.
“Since the beginning of cinema as an art form, filmmakers have made films that frighten and terrify their audience proving that the suspense of a good scare can be as enjoyable and cathartic a cinematic experience as a laugh or a cry. O Cinema is delighted to be partnering with Popcorn Frights Film Festival to bring the best in horror and genre filmmaking to South Florida audiences,” said Kareem Tabsch, Co-Director of O Cinema.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman US | 98 minutes | 2016 East Coast Premiere.
Seven meets Dark City meets Hellraiser in Darren Lynn Bousman's ("Saw II") startlingly unsettling new horror film that centers on a mysterious house that's been constructed wholly from rooms where deaths have occurred. An investigative reporter with the style and confidence of a young Lauren Bacall is the first to stumble upon these series of gruesome murders as she is helplessly led into the belly of this hellish and haunted beast. Starring Lin Shaye from the "Insidious" franchise.
Directed by Danny Perez US | 94 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
What if the Dude from "The Big Lebowski" somehow ended up in David Cronenberg's "The Brood?" Danny Perez's nightmare fuel film strangely answers this long thought question by mixing one part horror homage and three parts anti-drug PSA with an offbeat kickass cast in a story that includes a monster pregnancy, alien abductions, covert operatives, and dynamite performances from Natasha Lyonne ("Orange is the New Black") and Chloe Sevigny ("Zodiac").
Directed by Justin Seaman US | 96 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
Almost certainly destined for cult classic status, "The Barn" is a perfect retro throwback to classic 80s VHS horror flicks like "The Monster Squad," "Halloween III: Season of the Witch," and "Full Moon's" empire of direct to video features. It's Halloween 1989, and best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy what's left of their final "Devil's Night" before graduating high school. But the two pals and a group of their friends get more trick than treat when they take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening a trio of Halloween demons inside. Now it's up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the flesh-hungry creatures that lurk within The Barn. Featuring Ari Lehman, the first Jason Voorhees from "Friday the 13th."
Beyond The Gates
Directed by Jackson Stewart US | 84 minutes | 2016 East Coast Premiere.
A throwback flick in the spirit of horror faves such as "Phantasm," "The Beyond," and "Poltergeist," this endearing instant-classic is filled with unique, personal, witty, and utterly terrifying imagery as it pays loving tribute to the VHS format, video stores, and board games of the '80s era. Co-written by Stephen Scarlata ("Jodorowsky's Dune") and starring the First Lady of Fright Films, Barbara Crampton ("Re-Animator"), "Beyond the Gates" centers on two estranged brothers who unearth an old VCR board game that acts as an inter-dimensional hub to a nightmare world where their Father's soul is trapped and can only be saved by playing the game.
The Blackcoat's Daughter
Directed by Osgood Perkins US-Canada | 93 minutes | 2016 South Florida Premiere.
In this atmospheric, brutal, and darkly beautiful film, two young students at a prestigious prep school for girls are assailed by an evil, invisible power when they are stranded at the school over winter break. Easily one of the most brilliant horror films you'll see all year, "The Blackcoat's Daughter" is frightening with razor-sharp tension and a suffocating, intense atmosphere which grips from the first frame and doesn’t let go. Starring Kiernan Shipka ("Mad Men"), Emma Roberts ("American Horror Story," "Scream Queens") and featuring original music composed by the legendary Elvis Perkins.
Directed by Mickey Keating US | 90 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
A treat for lovers of the bloody grindhouse cinema of the '70s, this harrowing psycho-thriller stars Pat Healy ("Cheap Thrills") as an unhinged sniper who terrorizes a bank-robbing duo and their beautiful hostage (Ashley Bell of "The Last Exorcism") after they stumble into his desert killing fields. Thrust into a wicked game of cat and mouse with a highly trained and mentally imbalanced killer, they begin a harrowing fight for survival. Mickey Keating’s latest descent into insanity has him braiding crime caper and survival story into one demented thrill ride. Ashley Bell quickly turns the role of damsel in distress into that of a badass, “don’t screw with me” female lead traversing the horrors of Carnage Park.
Directed by William Kaufman US | 106 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
Starring Lance Henriksen ("Aliens," "The Terminator") and Johnny Strong ("The Fast and the Furious"), "Daylight’s End" is an action-packed post-apocalyptic vampire tale that is pure carnage and white-knuckled powered adrenaline! After a mysterious infection transforms people into blood-thirsty creatures, a drifter bent on vengeance comes across a band of survivors desperate to escape the city. The ammo is in stock, the adrenaline is high, and time is of the essence, because in this world, things go more than bump in the night!
The Devil's Doll
Directed by Padraig Reynolds US | 85 minutes | 2016 North American Premiere.
In this supernatural horror thriller, a brutal serial killer is finally gunned down in the middle of carrying out one last heinous act of bloody murder. In the maniac’s possession is a box of Guatemalan talismans, which mistakenly end up being sold as charm jewelry in a thrift shop. Soon those who bought the 'worry dolls' begin to act strange and begin a plague of mindless slaughter and carnage.
Directed by Lucile Hadžihalilovic France | 81 minutes | 2015 French with English subtitles Florida Premiere.
In this astonishingly beautiful and mesmerizing blend of body horror and surreal fantasy, a young boy living in a mysterious, isolated seaside clinic uncovers the sinister purposes of his keepers. Evocative, enthralling and unnerving in equal measure, Evolution is a provocative fairy tale that beckons you deeper and deeper into an unforgettable domain filled with stunning cinematic imagery and stylistic nods to David Lynch and David Cronenberg that will seduce and repulse in uncanny harmony.
Directed by Vincent Masciale US | 92 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
Your worst fears realized for a price! "Fear, Inc." is a fiendishly twisted and deliriously fun love letter to genre movies that's a mind-blowing horror-show cocktail of blood, guts, and screams. When a horror junkie and his friends sign up with a company that brings their customer's greatest fears to life, they must quickly determine if its demented employees are there to scare them, or make them pawns in their own sick and deadly game. Like Wes Craven's "Scream," Fear, Inc. inspires outsized frights and dread even as it hilariously skewers and splatters horror movie cliches in funny, spirited ways. Featuring a special appearance by Abigail Breslin ("Zombieland").
Directed by Luciano Onetti Argentina-Italy | 79 minutes | 2015 Italian with English subtitles Florida Premiere.
Fans of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Goblin, and Lucio Fulci dare not miss "Francesca," a visually stunning homage to the famed "Italian Giallo" genre that so faithfully and lovingly reproduces its seductive and perverse forms that it feels like it was literally plucked from the era! A dazzling combination of menacing "Grand Guignol" atmosphere, brilliant cinematography, gory violence, lush décor, and pounding soundtrack, "Francesca" tells the tale of a psychopath who uses the "Divine Comedy" as a clever reference to rid the city of impure souls through a series of gruesome murders. This audacious film synthesizes all the familiar Giallo motifs (psycho killers, blood violence, convoluted plot twists, pulse-pounding music) into an almost perfect symphony of fear that's unlikely to ever be repeated on screen.
Directed by Oliver Irving US | 83 minutes | 2016
Desperate to escape the monotony of his daily life, paranormal-obsessed Louis puts together a dysfunctional team his depressed best friend, misfit nephew, a cable access “medium” and an overeager security guard to mount his own investigation into the beyond. What results isn’t just a hilariously terrifying brush with the entities haunting an abandoned farm, but also an exploration of friendship, adventure and the things we all believe in to keep going. Everyone’s hunting for something. Starring Justin Long ("Jeepers Creepers"), Jon Heder ("Napoleon Dynamite"), David Krumholtz ("Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle"), and Amy Sedaris ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt")!
I Am Not A Serial Killer
Directed by Billy O'Brien Ireland-UK | 104 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
Just imagine if David Cronenberg slipped into a fever dream while binge-watching "Dexter," "Fargo," and "Six Feet Under," in one go, and you'll have just a shade of what "I Am Not a Serial Killer" has on offer. A darkly heartfelt, astonishingly foreboding, and imaginatively sinister tale of a likable teenager ("Max Records of Where the Wild Things Are"), raised by a mortician family, whose own nascent sociopathic tendencies make him a perfect amateur sleuth when a serial killer strikes his folksy Midwestern town. Take it from us, the film is far, far more unique and fantastically bloody than the premise might imply, helped in no small part by an Oscar-worthy performance by Christopher Lloyd ("Back to the Future").
Directed by Adam Massey Canada | 87 minutes | 2016 US Premiere.
"Man vs" "Wild vs" "Predator," need we say more? In this gripping found-footage horror thriller, a reality TV star of a survival show is forced to fend for himself in the remote woods for a routine episode, until he's awoken by an earth-shaking crash that unleashes a series of weird and eerie events ultimately forcing him to come face to face with his deepest fears and the otherworldly.
The Mind's Eye
Directed by Joe Begos US | 87 minutes | 2015 Florida Premiere.
For gorehounds who like the early films of David Cronenberg (spotlight "Scanners") but secretly wish their themes and subtext didn't get in the way of the exploding heads, Joe Begos' "The Mind's Eye" presents a mainlined shot of hyper-violent-telekinetic-carnage that you won't soon forget. Pitting telekinetic savants against a mad doctor keen on siphoning their power, this giddy '80s throwback stages a psychic war zone complete with bulging cranium veins, exploding heads, and a visceral kick of brainiacs willing each other into mind-melting, bloody oblivion. Cronenberg, Carpenter, Romero, and can all be found in the cinematic impulses of this unrelenting scream fest.
Directed by Carles Torrens US | 90 minutes | 2016 East Coast Premiere.
You can't escape the bonds of love in the shocking "Pet." Starring Dominic Monaghan ("The Lord of the Rings," "Lost") and Ksenia Solo ("Black Swan"), this audaciously twisted story centers on an introverted loner who imprisons a woman he's obsessed with, only to find the tables turned on him. Like the dark and daring "Hard Candy" and "Gone Girl" but with more trashy fun, "Pet" will have you both squirming in your seat and teetering on the edge, but you won't want to look away.
Under The Shadow
Directed by Babak Anvari Jordan-Qatar-UK | 84 minutes | 2015 Farsi with English subtitles Florida Premiere.
Those cracks in the ceiling are hiding a lot more than dry rot in "Under the Shadow," an astonishingly tense and atmospheric thriller set in a haunted Tehran apartment during the terrifying final days of the Iran-Iraq War. A grim allegory of female oppression, this brilliant feature debut grounds its premise in something ineluctably sinister: imagine a cross between "The Babadook" and "The Conjuring" and you're halfway there. Set in 1988 Iran, a mother trapped in her apartment during the chaos of the war worries that malevolent spirits have taken possession of her daughter, leading to a bone-chilling horror tale of paranormal and real-life terrors.
Short Films , The Birch
Directed by Ben Franklin UK | 5 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
A bullied teenager, fearing for his life, turns to an ancient creature of the forest for protection...and revenge.
Directed by Brian Deane Ireland | 15 minutes | 2015 Florida Premiere.
A young priest is sent to a remote island off the Irish coast to help protect an estranged fishing community from dark supernatural forces but nothing is as it seems.
Directed by Alice Waddington Spain | 12 minutes | 2015 English and Spanish with English subtitles Florida Premiere.
A black-clad vixen infiltrates a sumptuous mansion overrun with cultists in what begins as a rescue mission, and then deliriously descends into an eerie musical reverie, before finally arriving at a most unexpected conclusion.
Directed by Eddie Alcazar US | 8 minutes | 2015 Florida Premiere.
With the ability to travel in time, a lonely girl finds love and comfort by connecting with her past self. Eventually faced with rejection she struggles with her identity and gender, and as time folds onto itself only one of them can remain. Featuring music by Flying Lotus.
Directed by Brian Lonano US | 6 minutes | 2016 South Florida Premiere.
A recently released criminal is looking for a good time. He can forget his sins but he can never forget...Gwilliam.
Directed by Tony Morales Spain | 9 minutes | 2016 Spanish with English subtitles Florida Premiere.
Tonight Hada comes to visit Daniel because he his last baby tooth has fallen out. What Daniel doesn´t expect is that his worst enemy is the light.
Directed by Richard Karpala US | 11 minutes | 2015 Florida Premiere.
What starts as a familiar tale of a criminal driving to the middle of the woods to bury a dead body, ends with a bloody twist of karmic justice thanks to his Siri-esque smartphone app.
Directed by Michael Chaves US | 9 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
As a real estate agent goes about her business to close a sale on a dilapidated house, she begins to discover that the property is inhabited by an evil presence working against her.
Directed By Simon Cartwright UK | 11 Minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
When an office clerk attends primal scream class, he releases something from deep within that knows no limits.
Directed by Sébastien Vaniček France | 13 minutes | 2016 North American Premiere.
A passenger subject to violent hallucinations must overcome the imminence of his death during a trans-Atlantic flight.
Directed by Daniel Moshel Austria | 5 minutes | 2016 Spanish with English Subtitles Florida Premieres.
The biggest, boldest, and sexiest operatic flash mob the internet has ever witnessed!
Directed by New Image Ltd US | 10 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
A horror love story with tunes by the band Fort Lean presents bite-sized bits for all of your sex, gore, and hilarity cravings.
Directed by Jake Hammond US | 14 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
When a high-school cheerleader accepts a date from the football team's star quarterback, a grisly manifestation of her own bodily insecurities pushes her into a self-destructive nightmare.
Directed by Jeroen Dumoulein Belgium | 16 minutes | 2015 Dutch with English subtitles Florida Premiere.
Breathtakingly beautiful and sharing an artistic vision with Guillermo Del Toro, "The Pond" is set in the early 1900s and follows a young girl who tries to unravel the mystery of the dark pond behind her family's mansion.
Portal To Hell
Directed by Vivieno Caldinelli US | 12 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
A crusty and recluse superintendent is thrown into the ultimate fight against evil when a couple of cultists open a portal to the ancient and mysical city of R'lyeh, awakening slumbering god. Starring Roddy "Rowdy" Piper ("They Live") in one of his last onscreen performances.
The Puppet Man
Directed by Jacqueline Castel US | 9 minutes | 2016 Florida Premiere.
A supernatural killer stalks a young woman and her friends in a seedy, neon-lit dive bar in this short film featuring horror legend John Carpenter.
Festival Premiere Badges are on sale for a limited time for $120 per person and $180 for couples, and single screening tickets are available for $12. To purchase badges or tickets and view the Festival schedule, visit www.popcornfrights.com
Location: All films will screen at the O Cinema Wynwood (90 NW 29th Street, Miami, FL 33127).
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