Horror fest pays tribute to genre

by Laura Long. —Last night’s short films screenings for the Knoxville Horror Film Festival at Scruffy City Music Hall showed the growing popularity of the genre as well as increasing diversity among fans and participants of the festival. Organizers William Mahaffey, Nick and Kim Huinker, and volunteers scrambled to take care of the packed venue as attendance numbers exceeded expectations.

“We actually had to go downstairs to get more chairs, which was great,” Mahaffey said in a phone interview with Celebrate Knoxville. “Having the last night and awards at Scruffy City (which seats between 150 and 200 including the balcony) gave us greater visibility than we had before at Relix (Variety Theatre).”

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Horror fans gather at Scruffy City Music Hall in downtown Knoxville for the last night of the Knoxville Horror Film festival held October 21-23, 2016. The evening screenings included eleven short films and the feature “Beyond The Gates,” which won the festival’s Special Jury Prize, Emerging Vision award. Photo by Laura Long.

Editor’s Note: “Beyond the Gates features an Elvira-ish performance by Barbara Crampton, known for her roles in Re-Animator (1985), Chopping Mall (1986), From Beyond (1986), Castle Freak (1995), You’re Next (2011), and We Are Still Here (2015).

Mahaffey said that Scruffy City Music Hall in Market Square also provides the event with better quality projection screening and sound, along with an on-staff technical person to help with challenges that sometimes occur with film festivals. Even though the submission requirements for format are specific, things happen. This year, there were some glitches, and Mahaffey said they rescreened a couple films on a different day once the problems had been worked out.

“We had 150 submissions for the festival this year, ten from Tennessee, with more female directors and more female involvement that ever before,” Mahaffey said, also acknowledging that Sunday night’s short film audience also had more people of color than in years past.

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This year’s Knoxville Horror Film Festival also included an earlier screening of Phantasm 3, from the 1979 franchise and fan favorite that often lands on best-of lists. Here, a decorative take on the the well-known deadly orbs from the Phantasm films line the festival stage at Scruffy City Music Hall. Photo by Laura Long.

“Horror is huge right now, and indie horror is big, and I am amazed at the number and popularity of television programs available right now with horror themes, including The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, the Exorcist show, and Ash vs. Evil Dead,” Mahaffey said.

Fans of the Knoxville Horror Film Festival say one of the best features of the festival is the FREE monthly events that occur in other places around town that help promote the event. Attendance has grown, as well as the number of corporate sponsors. The Grindhouse Grindout local film part of the festival, which encourages local filmmaking, is one way that organizers hope to encourage local films. Utilizing the talents of local artist Adam Deal (who designs the T-shirts, swag, and web presence) helps to connect artists of all kinds to the event each year.

“We’ve grown a lot since that one night at Pilot Light (Venue in the Old City) eight years ago to the three-day festival we have now plus monthly events,” Mahaffey said. “I work on the festival year round.”

The Knoxville Horror Film Festival features awards for 2016 include:

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (“EMERGING VISION”)
Beyond The Gates

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (“MOST FRIGHTENING”)
Fury of the Demon

BEST ACTRESS
Angela Trimbur, Trash Fire

BEST ACTOR
Michael St Michaels, The Greasy Strangler

BEST DIRECTOR
Bobby Miller, The Master Cleanse

AUDIENCE AWARD
Trash Fire

PALM d’GORE
Trash Fire

SHORTS

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (“MOST EVIL INANIMATE OBJECT”)
Awarded to Cauchemar Capitonné and Death Metal

WEIRDEST FILM
When Susurrus Stirs

FUNNIEST FILM
Death Metal

SCARIEST FILM
Cauchemar Capitonné

BEST SCENARIO
Curve

BEST PERFORMANCE
Najarra Townsend, The Stylist

BEST DIRECTOR
Pierre Teulières, Le Plan

AUDIENCE AWARD
Curve

PALM d’GORE
The Call of Charlie

REGIONAL SHORTS

AUDIENCE AWARD (REGIONAL)
Bobby McGee, Ghost Hunter

BEST REGIONAL SHORT FILM
Bobby McGee, Ghost Hunter

GRINDHOUSE GRIND-OUT

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (MOST UNUSUAL FILM)
Toothless (There’s Something Wrong With The Power)

SPECIAL KHFF ORGANIZERS PRIZE FOR NAILING IT
Operation (Iron Swann)

BEST TITLE
My Best Friend’s Husband And My Ex Diddled My Stepdaughter (Team Honey Cat)

BEST NARRATION
Punk Rock Flop House Massacre (Bottomless Pit)

BEST PERFORMANCE
The ensemble in Teen Immortals vs The Nephilim (Fig City)

MOST LIKELY TO CAUSE PROTESTS
My Best Friend’s Husband And My Ex Diddled My Stepdaughter (Team Honey Cat)

MOVIE WE’D MOST LIKE TO SEE
Teen Immortals Vs The Nephilim

AUDIENCE AWARD
1. Teen Immortals vs The Nephilim (Fig City)
2. F***ed IV Death (70/30)
3. tied between Rip It (Mad House) & Punk Rock Flop House Massacre (Bottomless Pit)

GRAND PRIZE
The Two Sides of the Red Curtain (Skitchbook & Flashpoint Creative)

Visit http://www.knoxvillehorrorfest.com/