October is the perfect time of year to sip hot cider and go on a nice, relaxing hay ride to view an early sunset. Or if you're like us, it's the perfect time to binge on horror movies. Sure, this gory pastime is not for everyone, but if decapitation and projectile vomit is your idea of entertainment, then sit back, pour a generous dose of rum in that cider, and check out these chilling events.
Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival (Oct. 24-26)
If you're having trouble finding movies to thrill, entertain, or just plain scare the bejeebus out of you, then Anthony Griffin is the man to talk to. For eight years now, Griffin and co-founder Chris Randall have been putting together the Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival, and though the fest has changed a bit since its inception, the goal has always been a simple one.
"We wanted to have a festival that we could go to, have fun at, and in a way, sort of reclaim that adventure of discovering those movies that were on late night TV, or on a Saturday afternoon like Kung Fu Theater, or horror movies," Griffin said. "These were the kind of things we wanted to watch."
The festival was originally created to bring classic cult-status films back to theaters, but soon Griffin and Randall changed the format to show action, suspense, horror and sci-fi films from indie filmmakers from all over the world, and to give these movies the attention they deserve.
"A lot of genre movies, or even larger film festivals, play at hotel convention centers," Griffin said. "And you go in there, and there's a bunch of old '70s chairs that you sit in that get uncomfortable after about 20 minutes. The speakers are on the projector itself, and it's hooked up to a laptop, that kind of thing. We wanted a real movie theater experience."
The theater that Thriller! Chiller! has come to call home is Grand Rapids' own Wealthy Theatre, a location that Griffin says just keeps getting better.
"Wealthy Theatre, with their latest centennial campaign funds, has made these huge improvements to both theaters, in addition to what they used to have," he said. "That was great, but now it's even better."
Films will be shown in both the Peter Wege Auditorium and the Koning Micro-Cinema to make for a diverse experience.
Over the years, the quality of the films submitted to Thriller! Chiller! have been getting better too, and it's becoming more difficult for Griffin and Randall to narrow down which selections to show. This year alone, they received more than 500 hours of footage, and had to trim it down to 30 hours for the festival. Each movie gets viewed a total of three times to ensure the proper amount of attention is paid to every detail.
"All the components that go into making a strong movie, whether it be cinematography, editing, acting, directing, those things all come together and we look at the cohesive whole," Griffin said.
This year's festival features a vast assortment of national and international submissions, as well as local films, such as Break Glass in Case of... and Randall's own award-winning America's Most Haunted. Juried prizes will be given out at the festival, with the coveted Boomstick Award reserved for best regional film.
Visit thrillerchiller.com for a full list of films and more information.
Fear the Crooked Corpse Film Premiere
Wealthy Theatre is keeping up their horror kick with the premiere of A Picture Show's latest feature film, Fear the Crooked Corpse, on Oct. 27. Grand Rapids native Aaron Russman wrote, directed and produced the movie, which he describes as "a feature-length narrative that takes the viewer inside a mental breakdown and descent into madness."
The film, which is inspired in part by Poe's "The Telltale Heart" follows Edgar, a man whose daughter is murdered, leaving Edgar desiring vengeance against the muderer. This becomes complicated when the murderer takes his own life, and Edgar begins a horrifying psychological journey.
Russman said he immersed himself in the horror genre to prepare for the movie.
"I'm quite the fan of classic horror, the black-and-white originals, but also the '70s offerings. And there's always a special place in my heart for the slasher films in the '80s and '90s."
Russman has included something in this film for fans of all horror genres, and he feels Fear the Crooked Corpse "runs the gamut through all of my horrifying influences."
Ten dollars gets you a ticket to the film and access to a full-blown halloween party, which Russman urges the audience to participate in.
"Anyone attending is highly encouraged to come in costume," Russman said. "The best outfit wins a cool prize and we'll have all the classic games you enjoyed as a kid, each with a ghoulish twist."