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Once again, dangerous creatures are descending on Washington, D.C., and this time it has nothing to do with Congress or Glenn Beck supporters. No, it’s time for the Fifth Annual Washington D.C. International Horror Film Festival, also known as Spooky Movie 2010. The festival is being held in a variety of locations beginning today and running through Monday, October 25.
Admission for opening night is $10 for the public, and $8.50 for AFI Members; the Friday- and Saturday-evening double features are $15 each ($10 on Friday, October 22 for anyone who comes dressed as a zombie); admission for each film block Sunday and Monday is $9 each. A $25 Fest Pass, good for all screenings at Cinema Arts Theatres, is available at the Cinema Arts box office or on-line. All films are unrated, and unless specifically noted, no one under 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian’s accompaniment or permission.
The man behind the festival is C.W. Prather (pictured at right with friend), who is also the man responsible for EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN, a very cool documentary on horror host Count Gore De Vol, a legend in the Washington TV market. Prather is one of the busiest men in the industry, and Fango caught up with him just as he was getting ready to launch this year’s event.
FANGORIA: How would you describe Spooky Movie?
C.W. PRATHER: Every year, the festival takes five days in October to celebrate the best of the best in true independent horror cinema from around the world.
FANG: How many years have you been putting it on?
PRATHER: This is the fifth festival. In additional to the October event, we also do special screenings year round, including the Midsummer Night’s Scream and special one-off showings. We plan to do more and more of these in the coming year.
FANG: What can we expect at this year’s festival?
PRATHER: 42 shorts and features from over 10 countries, many of which have recently screened at Sundance, Cannes, South by Southwest, the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantasia, as well as premieres—both American and world—and a good number of fresh discoveries; themes, like our Friday Zombie night, where we screen COLIN and BROKEN SPRINGS: SHINE OF THE UNDEAD ZOMBIE BASTARDS, and the Saturday grindhouse experience, where we screen THE UH-OH SHOW and EL MONSTRO DEL MAR. We also balance out the sheer horror with experimental, musical, animation, documentaries and comedy.
FANG: Do you have any special guests lined up?
PRATHER: Aside from Count Gore De Vol, who will be there for a couple of the nights, several filmmakers are planning on attending the festival, including two award-winning Spooky Movie alumi: filmmaker and musician Voltaire, whose new short DEMI URGE EMESIS screens Sunday, Oct. 24, and filmmaker Brian Lonano, whose brand new short MARTIAN PRECURSOR opens the festival, right before TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL.
FANG: How did you manage to get TUCKER AND DALE?
PRATHER: The festival lineup is a combination of curated titles and films that came in through a submission process. TUCKER AND DALE was one I wanted for opening night at the AFI Silver, and we approached them this summer, and they agreed. It was pretty easy, actually—for a genre fest this size, we understand it has a pretty decent reputation among filmmakers. Having the AFI Silver as one of our venues also helps; it’s consistently ranked as the best place to screen a film on the East Coast.
FANG: You made a very cool documentary about Count Gore De Vol. How did that come about?
PRATHER: Dick Dyszel—Count Gore—and I have been friends for over 10 years, and I knew the very unique story of his career would make for a great story. It wasn’t until I met Steve Niles, creator of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, who also grew up watching the Count on television in the 1970s and ’80s, that I saw that the story of his influence was just as important, and the ideas started snapping into place. Even though there were other documentaries on horror hosting, I thought one that focused on one subject, and gave equal weight to their legacies, would help to illustrate that this is still a relevant genre of entertainment. I got lucky with this—Dick had an archive of amazing footage of not only Count Gore, but also with his stint as Captain 20 and Bozo the Clown, not to mention hours of super-rare behind-the-scenes clips. The final component was getting participation from people like current horror hosts Jerry Moore [a.k.a. “Karlos Borloff”] and John Dimes [“Dr. Sarcofiguy”], scream queens Leanna Chamish and Eleanor Herman and filmmakers Tim Davis, Eric Krasner and especially Jeff Krulick, who did wonders in getting me to finish the film.
FANG: How is the horror-host-themed show holding up in today’s market?
PRATHER: Alive and well. There are few markets these days that don’t have access to horror hosts, either through community television stations or the Internet—Penny Dreadful, Karlos Borloff, Ms. Monster, Ormon Grimsby, Mr. Lobo, Dr. Sarcofiguy, Dr. Gangrene, the Bone Jangler and, of course, Count Gore De Vol have helped revolutionize hosting for newer hosts. Several cities, like Nashville, Pensacola, Chicago and Reno, have over-the-air commercial hosts; and this year Elvira returned to her horror-hosting roots, with a fantastic new syndicated show. This October, I helped launch SPOOKY MOVIE TELEVISION, where Dr. Sarcofiguy hosts shorts from the film festival, alongside his co-host/stalker, Boo dePest.
FANG: What kind of an audience do you think you’ll see at Spooky Movie?
PRATHER: All kinds. Some of our regulars are in their 70s, while others are in their late teens; mostly we get men and women who love a good scare, and appreciate the kind of fest we put on. It’s an audience as diverse as the D.C. area, really. The festival has become, for me, like a family reunion where all of these cool and interesting people come together once a year for this shared experience. I love catching up with everyone between the movies, or during the intermissions, almost as much as I love meeting up with new people who have just discovered us.
FANG: Any chance the Obamas will be in attendance?
PRATHER: [Laughs] I doubt it, but if they did, no doubt they would be impressed with the $25 festival pass, which gets people into all of the films at Cinema Arts Theatre—10 features and 29 shorts!
FANG: How long does it take you to plan the festival?
PRATHER: I’m already planning 2011’s edition, but for the most part, the fest really starts shaping up in the early spring. Even still, things always change—you have to have sea legs and be ready for any opportunity.
For more information, including a schedule, on the 2010 Spooky Movie festival, as well as news about other related events, please visit the official website. Additional information about the American Film Institute is available here.
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