Give us the basics about the FANtastic Horror Film Festival
first: When and where will it be held?
The FANtastic Horror Film Festival will be a four-day party, held on
Halloween Weekend, 2014, starting on "Mischief Night". The
will be screened at the Reading Gaslamp Theater, the premiere festival
here in San Diego, California. The social events will be held at a
So what can you
tell us about the FANtastic Horror Film Festival, and the
philosophy behind it? And what do you think makes your festival special?
stock answer for the FANtastic Horror Film Festival can be found
on our website, http://www.FHFFSD.org, but the real reason is that we really love
indie horror, and JoAnn and I were getting sick of schlepping up to
Los Angeles to watch a good horror movie. We decided to bring the
horror to us!
gave you the idea to launch the festival in the first place, and your
backgrounds that got you into a position to do so?
answered that in part above; the rest of the story is that JoAnn
and I have done theatre collectively for over half a century, and when
we moved to California, we needed a break, but now we want to get back
in the game. We also have many years experience in meeting planning
that helps us a lot. Combining these experiences gives us the edge of
understanding the needs of our audience--the fans, and the filmmakers.
called the "FANtastic Horror Film Festival" - so is horror
a genre at all dear to you, and why (not)?
been dying to tell The Tingler story! When I was a wee lad, my
mother had connections at the local movie theater. So, for our first
movie outing, in her "infinite wisdom," decided that our first
would be a double feature, Jason and the Argonauts and William
Castle's The Tingler. Now if you know William Castle, he was infamous
for setting up gimmicks to make the moviegoing experience more
organic. For The Tingler, thumpers were set up under seats in the
theater, so when the creature would appear on screen, you would feel a
"tingling" sensation. Now, as a five year old, long before the
rating system, this child, having never been to the movies, never even
seen a color program, was so terrified, that he could not even walk
into a theater for over a decade. After my self-imposed exile, I
ventured into a theater to watch Stephen King's The
the scariest movie of the time. My reaction was, "This is it? This
has kept me out of the movies for ten years? THIS IS GREAT!" Since
then, I would go to horror movies, marvelling at the special effects
and the story, knowing that somewhere, some director or make-up artist
is standing in the back of the theater, smiling every time the
audience screams, saying to himself, "Got'cha."
being said, "Big Box" horror (your homogenized, water-down
franchises) really don't give you the "buzz" of indie horror,
the writers, actors, and directors call the shots, not some board of directors worried about their bottom line. So, indie horror is where
the real entertainment can be found!
JoAnn and Michael Thomas
JoAnn: My story is
a little different than Mike's. First of all I did not
have a particular interest in horror until a little over a year ago,
when one day Mike said "You want to go on a date?" I said
"Yes." I had
no idea that the date was going to a horror film festival in LA. We
went to see Children of Sorrow starring Bill Oberst, Jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here]. I was
awestruck by how much more interesting indie horror was than the stuff
I have seen over the years. I am an avid reader and a big fan of
Stephen King, so I have created many movies in my head over the years.
Combine that with the fact that I enjoy television shows like Criminal
Minds, it was a short jump to indie horror.
Now I do
guess it's no coincidence that your festival takes place over Halloween -
so outside of showing horror movies, do you plan any other activities to
mark the occasion?
The decision to hold the Festival on
Halloween weekend was a
deliberate choice! The Gaslamp area, when the Festival is being held,
will be hosting an area-wide festival of its own, with restaurants and
attractions to draw San Diegans into that area. Being a part of that
multiblock celebration will only help our exposure.
You still accept submissions to your
festival, right? So where and how to submit, and what are some general
guidelines regarding quality and the like when submitting? Oh, and how
rigorous are you in your definition of horror?
on how to submit a film are on our website http://www.FHFFSD.org.
They are pretty specific, and too long to explain in an interview. My
best advice is visit the website. As for specifics, no Will Ferrell
movies! Seriously though, horror actually transcends genres. There
are standard horror films, psychological, slasher, vampire, zombie,
animation, comedy; we even have a puppet horror film! We're even in
talks to screen an entry from the Mini-Shorts Festival in England,
where all the films are sixteen seconds long! So our range is very
broad, but seriously, no Will Ferrell movies!
As far as
I know you've got a handful of films already lined up - so what can you
tell us about them, and why exactly those?
earlier, our selection is as varied as the genre itself.
We have fantasy (Phoenix Song), zombie (Zombie Casserole), seasonal
Christmas Devil), traditional (The
Truck), and more
coming is even as we speak (metaphorically speaking). We wanted a wide
range of films to appeal to a wide audience--from the hard core horror
fans to the closet horror fans and everyone in between.
Do talk about your panel of judges of a
bit ... whose names might ring a bell to the indie horror community,
Our judges were selected from the most recognized
name in indie
horror social media:
Gruesome Hertzogg a.k.a. Scott Geiter - podcast host, producer, actor
Chris Mackey - blogger and interviewer for Guestars
Geno McGhee - host, Scared Stiff Reviews, producer and director
Char Hardin - host of Charred Remains
Joe Flynn - host of The Joe Flynn Show on
also hand out awards which will be voted upon by the fans, right? Care to
As soon as all our films are selected, we will
begin online voting.
The categories will be Academy Award-like (Best Picture, Best Director,
etc.) for the feature films and shorts, as well as some genre-specific
categories (Most Gory, Scream Queen, etc.).
So where can one buy tickets for the event?
Big Ticket items (VIP Passes, 3-Day Passes) are available for
purchase on our website, http://www.FHFFSD.org
now. Naturally, both our One-Day
Passes and our Single Screening tickets won't be available until we
have our full screening schedule, something around August
there be future FANtastic Horror Film Festivals, and/or do you plan
other events along these lines/totally different lines?
is our first Festival, but is certainly not our last! Already,
we are planning for next year, and we are in negotiations with
charities and other horror-specific activities in the area. Because
we are so new, these activities are still in the pre-production stage.
Your all-time favourite horror
Michael: You got The
Tingler story. That
pretty much says it all. Your first
love is always your best, even if it scares the living bejesus out of
Epilogue: I not only have the DVD of the film now, but hunted
and tracked down a life-sized resin figurine of the creature!
My all time favorite has to be Children of Sorrow it changed my
perspective in so many ways.
Your/your festival's website, Facebook, whatever
Okay, our "digits":
Plus we're the Number One hit on Google if you type in "Fantastic
Horror Film Festival." You can find us on the spotlight side!
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
We're the film festival with a
mission. With attention to screening
times, access to the actors, filmmakers, and celebrities, parties, and
an Awards Banquet like none you've ever seen. The Festival is also to
promote the films to distributors, and film warehouses, but for the
FANS - its gonna be a party!
Thanks for the interview!