Tuesday 18 July 2000

International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival 2013

The International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival continued to run within The Phoenix Film Festival in 2013, its ninth year. The larger festival opened on 4th April at the Harkins Scottsdale 101, with horror/sci-fi programming kicking in on the 5th. Both ran until the 11th.

While it's still clearly the red-headed stepchild of the larger festival, it thankfully grew in most respects this year. While I understand that it became prohibitive for one local film foundation to run two separate festivals at this scale per year, I'm not aware of a reason why they can't be treated with a little more parity when run together.

Scheduling has been one of the major issues over the last couple of years. Most films screened either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, with huge gaps in the middle and many clashes. It was simply impossible to see most of the films shown, which competed with each other for an audience. This year's festival solved that problem by mostly dedicating a theatre to horror sci/fi programming. The fact that many of the screenings sold out throughout the day, from the earliest showings onwards, highlights how important a decision that was.

More slots were made available too. Last year's festival had four features in competition, two horror and two sci-fi. This year there were three of each, on top of the eight showcase features programmed.

There were also two sets of sci-fi shorts and one of horror shorts, as with last year. Unfortunately the second set of horror shorts programmed wasn't shown, though the reason given that a sci-fi bias in the shorts balanced out the horror bias in the showcase features doesn't stand up to analysis. Short films are the lifeblood of genre festivals and I believe that there was enough quality in the submissions this year to allow for three sets of shorts for each genre.

Quality was notably up, especially on the sci-fi side. Anyone who screens submissions to genre festivals knows that they're dominated by horror. Programming the sci-fi side can be a thankless task, but both the volume and the quality of submissions this year was astounding.

There were more special guests too, though they weren't highlighted particularly well on the Phoenix Film Festival side, which leapt at the presence of Teller, accompanying Play Dead, but almost completely ignored the glorious Meg Foster, here to present They Live. The third special guest was Peter Block, here both as executive producer of Saw and as CEO of FearNet, a key festival sponsor. As always, many other filmmakers were present to speak to their films. The Ghastly Love of Johnny X had different guests at each screening and they had plenty of posters to sign too.

The people behind the festival remained consistent again. Check them all out if you're into film in Arizona, beginning with Jason Carney and the folk at the Phoenix Film Foundation. Andrea Beesley, the Midnite Movie Mamacita, is the festival director who also programs the showcase features. Danny Marianino and Brandon Kinchen from I Can Smell Your Brains program the horror side and science fiction writer Mike Stackpole handles the sci-fi side.

Here are all the films that screened this year, with titles linking to my reviews and the IMDb pages added for reference. Here are my reviews for the 2013 festival.

Rating System
1 - Abysmal | 2 - Bad | 3 - Poor | 4 - OK | 5 - Good | 6 - Excellent | 7 - Classic

Horror Features
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Found 2012 6 6 Scott Schirmer IMDb
Nailbiter 2013 4 4 Patrick Rea IMDb
Sader Ridge 2013 4 4 Jeremy Berg IMDb

Sci-Fi Features
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Channeling 2012 5 6 Drew Thomas IMDb
Found in Time 2012 4 4 Arthur Vincie IMDb
Space Milkshake 2012 5 6 Armen Evrensel IMDb

Showcase Features
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Errors of the Human Body 2012 5 5 Eron Sheean IMDb
The Four 2012 5 5 Gordon Chan & Janet Chun IMDb
Gamera vs Guiron 1969 3 4 Noriaki Yuasa IMDb
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X 2012 4 5 Paul Bunnell IMDb
Kiss of the Damned 2012 3 3 Xan Cassavetes IMDb
Play Dead 2012 4 5 Shade Rupe & Teller IMDb
Saw 2004 6 6 James Wan IMDb
They Live 1988 7 7 John Carpenter IMDb

Horror Shorts
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Diecons 2012 4 4 Lomai n/a
Game 2013 5 5 Josh MacDonald IMDb
The Root of the Problem 2012 6 6 Ryan Spindell IMDb
Steve from Accounting vs The Shadow Dwellers 2012 5 4 Patrick & Paul Gibbs IMDb
Sybling Rivalry 2011 4 4 Tara Nicole Azarian IMDb
Midnight Daisy 2012 6 6 Asa Shumskas-Tait IMDb
Welcome Wagon 2012 4 4 Jessica Lee Wright IMDb
Killer Kart 2012 6 6 James Feeney IMDb

Sci-Fi Shorts A
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Dry Gulch 2012 5 5 Alejandro Alberola IMDb
Ontogenesis 2012 4 4 Joanna Ellenbeck IMDb
Ellie 2012 6 5 Ricky Lloyd George IMDb
A Conversation About Cheating with My Time Traveling Future Self 2012 5 5 Pornsak Pichetshote IMDb
The Secret Keeper 2011 6 6 Bears Fonté IMDb
Low Tide in the High Desert 2011 5 5 Stanley Ray IMDb
Restitution 2011 6 5 Justin O'Neal Miller IMDb
Iris 2012 5 5 Justin S Lee IMDb
Odokuro 2011 5 5 Aurelio Voltaire IMDb

Sci-Fi Shorts B
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Sol 2013 6 6 Mark Falls IMDb
All I Think of is You 2012 5 5 Shad Clark IMDb
Quantum 2012 5 5 Joseph Carlin IMDb
Golem 2013 4 4 Patrick McCue & Tobias Wiesner IMDb
Sunset Day 2012 4 4 J A Duran IMDb
Flashback 2013 6 6 Steve Petersen IMDb
White Room: 02B3 2012 5 5 Greg Aronowitz IMDb
The Phoenix 2012 5 6 Carmelo Zucco IMDb

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