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Review: 5 Bloody Picks from The Frightening Ass Film Fest

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Review: 5 Bloody Picks from The Frightening Ass Film Fest

The Frightening Ass Film Fest, a horror child of The Chattanooga Film Fest, was two days of features, shorts, panels, and watch parties on Halloween weekend. I was sad when it ended at 6 am on Sunday, and yes, I stayed up, bouncing back from ShudderFest to The Frightening Ass Film Festand almost missed Kirk Hammett. Here are my picks for best of at The Frightening Ass Film Fest 2020though there were many others that I enjoyed:


ANONYMOUS ANIMALS

A French feature, written and directed by Baptiste Rouveure, about how animals are treated by humans. But the roles are reversed: animals play humans, and humans are treated like animals. It’s a lot. It’s an hour of sheer horror to watch people hunted, chained, burned, herded into factory farms, and forced into ‘human-fighting’ the way dogs are tortured in dog-fighting rings.

Anonymus Animals has a unique premise, and the casting reversal is a powerful way to show the reality of animal exploitation. It’s creepy to see a man with a deer head…just standing there. Worse, watching him hunt people with a gun, but what’s scary is it’s true—it’s what animals go through. Bambi is real. The film doesn’t preach though; it merely shows the cruelty the people (as animals) experience.

It’s a brilliant film, but not one I would watch again. It’s too depressing (that’s the point), and I’m already vegan. But everyone should watch it once. It *might* make some consider giving up meat, at least on #MeatlessMondays.

Anonymus Animals


BAD CANDY

A horror anthology, directed by Scott Hansen, and written by Hansen and Desiree Connell, is built around the premise of two DJs telling scary stories on Halloween night, extra points for DJ Chilly Billy and Paul, played by Zach Galligan (“Gremlins”). For one, the Halloween decor and the production design is incredible, and the creepy character that functions as the morality-enforcing supernatural villain is superb. When it shows up, you better worry.

There’s a scary story about a scantily-clad costumed nurse who works in a morgue late at night that is incredibly creepy. There’s also a fight scene with a vampire who is ridiculed by a crowd of people—but he takes them on in a comical fighting sequence that ends later with a dude saying “werewolf pussy.” I still hear it, can’t shake it. Bad Candy is a mix of horror-comedy and scary scenarios, it’s funny and creepy. If that’s your thing, you’ll love Bad Candy.

Bad Candy


HAIL TO THE DEADITES

A documentary about The Evil Dead subculture, directed by Steve Villeneuve features interviews with superfans, collectors, and Bruce Campbell. It’s about The Evil Dead fandom, but it’s really about the power of liking things. Ignoring toxic fan culture, it centers on the goodness that exists in the horror community. Especially moving is a story by Bruce Campbell about Gena Rowlands and the power of positive fandom. And towards the end, a fan shares that Ash’s strength in The Evil Dead helped him survive a family tragedy.

Plus, there’s a megaton of Evil Dead collectibles to admire.

Hail to the Deadites Doc


THE HORROR CROWD

A documentary, directed by Ruben Pla, about the horror filmmaking subculture and the creative people who make up the crowd: writers, directors, producers, and actors. It’s not easy to make and sell features, and we should never forget what an accomplishment it is to complete a feature or short. For a long time, horror was a bad word, although many seem to have changed their mind about the genre due to the success of Get OutThe Walking Dead, and Stranger Things, which is good for everyone.

There are insightful interviews with interesting people like Darren Lynn BousmanChelsea Stardust (“Satanic Panic”), Mike Mendez (“Big Ass Spider!”), Ryan Turek (“Halloween Kills”), and Brea Grant (“Lucky”), to name a few. The end shows horror couples who met because of their love of the genre, and it’s nice to see how happy they are, and yes, many of their homes have wonderfully spooky decor. The Horror Crowd is an uplifting documentary, particularly for aspiring indie horror filmmakers.

The Horror Crowd


STING OF DEATH

A priceless jewel of a film! Sting of Death is a 1966 B-horror film directed by the irreverent William Grefé, brought to us in 2K by Arrow Video. I watched it on Halloween, near midnight, and I was like, what is happening?

First, I watched a group of ‘adult kids’ in bikinis and shorts dance at a pool party for ten minutes which was god awful. Then I watched them mob an outsider (Egon) who tried to join them, refusing to let him dance. Egon has a mild eye deformity, so it’s specifically cruel. After they humiliate him, they form a conga line and gyrate away—as if to say, “we’re hot, you’re not.”

Sting of Death is about the horror of early sixties conformity—fit in or die. Everyone in the film is a rich, white, wholesome, blandly attractive shithead. The kind of teens who went to school with Janis Joplin, and called her a dog, but acted like they were friends after she became a rock star. By then, they had transformed themselves into hippies, aping the counterculture; and after that, I’m sure they transformed themselves into older Reagan suburbanites like the couple in Poltergeist.

The film was shot in the Everglades, not too far from the Florida Keys, where I grew up. It’s a low budget creature feature, but they had even less money than a B-movie, and that is what makes it so wonderful. There’s a mass jellyfish murder, a death boat, a weird supper of spaghetti and untoasted bagels, and a jellyfish monster. The jellyfish monster has a Portuguese man o’ war head that looks like a big bubble, and even stranger…he walks around menacingly in flippers.

Flippers? There’s no way a monster can scare anyone in flippers. Flippers aren’t scary! Just run, he can’t catch you on dry land. It’s ludicrous, which makes everything about Sting of Death so enjoyable. Don’t worry; the beach blanket bingo gets their comeuppance. Sting of Death is a funny, weird, B-horror film. Arrow Video has released a 2K restoration, which is certain to make the rounds at midnight film events, if and when they return. Until then, there’s virtual programming. Maybe Shudder will pick it up?

Sting of Death

The Frightening Ass Film Fest curated a great selection of features, shorts, and panels and provided a fun online community for many during the global pandemic. Halloween parties and haunts were canceled this year—thank god for The Frightening Ass Film Fest. I’m looking forward to seeing it next year, whether in person or online; hopefully, it’s now a Halloween tradition.

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