Hello Ghouls and Boils,
I always know that the spooktacular season of Fall has arrived in Portland. Zombies increase in numbers, the leaves change colors and the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon spreads insanity through our rain-soaked city. Ah the glory of cyclopean madness in the crisp autumn air. If you are a regular SNS reader, you know all about my love for HPLFF. To me, the season does not truly begin until the first weekend of October when we open the doors of the Hollywood Theatre for hordes of gleeful cultists. Today I present to you a report of the 2009 festivities, from a volunteer and a festival goers perspective. Enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Gerhardt
I arrived at the Hollywood Theatre a few hours before the door opened on Friday. Every year, since I attended my first H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, I have been both an attendee and a volunteer. Friday night is always the most chaotic of the weekend. I quickly went to work helping where I could. Andrew Migliore (Festival Director) just had his appendix removed, so we all pitched in 150%. It was part of my duties to attend to the Yellow Chamber (Green Room). Luckily, Alanna has been in charge of the YC for years – so everything I needed to setup was back there. (Alanna rules like that!) I tackled that task first, willingly.
There is something romantic about being in a nearly empty theatre. The Hollywood Theatre is very old and in a way — when the theatre isn’t filled with patrons — it feels a little like you are communing with the spirits of the past. I certainly enjoyed the peace of the backstage area where the green room is located… especially since I knew the madness was just a short time away.
I was well prepared for the madness – as you can see by my assortment of goodies. Cthulhu to cuddle – check! Phone for tweeting to SNS followers – check! HPLFF program so I don’t get confused – check! Rockstar to keep me going – check!
With the Yellow Chamber ready to go, I was free to help get things organized up front. I was at the theatre for over an hour, but I was in the back so I had no idea what the lines looked like. As usual, there was a legion of Lovecraft fans awaiting the opportunity to be driven mad by unnamable horrors. I went outside and used my *ahem* “ability to project my voice” and helped organize the line. I passed out programs and many hugs (there were quite a few regulars in line who are a part of the extended family). When the doors opened Alanna helped at the ticket counter and I helped put together some extra weekend passes. The controlled chaos began and by 7pm we had most of the cultists checked in and tagged!
The crowds slowly poured into the main theatre. Andrew Migliore, despite having unnameable horrors removed from his insides, was a gracious and humorous host as he opened the 2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Robert M. Price – weird tale author & editor, religious scholar – offered an evocation to the Old Ones.
For me, the first night is always about working and catching up with old friends. The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival is like a strange sort of family reunion. Although I only see most of these people once a year, I love them all. I gladly accepted all of the warm hugs, friendly kisses, and hours of catch-up talk.
I was very tired and decided against drinks after the first night of the festival. There was an event over at Tony Starlight’s. Chuck and Dexter (A Lovecraftian Comedy team) performed. I heard it was a lot of fun! I hope they come back next year so I can see them.
The second day of the film festival is usually a little bit more relaxed for those working the event. The vendors are all set-up. We have most of the weekend pass-holders taken care of. We have ironed out any kinks from the evening before. I helped with the opening and waited for the theatres to fill. That’s when I took off my volunteer hat and put on my reporter’s hat. I had a lot of movies to watch and author readings to attend!
I popped into Shorts Block 1 for a bit. Shorts are one of my favorite parts of H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon. Short films are usually very hard to find outside of a film festival… so watching them makes you part of a very exclusive club.
Short Blocks 1 showcased: The Seventh Shadow by Brian Clement, The Quiet Darkness by Marc Buhmann, Noirville by Andrew Marsh, Elder Sign by Joseph Nanni, My Pretty Pony by Mikhail Tank, The Prey by Stephen Johnson, Lovecraft Paragraphs by Reber Clarkm The Picture in the House by Gary Lobstein and Christopher James Jordan, and Tinglewood by Alexander von Hofmann. I didn’t stay for the whole thing… but I really enjoyed Elder Sign – it cracked me up.
I decided to shorten my Short Film experience (ha, ha!) for an impromptu King in Yellow photo shoot by the Yellow Chamber (green room). I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. My roommate, friend and fellow HPLFF volunteer Alanna Quinn made a brilliant King in Yellow costume and hung a yellow sign banner. Author Joseph S. Pulver, Victoria Price, Alanna and I had a blast.
Immediately after our photo shoot I went to listen to Authors Joseph S. Pulver and Michael Shea read from their works. I attempted to record the reading… sadly my recorder got set to voice activation and it didn’t come out well. (It got fixed in time for day 3 – don’t worry!) Michael’s reading was wonderful. It certainly made me want to check out more of his work. He has been added to my (sadly neglected) reading for fun list! Joseph read from Blood Will Have Its Season – a She Never Slept favorite. He did a fantastic job this year – I believe it was his third year reading at the festival.
I didn’t get to attend the William F. Nolan interview because it was happening at the same time as the author readings. I was bummed. But thankfully Jason V Brock provided a picture from the event!
Before the dinner break I took a few moments to catch up with old friends and acquaintances.
After the dinner break I had the honor of meeting and talking with William F. Nolan. Maybe, just maybe, I might get an interview with him for She Never Slept in the near future. This was by far one of my most memorable moments. That’s one of the great things about HPLFF. You get to meet your heroes and they are accessible.
I helped tend to the Lurker Films table for a bit after dinner. This was fine by me because Day 2 is a great day for people watching! One of my favorite things about Saturday night — people dress up!
After the crowds dwindled I ran upstairs to check out Night of the Eagle. It is a black and white film from 1962 directed by Sidney Hayers, written by Fritz Leiber Jr., Charles Beaumont, and Richard Matheson. The tale centers around a college professor who discovers that his wife has been practicing magic for years to protect him. But he is a rational man, so he forces her to destroy all her magical charms. I loved this film, sadly I didn’t watch the whole thing… I am easily distracted at the film festival (another reason the shorts are good for me) and I wanted to check on the other volunteers. Fortunately, it is available on DVD. I recommend giving it a viewing if you can find it. I am buying it. What I saw I loved and I need to know how it ends!
The night came to a close at the theatre. Many people headed off for a night at Tony Starlight’s with Chuck & Dexter. I couldn’t make it for the encore performance either. Perhaps I am just getting too old… but after a day of horrors and deliciously dark delights and hordes of cultists… I just needed some silence.
Sunday is always laid-back, fun and a little sad. It was going to be a very busy Sunday for me this year and I was glad for that. I didn’t have time to think about how it would all be over soon. The RW Chambers panel and interviews were on the agenda! This year Elwood would be back… if you have been to the festival you know about this. It is sort of our own little twisted version of a Rocky Horror Show thing. I came in and helped with opening and morning setup as usual. I hung out up front until the RW Chambers began at 2:30. While I waited I had the opportunity to talk with Artist Lee Moyer and HPLFF Volunteer Howard.
An interview with Artist Lee Moyer
Soon the time came for the RW Chambers panel. I had been looking forward to this panel all weekend. I am only loosely familiar with his material, having only read a few pieces and seen a couple of films based on his work. I was excited to learn more. This was bound to be interesting with such knowledge speakers. Gary Myers, Joe Pettit, Jr., Joseph S. Pulver, S. T. Joshi, Wilum Pugmire and Aaron Vanek were all sitting on the panel. I am happy to say I have a very special treat for you. I captured the whole panel – so you can experience it for yourselves! Enjoy my fiends! (*note: This is a very large file. If you are on dial-up or a slower connection it could take a while… but it’s worth it.)
After the panel was over I nabbed interviews with people all over the fest. Here they are in no particular order…
And because I didn’t have any other place to put them… random pictures from the fest!
And finally – Elwood… now I know I kept promising sound bites from this event… but sadly my recorder did not pick them up. Perhaps it is part of the mystery behind Elwood! I suppose that means you will just have to come to the fest and find out for yourself!
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival started 14 years ago as a very small event with just a few films. It has grown into a much larger event – complete with panels, author readings, films, vendors and more. I have been going for 5 years now and I can’t imagine I would ever miss it again. There is no place on earth where I feel more free to be myself. There is no event where I have found so many like minds and kindred spirits. If you are even a casual fan of H.P. Lovecraft, this is an event you should not miss. The stars are always right with the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon. Thank you for another terrorific year Andrew! This festival gets She Never Slept’s highest marks – a 5 out of 5.