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H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Report – Portland

Hello Ghouls and Boils,

Iä! Iä! and welcome fellow cultists! I am pleased to bring you a wonderful overview of this year’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland. Guest Minion Bamboo Noir will share her thoughts on the Hollywood Theatre, the films, and more. It is tentacular that this event, which last year we feared would never happen again, lives on and thrives in all of its eldritch glory! This year it was a smaller event, but it sounds as if the intimate setting was quite the success. I chant nightly to the Elder Gods that I can make it to the bigger event in May 2012, but if not — I am sure we will find a willing reporter.

Before we get to the report there are a few pieces of spooktacular news to share. ‘Tis the season and all!

The talented Liv Rainey-Smith has been showcasing her art with the Portland Open Studios and this is the last weekend. So if you live in Portland, Oregon or will be visiting this weekend — this event is one you don’t want to miss. Whether you are looking for that perfect Lovecraftian piece to brighten your home for Samhain or you want an interesting gift for that special someone this Scary Solstice, this is your chance! Oh and as a bonus, you get to take a peek at how she makes her magick happen! (There are 100 artists participating on October 15th and 16th, but frankly why bother — see the best and skip the rest! Liv will be at Studio #59 and tell her She Never Slept sent you!)

This leads us down another wonderfully dark path… it is time for our annual 13 Days of Halloween. We’ve got some really spooktacular new sponsors this year and some familiar freaks as well. Check them out on the sidebar — they keep things phantastically creepy every day of the year!

The contest begins on October 19th and ends on October 31st Each day we will be post a trivia question. There will be a link for you to submit your answers. You can only guess once per day. To be eligible for a prize you must answer correctly and have your answer for that day’s question in by midnight (Pacific) the day it runs. Every one who answers correctly has their name thrown into a hat, the winner will be drawn by my special assistant Minion (and cutey hubby) Henry Covert. Please remember to include your name and address with each entry (yes, you readers in countries outside of the US are eligible).

We will also be having a costume contest. The deadline will be November 5th. Email me your images at sarah@sheneverslept.com with SNS Costume Contest 2011 in the subject line. Our readers will vote and the top three of those will be judged be our She Never Slept panel! Everyone in the top three will win a prize. The one in first place gets a bag of goodies. So have fun, be creative, and good luck! We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

I leave you in the capable hands of the lovely Bamboo Noir! As always – Enjoy, my fiends!

Abstrusely,
Sarah L. Covert

First a big plug for the venue, the Hollywood. This lovingly-restored work in progress is home not only to the HPLFF, but to all sorts of genre and foreign films, including movies accompanied by live performances of music scores, foley effects and dialog. It’s even acquired a theatre-style “virtual” pipe organ. There’s always something happening at the Hollywood, and I hope its broad appeal and events like the HPLFF will help it continue to survive when so many other landmarks like it have met the wrecking ball. Besides, eldritch dread doesn’t feel the same in a shopping mall multiplex.

Andrew Migliore - Festival Founder

As in years past, getting in line early outside was a must for good seats, plus a nice opportunity to admire the theatre’s towering ornate facade. Once inside under the glow of period lighting, among the wall to wall crowd, it was all happening on the main level. The scaled-back program for this year put the vendors downstairs rather than the upstairs lobby, and all the films were in the 444-seat main theatre rather than shared with the two additional smaller screens. The event also ran two evenings only, rather than the traditional three.

Vendors

Vendors

Vendors

There’s a lot to be said in favor of this mini festival format. Since attendees saw the same films at the same time, there was that wonderful feeling of shared experience and energy that happens in a sold-out movie house. And because there was a single track of films, rather than several different concurrent blocks, I never felt like I was missing out on anything. I’ll bet this simpler format also meant far less burnout for the organizers, volunteers, and vendors. The result was an event that was large but accessible at the same time.

I mustn’t forget to mention the creepy and hilarious music played as people took their seats and during intermissions: “The Soothing Sound of Innsmouth” produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. With tunes like ‚”My Slimy Cephalopod” and “We’ll Be Stalking You” it was the perfect soundtrack.

It’s all about the movies, and honestly there are a lot of very insightful reviews that other folks have already published about the festival’s featured shorts and full-length films. Here’s my 2 cents:

Call of Nature (Rick Tillman) — Yep, what it sounds like. One reason we all love the HPLFF is that it never takes itself too seriously.

Flush with Fear (Christopher Moore) — More laughs here, though with a heaping helping of blood and gore. Thankfully this wasn’t shown right before intermission, when everyone heads to the washrooms.

Doppelganger, and Idle Worship (both by Theo Stefanski) — Fans of Ray Harryhausen can especially appreciate these two shorts. Think the skeleton army from “Jason And The Argonauts” but with some spot-on commentary about human foibles.

The Ritual (Will Wright) — You know from the start that this invocation is probably going to end badly, you’re just not quite sure… how badly. This film was one of many at the fest that skillfully crammed a huge amount of mood and story into a very small space.

Dirty Silverware (Steve Daniels) — Where do people get these crazy, bugnuts, wonderful ideas? Clever camerawork and a great cast bring frightening life to spoons and forks. As if we really need another excuse to avoid washing dishes.

Ethereal Chrysalis (Syl Disjonk) — Amid the many films executed in shades of grey and muted tones, the kaleidoscopic colors of ‘Chrysalis’ just about knocked me out of my seat. This short is so intensely personal, so visceral, that I felt wrong for watching it — like I was peeking into someone’s diary. Stunning stuff.

Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ (Christopher Saphire) — I’m actually grateful that problems with the sound for this film on Friday resulting in a second screening on Saturday. It meant an additional opportunity to admire this gorgeously original and very modern interpretation of a classic. Hands down my favorite Poe adaptation to date.

Apartment Eleven (Mark Player) — Would have been right at home as an old “Twilight Zone” episode. A claustrophobic nightmare from which the protagonist begs to awaken.

The Whisperer in Darkness (Sean Branney) — Had me from the instant it began, with its long, luxurious pan across a moonlit (and meticulously constructed miniature) landscape… I felt like a kid again watching Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff on late night tv. All the raves about this one are true.

Window Into Time (Thomas Nicol) — A short film that didn’t seem like a short film: it took the time it needed to inform us about the characters and their obsession. Beware the intersection of science with the unknown and the best-left-unknown.

Haselwurm (Eugenio Villani) — Compelling performances by the two leads as they make their journey through desperation, bewilderment, excruciating pain, horror and transformation.

Black Goat (Joseph Nanni) — A perfectly edited, concise glimpse into a much bigger story, made all the more horrific by an abrupt and startling finish. Possibly my favorite short of the weekend.

The Island (Nathan Fisher) — My husband thought this was an allegory for how the rich exploit the poor and middle class, by living off the efforts of others, without compassion for their suffering. I thought it was about how people can really be assholes.

Static Aeons (Gib Patterson) — An exquisite tour through a ruined world, lingering on every decayed detail, narrated by the last… person?… on earth.

Shadow of the Unnamable (Sascha Renninger) — Once again, logic and reason get their comeuppance.

Die Farbe (Huan Vu) — This truly deserves to be seen more than once. Pay close attention to the flashbacks shown after what seems like the conclusion of this story.

I feel I have to add to all of this — I don’t know diddly about the horror “scene”.

I’m too darn shy (and a bit star struck!) to hobnob at events like these. I can’t drop names of who’s who in Lovecraftian film, literature, or art, or offer tidbits gleaned from green rooms and after parties.

I’m just a long-time horror film fan who began attending the Portland HPLFF a few years ago, and was instantly, totally, irretrievably hooked by the very special sort of chill it sent down my spine.

Can’t wait for that next shiver!

Leslie H. (BambooNoir) – Guest Minion (Reporter)

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