Horror films are released throughout the year, but there tend to be an abundance of new horror film releases in the month of October, just before Halloween. Of these, there may be a few flicks that look promising each year, but let’s face it: mainstream horror movies often make us sleep instead of scream, and rarely does a horror film continue to haunt us after we’ve left the theatre.
In the last five years, however, horror film festivals have been coming out of the woodwork, in a new kind of film fest designed to truly frighten its freaky followers and showcase the year’s best new horror film releases. Like the horror films themselves, horror film festivals are scheduled throughout the year, with a landslide of festivals in October that tapers off after Halloween.
Horror film festivals share a common mission of advancing the horror genre and providing viewing opportunities for fans, while providing a venue for filmmakers to compete for prizes and recognition that can lead to mass distribution opportunities.
If you’re bored with mainstream vampires, vampire slayers, and scary movies that make audiences laugh instead of cry, here’s an overview of this October’s best horror film festivals, which promise to deliver the best and most grotesque that the genre has to offer.
Eerie Horror Fest, Erie, PA, October 7-10
The Eerie Horror Fest began in 2004 and has screened over 300 films, sending several winners on to become box-office hits. The festival accepts film and screenplay submissions for competition, and includes workshops for aspiring horror writers and filmmakers. Attendees can also enjoy late-night VIP parties and an abundance of special guest appearances. This year’s guests include Brian O’Halloran (star of Clerks and many other Kevin Smith movies) and dozens of horror film actors.
Freakshow Horror Film Festival, Orlando, FL, October 8-10
The Orlando Freakshow screens short and feature horror films for competition, featuring a freaky gala awards ceremony. The festival presents a lifetime achievement award, going this year to horror film director John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Christine), who also wrote, produced, and appeared in many horror films.
Screamfest Horror Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, October 8-17
Screamfest 10 is aptly named since it is both the festival’s tenth year and it’s running for ten days in 2010, making it one of the longest running horror film festivals in more ways than one. This year the festival also offers the second annual Reaper awards to highlight the year’s best horror film DVD releases.
International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, Tempe, AZ, October 14-17
This festival screens favorite horror classics in addition to new horror shorts and features. There’s a costume party on Saturday night and PBR bash parties every night. The festival inducts new members into it’s hall of fame each year, and this year’s inductees include Judith O’Dea (Barbra from Night of the Living Dead) and Marilyn Burns (Sally from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Big Bear Horror Film Festival, Big Bear Lake, CA, October 15-17
Big Bear Horror Film Festival brings together celebrities, filmmakers, and horror fans alike in an intimate setting, with a mission of showcasing the talents of both established and new filmmakers. This year’s festival includes seminars, workshops, film location tours, and the Ultimate Horror Fan contest. The Ultimate Horror Fan gets instant fame and becomes a 2011 festival judge.
Telluride Horror Show, Telluride, CO, October 15-17
Telluride is home to many festivals and several film festivals, adding the first annual Horror Show this year. The festival kicks off with a Friday night pig roast, and screenwriter Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Fright Night) is one of the scheduled guest appearances.
Terror Film Festival, Philadelphia, PA, October 21-23
Hosted by Princess Horror, the Terror Film Festival showcases shorts, features, and screenplays, while filmmakers, writers, and actors compete for the Claw Awards. The festival is in its fifth year and promises “the best parties on the planet,” in addition to special guests.
Mile High Horror Film Festival, Denver, CO, October 22-23
2010 marks the inaugural year for the Mile High Horror Film Festival, which accepted submissions in categories for local Colorado films, animation, and student films, in addition to the usual features and shorts.
Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival, Newport, RI, October 21-24
In it’s eleventh year, the RIIHFF offers a variety of activities in addition to film screenings, such as the H.P. Lovecraft walking tour, or the “Zombieathon” battle. RIIHFF will also be screening restored classic horror films in HD as part of the programming.
The Sacramento Horror Film Festival, Sacramento, CA, October 21-24
This fourth annual festival screens over forty independent horror films in addition to classic horror films. Attendees can also watch live theatrical horror performances, compete in the zombie beauty pageant, or visit the Vincent Price Tribute Show.
Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival, Washington DC, October 21-25
Each night includes one feature film preceded by 2 to 4 short films. This year’s competition focuses on the inaugural Dark Heart Screenplay award, in addition to the usual awards for filmmakers and actors. The Thursday night opening feature—Tucker and Dale vs. Evil—has already been a favorite at several prominent film festivals in 2010.