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Day 3 Highlights of Buffalo Screams

The third day of the Buffalo Screams Horror Festival offered a wide selection for diverse palates. Unlike Friday’s zombie theme, there was no set theme for the day. Even with the films outlined in the program, it was unpredictable to say the least.

The opening short, A Study In Red, hearkened back to two classic cult films: Roger Corman’s Bucket of Blood and Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Color Me Blood Red. At 7 minutes, the feature went from blissful to disturbing. It centered on an eager painter (Krista Webb) who worked on abstract art with blood. There isn’t much else that is as frightening as a murderer with a cherub-like guise about her as she paints with blood or kills her victims.

Next was Kevin McGuiness’ Red, a bizarre retelling of the “Little Red Riding Hood” story. The artistic method of contrast shading with the Chandler-Noir monologue was inspired. The plot provided such a drastic change from the story that you’re interested in seeing where the story goes. This is besides the fact that the look of the film is so captivating that, literally, the movie IS art.

The first full-length feature of the day was Werewolf Fever, directed by Brian Singleton. Featured in the film was Mark Courneyea, who will be featured in the Brett Kelly selection for the festival, Avenging Force: The Scarab. Taking the 80’s teen comedy and throwing in lycanthrope added much charm to this funny and scary hybrid. The make-up of the werewolf is pretty good for a movie of what likely was a low budget. The performances from the entire cast were engaging and working with such a limited location goes to the film’s credit.

Interesting enough, I was in conversation with Greg Lamberson and Emil Novak about this film. Originally, they weren’t impressed by it when they saw it on the small screen. It really clicked to them the movie worked when it was on the big screen. This is clearly a perfect movie for a Midnight Madness screening and I hope to see it during such in the near future.

Using Cheektowaga’s House of Horrors as the setting, Daniel Monroe’s House of Horrors: The Movie, was screened. This movie was essentially a by-the-numbers slasher. Although, almost all slashers are by-the-numbers. What helps set this one apart were some pretty creative deaths and a great sense of humor. A noteworthy performance by Russell David Jaffe as spiritually-tormented Father Jacob Holy gives credibility to the outrageous plot. His brief scene with Michael O’Hear’s Father Michaels provided great genre drama I wished was prolonged, given the gore-heavy happenings that would follow it.

As a break from the horror, the first part of David Guglielmo’s Western serial, Damn Your Eyes, was screened for the Buffalo audience. Being a fan of Sergio Leone’s films and Fulci’s Four of the Apocalypse, this was a breath of fresh air. It still had its gore, but such was not caused by a chainsaw or a knife. It starred Jakob Von Eichel as a skilled, but blind, gunfighter out for vengeance. The use of music by Ennio Morricone added to the spaghetti spirit the film had in spades. Its great that more of the serial is in the works, but having to wait is the hard part.

Anthony G. Sumner’s By Her Hand, She Draws You Down was a superb variation on the vampire mythos that is of the caliber of the Twilight Zone. Zoe Daelman Chlanda plays an artist with the keen sense for detail in her illustrations. She also has an insatiable hunger that leads her to using her illustrations as a way to feed off of people, thanks to a bizarre red pigment block. Its an eerie tale that will stay with you and it’s dramatic twist at the end that isn’t perplexing.

The last film I caught for the day was Greg Lamberson’s own Slime City Massacre. 22 years since Slime City was originally unleashed, Lamberson featured his follow up for the Buffalo Screams Festival. A young couple (Born to Die‘s Jennifer Bihl and Kealan Patrick Buke) seek shelter in post-apocalyptic Buffalo, NY. They find a place with their new neighbors, the ever-lovely Debbie Rochon and Lee Perkins of TV’s Prom Queen. The couples stumble upon a bizarre yogurt and elixir that begins to affect them in the strangest ways imaginable. Meanwhile, their home is targeted by an evil entrepreneur for his own personal agenda.

People who’ve attended the other screenings of Western New York films at the festival will see many recurring faces. What Are They‘s Brandon Tyson, Arick Szymecki of Anomaly Effects, It’s In Back‘s Micah Rose, Davis’ Robert Bozek, Buffalo director John Renna, the versatile Michael O’ Hear, Born to Die‘s Chris Wroblewski, and ever-animated Kash Kostner are all featured in the film. Buffalo as a collective filmmaking force isn’t so much a community as it is a family, and let this festival stand as its yearly, crimson-stained reunion.

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