POPCORN FRIGHTS PRESENTS WICKED WEEKEND!

Just in time for the spooky season, Popcorn Frights has announced its annual Wicked Weekend program celebrating all the eerie, weird, wild, and strange things that go bump in the night! The event, running September 28 through October 2 at Savor Cinema Fort Lauderdale, will feature nine film events plus a host of filmmakers, restorations, and special screenings.

Everything kicks off with the opening night debut of Smile, the disturbing new horror from Paramount Pictures starring Sosie Bacon (13 Reasons Why) as a doctor whose life unravels as increasingly bizarre forces drag her to the edge of sanity.

Wicked Weekend is also headlined by the North American Premiere of the fun and fantastically splatter-packed love letter to horror anthologies Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge, as well as the hotly anticipated sequel to the cult-favorite slasher Terrifier 2 featuring the demonic killer Art the Clown who is up to his old tricks once again.

Other highlights include the 35th anniversary of Kathryn Bigelow’s ultra-violent triumph Near Dark starring the late-great Bill Paxton and the 25th anniversary of the Kevin Williamson penned (Scream) 90s slasher I Know What You Did Last Summer starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr.

This year’s Wicked Weekend will also feature one hell of a family reunion with a special double-bill presentation of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, which will include a Michael Myers and Jamie Lloyd costume contest with special prizes and giveaways.

Rounding out the program is the Florida Premiere of Spirit Halloween starring Christopher Lloyd and Rachel Leigh Cook in a Nickelodeon meets The Goonies diabolical coming-of-age thriller, as well as a celebration of Alex Proyas’ gloriously gothic and brutal revenge tale The Crow starring Brandon Lee as a badass antihero in his final electric performance.

To see more about the movies and get tickets, visit the official Popcorn Frights web page.

Celebrated as one of “The World’s 50 Best Genre Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine, Popcorn Frights recently wrapped its eighth edition this past August with more than 10,000 filmgoers and industry professionals attending its summer week of wicked films, events, and parties. The ninth annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival will take place August 10-20, 2023 across South Florida with submissions now open via Film Freeway. Shorts, features, documentaries, animation, film and video — all are welcome and can be submitted at the link: https://filmfreeway.com/popcornfrightsfilmfestival

POPCORN FRIGHTS: The Sound (2022)

Two years ago, Lily (Sabrina Stull) experienced an incident that caused her to spontaneously start bleeding and lose her hearing. Now, two years later, she attempts to relax with her sister Alison (Emree Franklin, War of the Worlds: Annihilation) but worries that the strange phenomena that impacted has come back.

The Sound is a quick film that has some really well-done camera work and builds suspense nicely, even if it doesn’t let you in all that much on what’s happening. That said, the ending is definitely something and I’d like to know even more of what’s going on.

Directed by Jason-Christopher Mayer (who edited the films American ExorcismThe Doll and Coven; he also did “The Devil You Know” video for L.A. Guns) and written by Mayer and Emree Franklin (she was also in War of the Worlds: Annihilation) from a story by Gage Golightly, this short makes the most of its locations, runtime and budget, leaving you begging for just a little bit more.

I watched The Sound at Popcorn Frights.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: Tiny Cinema (2022)

“This is the kind of place that will make you feel uncomfortable, I can promise you that.”

Tiny Cinema is an anthology film that presents quick blasts of story and obscene humor. It starts with “Game Night,” in which one partygoer becomes obsessed with who she is after being told “That’s what she said.” Then, in “Edna,” a woman finds her perfect partner in a corpse. That is, until he comes back to life. “Daddy’s Home” is about a great date, some cocaine and the body horror of becoming your parents. There’s also a throwaway story about some gangsters who want someone to sleep with their mother and “Deep Impact,” a tale of a man’s future sex wanting to make love to his past younger body to save the world. Oh yeah — there’s also a gang of friends who want to give their friend his first orgasm which can only be achieved by escalating levels of crime and violence.

Tyler Cornack and Ryan Koch also made Butt Boy, a film in which its hero put objects and people up his, well, butt. This movie takes that level of ridiculousness and amps it up to an absurd degree. Written along with William Morean, this is a constantly changing freakshow of madness, hosted by Paul Ford, who speaks directly to the audience and comments on just how weird everything gets.

If you’re not easily offended, well, you may still be offended. But if you’re ready for something that will challenge your resolve, Tiny Cinema has a seat for you.

I watched Tiny Cinema at Popcorn Frights and it will soon be available to watch on VOD

POPCORN FRIGHTS: Bad Girl Boogey (2022)

“One Halloween, blood was shed by the wearer of a parasitic mask cursed with black magic and bigotry. Sixteen years later, when Angel’s best friend is slaughtered by a killer with the same mask, they must overcome their personal struggles, fight their fear and find the masked killer before he — or it — slaughters everyone they hold dear.”

Twelve years ago, Angel (Lisa Fanto) lost a mother to the mask, which empowers whoever wears it with the hatred of everyone who has ever worn it.  Angel is struggling to deal with the last few days of high school, as she and her friends have identities that cause the world to hate, fear and reject them.

When the mask is found and the killings start all over again, Angel must find out who or what the masked killer is, then stop them before she loses any more of her found family.

Director and co-writer (with Ben Pahl Robinson) Alice Maio Mackay also made another movie that I really enjoyed, So Vam, and the goal with this movie was to “be even better.” Mackay is a 17-year-old transgender award-winning filmmaker based in South Australia and from the two films I’ve seen from her, she definitely has the talent to go beyond these already quite well-made movies.

Also, if you watch that trailer, you may notice the voice of Bill Moseley, which incredibly adds to the scare potential of this movie.

Bad Girl Boogey premieres Sunday, August 21st at Popcorn Frights and will be available to watch virtually as part of the festival.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: When the Screaming Starts (2021)

Aidan Mendle (Ed Hartland) wants to be the kind of killing machine that gets his own Netflix doc or podcasts following his horrible crime spree. His girlfriend Julia (Katherine Bennett-Fox) is holding back sex until that happens; she’s also auditioning a family of their own, a cult of like-minded killers.

Nathan Graysmith (Jared Rogers) is looking for a way to get his filmmaking career going. True crime seems like the way to go; he finds Adam and Julia to be willing subjects.

There’s no way this is going to end well.

Adding Weird twins Veronika and Viktoria (Ronja Haugholt and Vår Haugholt), senior citizen Donald (John-Christian Bateman), butcher Jack (Yasen Atour), Masoud (Kavé Niku) who is looking for a yoga support group, rich goth girl Amy (Octavia Gilmore) and social media influencer Imogen (Sui-see Hung), they decide that their first night of mayhem will be a home invasion — the targets have been picked by Amy — with Nathan filming it all.

Director Conor Boru, who wrote this with Ed Hartland, has a cute concept that he’s infused with a great undercurrent of uncertainty; the horror and madness can intrude at any time and those that want to be a killer the most may not be prepared for what happens when someone who is a true murderer rears their head.

I saw When the Screaming Starts at Popcorn Frights. When there’s a way to watch it outside of fests, I will update this post.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: All Jacked Up and Full of Worms (2022)

Roscoe (Phillip Andre Botello) is in a weird place in life. He’s a janitor for a scuzzy love motel ad his girlfriend has brought another man home for strange rituals. But he does have a stash of powerful hallucinogenic worms, visions from a floating worm that is speaking directly to him and perhaps a new friendship with Benny (Trevor Dawkins), a moped enthusiast who is trying to manifest a homunculus baby from a sex doll. 

Basically, a Hallmark movie for the kids.

Director and writer Alex Phillips said that this movie is “a meditation on psychosis. The only accurate way to convey insanity is to disregard the literal truth. All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is a dream that is impossible to break from autobiography. It’s about expressionistic maggots born in real wounds – maggots growing into big worms, too fantastical and deranged to be real, despite feeling heavy, wet and alive.”

I found it right up my alley — a gore-filled take on loneliness, connection and love that will make fans of movies like Society stand up and cheer through their tears and normal folk retch in their popcorn. That’s a standing ovation in my world.

All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is playing at Popcorn Frights on Sunday, August 21. Click here for in-person and virtual tickets.

You can learn more at the official website for the movie.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: Old Man (2022)

Director Lucky McKee has made some horror movies that hit genre fans just right — May, All Cheerleaders Die — but haven’t exactly made him a household name. Which frankly sucks, because he keeps his good name with this astounding thriller, written by first-time scriptwriter Joel Veach.

Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe) plays the Old Man, who lives alone in the woods except for a dog that isn’t there, while Marc Senter (The Lost) plays the young man who shows up at his cabin with no idea how he got there. The two men start a conversation yet at every turn, there’s a hint of violence just brewing under the surface.

The sheer joy of this movie is that Lang and Senter are onscreen alone for nearly the entire running time, outside of a flashback of a Bible salesman (Patch Darragh) that happened to show up at the old man’s door and visions of his long-gone wife Genie (Liana Wright-Mar). The rest is intricate camera work, assured direction and unleashing madness, almost unfolding like a loud quiet loud Pixies song.

I can’t wait for more people to see this so I can discuss it with them. Until then, there’s no way I’m spoiling anything. I want you to go in the same way I did; alone in the woods with no breadcrumbs to guide me. I somehow made it back, but I won’t soon forget this movie.

Old Man debuted on August 21 at Popcorn Frights and will be available October 14 in theaters and on digital from RLJE Films.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: We Got a Dog (2022)

Morgan (Morgan Taylor) comes home to her wide-eyed boyfriend Mason (Mason Conrad) who says, with some level of sinister in his voice, “We got a dog.” He beckons for her to follow him through the dark to see it, but through that hallway is something…wrong.

Director and writer Ryan Valdez was the cinematographer on Day of the MummyThe Virus and Eaters, as well as the director of two videos for Korn, “Insane” and “Black Is the Soul.” Despite how young his career is, this movie takes an incredibly simple story and delivers something truly special. I can’t wait to see what he does with a longer film and bigger opportunities.

I watched We Got a Dog as part of the shorts at Popcorn Frights.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: The Barn Part II (2022)

I’d put off watching The Barn for so long; it just seemed like a rather silly for silly sake Troma-esque mining of the wonderous golden age of the slasher. Man, I was wrong. This movie completely rocks on every level and is way, way better than I had no idea it could have been.

The Halloween ban is now lifted in Helen’s Valley and the sorority girls of Gamma Tau Psi place Michelle (Lexi Dripps) — once the final girl, destined to be the final girl again — in charge of their haunted house. Yet she still hasn’t come to terms with what happened in the first movie and believes that she survived what was only a ritualistic attack that killed all her friends.

Working with her best friend Heather (Sable Griedel), they start planning the haunt and decide to use it to memorialize the still missing Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and Josh (Will Stout). While the story of the first movie has become only an urban legend, the truth is that The Boogeyman, Hollow Jack and the Candy Corn Scarecrow are back. And if you don’t know their story, Drive-In Joe (Joe Bob Briggs!) will handle the exposition.

There’s also a battle to outlaw Halloween again, led by Sara Barnhart (Linnea Quigley) and battled by DJ Dr. Rock (Ari Lehman). They’re not the only great cameos. Lloyd Kaufmann is the town’s mayor, Diana Prince plays a nurse, Doug Bradley plays Sam’s father, Mister Lobo shows up and even Ben Dietels from Neon Brainiacs is in it!

Director and writer Justin M. Seaman has created a movie that lives up to 90s DTV horror and can also stand on its own. I had an absolute blast watching this movie. See it in a theater — or a drive-in! — if you can or with as many people as you can. It’s filled with goofy monsters — including two new ones — as well as inventive kills and all kinds of gore.

I watched The Barn Part II at Popcorn Frights. You can order DVDs and blu rays here and learn more at the official Facebook page.

POPCORN FRIGHTS: The Eyes Below (2022)

Eugene (Vinicius Coelho) lies down after a long day of big decisions: he’s going to blow the whistle on some corporate crimes the very next day. But when he gets in bed and under the covers, something else is there with him, an oily black form with eyes that stare into his soul.

For 77 minutes, this dark shadow and the lawyer are trapped in the bed together, quick cuts and strange images intertwining as night terror becomes real.

Director, writer, editor, composer and set designer Alexis Bruchon has assembled a test of your nerves; if you’ve experienced sleep paralysis or waking nightmares, this might be too much for you. It’s a full-length film with no dialogue and only action between the natural and the supernatural. It’s definitely worth you taking a look.

I watched The Eyes Below at Popcorn Frights and will update this post when this movie is streaming and not playing festivals.