SALEM HORROR FEST: So Vam (2021)

Alice Maio Mackay has been making movies since her teens — she got a Stephen King Dollar Baby film, A Tale of the Laundry Game, at 13 — and this Australian film — made as she turns 16 — is all about Kurt, an outcast in a conservative town who dreams of moving to the city to become a drag queen.

And then one night, he’s killed by a predatory old vampire.

That’s not the end.

He’s saved by a brood of young bloodsuckers and taught the ways of the vampiric world. They may not live forever, but they aren’t bothered by Holy Water. crosses or even sunlight. And they pray upon the people who bully others, like the counselors of a Christian pray away the gay camp.

With a quick run time, some fun musical numbers and plenty of emotional bonding between those young vampires — and some juicy Bram Stoker gossip — So Vam ha sits heart — and plenty of blood — on its sleeve. It’s also a blast.

So Vam is now playing Salem Horror Fest. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: You Missed a Spot (2020)

You have to admire the kind of audacity that it takes to make a near-perfect slasher pastiche and then set it in a world where every single person is a clown except for the mime hero.

It shouldn’t work but it does. It wonderfully and absolutely does.

Liam Wals has only made four short films, but you can see that this movie would stand alone as a full-length movie. It just works on every level, from the exciting energy of a slasher to the comedic play at the genre’s conventions to, well, the fact that yes, everyone is a clown. And the closing battle — in which the mime uses his pantomine skills to battle the killer — must be experienced.

Here’s how I know a short works: when I feel like I needed more at the close. I want so much more of the world of this picture and I want more films by Wals and the writer of this short, Micah Fusco.

By all rights, this should be a silly Troma or Full Moon affair. And yet it transcends.

You Missed a Spot is now playing Salem Horror Fest. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October. You can learn more on the official site for the movie.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Miss Blueberry Beauty Pageant (2019)

Written and directed by Sarah Kennedy, Miss Blueberry Beauty Pageant brings you back to 1984 as three finalists — Sandra (Joanna Clark), Maribelle (Hannah Elaine Perry) and Daisy (Jericah Potvin) — realize that they may not survive to win their tiara. Thomas Ian Campbell is great in this as The Host and I love the way his sale copy reveals exactly what is going on.

Beauty pageants are frightening enough, but when you throw in vampires — the main one at the end is incredibly cool — things get so much better. While this is quite short — you can see how it could be an entire movie — it’s also packed with some hilarious moments.

Miss Blueberry Beauty Pageant is now playing Salem Horror Fest. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October. You can learn more about this short at the official Facebook page.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Father of Flies (2021)

Director and writer Ben Charles Edwards wrote this story to deal with the pain of his childhood. It’s all about a young boy who has an abrupt change in his life as his mother is thrown out of the family home and replaced by a strange and perhaps supernatural woman.

I really enjoyed this movie, as you can tell that its creator was using it as some form of exorcism. I want to know how they got The Cure on the soundtrack on their budget. And the scene that they provide the music for is absolutely astounding, as the new mother figure throws herself around the house dancing while wearing a Rejuvenique (shout out to the Found Footage Festival) massage mask. Most horror movies are, let’s cut to the chase, not scary. If you came home and someone was wearing that mask and dancing, you’d probably need therapy.

It’s not perfect, but man, that one scene more than makes the film.

Father of Flies is now playing Salem Horror Fest as part of the Showcase of Massachusetts Filmmakers series. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October.

SALEM HOROR FEST: Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie (2021)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally reviewed this on April 27, 2021 and really enjoyed how Sam and Mattie lived their dream. We’re really excited that this is playing Salem Horror Fest!

Since they met at the Special Olympics, Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt have been best friends. Mich like the readers of thsi site, they’re obsessed with movies and decided that it was time to make their own, filled with sex, violence and gore. And they totally succeeded.

This is it pretty much the feel-good movie of all time.

Sam and Mattie went on to storyboard, script, produce, cast and star in their dream project, which they called Spring Break Zombie Massacre.

This is the story of how it all happened.

Produced and directed by Sam’s brother Jesse and Robert Carnevale, this movie intersperses the narrative of the film the guys made with the real stories that inspired it and moments of them actually making it.

Perhaps the best part of the film is the fact that Sam and Mattie may not have made a movie that was a financial success, it was exactly what they wanted to do.

This is a story filled with people smashing the expectations of disability, of communities being formed to help them and the joy of making a movie where Satan continually pisses all over people. It’s also one of the happiest movies I’ve watched in some time, so if you need a pick-me-up, I recommend it with no reservations.

Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie is now availble digitally on demand everywhere you can get movies.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Bad Girls (2021)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bad Girls is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year and I’m so excited that it’s playing at Salem Horror Fest on October 9. We originally featured this movie on March 12, 2021. You need to see this movie.

Dude, where did Christopher Bickel come from? This is the second movie I’ve seen from him after The Theta Girl and he’s taken the trope of the bad girls on the run into tomorrow with this film, a blast of loud obnoxious music filled with violence, bad men and worse women. More to the point, why aren’t more people making movies like this?

After robbing a strip club, three desperate teenage lovedolls — Val, Mitzi, and Carolyn (Morgan Shaley Renew, Sanethia Dresch and Shelby Lois Guinn) hit the road with money, drugs and several boys in thrall. They’re running from the law, they’re running from death, they’re running from, well, whatever you have to run from, all with no real place to go other than to experience whatever’s really left of rock ‘n roll by sleeping with Bard Gainsworth (Cleveland Langdale) and Zerox Rhodesia (Micah Peroulis).

Meanwhile, the woman-hating Cannon (Mike Amason) and the somewhat even-keeled McMurphy (Dove Dupree), are that aforementioned law that the girls can’t get away from. There’s nothing but blood, bullets and the end in their future, but would you rather live for a day in the crosshairs or a life in a hospital waiting room waiting to die?

Also, of course they go to South of the Border. Hello, Pedro.

When one girl wants to live for death, another wants to survive and a third just goes along for the ride, things get out of control. I’m all for movies where women outdo, outdrug and outfight men and this movie stands up bravely in that genre that frankly deserves more company.

While I love The Theta Girl perhaps a bit more because, well, there are moments of borderline religious drug insanity — actually, it’s an entire movie of them — this is more focused and yet rawer at the same time. A rare feat.

This was co-written by Shane Silman, who was an incendiary force of nature in Theta, but here shows up as, well…a rocker turned movie director that you’ll definitely recognize.

I hate when people tell me, “Well, we didn’t have the budget.” This movie cost less than my house. Hell, I could have bought a car — not a great one — for what they had. And this is something special. From the first song to the last, I knew I was watching someone’s vision and not just something made to get content onto Amazon and make some money.

Want to know more? Check out the official site and get ready to get destroyed. You can also purchase the movie here.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Keeping Company (2021)

Sonny and Noah work at Caste Insurance for Paula, who lets the former know in no certain circumstances that he must stop working with the latter, who is his best friend. Sonny is working hard to impress his father and show that he is worthy, so all looks lost for their friendship. Such is the way of business.

And then they knock on the wrong person’s door.

A cab driver named Lucas has been abducting and murdering the lower rung of society. Is he doing it in tribute to his dead mother? Has he finally lost it after a lifetime living under the rule of his grandmother? And now that Sonny and Noah have barged their way into his home to sell an insurance policy — ending with them chained up in his basement — will they ever leave?

Director and writer Josh Wallace has really put together a tight, bloody and amoral tale here. Everybody — well, except for Noah — wants to use one another and will climb over dead bodies to get ahead. But when those dead bodies are literal, will they behave the same way?

If you’re in the mood for a very, very black comedy. you can’t go wrong with this one.

Keeping Company is now playing Salem Horror Fest as part of the Showcase of Massachusetts Filmmakers series. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes (2021)

Director Kevin Kopacka and co-writer Lili Villányi worked on an episode of the TV show DYLAN a few years ago, which is based on the same character from Cemetery Man. That makes perfect sense, as this film has style to spare.

Dieter (Frederik von Lüttichau) and Margot (Luisa Taraz) have moved to a Gothic castle that would be at home in the films of Corman or Bava*. He has anger issues, she’s in the throes of depression and the estate? Well, it’s slowly making them prisoners. And then they find the whip in the basement, which unlocks old souls and a house that was definitely the site of some whispered illicit behavior.

A story that goes from Eurohorror to a study of relationships to even the nature of male and female inter dynamics within an occult movie that looks like it came from Italy in the 70s, this one has so much going for it. Just look at the font in the poster and at the end of the film. This is a movie that has been polished and honed and worked into the art that it is now. Don’t miss it.

Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is now playing Salem Horror Fest as part of the Showcase of Massachusetts Filmmakers series. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October.

*The director has directly called out Bava’s The Whip and the Body and Jean Rollin’s The Iron Rose as influences. The poster is literally taken from the latter film. It also takes a line from Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Val (2021)

Man, this movie got me.

It starts as a simple criminal — Fin (Zachary Mooren) — on the run caper. He’s just gotten out of a deal gone wrong and ducks away from the cops and into a mansion, where he thinks he’ll have some time for the heat to die down. That’s when he learns that he isn’t alone.

The house belongs to Val.

Expertly played by Misha Reeves — who was also in Electric Love, another movie directed by Aaron Fradkin and co-starring Mooren — Val starts the film very matter of factly explaining her work: she entertains men, gives them a fantasy and often finds herself breaking down the most physically imposing men and making them crawl around on a leash. Kind of like Freddy (Erik Griffin, Montez from Workaholics who, yes, was also in Electric Love), who bursts into the house with one eye whited out and a body full of threat and swagger before being laid low by just a word from the redhead spitfire that’s really running things.

That’s the thing. Fin thinks that he’s in control, but he’s been continually led around (mostly by his girlfriend Jenny, who is played by co-writer Victoria Fratz), lied to and used. Even if he grabs that ceremonial dagger that Val for some reason keeps in her kitchen, it’s going to take more than that to get past one of the smartest women he’ll ever meet.

If she is a woman. Because by the end, we learn that she just might be Valefar, the patron demon of thieves, the one who encourages them to have a good relationship with one another. She keeps offering Fin choices, like the opportunity to be hers, and the chance to stop the spinning wheel that is his life and actually be like her and call the shots. Not everyone is cut out for that.

By the end of the film, it’s become a broad — yet gore-drenched — comedy with a cop’s live head on a plate and Fin being given one last opportunity to live his own life. Unless he just wants to serve in Heaven, rather than rule in Hell. But one gets the feeling that Val isn’t one to share the throne.

I loved everything about this film, from its bold colors to its throwback to another era of snappy dialogue back and forth between its leads. Much like the character that it’s named for, Val will slowly win you into its confidence and then own you. And hey — it’s only 81 minutes long, so it’s not that Faustian of a bargain.

You can learn more at the film’s official site. It’s currently available for streaming on a variety of providers and will be available on blu ray November 2.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Cockazoid (2021)

Andrew, a delusional loner who dreams of killing all white men, returns to his hometown in the wake of family tragedy and goes on a murderous rampage against all people who he perceives to be like himself.

Directed by Nick Verdi, who wrote the movie with B.R. Yeager, Cockazaoid really makes the most of its lead, Jimmy Laine. There’s absolutely nothing to like or feel sorry for when it comes to his character, who reacts to the things that he hates in himself by killing others that seem to be similar. He’s more than self-loathing; he would kill himself a hundred times over and that’s pretty much what he’s doing. He’s a pathetic killer and nowhere near the mastermind nor killing machine that he envisions himself as, saying his practiced lines about making Christmas a sacrificial holiday and the country being afraid to get bloody. It sounds like the ramblings of someone smoking up all night, except that Andrew has a knife and isn’t afraid to use it to kill people and then butcher the remains.

In case you’re wondering, the Urban Dictionary let me know that a cockazoid is a word derogatory toward white people. See? Cock and caucasian…it all makes sense now.

Cockazoid is now playing Salem Horror Fest as part of the Showcase of Massachusetts Filmmakers series. When we have streaming info, we’ll share it in this post. For now, you can follow that link to buy a festival badge and check out several other films during October.