SpectreFest, beginning September 4 in Los Angeles and co-hosted with CineFamily, is a horror fan's absolute dream. The lineup is incredible, and I'm not even exaggerating. Clive Barker will be making a rare appearance to introduce the long awaited Cabal Cut of Nightbreed, Joe Dante will be presenting a 30th anniversary screening of Gremlins, a double feature of indie zombie horror comedy hit Dead Snow PLUS it's newest sequel, and LA premieres of The Babadook, The Guest, Housebound, and Tusk. Spectrefest's Daniel Noah took some time to talk about the origins of the festival, working with Clive Barker, and a film that scared the sh*t out of him.
Tell me about the origins of SpectreFest - what was your original vision, and how did this happen for you?
It came initially out of my friendship with Hadrian Belove, who is the director of programming at Cinefamily where we program the festival, and he reached out to us when we were a new company and he invited us to do some programing in the month of October, and what initially began as programing one or two nights, turned into a full month-long festival. The first year it was called Nightmare City, and it was a very different format, we had horror events happening every day in the month of October, and then we rebranded the festival to be more closely identified with our company and then we decided to focus the format on new films and special events, whereas the original format was much more sprawling and and a little less focused.
For us, it's a really exciting opportunity for us to get to see what's going on around the world in the horror space, which is really great, and we get to meet new voices and new filmmakers, and help to support their work getting seen and in some cases it leads to us working on projects together. We've also acquired a few smaller titles out of the festival under our Spectre presents title - last year we acquired a film called Toad Road, it's a really unique horror film, and we helped them to build their marketing and help them get sold. That's another nice by-product of the festival, sometimes we're able to form an alliance with a particular film to help it get seen.
What film or aspect of the festival are you the most excited about?
I love all my children just the same! [laughs] I'm really happy with the balance of the festival and it really represents one of the values of our company, which is constantly exploring and expanding upon the definition of what a horror film is. Some of the films are traditional horror films, and some are definitely not. One of the films we're really excited about is White Shadow. White Shadow is arguably a docu-drama and not a horror film, but it's about a very horrific subject [White Shadow is about witch doctors in Tanzania who hunt albinos for their organs]. You'd never find it categorized in a store as a horror film, but for our purposes, it's a stimulating conversation piece, and belongs in the festival.
SpectreFest is featuring some once in a lifetime Clive Barker memorabilia, and an appearance from the creator himself - can you tell me how this came about?
Just a series of miracles I suppose! I had a really great meeting with Mark Miller who works for Clive, both dealing with the development of his literary properties and his films, and as we were talking he mentioned that the directors cut of Nightbreed was coming and I asked if it had a premiere, and that led to the incredible news that Clive would be coming out, because he doesn't do many appearances. Because it's such a special event for Clive, and Nightbreed has been such a passion project and getting it right has been an obsession for him - this is a big event in his life and we wanted the event to feel special and have a grandiosity about it, and it came out that Clive has these notebooks that he keeps by his bed, and throughout his entire life, he uses them as dream journals; he wakes up in the middle of the night and makes a record of his dreams in pictures, not words, so he has notebook upon notebook of images that com right out of his unconscious. Some of them have been the seedlings for some of his most iconic works. We're working with Clive to put together an exhibition of pages from his notebooks that will be on display. It's a very intimate process, it's an incredible privilege and we're extremely honored.
There's a lot of Babadook buzz happening in the movie world, what are your thoughts on screening it at SpectreFest?
We see a lot of horror movies, and one thing that's hard to find is a horror movie that actually makes me feel scared - as a grown man who has seen it all and develops horror films, it's hard to find something that gets under my skin, that movie scared the shit out of me - it's SO terrifying. That's happening on our closing night, we're showing the movie at 8 or 9pm and then we're having a sleepover at the theatre. So, we're pulling an all nighter on Halloween night showing movies and doing events until dawn, it's going to be AWESOME.
Inquiring minds want to know - what's up with Cooties?
Cooties was picked up by Lionsgate and we've been collaborating with them over the last 6 months and continue to work on the film. We've shot some new material, and we're currently working with them to figure out a release plan, but its looking like it's going to be released at the top of next year. I really can't say enough about Lionsgate they've been absolutely fantastic, kind of a dream scenario for indie filmmakers. They're supporting us to continue to perfect the film, we think that the new version is really great. We were really proud of the first version, and we're even more proud of it now.