I had an interesting opportunity this month to discover new filmmakers making their mark in the horror genre, and revisit with old friends, at the Cinemug in Philadelphia, PA, on May 19th, the location small and rather intimate allowing for artists to mingle and share their various expressions of horror creations. The night brought a mix of rain and fog that welcomed these tales of woe, all headed by writer and filmmaker Veronica Kegel-Giglio (Tea Time), who I met long ago, at the Terror Film Festival, also held in the same city as Cinemug’s location. This show was arranged more through the website Meetup, namely the Philadelphia Horror Meetup group, showing once more many of the social media avenues for aspiring filmmakers, with big visions and small budgets where to find resources for their projects. The event stared at about 8p and lasted until 920p; leaving time for all in attendance to network, the backbone of the indie market, with their resumes, headshots, and then myself as a surprising treat a journalist covering the small show.

The first film up was entitled Painful Love (no, not the movie from PassionArt Creations involving Domestic Violence) rather of a weeping woman kneeling at a gravesite mourning the loss of her husband and friend. While the piece contains a slew of humor references, the downside came from poor sound quality, a key element that hinders advancement in film festivals. Next, came a creature short called Karma Highway, which used a series of angles to show the imposing doom of a bright red light representing hell’s wrath instead of a white light normally associated to that heaven’s crossing over realm. Jim Cannatelli, director of the production, actually on hand to discuss the production which had much in common with a silent flick and hinted the movies that him attracted to the horror genre, namely Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and John Carpenter’s Halloween. Therefore, with the killers in those movies no means of reasoning with them, the glowing red light takes the same killer instinct surrounding the target in all directions and allowing fate to unfold.

Then, The Halloween Pranksta (2014) a truly fun animation (stop-motion) short movie from director and writer Carl Paolino that starred Mark Hamill (yes, the legendary Luke Skywalker) about a nine year old boy playing pranks on innocent people until he finds a mysterious home with their own form of tricks for the treaters. This 13-minute short production works wonders on screen, teaching lessons never to enter a stranger’s basement, a rule most horror fans know by heart, here there’s a talkative spider, a silly but hungry snake, another skeletal creature plaguing this child’s mind, and laugh at the pranks he brought to scare them. Think of the work from Nightmare Before Christmas translating into the flick and a hint of Addams Family acting quite normal, to outsiders, as John Mariano provided the voice of Pranksta and (Penny) by Jeannie Elias know for her voiceovers in animated series Teen Wolf (1986-1988) and who incidentally starred in The Pit (1981).

A short introduction came from filmmaker Norman Macera, who I recalled seeing his other lunacy-filled horror productions such as Murder Below the Line (2004), this time he gathers old footage for the past 20-years and compiling it into a black humored flick called The Serial Killers Handbook. A series of chapters involving what to do and not do during a killing spree from choosing victims to prepping the area, and then where and when to dispose of a body. Noting to avoid populated residential neighborhoods especially during the day and then carefully choosing weapons, nothing too usual, it at times appears as a rougher version of Henry: The Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986). While the pacing is a bit off, the overall impact of the story works well, and shows the fuller intention of Macera’s creation.

While many short films played at the Night of Horror, one other very short production called Don’t Wait for Milly, involving the controversial subject of soulmates in same sex relationships and coming out to one’s parents later in life. An older child confronting one’s mother that she’s a lesbian and introducing her to her lover. While not exposing too much of the production, a key element comes from the placement of the bible, facing towards the daughter and lover, it’s not there for audience to read, rather a subjective manner. It references presenting the scripture to the sinners while at the same the cross on the cover becomes inverted showing the one committing killings as the sinner on the other side of the same coin in life.

Overall a nice collection of movies from indie filmmakers, and an introduction to rising talents in the market, needless to say, I’m thankful for the invite to the event (which collected funds for the Sunshine Foundation for disabled and abused children) and namely the wonderful time to discover more hidden treasures of cinema.