FantasticFest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and action movies from all around the world. Here's a list of some of our favorite movies at FantasticFest.
The abandoned home of Wilfred Butler, a wealthy but troubled man who committed suicide, has been willed to his grandson, Jeffrey. But an Axe wielding maniac has set up residence in the house - and he doesn't take kindly to strangers.
A reporter investigating the bizarre death of a woman who leaped from a building in flames finds herself mixed up in a cult of witches who are making her part of their sacrificial ceremony during the Christmas season.
The Ricky Caldwell, the "Santa Claus Killer," once thought dead, has been brought back to life by a crazed scientist. A blind woman finds that she is somehow psychically connected to the reanimated serial killer.
Richard C. Adams
A wealthy, eccentric chemical company owner sends his woman to get an American writer to take a mind control drug, Kemek, to verify its potential. She accomplishes her mission, but falls ... See full summary »
A disturbed boy kills his father with his farm tractor and his arm is mangled in the process. He's taken to a mental hospital where he's outfitted with a hook to replace his lost hand and, ... See full summary »
Wilford Butler returns home on Christmas Eve and his house had been turned into a mental institution for the criminally insane. But the day of his return, he is set on fire and dies. The towns people believe his death was an accident, and the institution-house is later closed down. Wilford leaves the house to his grandson Jeffrey. A few years later, Jeffrey finally decides to sell this grandfather's house, but the towns people including the Mayor have mixed feelings on keeping people away from the house, especially when a serial killer escapes from another institution and finds refuge there. The killer makes frightening phone calls and kills anyone coming near the house. But what does the killer have in common with what happened to Wilford Butler years before? Written by
The film's working title was "Zora"--an odd choice, since nothing or no one is referred to by that name in the film. See more »
Main character Jeffrey Butler is riding with John Carradine, who plays Towman. Butler and Carradine have decided to go out to the Butler house to see what is going on. Instead, Towman pulls into the drive of another house, and Jeffrey Butler says, "Towman this isn't my house, it's Tess'. Tess is another of the townspeople, and it is her house, but Jeffrey would not have known that because he has never been to the town before. See more »
Having owned but never watched the Paragon VHS cassette for years, I surprised myself by watching this holiday horror film on this cold, gray winter day. Even more surprising is that hiding behind the generic title of SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is an atmospheric horror thriller with a great twist. And not only is SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT a great horror film, but it is one that has been duped by the historians of horror cinema.
The biggest asset to SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is the film's set-up. It packs a big punch in the end and actually left me guessing throughout the film. A few of the red herrings are a bit too obvious but they worked well enough. One of Gershuny's biggest strengths is the subtle number of hints regarding the film's big twist in the finale. If one pays close attention, there are several tip-offs as to what is really going on in the odd town of East Willard. It is refreshing to see a film where you are continually assessing the information as the mystery unfolds.
Director Gershuny, probably best known for SUGAR COOKIES (1973), knows how to build an atmospheric horror film. The wintry locations, especially the imposing house, are used to full effect and he gets great performances (particularly from Woronov) from his leads. The picture's highlight is a extended flashback, chronicling what happened at the estate in the 1930s. The sepia look and use of wide-angle lens makes the entire scene very creepy. One complaint that pops up in reviews I have seen is the dark night shots. Truthfully, I think this has more to do with bad transfers rather than poor craftsmanship. Gershuny also uses an effective POV for the killer that echoes Bob Clark's Yuletide themed BLACK Christmas (1974) from a few years later.
A lot of people credit Clark's film as the earliest prototype of the slasher genre. But Gershuny's film predates Clark's by almost 2 years. According to various reports it was shelved for two years. This fact is further substantiated by the fact that lead Patterson actually passed away in August of 1972. So the film was completed well before the early 1974 filming date for Clark's film. Given the killer POV shots, scary phone calls the killer makes and high number of murders; one has to wonder if Clark saw this film before making his own. This is not to diminish the power of BLACK Christmas (it is still an excellent film), but just to question the general belief that BLACK Christmas begat HALLOWEEN and the subsequent North American slasher genre. As it stands, SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is a great Christmas horror film, a more than pleasant surprise for this holiday season.
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