It’s no surprise that the nine movies showing at this weekend’s Three Nights of Horror film festival fall under the horror category. But that’s where their similarities end.
The movies range in release dates from 1935 to 2004. They range in subject matter from zombies to a mop boy who turns into a monstrous hero. Some of the movies demand silence and others invite laughs. Some come with a tongue-and-cheek warning: “Hope you’re not easily offended.” One movie poster was probably serious when it warned: “The film contains scenes which are considered shocking! No one under 17 will be admitted.”
When festival director Ralph Giordano says he aimed for a lineup with variety, it seems he hit his goal.
“I think you’ll walk away having a good understanding of the types of films Hollywood has been putting out since the 1930s all the way up to the early 2000s,” he said. “It gives you this broad range of how horror films have grown over the years, from made to be serious to made for fun.”
That is, of course, if you dedicate your weekend to catching each movie showing at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts. You also have the option of seeing individual films.
Giordano and other members of the Independent Film Society of Colorado have hosted a horror festival each October since 2016. Yes, even in 2020, when they followed strict COVID-19 guidelines.
“I think we had five or six people in the theater at a time,” he said. “But we didn’t miss it.”
This weekend’s festival will return to its normal form, just in time for the most popular season for scary movies.
“Everybody’s on the bandwagon in the month of October to watch horror films,” Giordano said. “It’s part of the tradition.”
For some, the film festival has become part of their Halloween tradition. Patrons are encouraged to wear costumes while getting spooked in a festively decorated theater.
It won’t be all scares, though.
The lineup includes a handful of campy horror films that are also defined as “talk back films,” meaning audience members are encouraged to hoot and holler and riff about what they’re seeing on the screen.
You can expect some talk back during movies like “The Killer Shrews” and “Burial Ground.”
“These are considered classics because they’re so bad that they’re good,” Giordano said. “They lend themselves to comedy.”
And they lend themselves to drinking games as well as random cheers or funny comments in the talk-back style.
“It’s unique because everyone can let loose and say what they want to,” Giordano said. “Usually you feel like you’re not allowed to do that in a movie theater.”
It’s an experience you probably couldn’t get while streaming a movie alone at home.
Giordano is happy to bring that experience back, after stretches of months when theaters were closed to the pandemic.
“I am definitely looking forward to this festival because we’re reminding people what it’s like to go to the movies again,” he said. “There’s nothing like being in a theater and laughing together if it’s a comedy or screaming together if it’s a horror. It’s something you get to share.”