February is Black History Month, but for fans of horror February is also “Women in Horror” month. Dedicated to focusing on woman who make horror films, the month long celebration ended with the Second Annual Pretty Scary Bloodbath Film Festival. Held at the Texas Theatre in Dallas this past Saturday, February 26, it sounds like an event you may end up at when your over-zealous match-making friend accidentally sets you up on a questionable blind date. I’ll never admit that that is how I ended up there; I’m just saying it’s entirely possible.
While indie and lower budget horror films carry with them undisputed stereotypes, any new attendee would be hard pressed to hold those convictions after the festival. Sure, some stereotypes still apply, but at the Pretty Scary Bloodbath Film Festival we find a brave new world where the rules for the genre may be in the process of being rewritten. One can’t help but wonder if the new trail-blazers in this sector of indie films will be reserved for certain chromosome combinations. Furthermore, any genre worth its weight will experience talented surges in their movement.
Much like the New Poetry Movement at the beginning of the 20th century, few were worthy of praise. But that exclusive group were firmly placed into their proper place in history as true artists, not because they had followed form but because they had challenged it. Oppenheim, Pound, and Sandburg are still held in high esteem. I dare you to find the names of the others. Leave out Edgar Lee Masters if you cherish your integrity and wish to be taken seriously.
The new horror film genre, with the Women in Horror movement, has much of the same ring. This is for good reason as we will see in the selection of films. Both are a form of art that has experienced a revival, and both have their leaders. But in this day of instant exchanges of information everyone can be a critic. So let’s look at the productions that stood out in the Pretty Scary Bloodbath Film Festival.
“Fugue” was screened at the festival. Already the winner of the Best Horror/Sci-Fi film at the Mississippi International Film Festival it is easy to see why the film, directed by Barbara Stepansky, is receiving critical acclaim amongst horror fans. Any fan of horror that was ready for M. Night Shymalan to take the reigns was severely disappointed. Stepansky has taken control and I hope we see a lot more of her in the future. View the trailer and you will be hooked. Lucky for you it is coming to DVD soon, so traveling to Dallas isn’t necessary.
Hanelle Culpepper, along with Bigfoot Entertainment, brings us “Within.” Even though we all know kids are the biggest creeps, “Within” doubles down on what was started in “The Shining.” Just when you thought little girls couldn’t get any creepier “Within” ups the ante. They have even taken the liberty of uploading behind the scenes footage of the production that does nothing to make it any less creepy.
Now you can see the stereotypes of indie horror films being disintegrated all courtesy of the Pretty Scary Bloodbath Film Festival held in the heart of Texas. Just like the new poetry movement of the early 20th century we are seeing stars emerge with incredible talent. I only hope that they establish and hold their place in history while the rest are swept into the gutter. Suddenly I have become a fan, and now I have to boost the ego of the over-zealous friend that sets up blind dates by crediting them with success. Hypothetically speaking of course!