Ten Films to Catch at the Popcorn Frights Festival

Fangoria! Woo!
The Horror Festival is in full swing, and on August 8-16 (An EIGHT DAY festival) our friends at Popcorn Frights are presenting a bevy of great films for you to catch. Some we’ve seen, some we’ll screen, but our recommendation? Go to the festival and have your own little… SCREAM! (Rhymes! YES!)

Popcorn Frights at Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale has been one of the best festivals in the Southeast US for four years now.

Last years entries included fantastic films: Anna and the Apocalypse, Framed, One Cut of the Dead, Satan’s Slaves, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, St. Agatha, Summer of ’84, Tigers are Not Afraid, Prospect, and What Keeps You Alive. In other words, a solid portion of The Scariest Things’ favorite horror movies of last year.

2017 gave us a slate that included notable films: Mayhem, Still/Born, Lake Bodom, Jungle, The Endless, It Stains the Sands Red, and one of my favorite sleepers… Dave Made a Maze. So Igor Schtyrenberg and Marc Ferman have been attracting some of the best films and have a knack for curating great independent horror. Part of that is that we are in an era with a lot of great independent fare, but also, they have a good taste. (or bad taste as necessary)

Igor and Marc are back at it with a whole new roster of films for you to watch. So, if you’re heading to Fort Lauderdale for some sun and scares, The Scariest Things has looked into some recommendations:

Depraved (USA)
Dir. Larry Fessenden

Larry Fessenden is this generation’s Roger Corman, an actor, producer, and director who seems to pop up in every fourth independent genre film. This directing effort may be his best effort to date. He has taken the Frankenstein tale, and modernized it, with an empathetic monster, and making the whole story fresh, intense, and credible for a new generation.

Itsy Bitsy (USA)
Dir. Micah Gallo

Arachnophobes beware! It’s been a while since we’ve had a good creepy spider movie, and this one looks to up the ante. A family moves into an old house, to take care of an elderly man with multiple sclerosis. The old man has a relic, though, that unleashes a monstrous flesh-eating spider. This movie may make you want to clear out your attic and basement of cobwebs… or maybe make you want to avoid those places altogether.

Daniel Isn’t Real (USA)
Dir. Adam Egypt Mortimer

Luke (Miles Robbins) is a young man struggling with family trauma, with his imagination creating the proverbial devil on his shoulder, his imaginary friend from childhood, Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) feeds him all the worst, sadistic advice. Body horror meets psychological thriller, and the addition of getting to see the next generation of the Robbins and Schwarzenegger family tree on the screen. This film has been getting rave reviews in every festival it has shown in… not to be missed!

Bit (USA)
Dir. Brad Michael Elmore

Empowered, woke, and witty, this urban vampire film explores how a small band of lesbian vampires survives and thrives in Los Angeles. Imagine the Lost Boys doing a gender swap and a sexual identity swap (sort of… as Lost Boys had some subtext, didn’t it?) Not to be lost in all the heady sociological ideas is a crunchy and action-filled vampire bloodbath.

Infección (Venezuela-Mexico)
Dir. Flavio Pedota

From a region not shy about piling on the gore and cannibal nastiness comes a [REC] or 28 Days Later take on a virulent outbreak and the aggressive flesh-eating horde in a nation devouring its own. A perfect meat-a-phor for the current political crisis in the war-torn part of the world. Zombie films always serve well as an analogy of worldly events and this one puts a distinctive wrinkle into that proud history.

Queen of Spades: The Looking Glass (Russia)
Dir. Aleksandr Domogarov Jr.

A haunted boarding school, a mysterious mirror, and a legendary spectre are the calling cards of this gothic ghost tale. Queen of Spades: The Looking Glass is a showcase for Russian horror; a lavish and haunting production. This showing at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival is the North American debut for this film, a rare opportunity for American audiences to see this on the big screen.

Villains (USA)
Dir. Dan Berk & Robert Olsen

Horror vets Maika Monroe (It Follows) and Bill Skarsgård (It) star in this failed burglary dark horror-comedy, where they break into a seemingly innocuous home and get much more than they bargained for. Jeffery Donovan and Kyra Sedgewick play the charming/creepy couple who have dark secrets behind their placid suburban facades. Popcorn Frights hails this as the perfect mix of Don’t Breathe, Raising Arizona, The People Under the Stairs and Twin Peaks.

Satanic Panic (USA)
Dir. Chelsea Stardust

Satanic Panic is a breezy and bloody summer horror offering from FANGORIA, who in their second film effort has delivered a rollicking and wicked fun cult film. Sam (Haley Griffith) is a struggling musician who has taken to delivering pizzas to make ends meet and is unfortunate enough to have to make a delivery to a Satanic cult gathering. The cult figures out that she is the perfect virgin sacrifice for their needs and the chase is on to capture her before the stars aren’t right anymore. Some real comedy gold, and good old-fashioned practical gore effects that FANGORIA is known for. Ah, Satanic rituals, good times that!

Porno (USA)
Dir. Keola Racela

A bunch of teenage Christian cinema employees watch a forbidden film and find themselves pursued by a succubus looking to lure, seduce, and destroy her prey in this raunchy horror-comedy. Let that be a lesson to anyone who proceeds to watch a movie titled Porno! (Ha! That might be you!) This was a surprise hit at the Overlook film festival, and for those of you not easily offended, will be a must-see at Popcorn Frights.

The Sonata (Latvia)
Dir. David Malcolm

Gothic Horror meets Lovecraftian themes in this Pan-European production. Echoes of The Music of Erich Zann and The King in Yellow where music plays a key role in summoning inexplicable horror. A young virtuoso violinist, Rose (Freya Tingley), inherits a creepy mansion from her long lost composer father, where she discovers her father’s final work, a cryptic composition full of mysterious symbols. As she learns the piece, she begins to unlock cosmic dark forces. Plus, Rutger Hauer is in it! How can you resist that?

The Scariest Things once again would like to convince all of our readers to consider supporting horror film festivals, particularly if they are within easy driving range. These productions are heavily curated, as Popcorn Frights received over 1000 entries (How they managed to review them all is beyond me!) and have picked out the very best for your enjoyment. There are twelve other feature films, plus a bevy of short films, and the Popcorn Frights’ specialty, the 100% Pure Fresh Squeezed Florida Horror that celebrates Florida’s horror filmmaking every year.

So all of you in Florida, this is a great chance to catch a LOT of great horror movies, and for the rest of you, maybe a vacation is in order! Beach by day, horror by night! Fun, right?

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