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BEYOND FEST 2015 WRAP-UP!

The first week on Beyond Fest 2015 offered up an amazing batch of screenings and events that included an EVIL DEAD double feature with both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell in attendance, a full on concert with Italian composer Fabio Frizzi, a BETTER OFF DEAD reunion and the premiere of LEGEND! Could week two possibly live up to all that? It did and then some!

The main theater saw LA premieres for HE NEVER DIED, a film by Jason Krawczyk starring Henry Rollins, as well as the much talked about BONE TOMAHAWK, the new cannibal Western from S. Craig Zahler and fronted by the great Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson and Sean Young. I could hear audible gasps and cheers of approval from the audience during the conclusion as I made my way to the smaller theater to catch the directorial debut of Osgood Perkins FEBRUARY, a slow-paced creepy chiller in the vein of THE SHINING and THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL with impressive performances by Kiernan Shipka, Emma Roberts and James Remar.

A huge highlight for the entire festival had to be the screening on Thursday, October 8th of the rarely seen uncut version of Ken Russell’s 1971 masterpiece THE DEVILS in 35mm! Beyond Fest co-organizer Christian Parkes was totally ready for this movie to unspool as he came out in full nun costume for the introduction! A good chunk of the crowd had never experienced the film, and 90 minutes later, we were all traumatized. It could be the incredible performance by Oliver Reed. Or more likely the bat-shit crazy antics of Vanessa Redgrave. Or the moment where an alligator was used to bop someone over the head. Or perhaps it was the “rape of Christ” deleted scene which was introduced after the picture by the evenings moderator Bernard Rose (director of CANDYMAN and PAPER HOUSE). Regardless, it was a legendary screening and will hopefully entice Warner Brothers to go into the vaults and restore this movie the way it deserves to be restored and made available again for lunatics like us!

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Friday night, October 9th saw the LA premiere of THE MIND’S EYE, the new feature from ALMOST HUMAN writer/director Joe Begos. Originally scheduled to perform before the movie was composer Steve Moore, who unfortunately had to cancel due to a personal emergency, but the fest made the best of the situation and were able to pull in I SPEAK MACHINE (aka Tara Busch) to play instead. (With a visual presentation from the other half of I SPEAK MACHINE Maf Lewis.) We were then treated to a short film by Jarret Blinkhorn titled THEY’RE CLOSING IN. And then THE MIND’S EYE!

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The new film feels like a relic or lost gem from the late 80’s / early 90’s very much in the SCANNERS-vein where Zack Connors (Graham Skipper) is drafted into a facility for telekinetics run by Dr. Michael Slovak (Jonathan Speredakos) with the promise that he’ll see his beloved Rachel (Lauren Ashley Carter) again. Things obviously don’t go according to plan as the Doctor has his own intentions at heart for having these people imprisoned there. The movie itself is a lot of fun, features a handful of really terrific practical gore special FX courtesy of Brian Spears and company, and also features welcome familiar faces such as Larry Fessenden and Jeremy Gardner (THE BATTERY). The best thing about Beyond Fest is the complete diversity of the films they show. There’s something for everyone and if you’re a film fanatic like me, then you’ll like something about everything on the program.

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I unfortunately missed the latter half of Beyond Fest’s festivities for the weekend, but a sold out screening of DOG DAY AFTERNOON with Al Pacino in attendance and director Brett Ratner moderating seemed to be the talk of the Instagram and Twitter-verse. There was also a PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) screening with the original score courtesy of the Chaney family. Last but certainly not least was a tribute to Wes Craven, which consisted of a double feature of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET with THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. Freddy Krueger himself Robert Englund was on hand for a chat about the legendary filmmaker, moderated by Mick Garris. Other filmmakers on hand included Ti West, Tom Holland, Chuck Russell, Joe Lynch and his son Jonathan Craven.

Masters of Horror paying tribute to Wes Craven A photo posted by Beyond Fest (@beyondfest) on

The fact that Beyond Fest manages to always find interesting and unique events every year is always a cause for celebration. It appears that the gents behind the whole fest Spencer Hickman and Christian Parkes are already plotting away at next year’s sure to be stellar event. Start planning now. You should be there!

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