Horror Press is pleased to sponsor the 7th annual Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (BHFF), presented by Shudder. Brooklyn Horror promises to deliver nightmare fuel and provide a platform for films that subvert expectations and push boundaries on what is considered to be a part of the genre.
From October 13-20, BHFF will present its most robust film slate to date, along with live events across Brooklyn. Horror Press writers Bash Ortega and Jenika McCrayer sat down to discuss what films and themes they’re most looking forward to seeing at the festival.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Bash: What’s the number one film you’re most excited to see?
Jenika: I’m most excited to see Give Me an A. It’s an anthology around the topic of abortion, which is obviously topical and important. Most of the films I picked are woman-led. I think it’s a great year for women in horror, and, on the flip side, it’s like a terrible year for women and queer people. So I’m excited to see how Give Me an A will tackle abortion rights and how it affects all women and queer people across the country.
B: Yeah, that one that looks really interesting. It’s definitely on my list. Out of all the films, I’m most excited about All Jacked Up and Full of Worms. It looks just absolutely bizarre. I watched the trailer, and the characters talk about doing worms, and they mean eating actual live worms. It’s grotesque! Have you watched the trailer?
J: I have not watched the trailer. I like going in blind. I know that you like body horror. Are most of your picks body horror-centric?
B: For the most part, but I also have a good mix. I’m really interested in body horror, practical effects, and anything that just seems sort of like mind fuck-y. Also, Something in the Dirt looks really interesting because the premise seems funny. A supernatural force invades the main character’s apartment, and they’re fighting it, but no one believes them. The trailer is vague and has a fairly serious tone, but the film seems interesting because the premise is absurd. I’m interested in things I’ve checked out that have left me wondering, “what’s going on here?”
J: Another film I’m looking forward to seeing is Mother May I. Mostly because I’m a fan of Kyle Gallner, but also because the premise seems bonkers. His wife is possessed by his dead mother, so he has to work through all of his mother-oeidopus-complex-trauma.
B: Yeah, that one looks wild. There are a lot of mother movies at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this year.
J: Definitely! I’m also interested in Mother Superior!
B: All Jacked up and Full of Worms seems to have themes of motherhood too. From the trailer, it appears like the main character gets a fake baby in the mail and then starts seeing this woman who also becomes pregnant.
J: I’m interested to see how that plays out. When I was looking through the list of movies at BHFF I sorted them by topics I want to see. Women, mothers, and LGBTQ+ issues are having a big moment. I feel like mental health is also having its moment. I know we both saw Smile last week thanks to BHFF. Other than body horror, what else are you looking forward to seeing?
B: I’m also intrigued by The Weird Kidz. How often do we get a full-length animated horror film? It’s different, and it took eight years to draw. It seems like a straightforward monster movie, but I’m hoping the animation and comedy aspects will make it more unique. The style reminds me of Family Guy and makes me wonder how horror and crude adult cartoons will combine. What else would you like to see?
J: I’m excited to see the documentaries! Especially the one about Stephen King. King On Screen is one of my first choices. I love Stephen King, and the adaptations from his books usually blow me away. Carrie is one of my favorite horror movies. I’m also excited to see this horror comedy called Next Exit. It’s about grief and the afterlife. It should be a unique experience to see how they handle something so heavy through humor.
B: I’d also really like to see Falcon Lake. I know it’s their centerpiece film, and I’m interested to see why they’ve chosen that one. It appears to be more somber than some of the other films. It’s also the head trip category, which I’m very interested in.
J: Yeah. You love cerebral stuff.
B: Yeah. My friends make fun of me. They tell me I love movies that don’t make any sense.
J: They make perfect sense!
B: You just have to watch them five times, and then it’s fine.
B: And then the shorts! I think one of my personal projects will be to decide which shorts I like the best.
J: Yes! We both want to see the Slayed: LGBTQ+ Horror category.
B: Also, Slayed is a hilarious name.
J: Perfection! Speaking of LGBTQ+ horror, BHFF is also showing Swallowed.
B: Horror Press recently released an article on that one! It looks really interesting. I read about Swallowed when I saw that we were reviewing it. I know the characters smuggle drugs by eating them.
J: It could be pretty fun. The lineup looks absolutely wild. I love how horror is leaning into “what the fuck?” right now. I also think body horror is having a good year, which is very unfortunate for me.
B: You don’t do body horror?
J: I have a limit.
B: Very understandable.
J: But overall, I’m excited about their chosen themes.
B: Yes! I think the “Fear in Focus: French Extremity” theme is really fun.
J: I studied French for six years. Let’s test it out! I’m excited for Baise-Moi. I don’t usually watch a lot of French horror films. I don’t get into it enough. But I hear it’s fucked up and brutal.
B: I know! Movies like Raw had such an intense reputation. So I’m hoping the movies are as extreme as BHFF says. I think they will be!
J: Yeah! I also hope to see Irreversible. It’s the Straight Cut 20th Anniversary edition. So they’re going to show it in chronological order.
B: I haven’t seen the original.
J: The original is in reverse chronological order, about one night. It’s a rape-revenge film, which I don’t usually spend much time watching.
B: I also don’t, but I watched a couple for a paper in college.
J: I think they’re getting better, however. I’m enjoying them more. I don’t know if it’s like I’m older now or…
B: I do think they can be cathartic.
J: Right. So I’m excited to see a retelling of one that’s kind of the Classic.
B: I’m not very familiar with Lucio Fulci, and one of the categories of BHFF is a retrospective of his work. I’m mainly focusing on seeing new films, but I am still curious to learn more about Fulci and why he was important. The one that I do really want to see by him is Zombie because it’s a loose sequel to Night of the Living Dead, which is one of my all-time favorites.
J: Oh, yeah! Night of the Living Dead is phenomenal. The whole backstory of the film, the distribution, and the casting of Duane Jones, a Black actor: all great. I’m also interested to see Zombie and how Fulci handled it. The zombie genre has exploded. Are there any other zombie movies?
B: There definitely are! There’s City of the Living Dead and The House by the Cemetery.
J: My biggest takeaway is that all of these films look amazing! I want to see every single one. But it’s literally impossible.
B: I’m also incredibly excited to see Nocebo on opening night.
J: That one’s going to be fun!
B: Just the idea of going to opening night is exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there! I’m also excited to see the theaters because I haven’t been to Nitehawk or Williamsburg Cinemas where the films are playing.
J: Nitehawk is great! I also haven’t been to Williamsburg Cinemas. I’m usually an Alamo Girl, so I’m excited to branch out. I know some of the filmmakers will be there, and there will be some Q&A sessions. I can’t wait to see what other events they have planned around these films.
B: There are so many films that are getting their world premieres. I know you’re interested in Influencer.
J: Hell yes, I need to see this. How do you make influencing scary? Well, scarier than it already is.
B: It’s very topical, which sometimes I feel like those movies can be a little bit too on the nose, but I think this one looks pretty interesting. Because it sounds like the horror is not online, you know? I feel like sometimes those kinds of films can be too heavy-handed and have a very narrow view. They often are just trying to say that the internet is ruining our generation, and I’m not very interested in that take.
J: I like when horror dives into the conversations that we’re currently having. Movies that touch on issues that society is facing now give us a value system and ways to move forward. Jordan Peele is having a great moment. I also enjoyed Smile. There will be a Q&A for Influencer, so I need to think of questions! I’m mostly interested in what influenced—get it?—the filmmakers to make Influencer.
J: So, we’re both looking forward to BHFF! I can’t wait to see you there! Any final thoughts?
B: Yes! I’m excited to see as much as I possibly can! There are so many new and exciting films, and I know BHFF will be a good time!
You can find tickets for BHFF on their website.
Follow Us For a Chance to Win our ‘It Follows’ Giveaway!
I don’t know about you, but this is one of my favorite horror movies ever (regardless of questionable footwear), and this box set delivers the goods. So, if you’re a fan of the movie (who isn’t?), you’ll want to read on to find out how to enter our giveaway.
HOW TO ENTER:
Entering our giveaway is a breeze, and we promise there’ll be no need to make a mad dash onto a beach in the middle of the night while wearing heels!
Step 1. Make sure to FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM!
Step 2. LIKE the giveaway post!
Step 3. Tag a friend who loves horror!
Step 4. Make sure you’re signed up for our NEWSLETTER on the website.
The winner will be selected on September 22nd and notified via direct message. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, we will randomly select another winner.
WHAT YOU’LL WIN:
The winner of our giveaway will receive a brand new Limited Edition 4K UHD and Blu-Ray copy of It Follows from Second Sight Films.
This version is region-unlocked and comes jam-packed with cool extras.
So what are you waiting for? Head over to our Instagram, make sure you’re following our account, like our giveaway post, and tag a friend for your chance to win your limited edition copy of It Follows.
Good luck, and stay spooky!
**Giveaway entries are limited to addresses in the United States.**
A Beginner’s Guide to Jump Scares
Jump scares get a bad rap. In the horror discourse, they’re often dismissed as cheap and tawdry ways to get audiences on the edge of their seats, like a bargain basement replacement for the psychological thrills of more “important” horror movies. But the fact is, jump scares are a vital ingredient in the horror pantry, and they can be used to propel artful masterpieces just as much as popcorn-munching chillers.
A Step By Step Guide to Overcoming Jump Scares
However, even if you agree with that assessment, some people just aren’t built for jump scares. If you or someone you love is interested in seeing certain jump scare-focused movies but can’t control a viscerally negative reaction to those roller coaster thrills, I have prepared a three-step program to help teach you how to watch them and wean you onto the really gnarly nerve-janglers. (Full disclosure: I’m on step 3 with someone very close to me right now, and so far it’s doing the trick).
For the purposes of the following examples, I’m going to assume you are the horror fan who wants to eventually show a particularly scary movie to someone else, so we’ll refer to that person as the Scaredy Cat.
Step 1: Hop
Depending on where your friend/partner/family member/dark passenger is in their horror fandom, you may have to start them at the very beginning to build up some jump scare stamina.
First, we should start with true gateway movies, titles that are aimed specifically at children. There are quite a few scary moments in iconic children’s classics, so maybe they’ve already been exposed to some of them. Think Large Marge in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Fizzgig popping out of the tree stump in The Dark Crystal, or the screaming book in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (I don’t recommend giving J.K. Rowling any more money by paying to watch this, but if you’re a millennial or younger, you probably have a copy lying around or know somebody who does).
If they haven’t experienced any of these delectable kindertrauma offerings as a child, then sit them down for some essential viewing. The filmmakers behind these kinds of movies intend to scare the audience, but only a little, couching these moments in off-kilter but more family-friendly aesthetics that will allow viewers to process their fear in a safe environment.
Step 2: Skip
Once that step is done, I recommend viewing some iconic horror shorts like David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out, Andy Muschietti’s Mamá, or Parker Finn’s Laura Hasn’t Slept. While these can be mighty scary, and in my opinion, frequently scarier than the feature films they inspired, they all tend to follow a certain rhythm. Make sure your Scaredy Cat is very prepared going in. Don’t try to have fun at their expense.
Have your Scaredy Cat try to focus on the way the short film is trying to scare them, how it builds tension continuously into one quick release. With shorts like this, there is usually just one jump scare at the very end, so they can rest assured that they will have as much recovery time as they need afterward. Also, knowing the run time of the short ahead of watching it can help them keep an eye on exactly when the scare is coming.
Watching a few shorts in a row can be an excellent guide to how filmmakers craft the scares that are dotted throughout their features, but in a bite-size package that’s slightly easier to swallow.
Step 3: Jump
If your Scaredy Cat has proven themselves willing and able to pass steps 1 and 2, it’s time for the final showdown. This is where you dip their toe into feature-length horror for adults. While this step will look slightly different for everyone, there are two routes you can take depending on what type of movie fan they are.
Route 1: The Franchise
This is the route I’m using with my personal Scaredy Cat. If they are a completist who likes exploring the full breadth of a franchise, they might not be able to resist a horror series with slightly stronger continuity or more built-out lore, like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Scream. They might be scared by the movies, but it may also be difficult for them to resist the urge to find out what happens next. These franchises also usually have an escalation of scares as they go along, naturally weaning your Scaredy Cat onto scarier and scarier movies.
Now these franchises will inevitably have entries that are worse than others, but having the conversation about which are your favorites and why is also a useful tool for having them engage with the franchise in a way that isn’t solely about jump scares. Also, if Insidious is the franchise you choose, it’ll clue them into the James Wan style of jump scare, which is very common in modern horror and could come in handy for future movies.
Route 2: The Familiar Face
Another route would be to find a movie that stars or features an actor they love from something else. If they love Daniel Radcliffe, for instance, The Woman in Black is a very good place to start. Are they a Buffy fan? Maybe The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Well… maybe. Don’t @ me if that one doesn’t go well, this all depends on who they like. But seeing a star they enjoy might be the carrot that helps them get over the stick of jump scares.
If you’ve completed all these steps and your Scaredy Cat’s heart hasn’t exploded, then they might just be ready to approach the big guns like The Conjuring, It: Chapter One, The Descent, and [REC]. Jump scares still may never be their cup of tea. But at least they will have the tools to recognize when one is coming and the experience under their belt to know they can handle it when it does.