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.
Fangoria: The #1 Magazine Subscription for Horror Fans
This article contains affiliate links.
Here at Horror Press, we are longtime fans of Fangoria. Between the iconic merchandise, the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, the magazine that began a prolific horror empire, and more, Fangoria creates content that speaks to fans of the macabre everywhere.
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A one-year subscription to Fangoria comes with more than 400 pages of horror, as 100-page magazines oozing with gruesome goodness are delivered every three months. These collectible issues contain content that you will not find online. Keep an eye out for the magazines which include a poster inside!
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You’ll also get a “Mini Fango” periodically sent to your email via the Terror Teletype newsletter, written by none other than Phil Nobile Jr. These emails include horror news, updates to the Fangoria archives, where covers from the last forty years of horror coverage are regularly added, links to the weekly crossword, and more.
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I Love You, E.T.: A Lifelong Friendship
My gateway to horror did not involve a bloody massacre, nor a monster in the closet or a slasher hiding in the woods. It was a little alien creature with an affinity for Reese’s Pieces.
In 1982, an alien later named E.T. (real name Zrek) came to Earth in search of organic plant life along with his fellow alien friends and family. Upon discovery by local authorities, E.T. becomes stranded on Earth as his family takes off in their spaceship to avoid capture. E.T. wanders the California hillside and happens upon the home of young Elliott, himself in search of belonging. The two form an unlikely bond and connection as Elliott navigates a disjointed family environment, girls, school, and of course, helping E.T. contact his family for rescue.
Beginning in the first grade, E.T. The Extraterrestrial dominated my childhood. I had every piece of merchandise I could get my tiny hands on, especially the coveted “antiques” belonging to my mom, who saw the film in theaters her sophomore year of high school. “I loved it!” she remembers. “I went to see it at the Elk River theater in Minnesota. Back then, it was a one-time deal because it only came through town for a short time. Plus, I didn’t have a lot of money to go more than once… Reese’s Pieces became my favorite candy for about one year.” She explained to me that the toys I commandeered in my childhood were once displayed all over her bedroom. She even had the original E.T. doll, the iconic one seen given to Princess Diana by then-seven-year-old Drew Barrymore. “You always took very good care of your toys,” she explained. “As soon as you were interested, I would let you play with them.”
This E.T. doll is still in impeccable shape, by the way.
My grandma gave me a talking animatronic E.T. doll one Christmas. Like a Furby, he would speak to me sometimes at night. “E.T…. feel… siiiiccckkkk.” Flashbacks to the scene where E.T. is sickly pale, lying face down in a drainage ditch with the score rising and causing my eyes to grow big were frequent. I had to take his batteries out after one too many nightmares and calls for my mom to comfort me in the dark, “It took you a while to embrace that one.” Yet, I never stopped watching the film that gave me laughter, tears, jumps, and wonder. After all these years, I still look out for E.T. merch whenever I go into an antique shop, pop culture toy den, and thrift store. He brings me so much joy, and I connect with my inner child whenever I find him. As I write this, my E.T. Coloring Book from 1982 just arrived at my apartment mailbox. I am 27 years old.
E.T. was a sensation upon its release on June 11th, 1982. The film made back its $10.5 million budget opening weekend, grossing $11,911,430 and going on to earn $797,103,542 worldwide. E.T. merchandise soared off the shelves. Iconic is the infamous E.T. Atari game that was notoriously difficult to win and was eventually dumped into a massive landfill by its creator company. I found a cartridge at the Barnesville Potato Days Festival (yes, this is a real festival). I finally caved during the pandemic and bought an old Atari gaming system to give the game a whirl. The game is not that bad! Confusing, yes. Delightful? Also yes. Clearly, I will do anything for this little big-eyed bugger.
One night in college, after a night out drinking at the local bars, I stumbled home alone to get away from the typical college bar drama and crowds. To be by myself. I popped in my E.T. DVD at 3 am and began watching as the room spun. My roommates came home an hour later, laughing at where they had found me. One joined for a bit, then went to bed with the others. I alone stayed up to finish. I was comfortable basking in the colors glowing from the TV set.
As a kid, I related to Elliott in many ways: his stressful family situation, being told he wasn’t allowed to play with his older sibling, who seemed to have all the cool friends, and like me, having little of my own. And through all this, a miracle of a friend beamed into Elliott’s life. I shared this new friend with him. And for the one hour and fifty-four-minute runtime, I didn’t feel so alone. I still feel welcome when I put the film on.
I am 5’1 (and that’s rounding up an inch). All my life, I was too short for roller coaster rides. My mom and dad would tell me, “Stretch like E.T.!” when I was told to line up against the measurement requirement for rides, and even that often left me on the sidelines while my sister and dad had all the fun (my mom would stay with me as support). Luckily, this wasn’t the case for the ride I had been dreaming about at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida: E.T. Adventure. Here I am, pictured with my friend, too small to reach the pedals yet beaming at the camera with my underbite stretched in a smile. Two decades later, I am happy to say we are still friends, albeit sometimes long-distance.