Witching Hour II delivers twice the fright
When Triad-based filmmaker Ken Comito was working on the 2014 horror anthology Witching Hour, he was faced with a dilemma: He had more than enough good stories for just one movie.
As dilemmas go, it was not an unhappy one, so Comito did as Hollywood frequently does: He decided to make a sequel. “Yes,” he confirms. “While in pre-production, I realized that there was too much material to fit into one movie. I really wanted to tell more of the stories I had rolling around in my head, so I decided to do a two-part feature.”
The fear-filled fruits of his labor, Witching Hour II, scares up its world premiere Oct. 7 at RED Cinemas in Greensboro, kicked off by a red-carpet event a 7 pm, preceding the first of its three scheduled screenings that night. WKZL-FM (107.5) radio will be doing a live remote broadcast, members of the cast and crew will pose for pictures and sign autographs, there will be special giveaways, and an after-party at the nearby Pig Pounder Brewery (1007 Grecade St., Greensboro). Food and beverages from the Pulled Piggy food truck will also be available for purchase.
In addition, Comito and Company will be selling DVDs of In the Devil’s Courthouse and the first Witching Hour ($5 each) and Witching Hour II ($10).
A life-long horror fan who made his feature debut with In the Devil’s Courthouse in 2011, Comito is a great fan of the anthology format, having grown up watching “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” on television, and such films as Creepshow (1982) and Cat’s Eye (1985).
Like the earlier film, Witching Hour II is comprised of six segments plus a wraparound, this one involving Michael Hoch as a homicide detective investigating a series of cold cases that have one major component in common (aside from a corpse or two): The cursed clock whose owners all seem to meet with (very) bad ends. In the spirit of EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt), many of the characters have transgressed, and ultimately pay dearly for it. Fate has a funny way of dealing its deadly hand.
The six tales of terror told in Witching Hour II are: Dark Heat (written and directed by Dan Sellers), The Getaway (directed by Jim King), Returns & Exchanges (written and directed by Josh Spiegel), Voodoo Child (written and directed by Comito), Gingerbread and Jenny (both written and directed by Comito’s wife Melanie). With the exception of Spiegel’s installment, which was filmed in Los Angeles, the rest were filmed in the Piedmont Triad.
“I was very happy that Ken invited me to join this project and make my own little corner of this scary world they’ve created,” says Sellers, who also directed last year’s award-winning comedy/horror short Hank vs. the Undead.
“I had spoken with Ken about possibly writing and directing a segment and originally had an idea that took place during the Salem Witch Trials,” he recalls. “Eventually Ken approached me about doing a short segment but said we needed a more recent time period. I knew I wanted to make my film a period piece, and as a big fan of film noir I couldn’t resist a 1940s’ city landscape. I was ultimately inspired by an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ called The Hitch-Hiker. I was also quite intrigued by the old film-noir (and Hitchcock) staple of ‘the MacGuffin,’ and how that could seamlessly incorporate into Witching Hour II.
“I’m very proud of Dark Heat and the reception it has received,” he says. As a stand-alone short, “it has been accepted into six film festivals in three states, and we anticipate several more in the future.”
Selecting the stories for inclusion and being able to smoothly integrate them into the film’s overall format was a paramount consideration. “We had some ideas, both internal and external, that we had to exclude,” Comito admits. “Sometimes, a story just didn’t fit in with the main story. I gave our guest directors a basic guideline to follow to ensure that their stories would line up with the overall theme of the others.
“I learned a very important lesson with my first feature, In the Devil’s Courthouse: You can’t do it all by yourself. I tried to wear too many hats all at once. I didn’t listen to some good advice from others and some quality was sacrificed. If I had the time, energy and money, I would remake that entire movie. With Witching Hour and Witching Hour II, I’m much happier with the end results. My wife Melanie and I have learned so much on these last two films and I hope we continue to grow as storytellers and filmmakers.”
Comito’s company, Brain Juice Productions, provides video production, photography and editing services for a variety of clientele in the region, including the town of Pleasant Garden’s annual Veterans Day Celebration, and they’ve recently embarked on a comedy web series, “Kill Billy.”
“’Kill Billy’ is a lot of fun,” Comito says. “We’re planning a webisode every week for at least six weeks to test the waters. It’s been both a learning experience and an outlet for some dark – or just downright silly – comedy. We’re doing some green-screen and green body-suit work with ‘Kill Billy’ that should be entertaining.”
Comito is also working on a science-fiction project about time travel that he’s been considering for some time, and as the ending of Witching Hour II suggests, a third anthology is hardly out of the question. That cursed clock, it takes a licking … but it’s still ticking.
Want to go …? Witching Hour II will be screened Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 pm (red-carpet event), 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm at RED Cinemas, 1305 Battleground Ave., Greensboro. Tickets are $10.62 (general admission), $8.49 (students and military personnel), and $7.42 (children and seniors). For advance tickets or more information, call 336.230.1620 or visit www.redcinemas.com/movies. For more information about Brain Juice Productions, check out the official website: www.brainjuiceproductions.com.