Wreak Havoc rocks the Carolina Theatre with fourth annual horror festival
For the fourth consecutive year, Wreak Havoc Productions is getting a big jump on Halloween festivities, as the Triad-based film consortium presents the Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival, opening Sept. 21 in the Crown at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.
“One of the things I love about the Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival is just how brilliant it’s become in a relatively short period of time,” said Wreak Havoc president Dan Sellers, who co-founded the Wreak Havoc Film Buffs Podcast with Sammie Cassell. “For only being its fourth birthday, it has already established a solid reputation as a rising genre festival on the circuit. It showcases not only the best and brightest of independent horror filmmaking from around the world, but it also gives a special nod to some of the movie magic being made right here in our own North Carolinian backyard.”
Of the record-breaking 172 films submitted this year, the 2018 festival boasts 24 short films and three features. “We were very pleased by the quality of submissions this year,” said Sellers, whose latest short – the true-crime short Trouble Will Cause – will have its world premiere 4 p.m. Saturday.
“I was surprised and thrilled at the response we had last year, as our event sold out,” he continued. “It was a beautiful sight to see a full theater! I hope we can sustain that level of success this year, and possibly plant the seeds to grow in the years to come.
“We have eight judges who meticulously screen each submission and we deliberate, sometimes painstakingly, on which films make the cut and which films are awarded prizes. This year we’ve actually expanded our awards category to include Best Horror Comedy, Best Production Design, Best Score and Best Cinematography, (and) we’re also bringing back our awards for Best Feature, Short Film, Director, Actress, Actor, North Carolina Film, Foreign Film, Special FX, and Audience Choice.”
Competition and awards are a part of the Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival, but equally as important is the collective spirit of celebration that surrounds it. It offers a showcase for independent filmmakers, many of whom will be in attendance (schedules permitting), and also a way to gauge potential audience reaction.
That certainly applies to Jaysen Buterin, creative director (and resident mastermind) of Greensboro-based Mad Ones Films, and the maker of Killing Giggles, a satirical shocker in which clowns are not the monsters but the victims of a deranged serial killer. The short, which is something of a “preview” for Buterin’s proposed feature Kill Giggles. (The production of the short was covered in this column last December.)
According to Buterin, for Mad Ones Films and the festival, the third time is definitely charmed. “This marks the third year of Mad Ones Films being able to screen at Wreak Havoc, and I’m particularly excited about it,” he said. “Not only is three a magic number – according to ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ – but this year will also be the hometown premiere of Killing Giggles–a proof-of-concept for the feature-film version Kill Giggles that we’ll be shooting in and around the Triad next year. It’s essentially the first scene of the film, but what gets me so excited is the audience reaction to it, because no one has ever really told a story like this one before.
“Yes, I know that nearly every filmmaker says that about their movie – and rightfully so – but we actually mean it,” Buterin boasted. “We’ve all seen the movies where the monsters and serial killers dress up like clowns to spread murder and mayhem, but we’re going to do is tell the tale of a serial killer of clowns instead. The proof-of-concept has been doing really well on the festival circuit, with audience reaction both during and afterward, being everything we could have wanted. So to have our hometown screening at such an amazing festival as Wreak Havoc, in such a brilliant building as the Carolina Theatre, well, that’s just the icing on the clown-killing cake!”
As an independent filmmaker based in a state starving for film incentives, Buterin lauds the festival for its continued support of those filmmakers who ply their trade in the Tarheel State.
“Yes, the film ‘industry’ may have jumped ship, but the film ‘community’ has never been stronger. We don’t need remakes of reboots of recycled franchises being churned out of Hollywood because we have more than enough unique visions and voices of filmmakers right here. I think that’s part of the inspiration behind Wreak Havoc. That comes from the people involved in making it happen, especially Dan Sellers and Sammie Cassell and the die-hard volunteers and judges and committee members of Wreak Havoc. Not only are they horror film lovers, but quite a few of them are horror filmmakers as well. That gives them an added insight, I think, into the inner workings of the movie-making mindset, which they use to assemble one hell of a program each and every year!”
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.
The fourth annual Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival takes place 6 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday in the Crown at the Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets are $20 and are good for both days of the event. For advance tickets or more information, call the Carolina Theatre box office: (336) 333.2605, or visit the official Carolina Theatre website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, check out the official Wreak Havoc Horror Film Fest website, and the official Facebook page.