If you spy a haunting flicker of light emanating from the windows of CL Space this Saturday night, you have our permission to panic. Back for a third year, the Reel Terror Film Festival will be showcasing horror films produced in the Bay area and around the state of Florida, along with filmmaker panels, celebrity appearances and an exploration of some local ghost stories. It’s going to be a scary good time.
Inspiration for part of this year’s festival came during the shoot for an episode of our Reel Projections videocast, directed by Matthew Schiel and hosted by David Russell and myself. Each episode was filmed at the Tampa Theatre, the historic and reportedly haunted movie house in downtown Tampa. In between takes Matthew suddenly froze, his eyes bugging out of his head as his legs carried him silently away from where he had just looked. “What just happened, Matt?” I begged repeatedly. “I just saw … something,” he croaked — and then we all freaked out. I never did catch a glimpse of whatever it was that Matthew saw, but when we checked our film later we found that some unseen force had clearly jolted one of our camcorders.
Following Matt’s sighting we started asking questions at Tampa Theatre, the answers only serving to creep us out even more. We’ll delve deep into what evil lurks behind the screen at Tampa Theatre with its president and CEO, John Bell, who is joining me for a panel entitled “I’ve Seen Dead People: Real Life Ghost Stories.” This panel will also include Niely Cornacchia from The Ritz Ybor, a venue with a spooktacular history of scaring the pants off late shift employees, and Matthew Kaiser of the Tampa Bay Paranormal Society, who will talk about his personal experiences investigating local haunts.
Also planned for Reel Terror is an appearance by Brooke McCarter (The Lost Boys, The Uh-Oh Show), who will be hosting a Q&A session titled “Just One of The Boys” and covering all things Lost Boys, his experience working with legendary director Herschell Gordon Lewis, and his take on the modern vampire genre. We’re also bringing back Jason Daly, the director of indie horror hit Beware, which thrilled the audience at last year’s Reel Terror. Daly will talk about the making of Beware, the film’s crossover success after a run on Showtime, and the possibilities of a Beware franchise. (Fingers crossed!)
The panels will be accompanied by a full slate of films playing throughout the day and evening, each created in the state of Florida by people of varied skills and experience levels. Covering the full range of horror tropes (murder, cannibalism, zombies, gore, and, of course, politics), these works are labors of love, even if that love comes doused in buckets of blood and dangling entrails.