Film Events

International Horror Film Festival Makes Move From Australia to E.C.

16th annual “A Night of Horror’ fest releases first wave of films, will be held in U.S. for the first time

McKenna Scherer |

GAG-WORTHY LINEUP. A horror film festival originally held in Australia has been relocated to Eau Claire. (Submitted images)
GAG-WORTHY LINEUP. A horror film festival originally held in Australia has been relocated to Eau Claire. (Submitted images)

First founded in Sydney, Australia, in 2006, the 16th edition of A Night of Horror International Film Festival will also be its first in the United States. The international genre film fest is slated for Friday-Sunday, March 1-3, at Eau Claire’s Downtown Micon Cinema.

The festival announced the first wave of films on Wednesday, Jan. 24, promising to bring some classic monsters to the big screen, including zombies, masked slashers, and vampiric creatures.

“To move a fest I co-founded … to America feels surreal,” Festival Director Dean Bertram said. “A Night of Horror has long taken pride in being recognized for its excellence in showcasing the best and bloodiest new horror films from around the globe. And this year’s program is already shaping up to be one of my favorite line-ups yet.”

The horror film festival has been dedicated to independent genre film and filmmakers over its 16-year existence. According to the fest’s website, the selection process ensures that no less than 90% of short films and 50% of feature films are selected from its open submission process, rather than from sales agents and distributors. It has featured early works from filmmakers like Mike Flanagan (Hush, The Haunting of Hill House), Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead, The Mist), Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Late Phases, Black Circle), and others.

Here’s the first wave of announced films:

Bakemono (dir. Doug Roos)
“A multitude of guests visit the same cheap Tokyo airbnb at different times, unaware of the gruesome monster waiting for them. A terrifying, gore-drenched, and unique creature feature, told with a disjointed and unsettling narrative structure: Think Pulp Fiction or Memento as a bloody Japanese horror film. Loaded with incredible practical FX (and no CGI), the film delivers a visceral and unsettling experience.”

Bloody Bridget (dir. Richard Elfman)
“Voodoo deity Baron Samedi transforms a down on her luck burlesque dancer (Anastasia Elfman) into a ‘Valentine Vampire.’ But blood only whets her appetite; to satiate her gory desires she must eat her victims' beating hearts! A bloody – and bloody fun – horror comedy from director Richard Elfman, music by Danny Elfman and Ego Plum. Fans of comedic horror and camp will delight!”

#Blue_Whale (dir. Anna Zaytseva)
“Rebellious schoolgirl Dana grieves for her younger sister, a once-happy kid who suddenly stepped in front of a train. Desperate to learn what happened, she explores her sister's online history, discovering a sinister social-media game. A non-stop, brutal, and twisting thriller that draws you into a sinister and masterfully crafted online world.”

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Old Ones (dir. Chad Ferrin)
“In 1930, sea captain Russel Marsh saw the light, and for 93 years his body was not his own. Inhabited by a Great Old One, he committed unspeakable acts in the name of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Now free, he is in search of a way to go back in time to reverse the horrors wrought upon the world. But the cult has other plans and will stop at nothing to destroy him. The latest gore-drenched nightmare from fest alum, and modern master of the genre, Chad Ferrin (Parasites, Night Caller, The Deep Ones).”

He Never Left (dir. James Morris)
“After hearing strange noises coming from an adjoining motel room, a federal fugitive and his girlfriend inadvertently become targets of the notorious ‘Pale Face’ killer, whose legend has consumed and haunted the local community for decades. The most impressive, inventive, and refreshing take on the slasher sub-genre that A Night of Horror’s programming team have seen in over a decade.”

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This (dir. Rachel Kempf & Nick Toti)
“Blending fact and fiction, this compelling found footage horror film features nearly 20 years of archival video. When filmmakers Nick Toti and Rachel Kempf buy an abandoned duplex to shoot their next indie horror film in, they are delighted to find random strangers are drawn to the building, gathering outside to stare at it in a zombie-like trance. What begins as an effort to document the cult quickly escalates into an increasingly ecstatic quest to see just how scary their real-life horror movie can get. You’ll find yourself trying to work out what, in this enthralling film, is real and what is fiction.”

M (dir. Vardan Tozija)
“In a secluded forest, young Marko lives under the watchful eye of his overprotective and mysterious father. Their sheltered existence is all he knows. Marko seeks solace in his cherished picture book, finding comfort and answers within its pages. One day, an encounter with a kind-hearted boy with Down Syndrome named Miko, brings a glimmer of warmth and connection into Marko's isolated world. As his curiosity grows, Marko yearns to uncover the secrets that lie beyond the confines of the wilderness. A cruel turn of events grants him his wish sooner than he expects. A grim journey awaits him, filled with unknown dangers, unexpected twists, and a glimpse into a world forever changed.”

Folks are likely to notice this festival is being held at the same location, date, and times as MidWest WeirdFest, both of which are directed by Bertram. That decision was, indeed, strategic.

“We decided to host the fests simultaneously – at least this year – so our already loyal audience at MidWest WeirdFest could dip their toes into A Night of Horror as well,” Bertram explained. “And indeed, so far several regular attendees have let us know how excited they are to have both taking place at the same time.”

A festival pass to one of the events will also get you into screenings for the other, allowing for ease of viewings between the two.

The downtown movie theater is home to two screens plus a full-scale food and beverage menu including beer, wine, pizza, desserts, and vegan options. Full festival passes and single-screening tickets are available online and at Downtown Micon Cinema.

Learn more about A Night of Horror International Film Festival online.