The Sacramento Horror Film Festival showcases much more than projected entertainment.
Tonight's opening-night program at the Colonial Theatre features a screening of the 1988 horror film "Night of the Demons," with director Kevin Tenney in attendance. Book-ending "Demons" are the festival's annual Zombie Beauty Contest, which will offer a parade of hollow-eyed lovelies, and a showing of the 1975 film musical "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," accompanied by live performers.
"It's an opening-night festivities, party kind of a vibe," Sacramento Horror Film Festival founder and director Tim Meunier said of tonight's events.
Meunier promised things would get grimmer and more horrific on Saturday and Sunday, the festival's other days.
Fans of the Horror Film Festival expect live shows as well as films. Amber's Sweets, a performance troupe directed by Meunier, performs several times a year with the cult 2008 film musical "Repo! The Genetic Opera!" These shadowcasts, in which actors perform along with characters on screen, all carry the Sacramento Horror Film Festival brand. Meunier said they have helped increase awareness of his film festival, now in its sixth year.
"This year alone, we have sold more three-day passes than we have in the past five years combined," Meunier said of advance ticket sales for the 2012 festival.
"Rocky Horror" has been a film-performance-participatory favorite for decades, but Meunier tested the waters before deciding if Amber's Sweets should mount its own show alongside "Rocky Horror."
Meunier brought in the Bay Area's Barely Legal troupe for a performance this past summer aimed at gauging local interest in "Rocky Horror."
Interest was huge, and "we have been working since on our cast," Meunier said.
The Horror Film Festival also features other local collaborations. Saturday and Sunday are packed with short films from all over, with subjects ranging from the expected (zombie apocalypse) to the unusual (reanimated rat-monkey skeletons). One of the most intriguing is "Ravenwood," a 45-minute short directed by Sacramento's Luke David. It caps the 2 p.m. Saturday shorts program.
Set in 1880, "Ravenwood" involves monsters roaming the Old West. David spent three years making the short, shot in the ghost town of Bodie and in rural locations in and around David's hometown of Dixon. David and his crew even turned a dairy building into an Old West saloon by fashioning a bar and flooring from an old, rotting fence.
"Ravenwood" also will screen Halloween night at Davis' Varsity Theatre. David did not get "Ravenwood" to feature length, as he had hoped, but he hit all his other marks, he said.
"We had three goals to get it finished, play at the Sac Horror Film Festival and show on Halloween at the Varsity Theater," he said.
SACRAMENTO HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Colonial Theatre, 3522 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento
Cost: $45 for an all-event pass; individual film programs are $10; "Rocky Horror" is $15