After visiting several horror film festivals that didnt deliver enough scream for the buck, Sacramento Horror Film Festival founder Tim Meunier decided he could do a better job.
As the SHFF reaches its seventh year, Meunier believes he has achieved that goal. His aim these days is to simply make each installment better than the previous one.
I expect it to be a spectacle, people in costumes, horror hosts, that kind of thing, Meunier said of his festival. It became a mission and goal where people in Sacramento wouldnt have to go to other cities and give their tourism dollars to other places. The challenge (now) is to best what I did the year before to give people something new and fresh.
Meunier holds the three-day festival, which kicks off tonight, in the historic 580-seat Colonial Theatre on Stockton Boulevard, and attendees can expect much more than simply screenings of scary films.
We do things before a program like games or contests with the hosts, Meunier said. You might see some twisted form of ballet and you dont exactly know what you watched, but you were glad you were there to see it.
This years opening night includes a performance by The Shadow Circus Creature Theatre (with burlesque queen Jay Siren billed as a special guest) and the seventh annual Zombie Beauty Pageant before the screening of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a highly regarded 2006 American horror-film satire.
The films lead actor, Nathan Baesel, is scheduled to be on hand for the screening and a post-film Q&A.
A raucous screening of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show caps Saturdays events. As the poster teases: Costumes strongly encouraged.
The festival also offers a Sunday morning family program designed specifically for children. This years presentation is the 2012 animated-adventure film ParaNorman.
The SHFF has an international reach and this years program will include films from Europe, England as well as the United States, Meunier said.
Hundreds of filmmakers internationally send in their entries I can get anywhere from 200 to 600 entries a year, Meunier said, adding that submissions are a mix of feature and short films.
More than 40 films will be screened over the festivals three-day run, including six features.
Meuniers love of horror films started in his youth when he first watched Wes Cravens A Nightmare on Elm Street (featuring a baby-faced Johnny Depp) with his mother.
As he grew older, Meunier, 34, gained an appreciation of the genres classics, including Vincent Price movies and more contemporary films such as Rosemarys Baby with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, The Changeling with George C. Scott, The Entity with Barbara Hershey, and director Sam Raimis The Evil Dead.
I had exposure to lots of different genres, he said. I love the blood and guts, but I also love the movies without the blood and guts. I think thats helped me with the film festival because I dont really have any sway one way or the other. If its entertaining to me, then I think it will be entertaining to somebody else, regardless of the subgenre it lies in.
Meunier said horror films in general and the SHFF in particular are fun ways to go to the theater. Everyones jumping, everyones screaming. Its that collective hands-in-the-air roller-coaster experience.
Sometimes its just about a thrill from the safety of a seat while youre shoveling a bunch of popcorn into your mouth.
Call The Bees Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.