Posts Tagged ‘colorado’

This is some kind of white girl in a horror movie shit, I thought to myself as I crunched down the dark path through the woods, marching toward our cabin to fetch my daughter a blanket.

The waves of girlish screams of the Girl Scout bonfire faded behind me as the trees seemed to embrace me in solitude. The sounds of the camp dissipated at my back, and the swish of my jeans and crunch of my sneakers became the only sound in the darkness.

I pointed the penlight flashlight ahead of me, chasing its halo over the gravel. A vague anxiety scratched over the length of my skin, a physical echo of the bad idea I was currently consummating.

This is how dumb bitches like you die, the rational voice in my head echoed again, sending the anxious tickles on my hair follicles on harder edge.

Look, crazy, the other half of my brain chimed in, there is no random hobo living under the cabin. This camp is so high traffic and loud there is no way wildlife is hanging out here. Did you hear those girls screaming? You are fine. You watch too much fucking horror. Stop being crazy.

I breathed out deliberately, forcing the weight of my exhalation down to suppress my heart rate as it climbed foolishly in my chest. I reminded myself I was a horror writer. I evidenced to myself all the horrendous things I voluntarily watched. And read. And wrote. And told myself it was not foreshadowing of how I was going to die but rather healthy desensitization to not freak out in mundane situations like walking alone in the dark in the woods.

Yet my heart punched against my rib cage nonetheless.

Don’t be stupid, rational me began again. You can walk to a cabin in the dark at Girl Scout camp. You will be fine.

I continued scraping down the road, swinging the beam of my flashlight across the length of the road. I listened acutely to the how loud my denim pants had become in the void of the night. I articulated the twisted branches and fluttering leaves against the light of the moon. Suddenly, the brief hike seemed so long and wide.

Between the dark trees, I was finally able to make out the circle of lights from our cabins. I ambled down the small hill to make the turn and ascend into our campsite. Then I saw the large, shifting black shape.

That is not a bear, rational me said. You can’t see for shit far away. You’re just being crazy. Go get this damn blanket.

My muscles quivered half-tensed below my skin, but I pressed my own breath down on myself again and kept walking. What horror writer didn’t have an overactive imagination? Wasn’t I just thinking about all the ways I could die tonight? Wasn’t I just talking about all the horrible life decisions that should have killed me over dinner?

As I approached the farthest, lower edge of the cabin circle, the smell filled my nostrils. The odor was thick, wet, feral. It was not unlike the aroma of a cage at the zoo. Yet the pungency assaulted me in a wave. Then I heard the shape moving, foilage bending to its shape. From the symphony of bending branches, I could tell it was large. Its movements echoed around me, riding its smell into my twitching brain.

Then I saw the shape again, clear even in my hazed near-sightedness. It was a bear, low and wide. The culmination of the sight, sound, and smell lobbied a convincing case to my skeptical denial.

Fuck, it’s a bear, both sides of me decided in unison.

I stopped moving and froze in my last footsteps. I stiffened to silence my heavy steps and scratching jeans. I clicked off my flashlight as if the darkness could obscure me from the animal. My feet twitched forward toward the structure of the cabins then back toward the grouping of humans abandoned behind me.

It ran off, one side of me said. Go to the cabin and get the fucking blanket. You’ll be safe in the walls.

You don’t walk toward a bear, the other side countered. It was a fucking bear. Don’t be the dumb girl in the horror movie. Go back. Go back!

I hesitated and stuttered on the gravel another stupid minute before turning hard and walking fast back up the trail. I did not hear the trees creak behind me. I did not hear the audible angry breath of an animal at my neck. Yet my steps slammed quickened against the dirt, until I could hear the happy giggles of Girl Scouts in the swirling smoke of an fledgling campfire.

 

Christina Bergling

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I have been so busy posting reviews for the Telluride Horror Show, that I haven’t yet had time to talk about my actual experience of it!

This year was my first attendance of the Telluride Horror Show. Previously, I have only made it to the Stanley Film Festival (back when there was such a delightful thing) once. I haven’t even been to Telluride since I was a child.

The Telluride Horror Show is in its 8th year so is relatively established, and that much shows. The festival is well organized and smooth running, and the town seems very acclimated to the invasion by hundred of horror lovers.

Plus, Telluride is just GORGEOUS! I’m a Colorado mountain girl, so a town like this will always speak my native tongue. I loved that everything for the festival was in walking distance. The venues might be a half mile apart at the farthest, and our lodging was situation blocks away between them. We were able to just walk everywhere and enjoy the mountain air (or a creepy dark path with a bear sighting).

We arrived midday on Friday (after having to deal with our son shoving cinnamon playdough up his nose and needing to go to the doctor for extraction from hours away). Since it was Friday the 13th, en route we watched Friday the 13th and Friday the 14th Part 2. It helped to set the appropriate mood for the weekend.

We threw down our bags, mixed a drink, and headed to pick up passes. The venue for pass pickup was a little congested with lines for the ice cream social, passes, the bar, and swag all intersecting. However, things moved so quickly and the swag was so awesome that it was easy to forgive. I am still living in my lightweight hoodie and hat I bought there. I was even able to find horror figurines to match my children’s upcoming Halloween costumes.

Then we raced over to our first screening, Tragedy Girls. Witty, funny, and socially on point, Tragedy Girls is a fantastic choice to set the mood for our festival experience. (Read my full review here)

Following Tragedy Girls, we headed over to Creepy Campfire Tales. When we attended the Stanley Film Festival, we devoted our entire trip to watching movies. We did not indulge in any of the other activities. This time, we were determined to take in some social and non-screen activities.

Envious as I was as another horror author listening to someone read their work by the flickering firelight in the crisp mountain air, it was a very enjoyable experience. Then it was a quick sprint to resupply on food and drinks before hurrying to another showing.

Being that it was Friday the 13th in October at a horror film festival, we absolutely had to go see Never Hike Alone. It is a wonderfully executed and painstakingly local fan film of Friday the 13th. (Read my full review here)

By the end of the movie, I had imbibed my fair share and was enjoying the added effect of a few more thousand feet in altitude. However, said enhancement turned on me in the morning. I suffered a very brief but crippling hangover. I had to sleep it off while the rest of my party attended the horror comedy block of shorts. I managed to pull myself together for round 2.

Trailers from Hell, a collection of 35MM horror movie trailers. The trailers span multiple decades, but they are absolutely ridiculous. It was just the sort of simple, mindless entertainment I needed to ease me back into my day.

Following the silly, we embarked into the more cerebral with the Lovecraftian mind-bender The Endless. I loved the realism in the fraternal relationship of the main characters and the raw and creepy filmmaking. (Read my full review here)

After The Endless, we walked down to the pig roast. I appreciated that the festival included a free meal. It is nice to splice in experiences when you can interact with all the three dimensional people you are sitting next to in the dark for hours. The food was basic but also filling and delicious, fueled us up for a night of solid screenings.

We went to Jungle next, a real-life account of a hiker lost in the Amazon jungle. It is raw and intense and terrifying. Though I would not normally classify such a movie as horror, it is so gripping I was wiling to embrace the deviation. (Read my full review here)

We exited the theater after viewing Jungle simply to line up in the cold outside it again for Creep 2. Knowing Creep 2 was on the roster in advance, we had watched Creep right before coming to Telluride. The franchise is an interesting approach to found footage, completely carried by the main actor. (Read my full review here)

By this point, my brain was becoming a bit overstimulated by so many horror movies, typical for this point in the movie festival. The final morning, we took in back to back horror short blocks. First suspenseful, which started strong for two then went off the rails. Then zombies, which were super fun.

The final showing came up, and I struggled with my commitment. Part of me just wanted to relax and do anything but watch another movie. However, I am so glad we powered through. Well, half our party.

For our last movie, we watched Trench 11, a horror movie set in World War I trenches. I loved the history, the characters, the filmmaking. Genuinely, I just enjoyed it as it brought a perfect close to our set. (Read my full review here)

Before we departed, we took in one more social horror event, mostly so we could hang out with friends we had made at the Stanley Film Festival. We participated in horror trivia. Although our entire team was just terrible at horror trivia, we managed to finish somewhere in the middle and had a fantastic time doing it.

Then there was the lovely 6 hour drive home in the dark. Small, winding mountain roads slicing through the night. My GPS leading us on the opening arc of a Wrong Turn movie on some desolate dirt road. Yet, somehow, we still made it home.

My overall first impressions of Telluride Horror Show are entirely positive. Truthfully, I can only directly compare it to my one attendance to Stanley Film Festival. In that competition, Telluride wins on films but falls shorter on venue. While Stanley Film Festival had fantastic movies, there were some I did not enjoy and some that unnerved me to the point of discomfort. Whereas with Telluride, I only took issue with some of the suspenseful shorts. The ending ratio was much more enjoyable.

However, you cannot argue with The Stanley Hotel as a venue. Telluride is small and very convenient in that we could walk absolutely everywhere very quickly, yet the social events were crammed into small spaces like the Sheridan’s bar. The ballrooms in The Stanley were much more open and conducive to socializing. There was also The Chiller Lounge, which was necessary to recover from movies like The Treatment.

Culture-wise, the two festivals had a similar feel. People were more engaging and friendly in person at the Stanley Film Festival; however, there was much more online networking after Telluride Horror Show. The proprietors, in particular, are very responsive on social media, which always makes a fan and attendee feel appreciated. After the show, I was contacted over Twitter by multiple directors to review their movies.

And the social experience is a large part of what a festival is about for me. I can watch horror movies anywhere and with anyone. It is something different and decidedly more special to do it with people who share the same passion, with people who contributed directly to what you are watching. I adore cast and director Q&A. I love being able to randomly talk to a filmmaker in line for their movie. It is what going to a horror film festival is all about for me.

Telluride Horror Show was a fantastic experience for everyone in our group. We have already begun planning and plotting for next year and enlisting other victims to join us.

**BONUS**

After the Telluride Horror Show, my viewing was able to continue. I was privileged enough to screen Frazier Park Recut from the comfort of my own couch. The multiple perspective found footage film is both a throwback and something divergent in the subgenre. I would have loved to have gotten it into our viewing schedule while we were there! (Read my full review here)

 

Christina Bergling

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When I embarked for a weekend of horror movies at the Stanley Film Festival, I had all of these grand ambitions of spare time. My children would not be in attendance, so surely, I would be drowning in surplus hours. I was going to go for mountain runs; I was going to blog, review, Facebook, and tweet in real time; I was going to work on my next horror novel.

Very few of these things actually happened. Instead, my waking moments were utterly and wholly consumed by horror movie viewing. Fitting for a horror film festival.

So I devoted myself to the cause and emerge now to finally recount the experience.

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Estes Park is gorgeous. I am Colorado born and bred, so I am an insatiable sucker for a beautiful mountain town. Something in the looming peaks speaks to me deep, in my bones. I could have simply vacationed there, could have been content visiting the famed Stanley Hotel, yet coupled with my resounding love of horror, I was euphoric.

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Attending the Stanley Film Festival marked my first film festival experience. I had no idea what to expect. My exceptional partner secured the trip to celebrate my birthday.

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The Stanley Hotel is a character within itself. I could see how the setting, how that personality could inspire Stephen King, how it still has a draw for horror and paranormal enthusiasts. It was like a pilgrimage. The hotel is, at its essence, creepy. The walls and floors themselves creak; the physical building speaks and whines. It is not a faceless, renovated, cookie cutter hotel you can stay at in any American city.

I loved it.

IMG_0240_editedWe braved the fury and fickleness of mountainous Colorado spring weather as we waited for the initial screening. Huddled under our daughter’s rainbow polka dot umbrella, we felt decidedly un-horror, but it was worth the freezing pelting wait.

Cooties was the opening night screening (Cooties review here). Cooties was potentially the perfect film to kickoff the festival for us. It managed to be funny yet still scary and wildly entertaining throughout. My partner and I laughed out loud, and I flinched on multiple occasions.

Directly after the screening was the opening night party. The party was a strange experience. I am a cinematic civilian, so it was surreal to me to be in arm’s reach of celebrities or actors like Elijah Wood. As much as I wanted to gush over each and every one of them (and also hand them a copy of my book), I forced myself to keep a quiet and respectful distance.

The party was oddly low key. The music was loud, but the crowd was more sedated. People stood stoic with drinks around tables. It only became more lively when the chicken nugget eating contest began (or perhaps after we left).

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On Friday, the first full day of the festival, it became an assault of movies. We went to screenings only to exit the theater to get back in line for the next film. There was no time for eating or sleeping. My partner and I took turns fetching beers (free from the Chiller Lounge) as we stood in these long and slow lines.

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We began Day 2 with The Treatment (The Treatment review here).  This was not the wisest of selections for us. As parents, a movie so graphically about child rape and abuse was hard to take. It was horrific but not in the way that we usually enjoy the horror genre. The film left us somewhat beaten and depressed. Afterward, all I wanted was another beer and to watch anything else.

Thankfully, Goodnight Mommy was only a line’s wait away (Goodnight Mommy review here). I enjoyed the film, and it made me forget (somewhat) The Treatment. Nothing could truly ever wash it from my mind. However, at this point, I began to question the Stanley Film Festival’s intentions when it came to children. Cooties had killer monster kids; The Treatment was all about child abuse; Goodnight Mommy brought us back to more killer kids.

Where we had intended to watch four movies in the second day, we dropped one from our roster. We could not make it between theaters (there were three around Estes participating in the festival) in time to line up. Instead, we capitalized on the opening to actually eat food.

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We returned to truly cleanse our palates with the midnight movie: Deathgasm (Deathgasm review here). Deathgasm was mindless, stupid, crude horror comedy. While it was not my particular flavor, my partner thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was relieved to have my brain realigned and distracted after the earlier trauma.

By Day 3, we were orientated to the routine. We fell into a horror viewing rhythm and started to recognize faces around the festival. Various actors, directors, producers, and our many friendly line mates.

Once again, we did not make the optimum choice for our first movie of the day. We opted for the documentary The Nightmare (The Nightmare review here). While I found the chronicle of sleep paralysis sufferers intriguing, my partner was relatively bored. Both of us agreed we would have rather invested our festival view on another selection.

The Invitation and The Boy made up for our slow start (The Invitation review here) (The Boy review here). Back to back quality horror, broken up only by more time queued up outside the theater. Both were slow burns. Both followed in the anti-child theme with a dead child in one and another killer kid in another. Consistency is important. What matter was how much we enjoyed them both.

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By this point, as much as we had enjoyed the many movies we had been offered, I was a bit burned out on slow burn, artsy, indie horror. I was ready for something a little more traditionally entertaining.

Enter the closing night movie. The Final Girls was potentially my favorite of the festival, though the competition with Cooties is fierce (The Final Girls review here). Like the opening film, The Final Girls was fun to watch in a full theater of horror lovers. And it was so very genre savvy and appropriate. It made me happy to watch it, right there on the grounds of the Stanley Hotel.

At this point in the festival, I began oscillating between wanting the festival to continue and being overstimulated and ready to relent. I missed food and sleep and exercise. My brain was awash of horror. Yet, at the same time, I loved it.

The final day arrived either way.

We attended the bloody horror brunch, which had themed food that could be served at a Halloween party and table decorations devoted to great horror films. At the end, they distributed some of the awards from the weekend. It was fun, and the drinks were strong.

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Then we concluded our weekend and our viewing with the Pumpkin Pie Show. Amazing. The show consisted of four live monologue performances. The actors were brilliant; the stories rich and appropriate. It was the perfect way to end our time.

IMG_0231_editedIn the end, I am glad we attended the Stanley Film Festival when we did. It is on the cusp of becoming too big for itself. The schedule offered more to do than you could ever indulge. We missed out on multiple movies, the virtual reality experience, the immersive game, and yet we took no time off. There was very little time to eat or sleep, mainly due to the time that had to be committed to waiting in line to obtain seats to the screenings.

I am not sure how any of these issues could be resolved. The festival is popular, rightfully so, and will only become more so, but the Stanley Hotel venue will never be able to accommodate more patrons. The city of Estes Park will also probably not have more or larger theaters to offer.

Success is a double-edged sword.

I do know I hope to attend again. I also may venture out to check out the horror festival in Telluride, Colorado in October. I enjoyed the experience, the environment, and the people. I am glad I was initiated at the Stanley.

While I attended as a horror and movie lover, I also did sprinkle in a bit of my horror writing. On the scenic drive up through the mountains, I sat in the passenger seat, typing away on my third book.

More importantly, I left a couple copies of my book, Savages, around the Stanley Hotel for other festival attendees, patrons, hotel staff, or ghosts to enjoy. I was not there to pimp myself, but I could not help but leave a part of my own horror behind.

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I was also recognized for the first time, which was another surreal experience. The first in my author career. I appreciate that he managed to pull it off in an appropriately creepy and awesome way.

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My weekend at the Stanley Film Festival was amazing. While I was tired and hungry at times and disappointed in the limitations of the scheduling at others, it sated my ravenous horror appetite for the time being and stimulated so many parts of my dark little mind.