The Portland Horror Film Festival is a 4-day festival of independent and international horror films that takes place in, you guessed it, Portland Oregon from June 13-16. I was lucky enough to take in the weekend with the Portland horror crew and even though I was only able to be there two days, it was definitely worth the journey!

Each year, this festival highlights genre works from the United States and around the world in both short and feature lengths. This year had a splattering of great work ranging from animated shorts to feature films. A few favorites included the following:

WHAT LEAVES REMAINS is an animated film directed by the collective Monsieur Soeur (USA) and is a wonderfully and chilling work with superb stop motion tricks. The film was most outstanding due to a 72 hour creation window.

The visceral and wonderfully shot COMPULSION, though a bit long in the tooth for a short, is from first-time director Brian Sepanzyk (Canada) which crafts a chilling psychological take using minimal dialogue and great camera work.

Friday evening concluded with a screening of Cinestate/Fangoria’s new release PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH, in its Pacific Northwest premiere, along with a Q&A session afterwards with Barbara Crampton, hosted by one of the founders of the festival, Gwen Callahan. The film was a delightful, over the top and brash trip into Andre Toulon’s world of puppet mayhem. To read my whole review click HERE. The Q&A with Crampton was wonderful to watch as she has such a high energy and enthusiasm for horror and the future of the genre.

Saturday was a real treat for a monster lover. We had the pleasure of Chris Walas (Gremlins, The Fly), a special effects and monster making wizard, sharing some of his history and creative process in a very well thought out presentation simply entitled “Making Monsters”.

This level of programming alone is worth the journey to this festival, and for those interested in the “how” of genre filmmaking, Portland Horror Fest is not to be missed. There is a highly engaged audience of filmmakers and enthusiasts who genuinely know their stuff. The managing partners, Brian and Gwen Callahan, cater to this audience and program this event brilliantly.

A few days later, and I’m still meeting new folks online who I shared a moment with or researching new filmmakers, discovering new bands such as DREAMHAUNT. It is safe to say that another resurgence of horror is alive and well, and Portland Horror Film Festival is the Pacific NW’s premier representative of the cinema we all love.

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