October 5, 2019 brought together independent filmmakers, genre legends, and more to the iHorror Film Festival at the historic Cuban Club in the Ybor City District of Tampa, Florida.
Boasting massive iHorror banners to welcome guests, the Cuban Club, already rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the U.S., took on an even more sinister feel with its curtains drawn and its lights dimmed to create the perfect setting for festival attendees.
That mood was enhanced further when actress Lexi Balestrieri emerged from the shadows costumed as Samara from The Ring and began to wind her way through the theater and lobby, lunging at patrons browsing the merchandise area and even stopping for the occasional selfie.
The festival also provided paranormal tours of the Cuban Club hosted by the Brooksville Paranormal Investigation Team.
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Story time! When I was 13, I saw The Ring for the first time. It scared the ever-loving &@!* out of me and I couldn’t sleep in my room without music playing for a few months after. Samara Morgan was unlike any other horror villain I’d ever seen. She wasn’t lurking in your house, wielding a weapon and slinging guts everywhere. She terrorized her victims through their minds. If you watched her videotape, she tortured you mentally and seven days later she crawled out of your TV to kill you. Not something you forget about from a horror film. This year, @joshnoftz asked me if I wanted to dress up like a horror icon and scare people at iHorror Film Festival this year. I happily obliged and knew right away who I wanted to be. While Samara doesn’t quite have the same effect on me, I respect the hell out of as a horror icon. So, enjoy these photos of me being creepy. Thank you @horrorceo for the opportunity! 🎃 👻 🧛♀️ #horror #ihorror #ihorrorfilmfestival #scary #thering #samaramorgan #spooky #scareactor #horrorfilms #horrormovies #horroricons #halloween #happyhalloween #scarymovies #scarycharacter
The day began at 10 am with a block of short films shot entirely in Florida to celebrate the festival’s location. Three more blocks followed throughout the day featuring the work of filmmakers from around the world under the supervision of sound, lighting, and projection designer and technician Matthew Coombs from J Thor Productions, Inc.
As someone who has spent a lot of time at film festivals, one of my favorite things to see is the networking that goes on between blocks of films, and the iHorror Film Festival was no different.
Whether they were gathered around the cash bar, taking photos on the iHorror Thrones and at the step and repeat, or sitting at “candlelit” tables throughout the lobby, directors and actors and crew members alike met to talk about their craft and shake hands with others in their field who had impressed them. We’ll no doubt be seeing more movies born from these conversations soon!
At 5:30 pm the excitement rose as Dan Myrick (The Blair Witch Project) and Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination) took the stage with iHorror journalist Waylon Jordan and podcaster and filmmaker Jason Henne, who also served as master of ceremonies throughout the festival, to discuss the film industry and offer advice to filmmakers about marketing their films, approaching reviewers, and a variety of other topics.
Myrick and Reddick also spoke about a new Southern Gothic anthology series they’re creating which will be produced in Florida called The Black Veil.
With the panel ended, it was the moment of truth as the iHorror Awards were handed out with no few surprises and special awards along with those whose nominees had been listed in advance. You can see the full list of winners below.
The electric energy of the festival lasted throughout the day and as the credits rolled on the final film of the night, the applause only underlined the experience of festival-goers.
There’s little doubt that next year’s iHorror Film Festival under the direction of iHorror’s fearless leader Anthony Pernicka and festival co-creator Josh Noftz will be even bigger and better than this year!
Complete List of iHorror Film Festival Awards Presented:
- Best Film: The Desecrated directed by John Gray
- Best Director: Marc Cartwright, We Die Alone
- Best Actor: Graham Vines, Exposure
- Best Actress: Michele Yeager, Treat Street
- Best Make-up/Practical FX: Z-Goat: First Bleat
- Best Cinematography: Andrew Scott Baird, Starlets
- Best Production Design: J. Zachary Thurman, Finley
- Best Editing: Jay Gartland, The Loop
- Best Sound Design: Tony Ahedo, Downpour
- Best Florida Film: Vessel, directed by Scott Sullivan and Fever, directed by Brian Rosenthal
- Most Horrifying Moment: Emetephobia
Special Awards Presented at the iHorror Film Festival:
- Kristian Krempel: Outstanding Support for the Local Film Community and the iHorror Festival
- Dan Myrick: Horror Legend Award
- Jeffrey Reddick: Horror Legend Award
- Josh Noftz: Dedication and Contribution in Co-Creating the iHorror Film Festival
- Waylon Jordan: For his continuing contributions to iHorror as a writer/editor and his work on the iHorror Film Festival