This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the 7th annual Telluride Horror Show (henceforth referred to as THS), which took place (obviously) in the picturesque and beautiful location of Telluride, CO. Nestled in the Southwest corner of the state, Telluride sits 8,750ft. above sea level and has a population of under 2,500 people (as of the 2010 census). Basically, it’s a small yet delightfully charming town that is doing extremely well for itself thanks to a robust ski season as well as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and other sporting expeditions in the summer. In fact, it draws celebrities like Sting and Oprah to its peaks, which is why there are multiple-million dollar mansions being built in the nearby vicinity.
Getting to Telluride is no easy journey. For me, I started by driving from the Detroit area to Chicago and stayed the night with TJ (remember him?). From there, I flew first thing in the morning to Denver, had a layover flight to Montrose, and then took a shuttle 1.5 hours from there to my final destination. I started my travels at 5am and only got to my hotel room around 6pm, so you can imagine I was more than a little tired. However, there were people to meet and events to plan for, so off I went to hang out with Ted Wilson, the director of THS, as well as Travis Volz, the director of PR and marketing. I also ran into Brad McHargue, who I would be hosting a horror trivia night with as well as numerous other industry and festival folk.
After numerous beverages, some delicious BBQ, and lots of introductions, storytelling, and new friendships made, it was time for bed. Featuring three days of films, both shorts and features, and multiple events and guests, THS aimed to be a smorgasbord of horror goodness that gave attendees the opportunity to pick and choose their own plan of action. And simply because I don’t care that I’m giving it away, I’ll tell you that they 100% succeeded.
On my first day, I spent a good part of the morning getting acclimated to the town itself, grabbing a sandwich at Baked in Telluride (it’s a pastry/sandwich shop and not a marijuana dispensary, I promise you) and finalizing the horror trivia that would take place two days later. There was also an ice cream social that afternoon where everyone could meet up and chat about their plans for the weekend over a nice cup of either vanilla or chocolate ice cream (I chose one scoop of both).
The big event that day was the Creepy Campfire Tales with Joe R. Lansdale, where the prolific author read his short story “The Folding Man” next to a large fire in Elks Park in the middle of Telluride. With his Texan drawl and animated delivery, it was a wonderful experience. I almost felt like a kid again, just appreciating the opportunity to sit back and have a scary story read to me. By the by, if you want to read that story, you can right here.
After that, I rushed over to the Nugget Theater, whose entrance is flanked by two large gargoyles. Side note: those gargoyles made it confusing for some people as the screening room in the local library was called “Gargoyle Room”. Took me a few tries to get used to it myself.
Anyways, I went to that theater because there was a showing of The Windmill, which was directed by Nick Jongerius. My role there was to present the film (just a brief introduction, really) and then stick around for a Q&A with Jongerius himself. We spoke about the film from several angles, from how the movie starts out showing Holland in a beautiful, almost picturesque but then quickly devolves into something ugly and sinister to the heavy amounts of gore and how those shots were done, plus a lot more. Jongerius was obviously excited to be there and even spoke about how the audience reaction was exactly what he was looking for.
Afterwards I attended the “Squirm” Shorts Block at the Sheridan Opera House. Some were hit, some were miss, but the block was overall really damn solid. I’ll be reviewing each entry there in a separate post.
The night ended with karaoke and drinks at the Cornerhouse Grille, where yours truly sang Alice in Chains’ “Would?”, Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”, Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”, “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal, and “Tribute” from Tenacious D. In retrospect, I probably very nearly killed my voice – which I would certainly need for the rest of the weekend – but it was absolutely worth it.
Day 1 of Telluride? Total success.
I started Day 2 with another trip to Baked in Telluride for some breakfast. After planning out everything I’d be attending and hosting, I then made my way to the Sheridan for the “Horror, Ha Ha!” Shorts Block. As with the “Squirm” block, not everything was incredible but enough were that I felt like it was a great start to the day. After all, what’s better than having several hearty laughs first thing in the morning? Capsule reviews for all the films there will be attached to the “Squirm” capsule reviews.
After that, I grabbed lunch with some friends at Taco Del Gnar, which has some of the tastiest tacos I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was then off to the Sheridan once again where I would introduce the Masters of Horror episode “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”, which was based on a story by Joe R. Lansdale, who was in attendance. After the short ended, Lansdale and I took to the stage to talk about the film, his current activities, and what the future holds for him.
Lansdale let us know that a prequel book to “Bubba Ho-Tep” is currently in the works, along with some short story anthologies. He also let us know that the film adaptation of “The Bottoms”, which will be directed by Bill Paxton (Aliens, Frailty), should begin filming in 2017, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Later that afternoon, I returned to the Sheridan Opera House for a screening of the independent film Spring Break Zombie Massacre, which was written by two best friends Sam and Mattie, both of whom have Down Syndrome. Up to the screening, both Sam and Mattie were showing up at screenings and events and getting people hyped for their film. So, when it came time for their movie to play, there was a near sold-out audience and everyone was incredibly excited to see what was in store for them. While not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, the audience certainly had a blast of a time with the movie, which was followed by a Q&A with both Sam and Mattie as well as director Robert Carnevale.
For dinner, we then went to the pig roast, which saw everyone get a plate with a pulled pork sandwich covered in some kind of sauce, a potato bean medley, and a hefty portion of coleslaw. Can’t really go wrong with that combination, I tells ya.
From there it was time for Damien Leone’s slasher Terrifier, which was a huge crowd-pleaser. Packed with gore and featuring one of the coolest clown villains I’ve seen in a long time, Terrifier was a treat for anyone seeking a bloodbath.
I finished day two with an absolutely breathtaking nighttime gondola ride up and over the mountain into Mountain Village. There was a “hunter’s moon”, so the trees were illuminated in a ghostly pale blue and the ski trails were awash in moonlight. The total trip, up and down, is approximately 30 minutes (without getting off) and afforded me a moment to breathe, to let the hectic nature of the weekend melt away and give an opportunity to clear my head for everything to come.
We ended the night at The Sheridan (not the same place as the Sheridan Opera House) where there were $1 pints. It’s probably obviously to say this but the place was rowdy and energetic, almost certainly because of the cheap booze.
Day two of THS? Another win.
I opened the third and final day with, you guessed it, some breakfast at Baked in Telluride. Seriously, that place is incredible. Don’t want a sandwich or bagel for breakfast? Grab an almond croissant or a deluxe, mouth-watering doughnut. I’m not a coffee drinker but they seemingly were able to make whatever you wanted, so caffeine lovers have no cause for concern.
I then went and introduced the psychological thriller Trash Fire (review), which stars Adrien Grenier, Angela Trimbur, Fionnula Flanagan, and AnnaLynne McCord. I would’ve stayed and watched the film but a situation arose where I had to do some testing and updating for the horror trivia night. I did however manage to sneak out to catch “How I Became A Bad Ass Horror Filmmaker”, which was a casual conversation with directors Joe Begos (Almost Human) and Mickey Keating (Darling). Both discussed their approach to filmmaking, the struggles of funding, and working time and again with the same passionate people to ensure a consistent experience.
From there, it was time to set up everything for the horror trivia night, which was hosted by Brad McHargue and myself. Spanning over two hours and featuring 10 teams, I’m going to go ahead and call it a resounding success. Were there some things that could’ve gone better? Sure! But it was the first time such an event took place and I think the end result was pretty damn incredible taking that into consideration. The teams made it through progressively more difficult rounds and three ended up taking home prize packs that included THS merch, blu-rays/DVDs, and other swag. I hope this becomes a THS tradition as it seemed like people were all about it!
After cleaning up and putting everything away from the trivia event, I then made my way to the Sheridan Opera House for the “Secret Sunday Show”, which turned out to be The Autopsy of Jane Doe. I intro-ed the film to a packed house, making sure to thank each of them as well as the entire festival staff for making the 7th year of THS its biggest yet. I then grabbed a seat and watched the movie, which the crowd absolutely adored.
The festival ended with everyone grabbing drinks at The Last Dollar, which is affectionately known to the locals as “The Buck”. At one point, the police shut down the streets because there were bears roaming the alleyways (I’m not joking whatsoever) but that didn’t last too long. Several of us were able to make our way to the banner flying proudly over W. Colorade Ave. so that we could take the picture near the top of this post. After that, there was more drinking, more bonding, and a sense of sadness as many of us realized that it would be a while before we were all together again.
Day 3 of THS ended with a bittersweet feeling. I enjoyed myself more than I could’ve possibly imagined and I was rather heartbroken that it had to end. However, absence makes the heart grow fonder, yes? If that’s truly the case then THS will have a very fond place in my heart indeed. Until we see each other again!