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A new genre film fest with a scary-good name is set to debut Thursday.
Yikes! Film Festival is an intentionally chill, “no red carpets,” celebration of everything horror, sci-fi, fantasy and more — definitely leaning into dripping blood cinema and jump scares.
Oh yeah, and there’s free popcorn!
In the fairly casual setting of the Foundry Room in Oliver Exchange, 13 shorts and four features will run over two nights starting Thursday, including a horror movie shot earlier in the actual venue, which should be dizzying to experience.
There will also be spooky vendors in the back, with bands playing to round out each night.
Festival director and co-founder Danny Chamberlin, 30, talks about the lineup. The four features programmed are Australian slasher-thriller Bliss of Evil and sci-fi mystery-drama The Founder Effect Thursday night, sci-fi horror Apocalypse Love and The Lurker rolling Friday.
“Apocalypse Love, I’ve never seen anything like it,” explains Chamberlin. “It’s all done with puppets, but they’re handheld by crew, so the hands are in the shots.
“The Lurker,” he notes with a laugh, “has a super cool plot about karma coming around on influencers. And it’s Canadian, which is awesome.”
He also highlights Three Houses Down, one of his favourites. “It’s a fun, Christmas, bloody-slasher type movie with a plot you would never think of in a million years,” says Chamberlin.
There will $100 prizes for the best feature and short, as well as an audience choice award.
The films were selected after an open call, incidentally, with submissions coming in from all over the world.
“We really encouraged anywhere from student films and first-time filmmakers, all the way to experienced filmmakers … from no-budget to actual budgets, names to no names,” says Chamberlin.
“If it was unique and different, we wanted to see it,” he says, noting he’s a fan of NorthwestFEARFest, Edmonton International Film Festival and the now defunct DEDFest.
With 13 shorts, a wide range of styles slipped in, including a couple of locally-made movies — Alicia Krawchuck’s elderly horror-comedy Irene, and mystery Return of the Phoenix, which was directed by Steven Pace and one shot in the Foundry Room.
Many festivals were touched — even mauled — by the pandemic, but Yikes! burst from its challenges.
“Over the past couple years we would do a bunch of movie nights in our backyard with just a sheet and a projector,” explains Chamberlin.
In the midst of these, he also ended up making a horror short of his own with his friends called Tunnel Vision.
“We shot it last summer, one of those things like, ‘Let’s shoot this and maybe it’ll go on YouTube or something,” he says.
Chamberlin submitted to a few festivals, and it ended up winning the short narrative audience choice award at the Central Alberta Film Festival in Red Deer and took Best Film at Kimberley Horror Fest in B.C.
Seeing his film in front of an audience plus the wins put the festival bug in Chamberlin.
“Getting picked by a couple festivals and back to watching horror movies outside, both those experiences ended up merging together into this idea that film festivals are really fun, and weird movies with your friends is also fun, but those are two totally different experiences,” he explains. “And I was like, ‘What if we could combine these ideas and sort of turn a film festival into more of a party?’”
The entire vibe is meant to be looser, with musical comedy duo Success 5000 playing Thursday night, while funk rock band The Spanish Flies will take it home Friday. As well, acoustic guitar player Don Bartlett will be playing horror movie themes during cocktail hour Friday.
“It’s like, if you were coming over to someone’s house, but their house just happens to be an awesome venue like The Foundry Room,” says Chamberlin. “And we have a massive screen with a cool mix of old-school vintage furniture to sit on.”
Hit up yikesfest.com for the full schedule and tickets — not to mention the festival’s hilarious, “Talus Dome as a giant kaiji” poster.
Doors open at 5 p.m. each night, and the films starting at 6 p.m. A pass to both nights is $20, or $12 if you can only make one night.
“We just wanted to it be affordable,” says Chamberlin. “If you want to just watch one movie, awesome. If you want to stay the entire time, awesome.
“Just do what’s best for you.”
Yikes! Film Festival
Where Foundry Room in Oliver Exchange (12021 102 Ave.)
When 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday
Tickets $12/daily; $20 festival pass at yikesfest.com