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By Elias Savada | October 9, 2012

If it’s October, it’s spooky time, and the crazies, psychotics, obsessives, wolfmen, vampires, mummies, ninjas, flesh eaters, and zombies, among others, will gather for nine nights to watch (if you dare) 53 films in Washington DC’s only genre-based film festival. This year’s edition (it was founded in 2006) of the Spooky Movie International Film Festival (SMIFF) actually has a single home for the first time (in previous years it was scattered here and there in the area), that being AFI’s Silver Theatre in Silver Springs, Maryland.

The festival starts off Wednesday night, October 10, with Richard Bates, Jr.’s disturbing debut feature “Excision,” a suitably creepy affair about a marginalized teen (“90210″‘s Anna Lynne McCord) caught up in an unsettling family dynamic that includes a nasty, overbearing mom (Traci Lords), a meek father (Roger Bart), and sister with cystic fibrosis. Suitably, John Waters appears as a frustrated priest. It’s an expansion of Bates’ short of the same title, which was shown at SMIFF’s 2008 edition. The Northern Virginia native will appear for a Q+A (which I will host) following the 8 PM unreeling.

The funny, bloody evening continues with “Some Guy Who Kills People” from producer John Landis and starring Kevin Corrigan and Barry Bostwick.

On Thursday night, there’s “Play Dead,” the filmed spook show starring Todd Robbins and co-directed by Shade Rupe and Teller (of Penn and Teller fame).

“I’m so looking forward to having “Play Dead” at Spooky Movie!” Teller said. “I love the idea of bringing more lying, evil, and skullduggery to Washington, D.C.!”

All three will attend an after-film Q+A. Also on Thursday are “The Holding” and the North American premiere of the horror anthology “Nazi Zombie Death Tales,” both British entries, the latter from the lunatics that created the blood-soaked “Bordello Death Tales.”

Friday night brings the U.S. premiere of “Chained,” the latest film from Jennifer Lynch (“Boxing Helena,” “Surveillance”), about a boy being raised as a serial killer. Julia Ormond and Vincent D’Onofrio star.

A midnight screening follows of the documentary “Zero Killed,” which examines human obsession with fantasy and death, with German director Michal Kosakowski scheduled to appear for a Q+A following this special presentation.

Saturday gets wacky with the DC area premieres of “A Little Bit Zombie” and the Tribeca Film Festival hit “Resolution,” with modern grindhouse the late night theme with a double-bill of “Manborg” and “President Wolfman.”

The inaugural SMIFF local filmmaker summit arrives Sunday at 5PM, moderated by director Eduardo Sanchez (co-director of “The Blair Witch Project” and last year’s “Lovely Molly”). Joining him onstage will be Justin Timpane (“Ninjas vs.” trilogy), Eric Thornett, Matt Lockhart (“The Watermen,” Spooky Movie 2011), Jamie Nash (“Two Front Teeth,” Spooky Movie 2006), and others, with clips from their latest projects. As if that wasn’t enough, two world premieres follow—the Thornett’s Gothic “A Sweet and Vicious Beauty,” and the horror-comedy “Ninjas vs. Monsters,” with ensuing Q+A’s by each film’s director.

More flesh eaters (Brazil’s “Beyond the Grave,” Taiwan’s “Zombie 108”), more psychos (“Gut,” “247°F,” the latter with a Q+A with director Levan Bekhia), more nonfiction (Donna Davies’ “Nightmare Factory”) more mind trips (“Motion Sickness,” plus Q+A with director Stephen Kerstein), and more thrillers (Australia’s “Crawl”) follow in the  second half of the festival.

You’ll be numb by closing night, which begins with the U.S. premiere of the Brazilian gore fest “Nervo Craniano Zero” from director Paulo Biscaia Filho, who will provide an animated Q+A following the screening.

21 features, 32 shorts. Lose your mind, lose your lunch (and dinner). Have a blast. Check it out at

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  1. Elias Savada says:

    Article written by Elias Savada.

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