For the 14th year, the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival will run concurrently with the Phoenix Film Festival at Harkins Scottsdale 101. This year, both fests have expanded from 8 to 11 days, starting this Thursday, April 5. PHOENIX magazine had a chance to chat with IHSFF Director Monte Yazzie about what's new this year in the world of the cinematically scary and strange.*
*Editor's note: Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
PHOENIX magazine: What new film at the festival are you most excited about this year?
Monte Yazzie: We have two films that we are playing at the International Horror and Sci-fi Film Festival that I am very excited about. The first is a film called Summer of '84; it's a film that has a group of young people investigating the possibility of their nextdoor neighbor being a serial killer. Total '80s throwback, with a well written script and genuine performances from a group of young people. The second is a science fiction film called Imitation Girl that has a fantastic performance from lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter playing two different roles. It's a bizarre tale that touches on aspects of identity, femininity and human interaction.
PM: What classics are you showing this year?
MY: FLASH!!! We are excited to bring the cult classic Flash Gordon [the glitzy 1980 version with the Queen theme song] to our festival as our closing night film. It should be a fun screening. If you have never seen it, this is your chance to watch it on the big screen!
PM: What guest (or guests) are you looking forward to welcoming to the fest this year?
MY: Many of our competition film directors will be at the festival. It's a great opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how these films are put together. Also, coming to the world premier of the horror film Cynthia, we will have Scout Taylor-Compton [of Rob Zombie's Halloween fame, who plays Robin in "Cynthia"] in attendance.
PM: Anything new or different at this year's fest?
MY: IHSFF continues to grow every year. This year we have expanded to 11 days of festival fun. That gives us more opportunities to program films and assist in helping you find your new favorite movie.
PM: What has proven, over the years, to be the thing that people like best about the festival?
MY: I think it's the community that we are building. Genre film fans are passionate and having a place to gather together and watch the weird and wonderful films we love so much is an aspect that we try to nurture from year to year.
PM: What's different about this fest than about other horror and sci-fi fests?
MY: We are a filmmaker's festival, we want the creators of these unique visions to showcase their films with us. We have all our screenings in one location and have the best theater in the Valley taking the utmost care of the films that are being shown. That's a unique quality that we are proud to provide.
PM: What was the last movie or scene (in the fest or not) that truly scared you? *SPOILERS FOLLOW*
MY: The scenes that really unsettle me are never the jump scares. But when director Alex Garland created a beast that roars with the final human screams of its victims in Annihilation, that stuck with me. The same can be said of Black Phillip talking in a human voice in The Witch. But the scene that still lingers with me, long after I've seen the movie, is the story that the man tells of the dream he had in Mulholland Drive. The structure, the simplicity, and the execution are perfect.
For details on The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, go to horrorscifi.com.
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