Tag Archives: Nightmares Film Festival

The Hills Are Alive

The Devil to Pay

by Hope Madden

I’ve long felt that pre-film text-on-screen quotes are a cinematic crutch, often pretentious musings that rarely capture the essence of the film about to unspool.

Then, over a colorful vista of misty Appalachian mountaintops and plaintive banjo strings I read about the hardy folk populating those peaks, the descendants of criminals and oppressed alike who sought refuge in this inhospitable place.

As shadow creeps across the landscape, the quote:

“They want nothing from you and God help you if you try to interfere.” – 2010 census worker

Welcome to The Devil to Pay, Lane and Ruckus Skye’s lyrical backwoods epic, grounded in a lived-in world most of us never knew existed.

The tale is anchored with a quietly ferocious turn by Danielle Deadwyler (who also produces) as Lemon, a hardscrabble farmer trying to keep things up and wondering where her husband has been these past days.

Deadwyler’s clear-eyed efficiency is matched with the hillbilly condescension of one Tommy Runion (Catherine Dyer, flawless), whose homespun advice and cheer mask a dead-eyed, sadistic sense of right, wrong and entitlement.

One of the most tightly written thrillers in recent memory, The Devil to Pay peoples those hills with true characters, not a forgettable villain or cliched rube among them. The sense of danger is palpable and Deadwyler’s commitment to communicating Lemon’s low-key tenacity is a thing of beauty.

Hell, the whole film is beautiful, Sherman Johnson’s camera catching not just the forbidding nature of Appalachia, but also its lush glory.

Yes, the cult that lives just outside the county line does feel a tad convenient, but again, the Skyes and their outstanding cast carve out memorable, realistic and terrifying characters.

The Devil to Pay remains true to these fascinating souls, reveling in the well-worn but idiosyncratic nature of their individual relationships—a tone matched by sly performances across the board. And just when you think you’ve settled into a scene or a relationship, The Devil to Pay shocks you with a turn of events that is equal parts surprising and inevitable.

It’s a stunning film and a rare gem that treats Appalachians, not as clichés, but certainly not as people to be messed with.

Nightmares Film Festival Announces 2022 Sneak Peek

Obstacle Corpse Joins All Star Lineup

Nightmares Film Festival (Oct. 20 to 23) released its limited batch of VIP passes today, along with a teaser of what’s to come at the seventh annual fest – led by a special program called “Returning Terrors” that will premiere the next stories in several audience-favorite genre worlds, each with directors in attendance.

Though fest selections aren’t made until the submissions window closes on Sept. 6, “each year we like to reveal some of the special moments we’re known for early, so creators, fans and studios can get a sense of the spirit of this year’s celebration of genre,” said NFF co-founder and programmer Jason Tostevin.

This year’s special programming is headlined by a murderer’s row of indie genre feature follow-ups that continue the stories in their beloved nightmare worlds. The program, called “Returning Terrors,” brings together three hotly anticipated sequels to films that took the genre world by storm when they debuted: 2011’s The FP, 2013’s WNUF Halloween Special and 2016’s The Barn, with each filmmaker bringing the next tale in the series to NFF 2022:

  • The world premiere of WNUF Halloween Special 2’s “Nightmares Cut,” which includes six minutes of retro commercials and other footage only available at NFF. Director Chris LaMartina brings the film (officially titled Out There Halloween Mega Tape) to Columbus and will intro, take Q&A and meet fans.  
  • The world premiere of THE FP 4: EVZ, the conclusion of the FP series, with festival favorite director and star Jason Trost in attending and introducing.
  • The Ohio premiere of The Barn 2, featuring Joe Bob Briggs, Linnea Quigley and Doug Bradley, with director Justin Seaman attending and introducing.

In addition, the unique experiences teased by the fest’s announcement today included:

  • The return of Sunday Secret Screenings, which will include the Midwest premiere of Something in the Dirt from Jusin Benson and Aaron Moorehead
  • The homecoming premiere of horror comedy Obstacle Corpse, from the creators of the Fright Club podcast
  • Return of the legendary Midnight Mind Fuck (plus special stuffed sickbags), called “one of the most dangerous blocks of programming in any festival, anywhere” (Film Coterie)
  • NFF’s influential annual panels, Social Progress Through Horror and The New Distribution, including distributors and studios.

Planning a pilgrimage to the “Cannes of horror” (- iHorror)? It’s a good idea to jump on passes now, says NFF co-founder and Gateway Film Center president Chris Hamel.

“We have a limited number of 150 VIP passes, which offer a seat in every round of films, access to the VIP bar and lounge and in-and-out privileges throughout the fest,” said Hamel. “Because the program is always so in demand, and the in-person experience is so welcoming and unforgettable, our VIP passes always sell out.”

Nightmares Fest Unveils “Early 13”

Though it’s only a few years old, Columbus, Ohio’s Nightmares Film Festival (NFF) has not only established itself as a can’t miss event for horror fans, but one with revered traditions.

One of those is the annual release of its “Early 13,” a baker’s dozen of early selections that serve as a preview of the tone and style of its October 24 to 27 event. This year’s first wave of programming includes premieres, genre icons and exciting new voices.

Among the early selections are films from Elija Wood (Mandy), Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy), and Travis Stevens (Cheap Thrills), as well as films helmed by women directors from around the world, and two filmmakers returning to Nightmares with new projects.

“The Early 13 is an exciting tradition for us, and has really become the unofficial start of the festival,” said NFF co-founder Jason Tostevin. “We do it because we want to give everyone a sense of the breadth and depth of the program that will take shape in October.”

Representatives of the major programming categories at Nightmares — horror, thriller and midnight; shorts and features — are included in the list, as are two films that will play as part of the fan-favorite Saturday block: the “Late Night Mind Fuck” program.

“We choose the Early 13 each year based on their high scores with the jury, and also for their alignment with the spirit of the fest and the tone of that year’s program,” said co-founder Chris Hamel. “Just like the full lineup, there is something for every genre fan in this preview.”

Submissions are still being considered for another month at Nightmares. The Early 13 films are the only submission decisions the festival makes before the Sept. 13 submission deadline, Tostevin said.

Nightmares Film Festival has been called one of the world’s best horror film festivals by every major genre outlet. It has maintained its position as the world’s top-rated genre festival on the submission platform FilmFreeway for 33 consecutive months. 


SWALLOW – Second screening worldwide – Thriller Feature

Directorial debut of Carlo Mirabella-Davis. Starring Haley Bennet (The Magnificent Seven). 

A newly pregnant housewife finds herself increasingly compelled to eat dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession. A “deeply unsettling feminist thriller” (Variety).

EAT, BRAINS, LOVE – North American Premiere – Horror Comedy Feature

A zombie road trip film based on the hit novel by Jeff Hart. 

When Jake and his dream girl Amanda contract a mysterious zombie virus and eat the brains of half their senior class, they must elude the government’s hunter — a teen psychic — as they search for a cure. 

THE OBSESSED – World Premiere – Late Night Mind Fuck Feature

From Italian extreme director Domiziano Cristopharo (Nightmares winner Torment). Based on  the real-life story of Bjork stalker Ricardo Lopez. Albania’s first horror film.

Cristopharo presents this dark and deeply affecting tour of the mind of a madman, via a body horror film featuring practical FX, including a penis with a mouth, teeth and tongue included.

DANIEL ISN’T REAL – Regional Premiere – Midnight Feature 

The newest film from Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision. Stars Arnold’s son Patrick Schwarzenegger.  

Luke, a troubled a college freshman, resurrects his childhood imaginary friend Daniel to help him cope with a violent family trauma. But as Daniel’s influence grows, it pushes Luke into a desperate struggle for control of his mind — and his soul.

THE LODGE – Regional Premiere – Thriller Feature

From Austrian directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy).

Trapped inside a cabin by a fierce blizzard, two children and their future stepmother must fight for their lives against an unseen evil force.

THE GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR – Regional Premiere – Horror Feature

Directorial debut of hit genre producer Travis Stevens (Cheap Thrills). Stars C.M. Punk.

A man tries to renovate a dilapidated house for his growing family, only to learn that the house has other plans.

RECKONING – Midwest Premiere – Thriller Feature

Created by husband and wife team Lane and Ruckus Skye.

Miles from the nearest power grid, Lemon Cassidy scratches out a humble living in an isolated Appalachian farming community. Her life is tossed into chaos when two men from the oldest family on the mountain hold her son hostage until she can settle a debt her missing husband owes to their cold-hearted matriarch.


LIPPY – Horror Short

Directed by Lucy Campbell


Two girls enter an underground world of strange forfeits and grisly demands when they are caught stealing lipstick testers.

GASLIGHT – Thriller Short

Directed by Louisa Weichmann


A waitress waiting for her bus on a deserted road is stalked by a vampire. 

CHANGELING – Midnight Short

Directed by Faye Jackson


A new mother is increasingly mesmerised and appalled by the strange transformations happening around her baby.

BOO – Recurring Nightmares Short (returning filmmaker)

Directed by Rakefet Abergel 


A traumatic event forces a recovering addict to face her demons.

REUNION – Horror Comedy Short

Directed by Andrew Yontz


A woman spends the night with her friends she hasn’t seen in 10 years only to find out they may have become serial killers.

LIMBO – Late Night Mind Fuck

Directed by Dani Viqueira


When his family resolves to flee him, a man becomes unmoored from reality.

Nightmares returns to Columbus’s Gateway Film Center with its 2019 edition October 24 to 27.

Nightmares Film Festival: 2018 Lineup Announced



For horror fans, Christmas has come three months early — in the form of the Nightmares Film Festival 2018 program, presenting 24 features and 164 shorts over the four-day event running Oct. 18-21 at Gateway Film Center in Columbus.

True to its “#BetterHorror” motto, the program is jammed top to bottom with a mix of premier genre films from around the globe. Across the 188 films, there are dozens of world and North American premieres, a short accompanied by live in-theater music, projects from genre favorites, a Stephen King block and even a new documentary section.

“We’re on a never-ending, worldwide quest to discover the films that are reshaping the boundaries of horror — bold voices, new visions of terror, films that haunt you,” said co-founder and programmer Jason Tostevin. “That’s how we build every Nightmares, and this may be our best lineup yet.”

The features lineup is stacked with the world premieres of some of horror’s most anticipated new movies, including white-knuckle thriller The Final Interview from Fred Vogel (Toetag Pictures, August Underground); twisted kidnap nightmare The Bad Man from Scott Schirmer (Found, Harvest Lake); ‘80s-style horror anthology Skeletons in the Closet from Tony Wash (The Rake); and paranoia-fueled apocalypse tale Haven’s End from Chris Etheridge (Attack of the Morningside Monster).

North American feature debuts include The Head from the director of ThanksKilling, about a medieval monster hunter; Christmas horror-comedy The Night Sitter; action-horror creature feature Book of Monsters; and mistaken-identity comedy-thriller Kill Ben Lyk.

Horror legend Bill Lustig will open the festival with a brand new 4K restoration of his classic, Maniac. New cult director Jason Trost (The FP) will attend with The FP 2: Beats of Rage.

Nightmares also continues its tradition of presenting one of the top genre shorts programs in the world. This year’s short films include horror, thriller, midnight and horror-comedy blocks playing throughout the festival.

The festival also introduces its Recurring Nightmares section this year, a category that showcases the newest shorts by festival alums.

The fest’s legendary Midnight Mindfuck block also returns. The section, called “one of the most dangerous and challenging programs at any festival” (The Film Coterie), will present Trauma, a harrowing tale grounded in the darkest parts of Chilean history, and La Puta es Ciega (The Whore is Blind), a surreal and violent exploration of the streets of Mexico.

“Every aspect of Nightmares is filtered through the question, what would excite us as fans?,” said co-founder Chris Hamel. “We don’t think there’s a better experience for makers and lovers of horror than the four days of Nightmares Film Festival.”

The 13 finalists in both the Nightmares short and feature screenplay competitions were also announced. The ultimate winner in each competition will be announced at the awards ceremony on Oct. 20.

Nightmares begins Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. and runs until Sunday night, Oct. 21. Fans who are ready to make the pilgrimage to Columbus, Ohio will find a limited number of passes still available for the festival at gatewayfilmcenter.org/NFF.

Hope Madden and George Wolf are proud to be among the jury panel for Nightmares Film Festival, one  of the top horror film celebrations in the world. It has been the number-one rated genre film festival on submission platform FilmFreeway for 30 consecutive months.




Boo – Rakefet Abergel

Mourning Meal – Jamal Hodge

Hiking Buddies – Megan Morrison

Living Memory – Stephen Graves

#dead – Derek Stewart

The Burning Dress – Sam Kolesnik

For Good Behavior – Ron Riekki

Air – Dalya Guerin

Invidia – Vanessa Wright

Minotaur – Michael Escobedo

Pancake Skank –  Savannah Rodgers

The Callback – Sophie Hood

The Farm – Cate McLennan


Patience of Vultures – Greg Sisco

People of Merrit – Adam Pottle

The Shame Game – Greg Sisco

Rise of the Gulon – Matt Wildash

Left Of The Devil – Stephen Anderson

Bartleby Grimm’s Paranormal Elimination Service – Dan Kiely

Kelipot – Seth Nesenholtz

The Coldest Horizon – Jeffrey Howe

Throwback – Rachel Woolley

Resurrection Girl and the Curse of the Wendigo – Nathan Ludwig

The Caul – Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein

The Devil’s Gun – James Christopher

Residual – Tyler Christensen


The Bad Man

Skeletons in the Closet


The Night Sitter

Book of Monsters

Maniac 4k

Confessions of a Serial Killer

The Head

Never Hike Alone

The Field Guide to Evil


The Final Interview

Kill Ben Lyk


Be My Cat: A Film For Anne

The LaPlace’s Demon



Haven’s End

Dark Iris


Beats of Rage

Camp Death III in 2D!


La Puta es Ciega

More Blood!


Killing Giggles

The Unbearing

Let’s Play

Amy’s in the Freezer

One Hundred Thousand


Apartment 402



Vampiras Satanicas II: The Death Bunny

42 Counts



Syphvania Grove

Rites of Vengeance

The Scarlet Vultures

Music Lesson

Thousand-Legged Terror

BFF Girls

Gut Punched




Bathroom Troll

Don’t Drink the Water

The After Party


Here There Be Monsters

Don’t Look Into Their Eyes


El Cuco is Hungry






All You Can Carry

Made You Look

The Desolation Prize

Doggy See Evil


Goodbye Old Friend

There’s a Monster Behind You



Ding Dong

Oscar’s Bell

Red Mosquito

Goodnight Gracie




House Guests

The Last Seance



The Bloody Ballad of Squirt

The Chains

One Dark Night


Midnight Delivery

I Beat It

Mama’s Boy

Alien Death Fuck

Hell of a Day


The Dark Ward

Mystery Box




The Noise of the Light

Short Leash


Where’s Violet

Tutu Grande


Lady Hunters


Headless Swans

A Death Story Called Girl

Dead Cool

You’ll Only Have Each Other


The Box


Witch’s Milk

Post Mortem Mary



They Eat Your Teeth

They Wait for Us




The Hex Dungeon

I Am Not a Monster

Gentlewoman’s Guide to Dom.

Blood Highway

Sock Monster

The Monster Within

Viral Blood

No Monkey




The Jerry Show

Proceeds of Crime


Mother Fucker


Night Terrors

The Thang




Tears of Apollo


The Mare

Mother Rabbit


Human Resources

Blood and Moonlight

Suicide Note

Enjoy the View



The Things We Left Behind

I Am the Doorway


The Borrower

Below the Trees

The Sewing Circle

The Choice

What Comes Out

Beyond Repair


Hell to Pay

Who’s There


Down the Hatchet

The Green Lady

Not From Around Here


The Cat

House of Hell


Cry Baby Bridge



The Party’s Over

A Thing of Dreams

Mother of a Sacred Lamb


What Metal Girls are Into

My First Time




Jingle Hell

Arret Pipi



Cabin Killer

American Undead

The Thing about Beecher’s Gate


Best of Me



Netflix and Chill

Attack of Potato Clock




Heavy Flow

Sell Your Body

The Infection

Blood Sisters

Shit … They’re All Vampires


There’s One Inside the House

Jennifer Titus Accompanies Premiere to Nightmares Film Festival

Actress Jennifer Titus has never been to a horror film festival. Hell, she’s never been to Columbus, but she’s all set to accompany her new film and enjoy Nightmares Film Festival this weekend.

Titus stars as Ashley, a serial killer’s neighbor with the skills to take care of herself in Tom Holland’s newest Rock, Paper, Dead. The film, which has garnered several festival nominations, will make its world premiere at Nightmares.

A longtime horror fan, Titus was thrilled to be offered a role in the film penned by Friday the 13th creator Victor Miller.

“My very first horror film was Friday the 13th,” she says. “Honestly, I was so honored to be reading this. And it was a page-turner. When I met Victor Miller, he was such a real, down to earth guy and such a calm, beautiful soul. And I thought, I would be honored to do this.”

Acting was not exactly her first career choice.

“When I was about 6 or 7, my grandfather asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she remembers. “I said I wanted to be a professional figure skater, a doctor and a movie star. He told me, ‘Well I have no doubt you will do all three.’”

He was right.

A figure skater throughout her childhood, Titus turned professional at 18, touring the country and the world with ice shows. Eventually, she returned to school, earning a degree from UC San Diego in science and theater, then moving on to medical school.

“Toward my last year I really missed acting,” she says. “I just wasn’t getting that creative fulfillment in medical school, so when I graduated I got right back into acting.”

But her medical degree came in handy.

“I got into a situation where I was acting and they needed a doctor for an emergency,” she says. “We were actually in the jungle and there was a guy who had a bamboo stake driven into his leg underneath his muscle. I jumped right in and did field medicine surgery on the guy and I ended up saving his leg – bamboo is very toxic. When I visited him about three days later, about 30 people there to meet me and thank me. It was so rewarding I just thought to myself, I need to go back, get licensed.”

Titus returned to medicine, completed her residency, passed the board exam, got licensed and returned to acting.

“I always knew I wanted to do these things,” she laughs. “It’s not like I was confused and I was career jumping. I was just knocking them off the list.”

Titus sees a connection among the professions.

“When I was little, I was always interested in blood and guts,” she says. “Honestly, that’s one of the things I always loved about medicine. It never was scary to me or gross to me, it always fascinated me.”

Titus says her character in Rock, Paper, Dead—a black belt in karate—was the ideal role for her.

“My best friend and I, every Saturday night, would go down to the video store and rent one to two horror films. We’d get under the covers, cover our faces with pillows and squeal. That went on for years.”

“I specifically remember Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master,” she says. “The main character was a girl that took on all the powers of her friends who were killed off by Freddy Krueger. She became just a ninja master by the end. And I thought, oh my gosh, that is just the coolest character I have ever seen in all these horror films. I thought, what a great example, finally, of a strong female who can take this guy on. And when I got this script for Rock, Paper, Dead, I thought, oh my gosh, it’s the dream master. I have to do it. It’s so cool.”

Nighmares Film Festival runs from Thursday, October 19 through Sunday, October 22.

Rock, Paper, Dead, which makes its world premiere this Saturday, October 21 at 8pm, is nominated in the categories of Best Thriller Feature and Best Screenplay Feature.

For tickets and showtimes visit gatewayfilmcenter.org

Nightmares Film Fest Unveils “Early 13”

For filmmakers and fans alike, Nightmares Film Festival (Oct. 19 to 22) is making the number 13 lucky again.

The renowned genre and horror festival, watched by critics and ranked first on FilmFreeway by filmmakers, today revealed the first thirteen films and screenplays to be included in its 2017 worldwide program of “#BetterHorror.”

The dazzling list includes feature-film world premieres, a 3D feature, shorts from the director of Turkish horror feature Baskin and a Dr. Who writer, and a horror screenplay by a poet laureate finalist from Michigan.

“We are tradition-rich at Nightmares, and this is one we’re always excited about,” said NFF Co-founder and Programmer Jason Tostevin. “Each year we unveil thirteen early selections as a way to give Nightmares attendees a taste of the program we’re building to present in October.”

The 2017 Early 13 is composed of three features, eight shorts and two screenplays. Highlights include:

  • NFF’s first-ever 3D feature presentation, Found Footage 3D, produced by Texas Chainsaw Massacre co-creator Kim Henkel.
  • The world premiere of controversial feature Flesh of the Void,The Ring video, if it were released on the Deep Web.”
  • One of the first-ever screenings of horror comedy short Blood Shed, from director James Moran (Cockneys Vs. Zombies, Dr. Who).
  • A rare screening of Can Evrenol’s (Baskin) early short, To My Mother and Father.

“We’re particularly proud of the diversity represented by the selections,” which include women, people of color, international and homegrown filmmakers, said co-founder Chris Hamel. “The horror community is about inclusion, and for us, that means making sure we include all kinds of voices.”

Nightmares Film Festival is held every October in Columbus, Ohio at the world-renowned Gateway Film Center, named a top 20 North American art house by Sundance. There, one of the last dedicated movie projectionist teams ensures every Nightmares film looks and sounds its best as exuberant fans – affectionately called “The Sleepless” for marathoning the program – mingle with filmmakers from around the world.

Both VIP and festival passes for Nightmares will become available on August 13 on the Gateway Film Center website, www.GatewayFilmCenter.org.



  • WORLD PREMIERE: Flesh of the Void, midnight feature, directed by James Quinn, NFF Best Midnight Short winner in 2016.
  • Found Footage 3D, horror feature, directed by Steven DeGennaro and produced by Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Kim Henkel – will be presented in 3D at NFF 17.
  • WORLD PREMIERE Bong of the Living Dead, horror feature, directed by Columbus-based Max Groah and four years in the making.


  • To My Mother and Father, horror short; an early, rarely-screened short by Baskin director Can Evrenol.
  • Dickeaters, midnight short, directed by Aaron Immediato.
  • The Cure, midnight short, directed by Slamdance winner and Columbus-based filmmaker Mike Olenick.
  • Blood Shed, horror comedy short, directed by James Moran (Cockneys vs. Zombies, Dr. Who) and co-written by Cat Davies (Connie).
  • La Sirena, thriller short, directed by Columbian filmmaker Rosita Lama Muvdi.
  • Creswick, thriller short, directed by Australian-Japanese filmmaker Natalie Erika James.
  • Your Date Is Here, horror short, directed by Todd Spence and Zak White.
  • The Naughty List, horror comedy short, directed by Paul Campion (The Devil’s Rock) and adapted from the story by best-selling horror novelist Brian Keene (The Rising).


  • The Knife Association, feature screenplay by Ron Riekki, finalist for Poet Laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
  • The Wood, short screenplay, written by B. Maddox.

Hope Madden and George Wolf are thrilled to be part of the judging panel for Nightmares Film Festival, a nationally-renowned horror and genre film festival dedicated to inspiring horror filmmakers and promoting #BetterHorror. Its 2017 edition will be held Oct. 19 to 22 in Columbus, Ohio at the celebrated Gateway Film Center.