Hundreds horrified by Hammond Horror Festival

 Jessica Baronich played the queen of the locusts in the Saturday performance. Photo taken by Rebecca Fife.

Jessica Baronich played the queen of the locusts in the Saturday performance. Photo taken by Rebecca Fife.

Last week, hundreds came out to celebrate the arts for the 3rd Annual Hammond Horror Festival. The three-day festival included a Macabre Masquerade Ball, a Freaky Film Night and a theatre performance titled “7 Signs of the Apocalypse.”

Taylor McLellan and James Winter founded the festival in 2011.  Winter said, “Taylor and I have always had a vision that the Hammond horror fest is an incorporation of as many of the arts as possible to celebrate the macabre and the Halloween season.”

The festival kicked off Thursday, Oct. 24 with a Macabre Masquerade Ball at the Hammond Regional Arts Center. Many attended dressed in formal attire and masks, and some incorporated the macabre theme into their garb. Upon entrance, guests were given a raffle ticket for a chance to win various prizes. Guests also had an opportunity to participate in a tarot card reading or purchase horror-inspired artwork.

In addition to a DJ, entertainment included a performance by LA LA Tribal Belly Dancing Troupe and a 7 Signs of the Apocalypse Fashion Show. Many Southeastern students and local designers were featured in the show. Attendee Christopher Bass said, “I went to the ball last year, and it was awesome. But this year was even better. Especially the fashion show. All the designers did amazing work.”

The Freaky Film Night was held the following night in the Pottle Building Annex. An independent horror film and the 1968 horror classic “Night of the Living Dead” were shown by projector. This event was new to the festival line-up. “People seemed to enjoy it,” Winter said. “Film is definitely something we want to continue to incorporate in the horror festival. Whether it’s always going to be a film night—I don’t know yet.”

Lydia Cabellero and Quinn Kennedy pose for a picture. Kennedy modeled “The Sky is Raining Fire” in the 7 Signs of the Apocalypse fashion show. Photo taken by Lynsey Manly.

Lydia Cabellero and Quinn Kennedy pose for a picture. Kennedy modeled “The Sky is Raining Fire” in the 7 Signs of the Apocalypse fashion show. Photo taken by Lynsey Manly.

Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theater Honors Society, hosted the final event of the festival. The show was performed in the Vonnie Borden Theatre at 8 PM Saturday night. However, this event actually began 24 hours previously when six playwrights received photos of actors and a sign of the apocalypse to use as inspiration for a 10-minute scene. The entire show was written, memorized, directed, staged with all make-up, costume and lighting components and performed within a 24-hour period.

Bass was also an actor in the festival and said, “This was only my second time acting ever. It was pretty stressful memorizing my lines in such a short period of time. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast or director.”

About 40 people were involved in creating this show that featured zombies, fake blood, magic potions and divine beings, to name a few.  Audience member Ross Tomko said, “I thought the show was entertainingly scary. I’ll definitely return for next year’s show.”

Winter was pleased with the 3rd Annual Hammond Horror Festival and said, “I think from a technical vantage point, and an organizational vantage point, and even overall from an execution vantage point this year was the strongest of the three years. Attendance was down compared at least to last year. We were competing homecomings, and we’ll just have to do better finding a week in October that’s not going to have as much competition.”

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