Sixth Hammond Horror Fest offers events old and new

Hammond Horror Fest will once again offer a showcase of alternative art this weekend, Oct. 14-15, in celebration of Halloween.

The annual art exhibition, now in its sixth year, features a variety of events each October. This year’s festival will focus on the inaugural 48-hour film festival and the returning 24-hour theater event.

“I think this year’s going to be bigger and better than ever,” said James Winter, co-founder of Hammond Horror Fest and associate professor of theater at Southeastern. “I’m really excited about this 48-hour film festival. It’s really amazing what these teams did in 48 hours.”

The film festival, part of the Macabre Showcase taking place Friday evening, features the work of teams who had only 48 hours to produce a film.

“These films will not be for children,” said Tara Bennett, Hammond Horror Fest’s publicist. “They are definitely not of the ‘Casper’ variety.”

Bennett said that the criteria for the horror film competition required teams to insert a given line of dialogue and to implement a designated prop at some point in the movies.

Hammond Horror Fest, co-founded by Winter and Taylor McLellan, is a response to Fanfare, the Columbia Theatre’s fall art showcase of performances and lectures. According to Winter, he and McLellan both like Halloween and wanted to provide something specifically geared toward the college crowd.

“I don’t know of anything else like this in the immediate area,” he said.

Hammond Horror Fest, usually a three-night event, will only take place over two nights this year after changes to the schedule. Winter said many of the normal festival participants will not be able to take part this year due to the recent historic floods in Louisiana. This in turn led to the cancellation of the zombie fashion show and to the combining of the film festival with the masquerade dance.

The horror festival’s 24-hour theater event will remain. This year’s theater event, “7 Tales from the Labyrinth,” draws inspiration from Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” in honor of the film’s 30th anniversary.

The annual festival is a nonprofit and donates proceeds to the American Cancer Society. According to Bennett, the zombie walk, which the festival group holds at Hot August Night, is one of its biggest promotional efforts.

“I would love to see even more people talking about us,” Bennett said of Hammond Horror Fest’s future. “See what we’re about. Seeing is believing.”

Audiences will have a chance to see the 48-hour film festival Friday night from 6-11 p.m. at the Gnarly Barley Brewery and the 24-hour theater event Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Pottle Auditorium.

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