There’s a wonderful overlap of goings-on in the city this week, as New Orleans Film Fest is descending upon us just as we approach Halloween. There are hundreds of titles screening all over the city for NOFF and we plan to cover at least a dozen or so of all types and shapes and genres for the site in the coming weeks. For the purposes of keeping our weekly Now Playing feature spooky all October, I’m only going to highlight a few horror-related NOFF titles here, so you can work the festival into your regular Halloween-season movie binging. Happy hauntings!
Spooky Movies Screening at New Orleans Film Fest
Pig Film – A vision of a post-Apocalyptic hellscape that accentuates its microbudget production values with Eraserhead-quality industrial grime, set on a rust-coated hog farm. Of the few Halloween-adjacent selections I found in NOFF’s lineup, this one appears to fall closest to pure horror. Pig Film is screening (for free!) in its US Premiere at the The Advocate’s headquarters Sunday 10/21, 4:15pm, and at the Contemporary Arts Center Tuesday 10/23, 3:45pm.
Empty Metal – Another psychedelic dystopian nightmare, this time about a punk band that gets recruited by a violent, revolutionary militia of gun-toting weirdos. Early descriptions of the film position its aesthetic somewhere between Green Room & Born in Flames, a combo that easily has me on the hook. Empty Metal is screening at The Advocate’s Headquarters Saturday 10/20, 8:30pm, and Tuesday 10/23, 3:45 pm.
Chained for Life – This one’s inclusion is a bit of a cheat, as it’s clearly a drama, not a horror film. However, it’s a drama that’s reported to explore the way horror cinema has historically exploited & objectified disabled & disfigured performers on the screen, with particular connections to Under the Skin and Tod Browning’s Freaks (even borrowing its title from a thriller starring Freaks-standouts The Hilton Sisters). Chained for Life is screening (for free!) at the Contemporary Arts Center Thursday 10/18, 3:00pm, and at The Advocate’s headquarters Sunday 10/21, 9:00pm.
The “Late Night” Shorts Program – I’m going to try my best to attend more short-film programs this year, as it’s a branch of the film fest experience I usually miss out on. The “Late Night” Shorts program seems to lean closer to Halloween-adjacent content more than most of the other packages, including films about nervous breakdowns, murderous cheerleaders, unicorn-eating dinosaurs, and zombie-like gentrification invasions. The “Late Night” Shorts are screening at the Contemporary Arts Center 10/19, 9:00pm, and at The Advocate’s headquarters Tuesday 10/23, 8:15pm.
Spooky Movies Screening Elsewhere
Halloween (2018) – 40 years (!!!!) after the John Carpenter original helped Shape the early stirrings of the slasher genre, this timeline-resetting sequel promises to return the series back to its grounded, horrifying roots. The early buzz is strong, the creative team (fronted by David Gordon Green & Danny McBride, of all people) seems genuinely passionate, Jamie Lee Curtis is back to afford it legitimacy, and it’s the exact right time of the year to see this kind of thing big & loud with a first-weekend crowd. Hell yeah.
Venom – A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.
Bad Times at the El Royale – Six whole years ago, Drew Goddard’s debut feature Cabin in the Woods brought the meta-horror of Wes Craven works like New Nightmare & Scream to a new level of comedic what-the-fuckery. His only credits as a director since have been a couple (excellent) episodes of The Good Place, so this twisty, star-studded neo-noir follow-up feature is much-anticipated (and is supported by one of the year’s best trailers).
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – I didn’t expect to love 2015’s Goosebumps movie nearly as much as I did, but it ended up excelling as a children’s primer for life-long horror fandom, like a Monster Squad update for a generation raised on CGI. I’m going into this sequel with a much higher level of anticipation, for better or for worse.