October is the obvious month for horror, which is why Sin City Horror Fest’s first two editions were held in October. But, as the festival organizers learned, they were far from the only entity to put on a horror-movie event that month. “We were competing with literally hundreds,” says SCHF co-founder Drew Marvick. So the third edition of SCHF has moved up a month, to the weekend of September 13. “Since Friday the 13th has now been such an iconic thing, especially in the horror world, we thought that was a fun opportunity to use,” Marvick says. Although current legal issues surrounding Friday the 13th prevent SCHF from showing an official film from the franchise, the festival will showcase recent acclaimed fan film Never Hike Alone, and present its Icon of Horror award to actor Warrington Gillette, who played Jason Voorhees in 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2.
“Friday night is going to be our best kickoff night that we’ve ever had,” Marvick says. “We’re starting off with a bang.” In addition to Never Hike Alone, Friday will feature a rough-cut premiere of local anthology film The 12 Deaths of Christmas, in which various Vegas filmmakers tackle holiday-themed horror. Marvick’s own wraparound segment and a couple of the individual pieces aren’t yet finished, but the screening gives the local film community a chance to celebrate its hard work. Marvick expects the movie to be completed and released in time for the holidays.
Two other local filmmakers will bring their feature films to SCHF—Brandon Christensen’s Z and Michael Keene’s The Head. Christensen (whose Still/Born played SCHF in 2017) has become a rising indie-horror star, and Z features recognizable character actors like Keegan Connor Tracy and Stephen McHattie. Although the movie wasn’t shot locally, Christensen still has a strong Vegas base. “This will be the first time that even some of his family here will be able to see it on the big screen,” Marvick says.
The Head, a tribute to low-budget ’80s horror that was shot on actual VHS, is an entirely local production, and Keene and Marvick will join host David Rosen of the Piecing It Together movie podcast for a live taping after the screening. (Disclosure: I’ll also be participating in the podcast.)
Other festival highlights include the Nevada premiere of Straight Edge Kegger, which Marvick calls “a really cool punk rock home-invasion feature,” a trivia event hosted by Horror Fiends Trivia, and sponsorship from popular YouTube channel Kings of Horror, which has the opportunity to distribute SCHF selections. “We have some really cool indie horror films playing, stuff that you won’t be able to see for a while,” Marvick says. “There’s no other way for you to watch them other than to come to a film festival.”
Sin City Horror Fest September 13-15, $10-$30. Brenden Theatres at the Palms. sincityhorrorfest.com.