BIjou Arts Cinema, the venue of last year’s 72 hour Horror Film Competition
The lights go out on an empty theater out at the BIjou Arts Cinema, the venue of last year’s 72 hour Horror Film Competition. Photo by Laura Newman / theTorch

Hundreds of horror movie enthusiasts and amateur filmmakers found shelter from the stormy Halloween night in the Hult Center. They clustered together, many in costume, buzzing with excitement for the viewing and closing ceremonies of the third annual 72 Hour Horror Film Competition.

Of the 57 registered, only 40 short films were shown in the Soreng theater that evening. Inside, visitors were given a piece of paper with the list of the tiny horrors they were about to witness. These acted as ballots, which were gathered at the end of the viewing and tallied for the Audience Choice Award. The jury prize was chosen by board members of the Eugene Film Society and several instructors at Lane.

“It’s really about ingenuity, creative thinking and how to generate an effect in your audience,” Joshua Purvis, co-founder of EFS said. “That doesn’t necessarily require you to have fancy equipment or a lot of production experience. More so how to tell a story and [how to] get a reaction from your audience.”

At the end of the evening, the votes were in. “Phobophobia” by Owen Garrity won the jury award. The film depicted a repetitious scene in which a girl sleeping at a dining room table is awakened multiple times by her cell phone. Each time she wakes, she is confronted by a nightmarish scene. The title in itself means the fear of phobias.

“It was more unique and unusual than the other films given to us,” Kate Sullivan, Lane English instructor and judge, said to the crowd.

“Glorious” by Sean Sisson from Portland won the audience award. This film is a cross between a black and white arthouse film and a warning against bullying. All entries, regardless of final placement, received constructive feedback from the judges and film experts.

The competition has come from humble roots; its first screenings were on the dance floor at Blairally Vintage Arcade to a crowd of less than fifty participants and some very irritated bar patrons. The second year’s venue landed at the Bijou Arts Cinema with over 30 groups participating, but the building was not big enough to facilitate this year. The level of filmmaking, diversity of the participants and evolved subject matter have grown immensely since the competition’s founding.

“[There is] a group of people between 18 to 35 or 40, who are organized as film artists whereas before it really wasn’t,” Purvis said. “It was a 45 or older crowd.”

All the films are available to view through Eugene Film Society’s YouTube page.

Behind the scenes on the set of “Sweet Dreams,” a production by Lane students, directed by Matt Pryor.

Note: Matt Pryor is a Multimedia Producer at The Torch