A killer who stalks with a rideshare app. Canvases painted with blood. A safe space for supernatural creatures. King Arthur and his knights fighting a pack of vampires.
These are just a few – out of dozens – of plot summaries from the short films entered into the Eugene Film Society’s 6th Annual 72-Hour Horror Film Competition. A record 39 teams competed this year, but only 25 of them – including several teams from the Lane Community College Media Arts program and the University of Oregon’s Cinema Studies department – made the final deadline to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.
As in the past, competitors were challenged to create a three-minute horror film from scratch over a 72-hour period. The filmmakers were given complete creative freedom over their movies, but every entry had to include one prop – this year, a paintbrush – and one line of dialogue – “Just try to understand what we’re dealing with here. Don’t underestimate it.”
After a hectic weekend of writing, designing, costuming, filming and editing their movies, competitors and horror fans gathered at LCC’s Raggozino Hall for a screening and award-ceremony. On the appropriately dark and rainy night of Oct. 28, well over 100 people packed into the performance hall for the macabre marathon.
Almost every subgenre of horror was featured in the competition, from psychological thrillers like “Elegy” and “Carousel” to the absurdly gory “Paintbrush.” There were also several short, crowd-pleasing spoofs like “Supernatural Safe Space” and “The Woes of Painting With Satan,” the latter of which took home a prize for Best Hair and Makeup.
The most chilling films, at least to the judges, were the ones that used real-world cultural anxieties to amplify their scares. The “Frightening Concept” award went to “Trigger,” a film made by students at Oregon’s Women + Film program, whose protagonist is condemned in media coverage of her self-defense killing of a rapist. “Carousel,” which featured a young woman being stalked by a monster who announces its presence via updates on an Uber-like app, won for Best Cinematography. The Audience Award, decided by the attendees of the screening, went to “Elegy,” a stylish head-trip involving a gruesome hiking injury and a mysterious cabin.
But the biggest award of the night, the Jury Award, went to “Another Missing Person,” created by a team of students from LCC’s Media Arts program. The film stars Alma Goolsby, whose character is being lectured by a friend ahead of a first date with a guy she met on a dating app. The character assuages her friend’s anxieties in a voice-over of a grisly murder on the side of the remote desert freeway – the victim presumably being the character’s date.
The film took home a grand prize of $1134 – it spells “hell” on an upside-down calculator screen – as well as critiques and suggestions from the jury panel, which included LCC instructor Kate Sullivan and Broadway Metro Cinema co-owner Edward Schiessl, both of whom serve on the EFS Board of Directors.
During the competition’s kickoff party on Oct. 18, Schiessl beamed about the participation in this year’s event.