Saturday, October 20, 2018

Twin Cities Horror Fest VII: Why We STILL Love TCHF

Friends, we love the Twin Cities Horror Fest, which runs October 25 through November 4 at the Southern Theater. The TCHF, now in its seventh year, combines two of our very favorite things: horror and theater.

But MN Theater Love, you ask, what if I don't like 'horror'? Should I still support this theater festival with my valuable theatergoing time and money? YES. Yes, you should.

Andrea Subisatti covers this very subject in her Editor's Note in the current issue of Rue Morgue magazine:
"Even for those of us who celebrate Halloween all year long, we have to admit that there's something magical about seeing the extra candy aisles and pumpkin bins at the grocery store. It feels like the one time of the year where the rest of the world realizes what we horror fans have been saying all along -- that there's something liberating, cathartic and just plain fun in indulging your dark side and confronting the things that go bump in the night."
Live theater is an experience like no other. It creates immediacy, catharsis and emotional resonance. Horror does the same. Combine the two, and add in shows and performances by the Twin Cities' most talented theater artists, and you get magic. The producers of the TCHF also have a few things to say about why they do horror:
"Depicting horror also is an artistic challenge. Every production hinges on its script, acting, and technical elements, but the stakes are higher when producers are trying to elicit the raw, extreme, and personal reactions associated with fear. The producers of the TCHF thrive on that challenge."
There is literally something for everyone at the TCHF. As John Carpenter once said, "Horror is a reaction, not a genre." In the past, shows have ranged from suspenseful and chilling, shocking and gory, socially conscious and tension-breakingly funny. This year, you have shows featuring music, dance, comedy, short films, historical legends, serial killers, witchcraft and monsters of the deep. 

Here's a rundown of the shows at the Twin Cities Horror Festival VII. Short (very short) descriptions are from the TCHF website. Here's the full TCHF Schedule. (Check out our short reviews here.)

The Bathtub Girls by The ColdHarts & Kairos Collective

In Short: "Created and performed by Kairos Collective from Toronto, Ontario, "The Bathtub Girls" is a fiction inspired by the first known case of sibling matricide in Canada. Two sisters, egged on by their friends, drown their mother in the bathtub of their family home. The play examines how three immigrants’ determination to rapidly assimilate into a Canadian suburb led to the destruction of their family, and the rebuilding of the girls’ lives."

Why We're Excited: Though Kairos Collective is new to us, The ColdHarts and their unique (and humorous) musical takes on gothic tales are longtime favorites. Also, it's a very intriguing story. 

Book of Shadows II
Book of Shadows II by Erin Sheppard Presents

In Short: "Book of Shadows II revisits the underlying theme of witchcraft from the first Book of Shadows, exploring more facets of magic through dance and storytelling. Dances delve into dark magic and the horrors that await when tampering with the unknown. Taj Ruler casts more delightful spells written as a young tween witch, which are interspersed between dances. Sometimes magic is the only way to get what you truly want."

Why We're Excited: Erin Sheppard Presents is always on our don't-miss list. As we said about TCHF V's Book of Shadows: "The dances are beautiful, so gorgeously done, with simple costumes and wonderful lighting, and they tell simple but effective stories." And her music choices are amazing.

A Confederate Widow in Hell by Breaker/Fixer Productions

In Short: "After 150 years of waiting, a widow has returned to resolve her eternal fate. Armored in a full mourning gown, armed with musical instruments and mementos from her past life, she faces the legacy of the South. Be haunted by a disturbing story of ghostly possessions and prophetic visions in this irreverent dramedy."

Why We're Excited: Musical and ghostly, but also a dramedy? Intriguing. 
Rev. Matt's Monster Science

The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea - by Monster Science Productions

In Short: "Rev. Matt’s infotational talks return! Get the historical background, comedy jokes, and PowerPoint that you need about the monsters we create and the fears they embody. This year, the first two dates will feature a talk about Old Nick, the First Among the Fallen, the history of the Christian Satan himself. And the last three will be a piece about sirens, krakens, Great Cthulhu, and other horrors of the deep blue sea!"

Why We're Excited: Last year, Rev. Matt was completely new to us, but we were immediately charmed by his unique blend of deadpan humor and obsessive love of monsters. We wrote: "Accompanied by some judicious use of Powerpoint and stellar comic timing, this show not only makes you laugh but you actually learn something (in spite of yourself)." See both of his shows.

Dream County by LandmanLand

In Short: "Some people recall watching Cousin Clem's Magical Couch Fort every Saturday morning as kids. Others have never seen an episode, claiming the tragic series finale is nothing but urban myth. Somewhere between real and imaginary lies Dream County, a whimsical world where Cousin Clem would hide away in. We present the finale as it supposedly happened."

Why We're Excited: Cause it sounds WEIRD AF. Awesome!

Greenway by Tom Reed

In Short: "Late on a crisp fall night, a bike commuter’s worst nightmare comes true. Eva is riding alone on the Greenway bike path - a dark trench lit only by her bike light - and something unfriendly starts following her. And it's catching up. And she can’t pedal any faster. And her light just died."

Why We're Excited: Though he's been a long-time Minnesota Fringe Festival favorite (our friend Cherry and Spoon is a big fan), this is Tom Reed's first show in the TCHF. Although he's usually known for humor, Greenway sounds deliciously creepy and familiar to anyone who's raced the shadows home on their bike.

Home (Clearly.)
HOME by Dangerous Productions

In Short: "Based on true stories from the playwright’s childhood, HOME is a brutal tapestry of the perversion of the American dream, and what people will do when boredom becomes too much. Angela and her family are new citizens in a small Wisconsin city. They are outsiders, assaulted on all sides by the apathy-fueled violence of the status quo. Will they survive with their minds intact or succumb to the temptation of exciting depravity? From the producers of FRANKENSTEIN and SKIN, HOME asks- how well do you really know your neighbor?"

Why We're Excited: Dangerous Productions has done some very intriguing shows in past TCHFs (Skin, Senseless) and Home is likely to be one of the gorier, more visceral entries in the Festival.

Horror Show Hot Dog Short Film Festival by Horror Show Hot Dog

In Short: "These shorts cut terror to the bone, delivering bite-size versions of horror movie scares. This year we’ve curated films from 12 different countries, across all subgenres of horror, from black comedy to animation. Each night’s programming is completely unique – come and vote for the audience favorite award. Who will win the Golden Frankfurter? See below for each night's programming."

Why We're Excited: Thanks to Horror Show Hot Dog (and their podcast), we have become huge fans of the short horror film. If my math is correct, you could conceivably see 33 short horror films if you attend all five of their productions. FUN! 

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Rogues Gallery Arts

In Short: "Based on the classic American horror story by Washington Irving. In the old town of Sleepy Hollow, Katrina Van Tassel meets the new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane. He desires her hand, but several obstacles stand against their pairing including local ruffian, Brom Bones, and the ghostly spectre of a Headless Horseman rumored to reside in the area."

Why We're Excited: Rogues Gallery Arts show in TCHF VI, Intuition and the Mantis, was one of last year's standouts and hands-down, the most chilling show in the Festival. We're excited to see what this talented group does with Washington Irving's classic tale. Plus, it's an excuse to share our favorite childhood cartoon song

A Morbid History of Sons & Daughters
A Morbid History of Sons & Daughters by The Vincent Hovis Experience

In Short: "There's a sickness in our blood. A desire for something sinister that is passed down from generation to generation. An impulse that turns into a want that turns into a need. You are cordially invited to The Ritual. Five people gather to tell interweaving tales of tendencies they have spent a lifetime trying to contain. But sometimes, we all need a little release. And nothing can make you feel more at home than seeing the light drain from a person's eyes."

Why We're Excited: An original musical from amazing local talents Leslie Vincent and composer Keith Hovis? Yes, please. 

St. Kilda by Jody Christopherson

In Short: "After the death of her Grandmother, an American woman travels to an abandoned island off the coast of Scotland and unearths a dark family secret. St. Kilda is a new horror play/theatrical mono-concert written and performed in near darkness by New York-based award winning theater artist Jody Christopherson."

Why We're Excited: Spooky Scottish songs? Yes, please.

But wait there's MORE! Two special events will also be available during the run of TCHF:

Second Skin
Second Skin by Playable Artworks

In Short: Erin Olson is a fourth generation medium, a person who talks to spirits. Unfortunately, her recent death has hindered her ability to work. Now she needs an assistant, a conduit to the living world. You're invited to interview for this position. Come along and try your hand at contacting the spirit realm, but know that whether or not the spirits can be put to rest is up to you. This audio-driven, site-specific adventure for a single audience member takes you around the West Bank neighborhood, and is powered by an interactive app. NOTE: You must book your ticket in advance for this experience. No tickets will be available at the door."

Funerals For Life by Amica & Hecate

In Short: "Two madcap morticians tend to your corpse in an oddly relaxing “living-embalming session,” and then prop up your body for a "death photo." This delightfully goth experience is like none you’ve ever heard of. Ever wonder what your time at the morgue will be like? Now you can unwind on a comfy table and find out... We'll take good care of you. ​Reservations available in the lobby. "

Can't get enough horror theater? Read about past Twin Cities Horror Festivals here:

And go see something SPOOKY!! WE DARE YOU.

Gratuitous Tim Curry in It photo