Spooky season isn't over yet — at least not in St. John's

Film collective Grind Mind is a group of longtime friends who got their start in 2017 when they decided to make a short horror film for each month of the year. (Submitted by Grind Mind - image credit)
Film collective Grind Mind is a group of longtime friends who got their start in 2017 when they decided to make a short horror film for each month of the year. (Submitted by Grind Mind - image credit)

Shane Mills is all about extending the spooky season into November.

Mills is a founding member of the film collective Grind Mind, a group of longtime friends who got their start in 2017 when they made a pact to create a short horror film for each month of the year.

Now they've evolved into full-on creative film professionals and film festival organizers.

The festival they helped to launch is called Fogfest, a celebration of horror running this weekend, now in its second year.

"Last year was our soft launch, and we had a single night of screenings, but now we've got three days of festival programming," said Mills.

"We've got a launch party on Friday at Erin's Pub, where we'll release our Fogfest beer, horror trivia, music video screenings and a special performance by St. John's surf rockers the Satans. Then screenings of local and international films on Saturday and more screenings and a finale show by the incredible Phlegm Fatales, a very creative horror-drag collective that we love."

Submitted by Shane Mills
Submitted by Shane Mills

Drag show horror

That group is the Phlegm Fatales, a St. John's-based, non-binary drag collective featuring Irma Gerd, \garbagefile (known as "backslash garbagefile"), Eda Kumquat, Liezel Hues, Madame Daddy, Wych Hazel and Amanita 95.

They put on creative musical shows that incorporate clowning, dancing, special effects, props, elaborate costumes, campy humour, gore and improv.

Sunday's show is called Hello Flesh!, and while none of the members would share spoilers, \garbagefile — a locally celebrated drag artist — promised it would be gooey, fun, and degenerate.

"A Phlegm show is fascinating because all of our members have a variety of reference points and skill sets," said \garbagefile. "I take inspiration from slithery wormy creatures, alien designs, cephalopods and body horror, and I'm skilled with costumes, props, and designs. But we have dancers and comedians too. Everyone collaborates, and all that gets incorporated into an extraordinary experience."

Eda Kumquat, a member of the Phlegms since the beginning, agrees the creative collaboration makes a Phlegm show unique.

"Everyone might come to a planning session with a character, costume, or idea, and then we try to fit it into a narrative that lets everyone shine. Creating these shows is a challenge, but it's a challenge we rise to every time."

Submitted by Jennie Williams
Submitted by Jennie Williams

Local films

A slew of local films include Thumbs Up by director Mike Simms, a short revolving around a high-strung reporter tracking a rampaging murderer. Simms, who works for the CBC as a video producer, made the movie on Cabot Street in St. John's with practically zero budget.

There's also Nalujuk Night, directed by Jennie Williams. It's a short horror film about an exhilarating and sometimes terrifying Nunatsiavut tradition.

The horror genre occasionally leads to underdog film stories, where independent horror makers find themselves bringing in piles of cash. The Blair Witch Project was shot for about $60,000 and brought in nearly $250 million. Paranormal Activity cost $15,000 to make, grossed over $100 million and touched off a horror movie franchise.

Fogfest features the Atlantic Canadian debut of what could be the most recent underdog story — Terrifier 2, a slasher film about a demonic clown wreaking havoc on a bunch of Halloween-loving teens. It's about to break $10 million at the box office — a miracle when you consider the budget was around $250,000.

Fogfest kicks off Friday and runs through to Sunday.

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