Time was, you could pick up a video camera, a bottle of Karo syrup, get your friends together and shoot your own horror movie, and there was a good chance you could rent that same movie a few months later from the local mom n’ pop VHS store. The 80s were a golden period of DIY genre auteurism, as the VHS boom brought us a plethora of shot-on-video horror from all across the country, for the first time giving the average Joe and Jill outside of New York and Cali the opportunity to bring their own strange visions to life and share them with the world. While the period brought us a swath of films from the endearing (BOARDINGHOUSE; VIDEO VIOLENCE) to the unbearable (VIDEO VIOLENCE 2), SOV scholar Richard Mogg (who penned the definitive text on the subject, Analogue Nightmares), argues that by 1995 the boom was over, as the advent of digital tech and the reemergence of big studio horror tamped down the by now antiquated art of VHS horror. Did the twilight of VHS and the SOV horror craze really bring an end to that brand of horror filmmaking, though? What happened to the aspiring microbudget filmmakers of yesteryear and the folks they inspired?
That’s the story behind THE BRILLIANT TERROR, an upcoming documentary that aims to look at the current generation of DIY microbudget horror filmmakers, and how the subgenre has survived and thrived in the 21st century. Directed by Julie Kauffman and Paul Hunt and produced by Lonfall Films, TERROR was shot over the course of the last seven years and follows a disparate group of filmmakers producing everything from low-budget slashers to PG-13 ghost movies to classic-style monster cinema, with a focus on writer/director Mike Lombardo as he shoots, reshoots (and reshoots) his Lovecraftian horror short The Stall.
“THE BRILLIANT TERROR is not only for horror fans, but for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider,” Lonfall says in a press release. “It helps us understand why we all, in some way, need a place to belong — and why that place may well be lying with friends on a cold, dirty bathroom stall floor wrangling (and re-wrangling) bloody, slime-covered tentacles. Speaking to the psycho-entrepreneur in us all, Lombardo says, ‘It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be awesome.'” In addition to following Lombardo, the film also features interviews with horror notables including Mike Gingold (FANGORIA), Heidi Honeycutt (Etheria Film Festival; The Horror Collective), and Laura Moss (the award-winning FRY DAY).
Lonall is currently in the process of submitting TERROR to festivals. Inveterate esoterica lovers that we are, we here at the Daily Grindhouse can’t wait to get a peek at this, and hope that the docu can inspire and influence a whole new generation of DIY filmmakers while giving due attention to those who’re currently flying under the radar. Be sure to keep your eyes on the site for more updates as they become available!