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CALIFORNIA DOMINATES 2008 TABLOID WITCH AWARDS

by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [October 9, 2008]

 


 

[HollywoodInvestigator.com]..Foreign films made a strong showing in 2007, and NYU film school students and graduates were prevalent in 2004 and 2005. But the 2008 Tabloid Witch Awards horror film contest was dominated by entries from California.

Six of ten winners were from the Golden State. All types of horror were received: live action and animated, music videos and avant-garde, features and shorts, budgets big and small, films with and without distribution, films from pros, independents, and students.

Some winning films were from experienced professionals, but three were student films, and others had budgets in the hundreds of dollars.

Filmmakers shouldn't feel bad if they didn't win. Many good films were passed over. A contest is competitive. It's not how good your film is, but whether it's better than some very talented competitors.

The 2008 Premiere Screening will be held at the Santa Monica Public Library, with filmmakers participating in a Q&A, on November 15, 2008. The screening is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations required. First come, first seated.

Here now, are the winners of the 2008 Tabloid Witch Awards.

 

 

* Best Horror Feature: 9 Lives of Mara


How could the Tabloid Witch not love 9 Lives of Mara? The story of a sexy, sinister witch. Or rather, the story of a boy (Robin, played by Bret Loehr) who suspects his stepmother of being a sexy, sinister witch. But is she? Or is it all in Robin's head?

Mara is "supernatural noir" (84 minutes), its tale evoking a blend of Conjure Wife, H.P. Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler.

Ostensibly set in present day California, 9 Lives of Mara exists in a retro world of horror comics, manual typewriters, and smoke-filled offices with linoleum floor tiles and frosted glass windows. No cell phones, TVs, or computers are evident.

As influences, director Balaji K. Kumar cites "the early films of Roman Polanski, and paintings by Caravaggio.and Fuseli. I love Raymond Chandler. I think of Mara as 'fairy tale noir.' "

Kumar and Eric Massey co-wrote the script in a month. "Based on the strength of the screenplay, I and co-producer Jina Panebianco raised funds in a few weeks. Without help from a studio, or rich friends or relatives. Everything was 100% independent."

A few scenes were changed for budgetary reasons. "The shooting schedule was 18 days, which gave me very few second takes."

The cast includes several children and a cat. "It's been a running joke between Jina and me that we were determined to dispel the old adage of 'never work with children or animals,' " says Kumar. "We hired a casting director, and went from there. All were professionals.

"Working with children left little room for error. I only had them a few hours each day, in accordance with SAG rules. This presented obstacles. In one scene, Bret has a conversation with Aspen Payge [Robin's younger sister.] But I had them on separate days, so neither was in the room at the same time."

Mara's Raymond Chandler influence is evident. L.A.'s famous palm trees are visible. Yet surprisingly, Kumar wanted "a more Midwestern 'This Could Be Anywhere' look."

Mara was shot with a Panavision 35mm camera. The documentary footage was shot on 16mm film. "I wanted to stay away from digital," says Kumar, "to give the movie a timeless feel. And it makes the film more attractive to distributors, as practically every low-budget independent is digital nowadays. Film still carries a certain ambiance and look that's impossible to replicate on digital, although this will change as technology improves."

Kumar studied cinematography at UCLA and worked as a storyboard artist, which "helped me be precise with my shot list -- important on a low-budget film." 

9 Lives of Mara is his first feature film. He'd previously shot a 35mm film trailer for his unproduced script, Twelve Twisted Tricks, which won for "Best Trailer, No Movie" at the 4th Golden Trailer Awards.

Co-writer Massey's marketing background helped in "picking the festivals that would likely connect with Mara," says Kumar. "The response has been great, which opened the door to distribution."

Mara's DVD release date is early 2009. Special features include a documentary on the Malleus Maleficarum, the book on witchcraft that the boy uses to investigate his stepmother. "Eric has a deep knowledge on such esoteric, which really helped in the scripting stage," says Kumar.

For more information, see their website.

 

 

* Best Dramatic Horror Short:.Vadata

 

A stranger leaves a puzzle piece outside a writer's door. More pieces follow. The writer never learns who's leaving the pieces, but foolishly, he completes the puzzle. Whereupon, a strange and supernatural event occurs...

Vadata.(11 minutes) is a German film, though it isn't evident because its simple tale has no dialogue. It's what some critics call "pure cinema," relying solely on visuals and sounds to tell a story. Filmmaker Manuel Lebelt creates an eerie and menacing atmosphere -- through photography, lighting, art direction, and sound effects -- that is thick enough to convince viewers in his tale's malevolent supernatural powers.

Lebelt explains that "Vadata" comes from "Vadatajs," a type of Latvian demon. "The Vadatajs make people lose their way, or take the wrong direction on crossroads, and as they do, their souls lose their way too. 'Vadatajs' means something like 'leading to nowhere,' which is what happens to the writer in the film.

 

 

"I wanted to do an old school, mystery horror kind of thing. To abandon the guts 'n gore of many horror films. Which doesn't mean I don't like that kind of movie. But there doesn't have to be a huge, greedy monster, a maniac on the loose, or hordes of rotten zombies lusting for human brains to have a nice, fantastic plot. Quiet ways can scare as well. Sometimes even better.

"And I didn't want dialogue. I wanted to create suspense without direct interaction between actors. So the lonely writer came about. The spiral staircase is a symbol for infinity, the central theme in Vadata. The writer seems to be lonely since the first day of his life, endlessly typing on his old typewriter. The series of envelopes on his threshold seems to have no end. The staircase leads further and further. Nobody knows when the 'bad guy,' dressed clichéd in black, began his evil work, and when he will end. He simply goes upstairs and upstairs, while his victims go down.

 

 

Lebelt cast his film using German online casting portals. Then his first choice was injured doing stuntwork on another production, so Lebelt recruited his second pick, André Ebert. "Retrospectively, André was perfect for the character," says Lebelt. "I love the closeups of his face. He was very companionable, very insightful."

Vadata is Lebelt's directorial debut, and his "diploma project" at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany. The set for the writer's apartment was built in a studio at the university. "The spiral staircase was in a castle ruin," says Lebelt. "It felt like we visited thousands of ruins during the search. Luckily, the commune granted access and was very accommodating."

Vadata was shot by DP Fabian Zenker on a DVCProHD. "At college we didn't have access to film cameras," Lebelt explains, "but we had a Panasonic HVX200, so we tried the DVCProHD and the P2 Memory Card. The camera's chip needs much light -- which we didn't always have -- so some pictures are a bit noisy. Apart from that, I'm thrilled with what we, and especially Fabian, got out of it.

"Post-production was made with FinalCutPro.for editing, After Effects for the FX, and ProTools for sound design."

Screened at nearly 50 international film festivals, Vadata won Best Photography at Orvietocortofest in Orvieto, Italy. It also won Best Film, Best Photography, and the Audience Award at Bornshorts in Gudhjem, Denmark. A German pay TV channel, "13th Street," licensed Vadata for their "Shocking Shorts" film program.

Prof. Dr. Heiner Behring was Vadata's supervising professor. Lebelt graduated in 2007. He is an assistant digital colorist at Scanwerk, a post-production company in Munich. He may be emailed at manuel.lebelt at gmx.de.

 

 

 

 

* Best Comedic Horror Short: Cheerbleeders

 

An unpopular, goth high school boy gains occult powers over the cheerleaders. He then orders the now rabid cheerleaders to attack the football team, then everyone else, so he can take over the high school. His unpopular, goth girl friend decides that things have gone too far -- and she must stop him.

 

 

Cheerbleeders rehashes old stereotypes. The smart, bullied, dark-haired goth kids vs. the blond, bullying football jocks and cheerleaders. Filmmaker Peter Podgursky admits that Cheerbleeders's has an obvious Heathers.influence, among many others. Heathers.editor, Norman Hollyn, was one of his professor's at USC film school, and the two discussed the films "Heatherness."

Although a USC student film, Cheerbleeders has professional production values, and is entertaining and funny. The film was shot on super 16mm film and "finished on HD Cam. The fanciest piece of gear we used was a doorway dolly." Locations included the USC campus, Podgursky and a girlfriend's houses, and a football field in Oxnard, California.

"The big set piece is during a homecoming football game," says Podgursky. "We drove to my old high school, and shot a real homecoming game in Blackfoot, Idaho. We brought my actress with us so we could put her in the crowd shots. Both teams lent me their football gear for the movie. Then we found a lookalike football field in Oxnard to shoot at."

 

 

Podgursky wrote the lead role specifically for Laurel Vail, someone he'd known since age sixteen. "She went to high school in the next town over. We met through district drama competitions."

Lead actor Wyatt Fenner appeared in Podgursky's first short film at USC. "I didn't want to cast him, because he kind of looks like me. In a lot of student films, the main characters look like the filmmakers. It's weird. So I auditioned lots of actors that didn't look like me. Wyatt was friends with a girl I was seeing. She asked me to audition him. I had no intention of casting him, but he was the first guy that had the chops. He was in the acting BFA program at USC, a great program for actors.

"Monique Soltani, who plays the TV reporter, was a TV reporter in Idaho for a while. She auditioned for a short I was producing before I made my own thesis. I thought it would be really fun for her to play herself in Cheerbleeders."

Podgursky has a BA in theater from Idaho State University, and now an MFA in film production from USC. "If you look at the credits of my film, you'll see a list of industry mentors. These guys and gals are my heroes. I'm so grateful they mentored me. I don't think Cheerbleeders would have been nearly as good without their input.

Cheerbleeders has screened at several film festivals. It won Best Short at the 2008 Phoenix Fear Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

* Best Animated Horror Short: The Butterfly Hole

 

The Tabloid Witch receives so many animated horror short films, last year we gave it its own category. This year's winner is the tale of two unicorns. A white unicorn who lives in the Good Kingdom. And a black unicorn who lives in the Bad Kingdom.

The white unicorn plays and frolics with butterflies. The black unicorn zaps them with his horn, which shoots a death ray.

One day, these two unicorns meet.

Filmmaker Joe Fontano says the idea for The Butterfly Hole (5 minutes) came when someone gave him two toy unicorns as a present. Those are the unicorns in the film, which he animated through the stop-motion process.

The Butterfly Hole is beautifully photographed, with colorful set pieces representing each kingdom. In addition to the stop-motion unicorns, Fontano uses other animation techniques to render butterflies, bats, and death rays.

"I own a Cannon GL2, which has still photo functions," says Fontano. "I took roughly 800 pictures to animate together. Other shots, like establishing shots, are simply two of those images key-framed, one atop the other.

"The stop-motion was mixed with something I often do -- I call it 'photoshopmotion' -- for the butterfly and bats, and so on. I drew the image of the butterfly in Photoshop a few times (each image a different position of the wings) and animated the simple loop of wings fluttering. I saved it as a separate file, and brought it into the edit of the final piece, and moved the butterfly around to interact with the animation waiting for it."

The entire film was shot on a small table in Fontano's living room, in a week's time.

The unicorns never speak, though they whiny. Two narrators relate the tale, one for each unicorn. A bubbly Frenchman narrates for the good unicorn. A sinister street thug for the bad unicorn. When the two unicorns meet for the first time, so do their narrators.

The two narrators' voices are strikingly different, and well acted. Remarkably, both narrators are performed by Fontano.

Fontano recently graduated from the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. Despite his talent in animation, most of his experience is in video and filmmaking.

"The Butterfly Hole was created for a class assignment," Fontano explains. "We had to tell a story with still pictures. I hate picture stories. It's like watching the crew behind Curious George try to make a movie. I didn't want my assignment to be an album of photos, so I just took hundreds of photos, and got carried away with the project. The teacher thought it was spectacular."

The Tabloid Witch Awards will be The Butterfly Hole's first public screening.

 

 

 

* Best Avant-Garde Horror Short: Chemtrails: An Investigative Report

 

The Tabloid Witch has long celebrated experimental, underground, avant-garde, and surreal films (or whatever you want to call them). Honorable Mentions were awarded to Slinky Milk in 2005 and Moloch in 2006. This year we grant these bizarro "hard to define" films their own category.

Chemtrails: An Investigative Report (6 minutes) is sort of a mockumentary. It's hard to say.

It's also a surreal collage of arresting images borrowed from the news media and popular films, intercut with excerpts from talk radio and original footage shot by filmmaker Damon Packard. The result is a hilarious satire of popular culture, conspiracy theories, and the war on terror, among other targets.

Chemtrails.purports to be a documentary about chemtrails. Packard dubs footage of an actual military officer, so that he admits to the government's secret conspiratorial goal behind chemtrails: to prevent citizens from being able to think independently.

These scenes are intercut with clips from radio's Art Bell Show discussing chemtrails and other conspiracy stuff, and original footage of people suffering from chemtrails fallout.

An interview for this article is pending. [The Hollywood Investigator has since interviewed Damon Packard.]

Damon Packard has a MySpace page.

 

 

 

 

* Best Horror Music Video: Brains

 

The Tabloid Witch awarded a Best Horror Music Video to You Make Me Feel So Dead in 2004, and since then none. Most "horror" music videos lack a creative horror element. They're mostly just band members in "shocking" attire, playing loud music.

The Shannon Lark directed.Brains is different. It opens with a cute vignette about two teenage "Frankenstein monster" creatures. They are brother and sister, and they bicker. Their mad scientist parents scold them. Then the girl stalks out to sing about her love for brains.

Brains parodies Liam Sullivan's Kelly Likes Shoes, and is performed by The Living Dead Girlz, Lark's horror performance troupe. Unlike many parodies which slavishly copycat their source, Brains.can stand on its own creatively and musically. It's also funny (not true of many parodies), lively, energetic, and sexy (if you don't mind girls covered in blood, gore, and decaying flesh).

"We were obsessed with Kelly Likes Shoes," says Lark. "There wasn't a [Living Dead Girlz] show that went by where we weren't quoting the Shoes video while getting our zombie makeup on. So we took our joy for parodies, and created one for Shoes. Liam gave us the rights to the music. We went through each shot and mirrored the video -- but put our own spin on it.

"All the people who acted in Brains were members of the Living Dead Girlz or friends of the troupe. It was a group process. Amy McDonald cast the larger parts. Auditions were not held, because we knew who was perfect for which parts. Amber, the lead singer, is the troupe's director/choreographer. Jess (with the pink hair) and myself played her best friends. All three of us carry a good amount of weight for the troupe and making the film. Jeremy Parsons played the brother. He's a great actor and wonderful to work with.

"Jamie Zawinski, owner of the DNA Lounge, lent us the San Francisco club. Melanie Blau let us use her pool for the party scene. Amber Steele and Steev Dinkins lent their apartment. A collection of people chipped in with support."

Dinkins was the DP for Brains, shot on an HD video camera "with a 35 mm rig over the lens."

Lark has some film school background, but is mostly self-taught. "I went to the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco, doing independent film study. I landed acting roles and followed crew members around, asking questions. I read books on filmmaking and taught myself."

Lark founded The Chainsaw Mafia, a horror filmmakers collective. She manages the Living Dead Girlz and the Viscera horror film festival for women.

Brains won 3rd place in the Zombie Apocalypse contest. It played at The Best of Revver, Cathartic 3, and Backseat Horror Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

* Honorable Mention

 

Honorable Mentions are not easily won. We select fewer films than some other festivals, which run multiple days, whereas the Tabloid Witch screenings only run one day.

Every years, many worthy films must be turned down.

This means that an Honorable Mention win is truly something to take pride in. These films topped many competitors from talented artists to attain the few available spots. These films are among the cream of contemporary horror.

 

 

 

 

* 100 Tears

 

How could the Hollywood Investigator not love 100 Tears (92 minutes). The story of two heroic tabloid reporters who save the world. Or at least, two fairly decent tabloid reporters who try to save central Florida residents from a killer clown.

 

 

All clowns are evil. But most are subtle, creepy and menacing, so you can't quite say why they're evil. Not Gurdy in 100 Tears. He swings a huge meat cleaver -- a HUGE meat cleaver! -- and racks up a body count faster than you can count his victims.

100 Tears boasts graphic gore and a retro 1970s sensibility, much like.House of 1000 Corpses. Writer Joe Davison explains, "My main influence regarding an overall feel to a horror film is that late 1970s, early 1980's freshness. Those films were new then. They were amazing. Now we of that generation are recreating what we saw because it inspired us. Hollywood isn't remaking anything to just be bastards. The guys running studios now are the same guys who grew up with those influences. They want to see that again.

In 2006, Davison and director Marcus Koch discussed their next project. "I wanted to do a horror action film titled As Night Falls," says Davison. "Marcus was keen on his film Babydoll, a dark comedy about a dead girl. He described a scene about a girl in a room, tied to a bed, and a clown standing over her. With that I purged 100 Tears in four days.

"I tried to create something with a plot as well as a blood driven storyline. I wanted Gurdy to be a clown for a reason. To be sad for a reason. Not just some guy who puts on clown makeup and kills people. I used devices to fuel him and his anger, allowing him to be sad, manic, and sociopathic."

Financing came quickly after the script was finished. "Elmar Berger of Manic Entertainment wanted to fund a horror film. He'd been talking to Marcus for a while. We sent him the script. Within a week, we had 90% of our funding."

 

 

Davison cast himself as the male tabloid reporter, and Georgia Chris as his partner. "Her character was the hardest to cast. We must have seen fifty actresses. Then we met Georgia, who auditioned for another part. Marcus and I knew she was it. Jack Amos was Gurdy from the get go. I wrote myself the role of Mark, knowing I could do it. But I still had to prove that to everyone, including myself. And I'm still a little in the middle on it.

"Raine Brown was offered to us from Ted Geohagen of Staving Kappa, out of New York. He said, take a look at Barricade, by Timo Rose. There's this girl, Raine, you might like. He was right. She does a fantastic job."

100 Tears was shot in Tampa, and its surrounding areas like Gibsenton. "We went through the Tampa film office to get one or two locations," says Davison, "but mostly we just asked the location if we could shoot there. All said yes."

The film was shot on HD video using a JVC 110U, which Davison calls "an awesome camera. We used Home Depot lights, stage lights, and basic gels. If you're shooting indie, and can't afford a five ton grip truck, Home Depot has what you need."

Davison only has a month of college under his belt. "I jumped into filmmaking and taught myself. Back then, shooting on VHS was the in thing. Now you must shoot on HD or film to get anywhere." He wrote the fantasy novel, Death's Campaign, and recently returned from Germany, where he starred Timo Rose's horror film, Beast."

For information see their MySpace page.

 

 

 

 

* Mina

 

It's not easy fitting in at school when you're a girl werewolf. This is an old horror film conceit, but Mina (15 minutes) brings its own a stylish and entertaining take on it.

The film's beautifully photographed, vibrant, saturated colors, plus a stay-at-home mom and family dinners, lend a satirically retro, 1950s atmosphere to its gory tale. One thinks of Ginger Snaps meets Parents.

 

 

Filmmaker Jose Zambrano Casella wrote Mina with child actress Haley Boyle in mind, having worked with Boyle on a previous film. "The rest fell in place. All the cast were friends of me from past shoots, so not much casting was needed. The cast was spot on perfect for the characters."

 

 

The parents, actress Jessica Blackmore in particular, look way too young to parents for a teenager. But I suppose some werewolves can maintain their youth, sort of like vampires. Their youth does support Mina's satirical tone.

 

 

Using a 720p HD DV camera, Cassella shot Mina."guerrilla style" around Orlando, Florida. "We had to shoot fast, as we had no permits," he explains.

Remarkably, Mina.was produced on a $400 budget, yet has the look of a big studio production. "Shooting in digital, if one applies 35mm techniques, yields great results," says Cassella. "We used a shutter speed of 1/1000 second for the blood scenes, to achieve the 'jittery' look."

Cassella is a professional cinematographer who only recently began directing. His film proves that a low budget is no excuse for low production values. Learning one's craft and talent can overcome lack of money.

To date Mina has won four festivals. "Which is amazing," says Cassella, "considering the type of film. Most festivals go for the 'real people, real characters' BS, and give no thought to horror and comedy. We are set to screen in 12 more. We have been very blessed.

"A feature film version of Mina, a more serious take on the story, already has Crispin Glover and Danny Trejo attached. So knock on wood. We could start pre-production soon!"

More information may be found at JoseCassella.com.

 

 

 

 

* Eel Girl

 

Scientists at a top secret government laboratory observe a creature, who is locked in a chamber. She is part woman, part eel. When one scientist is called away, the other is left alone with the female creature. She gives him a come hither look. He responds by opening the chamber door...

 

 

Paul Campion based Eel Girl (6 minutes) on the song of the same name. "Friends in England own a record label,.Superglider, and gave me some albums to hear in 2003. That particular track stuck with me. When I heard it, I came up with ideas for a music video. A half fish girl in a room, watched by scientists. The film was always about that particular music, with those visual images."

Eel Girl is no music video. Nor is there really a story at six minutes. Rather, the film is a "slice of life" vignette about a scientist who unwisely falls in love with a girl monster. The film ends, leaving us wanting more.

Yet it's beautifully photographed, its production values and visual effects as slick and professional as anything coming out of Hollywood's big studios.

Campion calls Eel Girl "a calling card to getting myself and producer Elisabeth Pinto's feature film projects off the ground." Those include a film adaptation of Brian Keene's supernatural thriller, Terminal, and a film about London criminals and re-animated corpses, called Lore of the Jungle, written by Paul Finch.

Casting Eel Girl was relatively easy, aside for the "eel girl," which took more time. "I wanted someone very beautiful and striking to look at," says Campion, "who'd retain an element of attractiveness and sexuality under all the prosthetics. Someone with a slim body type, rather than a voluptuous Playboy type look, which would probably have been too distracting."

Before he was a director, Campion illustrated horror book covers. After re-training in computer animation, he created visual effects for Lord of the Rings, Constantine, Sin City, and other major films. He began directing short films a few years ago, hoping to be hired for features.

Eel Girl was shot at Weta Workshop. "Richard Taylor kindly let us use their stage," says Campion. "We spent about four months of weekends building set pieces in my garage at home. It took four days to assemble and dress the set on stage, under the supervision of Mary Pike, the production designer."

Eel Girl was shot in Campion's native New Zealand, though much of the production team are British. "We shot on a Panavision Gold Panaflex G2 35mm camera, Ziess prime lenses. Kodak Vision 2 200T 5217 stock. But the equipment is only as good as the people using it. We were lucky when Richard Bluck brought his camera, grip and gaffer crews, who previously worked on Lord of the Rings and King Kong."

Campion's film boasts beautiful cold and bright colors, nearly shimmering. He credits Richard Bluck for his "beautiful lighting" and that "35mm film gave us the best image quality possible. A huge range of color depth to play with in the digital intermediate. We scanned the film at 2K. Joerg Bungert, Weta Digital's in-house colorist, did the grading in his spare time on a Lustre. One of the main issues was the difference in color between the eel girl chamber and the observation room. Joerg spent much time grading the shots where we can see through the window into both rooms, so we get that beautiful contrast of warm and cool light."

Eel Girl won Best Visual Effects Award at A Night of Horror in Sydney, Australia, and was nominated for many other awards. It screened at Sci-Fi London, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Fantasia, Montreal, Atlanta Horror Fest, Pifan, Korea, Fantastic Fest, San Francisco Underground Film Festival, Screamfest LA, Court Metrange France, among others.

More information at EelGirl.net.and its MySpace page.

 

 

 

* Creepers

 

Aliens invade Earth by possessing people, turning them into creatures that behave like flesh-eating zombies. But curiously, they can also look and act "normal" if they want to, so you don't always know who's an alien, who's human. Sort of like Zombie meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Then two people hide out in an abandoned house, wondering if the other one is human or ... one of them!

We don't get enough horror/sci-fi entries, so it's always nice to get a good one. And Creepers (18 minutes) accomplishes much on a low budget. Its frenetic camerawork and editing create a sense of panic amid danger. Its murky, greenish hues contribute to an oppressive atmosphere of claustrophobic paranoia, as though an alien menace is seeping into the air itself. Additionally, Sarah Ashley and C.J. Johnson give solid performances as mutually suspicious allies.

 

 

We expect to have an interview with director Nick Thiel shortly.

 

 

 

 

* Additional Winners

 

She's smart. She's sassy. She's tough. And she never lets up. In other words, she's your typical tabloid reporter.

She's Midnight Star reporter Jennifer Stevenson in 100 Tears. Aka actress Georgia Chris, 2008 Tabloid Witch Awards Best Actress winner.


 

Is he a clinically insane, paranoid schizophrenic? Or is he right that a witch is out to get him?

Chad Donella, as the adult Robin in 9 Lives of Mara, leaves us open to either interpretation. Or even both.

His portrayal of a possibly dangerous, but ultimately sympathetic, mental patient earns him Best Actor honors.


 

If you love psycho babes (and who doesn't?), you'll love Raine Brown's wonderfully exuberant serial killer in 100 Tears. Coy and cunning, devious and distraught, she veers from cloying tears to psychotic rage on the turn of a dime, and you never doubt her sincerity. She easily wins Best Supporting Actress.


 

Maybe someday we'll create a young actor award. For now, they compete on an equal basis with adults. Last year a youth won Best Actress. This year Troy Gentile wins Best Supporting Actor.

As the rotund, foul-mouthed, cigarette smoking adolescent in 9 Lives of Mara, Gentile evokes a young Louie De Palma, with shades of Ralph Cramden and Oscar Madison. He is 9 Lives of Mara's most memorable character.


 

We saw many beautiful and powerful images this year, but only the best can win. Best Cinematography.goes to 9 Lives of Mara's Joseph Rubinstein.

His arresting visuals contribute much to the film's supernatural noir atmosphere. Rubinstein shows us the world through Robin's eyes, so that the boy's irrational fears about witchcraft seem not only plausible, but very likely true.


 
Many entries had slick sound recording and mixing. But Vadata has no dialogue, so that every noise, from a ticking clock to outside street traffic, is an integral part of the story. As with Rubinstein's images, Lebelt's sound effects build up to an atmosphere of impending and inevitable supernatural doom. Manuel Lebelt wins Best Sound for Vadata.

 

We don't want to give away the ending to Eel Girl, but it's pretty unsettling and creepy. And masterfully rendered on CGI.

Visual Effects Supervisor Matt Holland wins Best Visual Effects for Eel Girl.


 
Director Marcus Koch's background is in makeup effects, and it shows. 100 Tears is a bloodbath of grisly gore and viscera. Split skulls and spilled entrails, hacked heads and severed limbs erupt across the screen. A delightful return to 1970s indie, drive-in horror, earning Marcus Koch Best Make-Up Effects.

 

Psychos and zombies can get by on gore, but good supernatural horror requires atmosphere. Cinematography and lighting contribute much to that atmosphere. So does music.

B. Kumar Ganesh's spooky, eerie, at times almost religious, music infuses 9 Lives of Mara with undercurrents of mystery, suspense, and supernatural foreboding, winning him Best Music Soundtrack.

 

* The Final Tally

 

Tabloid Witch Award Winners

 

* Best Horror Feature Film ...........................  Balaji K. Kumar & Eric Massey  (9 Lives of Mara)

* Best Dramatic Horror Short Film ...............  Manuel Lebelt  (Vadata)

* Best Comedic Horror Short Film ...............  Peter Podgursky  (Cheerbleeders)

* Best Animated Horror Short Film ..............  Joe Fontano (The Butterfly Hole)

* Best Avant-Garde Horror Short Film ..........  Damon Packard  (Chemtrails: An Investigative Report)

* Best Horror Music Video ............................  Shannon Lark  (Brains)

* Best Actress ...............................................  Georgia Chris  (100 Tears)

* Best Actor ..................................................  Chad Donella  (9 Lives of Mara)

* Best Supporting Actress ...........................   Raine Brown  (100 Tears)

* Best Supporting Actor ..............................  Troy Gentile  (9 Lives of Mara)

* Best Cinematography ...............................  Joseph Rubinstein  (9 Lives of Mara)

* Best Sound ...............................................  Manuel Lebelt  (Vadata)

* Best Visual Effects ....................................  Matt Holland  (Eel Girl)

* Best Make-Up Effects ................................  Marcus Koch  (100 Tears)

* Best Music Soundtrack ............................   Ganesh Kumar  (9 Lives of Mara)


Tabloid Witch Honorable Mentions

 

* Marcus Koch & Joe Davison  (100 Tears)

* Jose Zambrano Cassella  (Mina)

* Paul Campion  (Eel Girl)

* Nick Thiel & C.J. Johnson  (Creepers)

 

 

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