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Tabloid Witch Awards

Weekly Universe




by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor [September 18, 2022]




[]  For the 19th year in a row, the Hollywood Investigator is happy to announce the winners of its Tabloid Witch Awards horror film contest. Winning films came from France, Ireland, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

A total of 309 films were entered this year, with about 6% walking away with an award. In selecting winners, films were assessed for originality, technical mastery, acting, thematic depth, aesthetics (how well the technical aspects supported the film's story, characters, and themes), and entertainment value.

This year we received a large number of entries about UFOs and aliens. It's the first year that aliens were so prominent a topic. We also received two films about hangnails. In the previous 18 years combined: zero films about hangnails. Go figure.

Here now are 2022's Tabloid Witch Award winning films:


* Best Horror Feature: The Ghost Lights


Alex (Katreeva Phillips) is a reporter. After her father dies, Alex finds a cassette tape from 1978 among his belongings. It turns out dad had been something of an amateur UFO investigator. The tape contains an interview with Mario (Billy Blair) about some mysterious "ghost lights" in the west Texas desert. Lights that abduct people. Alex smells a story and sets out to complete her dad's work.

The Ghost Lights is an example of what I call minimalist horror. It's creepy and suggestive, rather than loud and gory. Writer/director Timothy Stevens makes effective use of his desert location to create an atmosphere of otherworldly isolation; even a sense of being trapped in a time warp. (Are the lights from another time, rather than another world?) The black & white flashbacks to dad's 1970s UFO hunting days evoke The X-Files's flashbacks to the Cigarette Smoking Man's youth.


Yes, all the UFO tropes are present. In addition to lights in the desert and mysterious abductions, there's also a Man in Black who's pursing Alex. She later discovers that both her father and Mario were interrogated by Men in Black. Perhaps that's why dad dropped his investigations?

Despite its low-budget, The Ghost Lights boasts some nice, at times haunting music, and decent production values. More importantly, it tells an intriguing story with some original twists on the old tropes. Plus a weighty theme interwoven into its tale. Alex feels guilty over not being there for her dad during his final, medically difficult years. She hopes to make amends by finishing his work.

The closure at the end is a bit sappy and convenient, but the ride itself was worth it. Timothy Stevens has a website.




* Best Horror Documentary: Rondo and Bob


Joe O'Connell's Rondo and Bob is a dual biography about two men who never met. Horror actor Rondo Hatton (1894-1946), and Robert A. Burns (1944-2004), whose long career in low-budget horror filmmaking began as an art director for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. O'Connell uses parallel editing to contrast the dramatic and emotional similarities and differences in their lives.

Hatton was relegated to horror roles by his deformed appearance, the result of acromegaly. He had no particular love for horror. Acting was a gig. Burns also claimed to have no love for horror, though he made much of his living from it.

Rondo and Bob is a highly ambitious work. O'Connell's extensive research includes much archival footage and many interviews. A vast array of horror professionals and celebrities offer commentary on Hatton, Burns, and the genre itself (e.g., Dee Wallace, Stuart Gordon, Fred Olen Ray, Joe Bob Briggs, and too many others to mention.)



But this is not solely a talking heads documentary. O'Connell has actors recreate scenes from both Hatton's and Burns's lives. Ronda and Bob is a cinematic scrapbook composed of photos, film clips, interviews, archival footage, and recreations. One minute we're seeing Burns discuss his life, then we see Ryan Williams portraying the adult Burns, then a photo of Burns as a child, then Josiah Swanson portraying Burns as a child.

A unifying theme emerges, linking the two men. Both Hatton and Burns felt distanced from people. Hatton was physically deformed. Burns was likely autistic. Both men desired human connection but felt barred by personal circumstances from fully participating in human life.

Rondo and Bob is an important historical work, and an engrossing viewing experience for fans of horror and filmmaking in general.


* Best Dramatic Horror Short: Part Forever 


Huei and her husband, Wen Hsiung, attend a wake for Huei's sister, Yi-Ting. They are the only ones in the room, alone with the corpse. Huei slowly combs her dead sister's hair, apparently grieving. But she has a secret. And after Wen Hsiung leaves the room, Huei reveals her true feelings to her sister, followed by blasphemous acts upon the corpse. Whereupon Yi-Ting takes revenge.

Part Forever is an excellent film on many levels. Its stark black & white cinematography creates a darkly atmospheric mood. The sudden switch to sickly red and green hues when the supernatural manifests is arresting and imaginative. The story and editing are well-paced. The slow opening with Huei combing the hair, shushing Wen Hsiung, is ominous and intriguing, and the pace quickens as events become ever more shocking. The soundtrack includes appropriate traditional and modern music, but also makes effective use of periods of silence. The acting is first rate.



Although from Taiwan, Part Forever apparently takes inspiration from the previous 20+ years of Japanese ghost films. Long, stringy black hair covers part of the ghost's face. Her googly staring eyes evoke The Grudge and its ilk. Yet Part Forever is so well made, its visuals so powerful, and Huei's character so memorable, the film breathes new life into a horror subgenre that appeared to have run it course a decade ago.

Directed by Chung-An Ou Alan. Written by Chung-An Ou Alan & Wan Chun Ling Wan Wan.




* Best Comedic Horror Short: Annita and Every Child Deserves a Family


A couple desiring a child are having difficulty finding one to adopt. In desperation, they turn to the Serrano Foundation which prides itself on turning away no one. Their motto: "Every Child Deserves a Family." That includes possessed dolls who, after all, still "need the love an affection of a family."

A great comedic horror short film is like a classic Saturday Night Live skit; it holds up to repeat viewing. This year it's the Spanish film, Annita and Every Child Deserves a Family (aka Annita y todos los ninos merecen una familia).



The script is well paced, without padding or flab. The premise is quickly established. The jokes and surprises follow in quick succession. Visuals are bright and colorful, as is appropriate for comedies. The music supports the events on screen, changing as the story dictates. The talented cast give broad performances (again, as is appropriate for comedies). This is a low-budget affair with mostly hooky special effects, but even that works in the film's comedic context.

In short, Annita does nothing wrong. The result is an immensely funny and entertaining film. Written and directed by Marc Velasco.



* Best Avant-Garde Horror Film: Melusine


Melusine is what some call "pure cinema." It has no dialog, no voice over. It's hard to say if there's even a story. Rather, it's a visual experience.

A man runs through the forest in a medieval era, blood-stained shirt. His dash is intercut with shots of deer. Is the filmmaker saying that the man is hunted prey, much as are deers? The man comes upon three seductive women in red capes. Witches? He drinks their offering and has visions.

Melusine has the ambiance of a David Lynch film. Much like Lynch or Stanley Kubrick, director Matthias Simonet lingers on his images, allowing events to unfold slowly. His images are intriguing, hauntingly beautiful, mesmerizing, their power enhanced by his staging and composition. He uses colored nondiegetic lights not merely to be pretty, but for aesthetically valid reasons: to heighten the surrealism.





Melusine invites both Freudian and Jungian analysis. Much of the imagery is sexual. A closeup of the man's eye staring through the keyhole at himself making love to the witch. A serpent in a now empty bed. The witches now naked, rising from the water.

Is the woman, or witch, Eve, offering the man the fruit of the Garden? Is she Lilith? She's certainly a sexual temptress. His visions imply that he's been driven mad. Or fallen from grace? Is that why his shirt is bloodied at the start of the film? (Why not at the end?) Is he being driven out of the Garden? That he is running alone implies that the woman is Lilith, Adam's first wife and the serpent's lover.

But this is all speculation and might be completely wrong. Melusine is not only the title of the film, it's also the name of the woman according to the credits. Even so, she seems to be a Lilith archetype, a tantalizing temptress instrumental in man's destruction.

Melusine is technically proficient on every level -- cinematography, sound design, production design, music -- with every element coalescing into a surrealistic piece of pure cinema that excites both our conscious and subconscious minds.



* Best Animated Horror Film: To Raise Her Spirits


The year is 1938. An Englishman goes to a medium to contact his dead wife, Evelyn. She's been haunting him and he wants her to stop. At first the man thinks the medium a fraud, but then Evelyn appears. And she's not happy. It seems her hubby murdered her.

That's hardly the end of it. Despite its short ten minutes, To Raise Her Spirits is full of surprises. The tale moves at a brisk pace, with engaging characters, a bit of spooky atmosphere, and much humor. The colorful cinematography enhances both the humor and eeriness, while the classic green ghosts and Victorian era decor evoke Disney's Haunted Mansion.



To Raise Her Spirits makes creative use of both stop-motion animation and visual effects. Its music score sounds as if it was created using a xylophone and an accordion. Whatever the instruments, their appropriately old fashioned sound aesthetically supports the story and helps in creating the right mood.

The film ends on a neat closure and a funny quip. Altogether, To Raise Her Spirits is a gem of a film, with no shortcomings. Directed by Joe Dearman.



* Best Trash Horror Film: Pretty Creepy Dolls


A man in a skull mask and black robe commands scantily clad women to torture captive prisoners in his mansion. No real reason. He just happens to identify as "the epitome of evil," as he tell his lady friends. And being so wickedly evil and all, he's hardly satisfied with painful torture. To spice things up, he also practices voodoo and black magic.

That mondo bizarro story is only the beginning of Pretty Creepy Dolls's descent into the gutter. The acting ranges from wooden to hammy. Some of the dialog seems badly dubbed. There's the crude blood and gore, gunplay, and cheesy visual effects. The film looks to have been shot in the 1970s and passed through too many projectors. There are scratches, an occasional hiss, crackle or pop, and missing frames (as will happen when a projectionist repairs a break in the film strip).


But as with all good trash horror, Pretty Creepy Dolls is highly entertaining and never dull. Despite its intentional cinematic defects, it avoids any real mistakes such as slow pacing or padded scenes. Its outre tale is gruesomely funny, not because of any jokes -- there are none -- but in a so-bad-it's-good sense.

That's not as easy as it looks. Trash horror gold is usually serendipitous and unintentional. Trying to make a film that's so-bad-it's-good usually results in a film that's so-bad-it's-unwatchable. Yet Pretty Creepy Dolls succeeds both as intentional trash, and as a carefully crafted homage to 1970s occult horror cinema.

Written and directed by James Dimitratos.



* Best Horror Web Series: Demonologist for Hire


Bryn Owen is The Demonologist. Each episode he investigates the paranormal. Unfortunately, he's no Fox Mulder or Carl Kolchak. Owen shoos a hipster ghost out of a warehouse with little effort (even in the afterlife, these slackers lack the requisite ambition for a truly tenacious haunting), and he sweet talks an ancient deity to forgo her plans to exterminate mankind. But his carelessness allows an evil puppet to escape, and a client to be killed by her own doppelganger. Oh well, win some, lose some.

Quality horror web series are in short supply. Apart from good content, to qualify a web series must be a series, not one or two episodes. Demonologist for Hire ran three seasons. Over the course of its nine episodes, it maintained strong production values, good acting, some gruesome make-up effects, and original, funny stories. Yes, it's a horror comedy.



Apart from starring as The Demonologist, Owen co-produced and scripted the show. The tales are lean and fast-paced, the dialog crisp and free of padding. Credit must also go to Uisdeen Murray, who directed, co-produced, and edited. If the show had any weak moments, they were left on the cutting room floor. We see only the good stuff.

Demonologist for Hire was produced and shot in Scotland. It has a website.



* Best Horror Music Video: Eleanor Rigby


"Eleanor Rigby" is a sad song about a lonely death. Thus it can be said to skirt the edges of horror, a genre obsessed with the prospect and process of dying. Harpist Erin Hill's new music video, a cover of this old Beatles's tune, emphasizes the song's darker elements. In it, Hill wanders through graveyards, walking amid stoic, almost catatonic people who might be phantoms or ghosts. They stand or walk near each other, yet never look into one another's eyes. All are isolated in their own spaces, unaware and unconnected.



A vast full moon against a starry night sky adds to the horror iconography. As with a Dario Argento film, the cinematography and production design cooperate in conveying vibrant colors and creating vivid contrasts. It all helps to create a mood that's beautiful, melancholy and haunting.

Horror has many sounds. Previous years' music video winners have included heavy metal, hip hop, and ballads. This year's winner is Erin Hill's reimagining of a 1960s oldie. Hill, who directed as well as performed in the video, has a website.





* Honorable Mention


The Honorable Mention prizes, like the "Best ... Film" prizes, are shared by the film's writer and director.

As with the above films, our Honorable Mentions showcase the variety that is horror: Something scary, something funny, something classy, and something thematically weighty.


* Book


There's this ancient book. Open it and you will commune with demons, discover all the universe's dark secrets, and enter portals to other dimensions. No wait, that's the Necronomicon. When you open this book, well, it only does one thing. I don't want to spoil any surprises, but it's surprising, foul, and funny (in a sick sort of way).

Book is a short, lean, simple film -- and that's among its many merits. It doesn't try to be something it's not. No heavy themes or complex characters. Just an evil book with limited abilities. I mean, it's a cool looking book. It breathes and all. But unlike Necronomicon, this book doesn't even have a title.

Book is gruesomely hilarious. Skirting the fine edge separating comedy and drama, it's obviously influenced by such 1980s trash horror classics as Evil Dead and the gonzo fantasy monster movies of Full Moon Entertainment. It's also highly entertaining. Book wastes no time on exposition. No youthful banter or aimless chitchat to serve as filler. The action starts immediately when Mary (Lynn R. Guerra) asks Gemma (Kassandra Cruz) if she's brought the book.



Production values are first rate across the board, while also reflecting wise aesthetic choices. The cinematography's beautiful soft focus misleads the audience into expecting a highbrow suspense film, so the gross payoff is unexpected and that much funnier. The eerie but classy music also helps to misdirect our expectations.

The gore effects are especially bloody. The talented cast reflect wise directorial choices. Cruz's tearful breakdown amid the surreal carnage is heartfelt, thus all the funnier. She's bawling and shedding real tears over such silliness.

Book pulls some odd punches. I don't get the exploding pumpkins in the wintry field. But okay, I'll accept them. Overall, Book is a brilliant throwback to 1980s splatter cinema.



* Defibrillator


The term "I Want to Believe" captures a certain mindset of UFO culture. Aliens are supposed to be scary. Yet some people's lives are so empty and mundane they seek out ghosts or alien encounters. Thus do they hope to fill their lives with excitement and meaning. Sort of like how some women try to fill a personal void with a baby.

Defibrillator connects these themes. A young woman returns home, apparently having been raped in the woods. Yet instead of displaying hysteria or trauma, she ruminates philosophically over her rape. She muses about her unfulfilled dreams, such as becoming a medical technician and working with a defibrillator. The machine that brings people back to life. Kinda like she feels now. Now that she has a purpose.



We don't see enough alien abduction films, and good ones are rare. Defibrillator is a neat little film. No dialog, just a voiceover. A brief character study of a woman who has so little going for her that she welcomes the horrifying. It's better than being a nobody.

Sound design, cinematography, music, and production design are all first rate. The "visual effects" are an admirable example of pragmatic aesthetics in that it's all left to our imagination. Okay, so technically there aren't any visual effects, just some green lights. But the film is so well made, the story and character so compelling, they stimulate our imagination into seeing the other worldly.

Defibrillator is a one-woman project. Written, directed, and starring Madeleine Coghlan.



* Miss Mary Mack


Two sisters, Sarah and Izzy, are left alone in the house at night. Their dad is in a hospital with mom, who's suffering from Covid. The sisters bicker, make up, eat ice cream, tease one another, and play sisterly games. That includes a seance in which they try to contact Mary Mack, a long dead witch.

Miss Mary Mack is a slow burn that takes its time with exposition. That can be boring, but the sisters' actions are compelling to watch, partially because they exude a natural chemistry which pulls us into the reality of the story. (Not all that hard to do, as they are played by real life sisters Sydney and Lexi Lovering.)

The film is well paced. After the slow burn of mundane events, we come to the seance that we all know should not happen. We expect something bad, but that something turns out to be unexpected. The supernatural has manifested from left field, in an unforeseen way.



Miss Mary Mack is a creepy little spook tale, its growing sense of unease culminating in a queasy terror, without any special effects. No blood or gore. Not even any loud noises. And after the final fright, it throws yet another unexpected plot twist -- one with a strong emotional punch that brings discomforting closure to the earlier exposition that seemed so irrelevant at the time.

A well-acted and well-written tale with a foreboding atmosphere, startling surprises, and emotional depth.



* A Killer Outside


Caroline (Erin Shanagher) believes she is being stalked by an alien. Is he real? Or is Caroline simply off her meds? Serious question. Her shelf is laden with prescription pills. A therapist visits on a regular basis because Caroline is afraid to leave her home. She sees the alien from her window, watching her.

Joe Zalias's A Killer Outside is full of surprises. The opening scene (which has an X-Files ambiance) implies the alien is real. Later we suspect Caroline might be hallucinating. We continue to wonder, uncertain of the truth, until an unexpected ending.

Production values are excellent. A Killer Outside contains no padding and its editing moves us along at a brisk pace. The cinematography and production design emphasize nighttime blues and somber pastel greens, drenching the story in a dark, moody atmosphere. The music is tense and creepy.



Shanagher gives a powerful performance as a woman haunted by her fears, impatient with her disbelieving therapist, and desperately trying to hold it together as she watches her reality disassemble.

There are no big themes, but A Killer Outside is an entertaining thrill ride, both because of its technical proficiency, and because Shanagher imbues Caroline with emotional depth so that we share and feel her waking nightmare. (No, that's not a hint.)



* Additional Winners


Every year we see some bad actors, some mediocre actors, and some talented actors who do a professional job. Among the latter are those few who leave an impression. Who go beyond the job and create a character that lingers in our minds. This last quality is often the crucial difference between the winners and the merely talented.

Another consideration is aesthetics. Many films are technically slick. They are nicely lit, the sound clearly recorded. But if a film's technical choices also aesthetically support its story, characters, and themes, then so much the better.


In Part Forever, we meet Huei as a quietly grieving sister. Then her hysterical rage when Wen Hsiung insists that she leave Yi-Ting's corpse.

After her husband gives up and goes outside, Huei reveals her previously hidden resentment against Yi-Ting, and her glee over her sister's death. Then Huei turns maliciously lascivious, raping the corpse with a comb. Followed by growing fear as she senses an approaching supernatural vengeance, and finally, stark terror.

Huei is full of surprises, and receives plenty in return. Through it all, Ming Yang seamlessly transitions Huei through all her emotional shifts with deft and skill. Yet always, she intrigues us, engaging our interest and, even at her worst, our uneasy sympathies.

Ming Yang wins for Best Dramatic Actress.


Mario is the son of a Mexican miner with a story to tell. When he was a young boy, his father disappeared into the ghost light. Mario knows that many people scoff or laugh at his story. Nevertheless, over the course of several interviews, he tells it a young investigator.

In relating his tale, Mario exudes a quiet dignity and somber determination. We listen intently, not only because of the story's bizarre content, but because of Mario's commanding presence. We buy into his strange tale because the character feels both real and trustworthy.

Mario is one of the key elements that make The Ghost Lights a memorable and powerful film.

Billy Blair wins for Best Dramatic Actor.



Coley Withers is a vapid social media influencer who's no longer interesting or relevant. Her likes, subscribes, and followers are plummeting. Whereas the Bigfoot monster's numbers are trending up. No one's seen him, but he's the talk of the internet. So Coley resolves to find and interview Sasquatch -- the first human to do so.

Influencers have lately been targeted with much satire, but Coley stands apart as the funniest. She's vapid, clueless, selfish, and shrieky -- the required skills set for any successful influencer. But she also has a bit of depth and some heart which she displays on the rare occasion. So she's funny yet also elicits our sympathy.

Steph Barkley is a seasoned comedy improv artist who created Coley in a series of short sketches. Bigfoot Famous is Coley's feature debut.

Steph Barkley wins for Best Comedic Actress.



In The Woodsman, Christmas tree salesman Bernie Davis is a sad clown. A merry huckster with melancholy undertones. And as the night progresses, a growing panic to sell every tree on his lot.

At first we assume his reasons are economic. Living on the edge of poverty, he can't afford unsold inventory. But his problems turn out to be more dire than material. A dark, supernatural curse hangs over his family tree business.

John R. Smith Jnr effectively conveys Davis's jolly facade, his inner gloom, his increasing desperation -- and in a way that's both funny and poignant. Smith's Davis is a memorable character who engages our sympathies.

Adding to the challenge, Smith is the only actor in The Woodsman. Davis talks to his customers, but we don't see or hear them. We only see Davis through their eyes. We guess at what they've said by how Davis responds to them. Essentially, Smith not only portrays Davis, but he "creates" the rest of this unseen cast through his reactions.

John R. Smith Jnr wins for Best Comedic Actor.



In The Darkness of the Road Siri is already dead but doesn't know it. She doesn't even realize that she's in Hell. Her world appears normal, but with a hint of surreal menace.

Credit to cinematographer John DeFazio who provides Darkness with some powerful compositions and cool shots. Such as when Siri walks into the desert night holding a red flare, with the film frame canted at 90 degrees.

And though Argento-inspired nondiegetic colored lights are overdone in modern horror films, DeFazio uses them appropriately rather than arbitrarily. Such as when we see Siri's parked car from high above, sitting within a sickly yellow glow, beyond which is absolute blackness. Although shot in the desert, this scene looks to have been shot on a sound stage, which contributes to the artificiality of Siri's apparent reality. (Usually, filmmakers try to make sound stages look like the real world, rather than visa versa.) DeFazio's shots are compelling and imaginative.

John DeFazio wins for Best Cinematography.


The Cathedral
is an old-fashioned Irish ghost story with a dash of exorcism. Two priests investigate a haunting in their house, then track its source to the cathedral. Whereupon they must perform the usual exorcism.

As with many spook tales, the spirit (or demonic?) manifestations begin small, then rise in intensity. Strange noises, knocking doors when no one is there, moving objects. Some of these lead to clues as to why the spirit is restless, so that the noises become an active part of the story.

While the cinematography and visual effects are very good, The Cathedral is a low-key effort that mostly relies on an engaging story and characters, good acting, and a tense atmosphere. A tension that derives largely from the interplay between periods of deathly silence, and small innocent sounds (a dripping faucet), and then loud supernatural noises, some recognizable, some not.

Turlough O Cinneide wins for Best Sound Design.


Without offering any grand themes, A Killer Outside is just a classic horror, roller coaster thrill ride. It exhibits technical proficiency on all levels, but especially in its editing.

Quick cuts eliminate any fat and padding, and keep the story moving at a brisk pace. But the film is also replete with snippets of flashbacks and flash-forwards (we can't always be sure which). These serve a dull aesthetic purpose.

Dramatically, they assist in "showing, not telling" the story. But on another level, they reflect Caroline's fractured mind. Her mental state is shattering into bits and pieces; past and present, reality and fantasy, increasingly a shifting collage of terrifying images.

Paul Ferdenzi wins for Best Editing.



Judy suffers from pre-wedding jitters. She's about to become an ordinary woman with a mundane life. She wanted more. An ancient entity senses Judy's discontent and summons her, offering to fulfill her aspirations for greatness. All she must do is embrace the dark.

In Judy, Rene Rivas's imaginative production design combines traditional horror icons with simple designs (a triangle) to create something familiar yet original. Together with the cinematography and colored lights, Rivas's design creates the ominous atmosphere that one expects from such a film.

But his design works on a second level, dramatically foreshadowing Judy's fate. Judy's home boasts triangles in obvious yet subtle ways. We see them, but they're not so ubiquitous that anyone would think Judy weird. Even so, they suggest that this demonic force has long been courting Judy. The cultists' gathering spot features a similar design scheme, so that when Judy arrives we realize that, really, she has come home.

Rene Rivas wins for Best Production Design.


Many horror films feature talented visual and make-up effects. To stand apart from the crowd, the effects must do more. They should be memorable. Something different, unexpected, and packed with an emotional punch.

The effects in Book were the most memorable among 2022's entries. That's partially because they contrast so well against the story's emotional setup. When we first meet Gemma and Mary, they discuss the book with sober caution. These are serious women who understand the ominous magnitude of their find.

Then Mary opens the book. It's hard to explain what happens without giving away the surprise. But while the result itself is horrific, it's also so gruesome that it becomes funny. You didn't expect these beautiful, sympathetic heroines to suffer such a silly demise. (Imagine if Janet Leigh's unexpected death in Psycho was absurdly hilarious.)

It's easy enough to separate the visual and make-up effects in Book, in that we can see which is which. But they do work together toward a common aesthetic goal, each contributing its share.

John R. McConnell wins for Best Visual Effects.

Chelsea Paige wins for Best Make-Up Effects.



A young woman alone in a big house senses that someone is watching her. Then someone sends images of her house to her cell phone. A masked entity breaks in. She hides. He leaves. But he's still out there -- and will return for an eventual confrontation.

Blue is about a young woman who suffers from depression. She's blue. Seriously blue. And she's being stalked. Without giving all away, Blue has hallucinations, suicide attempts, doppelgangers, but almost no dialog. The bulk of the film is the woman (Paula Gomez De Salazar) and her silent tormentors.

The colored lighting and production design help create the necessary atmosphere, but music does much of the heavy lifting. Being practically a silent film, music fills in the blanks, creating an emotional subtext for the story, Mike Prieto's simple score conveys lethargy, ennui, unease, suspense, terror, and relief at the appropriate moments.

Many films feature pretty music, but Pietro's score goes the extra mile, aesthetically supporting and dynamically interacting with the events on screen.

Mike Prieto wins for Best Music Soundtrack.



* The Final Tally


* Best Horror Feature Film ........................... Timothy Stevens (The Ghost Lights)

* Best Horror Documentary .......................... Joe O'Connell (Rondo and Bob)

* Best Dramatic Horror Short Film ................ Alan Chung-An Ou & Chun-Ling Wan (Part Forever)

* Best Comedic Horror Short Film ................ Marc Velasco (Annita and Every Child Deserves a Family)

* Best Animated Horror Film ........................ Joe Dearman (To Raise Her Spirits)

* Best Avant-Garde Horror Film ................... Matthias Simonet (Melusine)

* Best Trash Horror Film .............................. James Dimitratos (Pretty Creepy Dolls)

* Best Horror Web Series ............................ Uisdean Murray & Bryn Owen (Demonologist for Hire)

* Best Horror Music Video ........................... Erin Hill (Eleanor Rigby)

* Best Dramatic Actress .............................. Ming Yang (Part Forever)

* Best Dramatic Actor .................................. Billy Blair (The Ghost Lights)

* Best Comedic Actress .............................. Steph Barkley (Bigfoot Famous)

* Best Comedic Actor .................................. John R. Smith Jnr (The Woodsman)

* Best Cinematography ................................ John DeFazio (The Darkness of the Road)

* Best Sound Design .................................... Turlough O'Cinneide (The Cathedral)

* Best Editing ................................................ Paul Ferdenzi (A Killer Outside)

* Best Production Design ............................. Rene Rivas (Judy)

* Best Visual Effects ..................................... John R. McConnell (Book)

* Best Make-Up Effects ................................ Chelsea Paige (Book)

* Best Music Soundtrack .............................. Mike Prieto (Blue)

* Honorable Mention .................................... Eric Swiz & Roger Casey (Book)

* Honorable Mention .................................... Madeleine Coghlan (Defibrillator)

* Honorable Mention .................................... Joe Zalias (A Killer Outside)

* Honorable Mention .................................... Tim True (Miss Mary Mack)



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