MASSACHUSETTS: Winterbeast (filmmakers in person!) + The House By The Cemetery

“We should all stop and take a moment to consider ourselves blessed that we live in a world that allows stuff like this to see the light of day.” —

“If the aliens from ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ landed near the cabin from ‘Evil Dead’, causing the cosmic radiation of ancient evil spirits to contaminate the exact brand of bottled water that David Lynch drinks, the result would probably be something like ‘Winterbeast’.” —

Across three decades and at least as many film formats, along with a ton of heart and a heaping helping of pure gonzo weirdness, Winterbeast roared into blissful existence — and all us horror hounds are the better for it. Started in the mid-’70s, completed in the late-’80s and finally released in the early-’90s, this longtime stopmotion-laden labor of love hurls at you a platoon of insane, murderous Native American demon monsters on the prowl, against Massachusetts forest rangers investigating the grisly remains of their victims. Any ordinary filmmaking hopeful, in the face of the obstacles presented to Winterbeast’s creators, would easily shrivel away — but the sheer imaginative force of director Chris Thies and producer/animator Mark Frizzell persevered, leaving us this colorful no-budget regional horror gem. Filmmakers in person!
Dir. Christopher Thies, 1991, digital presentation, 80 min.

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY – approx. midnight
A rare kick-ass horror film that even dislikers of gore tend to enjoy, The House by the Cemetery contains Lucio Fulci’s typically strong emphasis on atmosphere and shocking visuals, but also devotes more time than usual to character development and surprising plotting, allowing the graphic gore to serve as a function of the story rather than an end unto itself. The last of Fulci’s Gothic zombie excursions (and the conclusion of his unofficial early ’80s “Gates Of Hell” trilogy), House is also a strangely beautiful film: Sergio Salvati’s expert ‘scope cinematography captures a perfectly eerie New England atmosphere and a strange world of childhood fairy tales gone very bad, with Walter Rizzati’s poignant score providing much-needed emotional support. Here, Fulci really shines and produces some of his finest work; the claustrophobic mixture of chills and supernatural poetry would do Mario Bava proud.
Dir. Lucio Fulci, 1981, 35mm.