It’s old, it looks strikingly European, it’s known for its debauchery, voodoo is still practiced there, it’s the birthplace of jazz, it’s a hub for actual blood sucking vampires and is arguably the most haunted city in America. In New Orleans you’re welcome, even encouraged, to let your freak flag fly. What better city to host one of the best damn genre film festivals?
For the past several years horror heads have flocked to the Crescent City to partake in The Overlook Film Festival. Once again, the Straight Chilling Crew joined them. The four day festival ran from May 30th - April 2nd 2023 and was jam packed with horror goodness. The Overlook programmed 40 feature films and a whole host of shorts in addition to some anniversary screenings, Q&A’s, live performances, parties, and immersive experiences. In this article I want to highlight some of those offerings you can only find at The Overlook.
The opening night of the festival was all Vampire. It kicked off with a raucous world premier of Renfield complete with a Q&A with Nicolas Cage, director Chris McKay and screenwriter Ryan Ridley. The opening night party followed and was billed as a vampire ball. It took place at the dimly lit Toulouse Theater and featured the musical stylings of Jim Jarmusch’s band, Sqürl. The blood bags were flowing as the children of the night slowly swayed to the hypnotizing hymns echoing the Toulouse hall. It was indeed a scene straight out of an Anne Rice novel.
In addition to the amazing films we saw Friday, a major highlight was Final Exam horror trivia hosted by director and all around nice guy, Ted Geoghegan. Ted hosts trivia monthly with fellow horror staple Michael Gingold at the Rockbar in New York City. He brought his show to the festival and commanded the attention of 200 plus horror fans at the Courtyard Brewery. Five rounds of trivia each with a separate theme, some of which were horror movies set in Brooklyn, movies within horror movies and a round dedicated to Stephen King. After trivia concluded there was a night market with local vendors selling spooky wares which is the perfect time to make new friends. There was also an ice cream shop selling a flavor inspired by The Stuff. (Are you eating it? Or is it eating you?)
The closing night party happened on Saturday at The Howlin’ Wolf and was a full blown Halloween party. The first thing you see as you arrive is a hearse surrounded by costumed patrons peering in at the miniature haunted ride for your cell phone. As you enter the bar you’re greeted with themed drinks, decorations and live music and burlesque performances. Among the live acts were New Orleans’ own surf rock band, The Unnaturals. Following them was a round of extremely entertaining and inventive burlesque. Finally, rounding out the evening was metal band, Thou, which blew the lid off the place and kept the spooky vibes flowing.
Finally, Sunday featured a 30th anniversary screening of Matinee with director Joe Dante and John Goodman in attendance for a Q&A. Matinee was inspired by the real life director William Castle who was famous for creating gimmicks to accompany his movies. Joe Dante also programmed a screening of the William Castle classic, The Tingler, to follow the Matinee screening. It was shown in Percepto (rigged vibrating seats that surprise patrons at certain points in the film) just as it was back in 1959 upon its initial release. The Tingler was also introduced by David Dastmalchian’s horror host alter ego Dr. Fearless and the newly coined “Coffin Joe Dante’s Inferno!” What better way to end the festival than by screaming for your life at the direction of Vincent Price as your seat vibrates wildly?
These events don’t cover half of what The Overlook had this year. The worst part of the festival is there simply isn’t enough time to see and do everything. If you’d like to hear some spoiler free reviews of what we watched at the festival, be sure to listen to the podcast attached below. We look forward to returning to The Overlook next year and can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. If you want to attend one of the best genre festivals around, be sure to mark your calendars too and we will see you there.
Randy and Bob attended The Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana and have such sights to show you!
Join the crew as we discuss Renfield, Evil Dead Rise, Talk To Me, Brooklyn 45, Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism, Late Night With The Devil and so much more!
"This movie is my whole damn heart on the screen."
- Ted Geoghegan