A HOME AGAIN: SLAUGHTER IN SYRACUSE 2016
Written by: Ryan Vincent Logsdon
The Palace Theater in Syracuse, NY was once again invaded by the underground horror community on July 9th 2016 for The Slaughter In Syracuse Underground Horror Film Festival. For the third consecutive year host Jason West of Vultra Video loaded the venue with talented artists who invaded New York State with horror, sleaze and more than enough smiling faces embracing the enveloping madness onscreen as the events of the long day unfolded.
Early arrivals to SinS2016 (most of whom stayed at The Maplewood Suites) were greeted on Friday to a water-logged hotel, seemingly filled with junior softball enthusiasts, and some of the strangest hotel rooms ever designed. Veterans of the festival pushed past the misty hotel rooms and caution signs to lovingly embrace friends and new-comers to the history-making event with an evening of engaging conversations filled with warm-hearted personal insights as well as revealing stories about the trials and tribulations of pursuing personal dreams of working in independent film.
After a few hours of sleep, the anticipation of the cinematic chaos about to commence awoke the attendees and pushed us ever so eagerly into The Palace Theater along with local arrivals and movie junkies. Vendors filled the theater with merchandise from underground horror producers and directors from across North America, Europe and Asia as hundreds of genre and exploitation films were available to purchase, with some long out-of-print editions of titles sold exclusively at SinS2016.
After an brief and humble introduction West handed the event over to master of ceremonies Jay Kay (The Horror Happens Radio Show), who tirelessly hosted intriguing Q&As after each screening and Kay’s personally selected SinS2016 Short Block opened the festival with a sinister compilation of varying sub-genres and showcased unique directors with flare. Nick Iway’s ANDROGYNYM, a brilliantly sad tale of lost emotional connections with devastatingly cruel special effects contributions created by John Lauterbach, kept the onscreen mayhem rolling while Ruby LaRocca and Rich Mallery’s SOCIOPATHIA, a morbid vision of love via obsession, continued the flowing momentum into the world premier of Chris Woods’ CHAOS A.D., a movie which continues the recent trend in indie films of shocking audiences with murder, sleaze and a charmingly no-budget approach to it’s own insanity. An ugly, nasty and vicious movie that is harnessed by disgusting characters committing unspeakable acts but permeated by the beauty of it’s cast: Cayt Feinics, Krystal Pixie Adams and the rest of The Sleaze Box crew.
David Royal’s short WE ARE FAMILIAR, another world debut, created a buzz among the crowd that lingered within conversations long after the screening, leaving an excitement around one of his next ventures with Jason West, THE BLACK SECT. THE TAINT, featuring an accompanying commentary by guest director Drew Bolduc, entertained thoroughly and was a preface to one of the most anticipated screenings of the weekend, Scott Schirmer’s PLANK FACE which showed as a rough cut yet still contained strong emotional imagery while provoking expressions of horror and beauty, captured gorgeously and framed with a powerful grace by award-winning cinematographer Brian K. Williams of Mostly Harmless Pictures.
The evening ended with the devastating duo of cult gore filmmaker Brian Paulin’s BONE SICKNESS and Fred Vogel’s AUGUST UNDERGROUND, celebrating a fifteen year anniversary showcase of the classic underground film. Paulin engaged his audience with intellectual insights into the creation of the stunning special effects for his film, it’s legacy and the lasting impact of the modern gore film and he rightly took his place among the titans of truly independent horror (Ryan Nicholson, Lucifer Valentine, Eric Stanze and Marcus Koch – just to name a few) who’ve graciously allowed their work to be shown at SinS.
King and Queen of modern American confrontational horror, Fred and Shelby Vogel, unleashed the classic faux snuff film AUGUST UNDERGROUND upon Slaughter In Syracuse and looked back with love and respect with their ever-spreading fanbase on this little movie made fifteen years prior. During the Q&A, with the stains of his first directorial effort infiltrating the spirits of those strong enough to endure, Vogel surprisingly announced that he would be directing his next project, titled THE FINAL INTERVIEW, within the next few months, putting his epic PITTSBURGH BODY REMOVAL momentarily on the back burner to focus on an intense character-driven story arc which will mark the director’s first foray outside the realm of TOETAG, with a classic familiarity echoing throughout the project and the genius of all the TOETAG members involved, of course. A non-TOETAG film by Fred Vogel? Is the world ready for the dramatic carnage? Probably not, but fans of intriguing cinematic arrays shall be.
After the final applause, host Jason West dismissed the tired cinema goers with a warm thank you as the lights faded in the theater and most of the remaining fans headed back over to The Maplewood to continue to converse and simply enjoy the shared time that was left, together as friends and family, with thoughts and memories on the past weekend and of the other two SinS providing the smiles that continually followed through the shared realization that there was nothing like The Slaughter In Syracuse Underground Horror Film Festivals.
The following morning continued the raging weekend with the annual Syracuse Horror/Sci-Fi Garage Sale that mixed more cult fanbases into the weekend. As the fans began to leave and the lights slowly dimmed on another incredible moment of fright, the emotional bonds formed over the weekend and previous SinS grew tighter and stronger as goodbyes were spoken, hugs given and each attendee leaving with the warmth of their memories guiding us back home until we meet again.