The fifth and final day of Exhumed Films’s 2013 Tele-Terror Fest at the PhilaMOCA was a showcase of diverse talents and familiar names. Along with the third day, I would argue that Day Five contained many of the festival’s highlights. The triple feature had one film penned by horror legend Richard Matheson, one starring Kirk Douglas as a possessive psychopath, and a Wes Craven film. It made for an interesting, impactful evening.
Looking back, I almost wish the first film shown that day, Dying Room Only, would’ve closed out the festival. A tense, paranoid thriller like only Richard Matheson could do, it concerns a young couple who stops at a secluded diner. When the husband disappears, the woman must uncover the mystery and try not to “disappear” herself. The film demands the viewer’s attention from the first scene and never lets up until the nail-biting climax. I even commented to Eric afterwards that this may have been the best film of the festival. While its conclusion is a little drawn out, that’s easily forgivable when the rest of the film is so tight. I’d recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen this film or even heard of it track down a copy. It’s sure to please.
Mousey, starring Kirk Douglas in what has to be his strangest role, concerns a heartbroken husband and father who turns to violence in response to his ex-wife’s marriage to another man (genre favorite, John Vernon). The story is simple, maybe even to a fault, but Kirk Douglas is deliciously demented and fun to watch throughout. He manages to be at times sympathetic, other times just pathetic, and most of the time menacing. You never know what he’s going to do next and that makes for an interesting, intense watch.
The festival closed out with Wes Craven’s Stranger in Our House. Linda Blair (and her ridiculous hair) stars in this cozy thriller about witchcraft. Craven doesn’t quite achieve Nightmare on Elm Street or Scream greatness here, but it’s still a fun little film. There’s a strange innocence to it, despite the horrors, and seeing a lesser known effort from Craven and Blair is going to have its obvious charms.
Tele-Terror Fest is a unique idea and if this year’s fest was any indication, 2014’s should be just as diverse and fascinating.