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The Ultimate Guide To Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023

Poster art by Adam Juresko, Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

It may still be eighty degrees in New York, but that’s not stopping the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival from getting us all in the spooky season mood with the release of this year’s festival lineup! BHFF is a cornerstone of genre festivals and never fails to disappoint year after year. Last year brought us many excellent films like FlowingRepulse, and (now in theaters) Megalomaniac, and this year is looking to up the game even more. As always, BHFF will be set at Nitehawk Cinema’s Williamsburg and Prospect Park locations. What do they have in store for us this year? Let’s take a look.

2023 poster for Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
Poster art by Adam Juresko, Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Starting the festival will be the inaugural Leviathan Award, presented to William Lustig at the 35th anniversary screening of Maniac Cop. Following that, William Lustig will take part in a post-screening conversation. The opening night film is the world premiere of Alix Austin and Kier Siewert’s Kill Your Lover. This will be their second time at BHFF following their short film Sucker from the last festival. There will also be three more world premieres at the festival, with Jaco Bouwer’s Breathing In, Aimee Kuge’s Cannibal Mukbang, and Tyler Chipman’s The Shade. Pascal Plante’s latest film, Red Rooms, picked up for distro by Utopia, will be the festival’s centerpiece film. The closing night film will be Jenn Wexler’s The Sacrifice Game.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other notable films screening this year are Larry Fessenden’s Blackout, The Adams Family’s Where The Devil Roams, Bertrand Mandico’s Conann, Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s Femme, and Alice Maio Mackay’s T-Blockers. The Fear in Focus sidebar will be back as well, with a special Japan edition presented by Arrow Video. Films will include the 1926 silent film A Page of Madness with a live score from The Flushing Remonstrance, the 35th anniversary screening of thessia home invasion film Door, a 25th anniversary screening of Ringu, the North American premiere of The J-Horror Virus, and a special lecture presentation by The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. The final sidebar is the staff picks, which align with their video store theme. This sidebar will have the 50th anniversary screenings of Messiah of Evil and Torso, as well as the 40th anniversary screening of Angst.

Below is the full festival lineup. Check it out; it’s insane. And if you’re already sold on the festival, you can purchase tickets here and check out more on their website.

A shirtless man sits up in bed while a woman lays under the covers behind him
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Kill Your Lover (Opening Night Film/World Premiere)
UK | 2023 | 77 Min. | Dir. Alix Austin, Kier Siewert

Dakota has had enough of her unhealthy and toxic relationship with Axel, but the feeling isn’t mutual. As she tries to end things, Axel begins turning into something different, something monstrous. Both an uncompromising breakup film and a wild new entry into the body horror canon, co-directors Alix Austin and Kier Siewert’s debut feature roars with a punk edge and killer practical effects and soars via dynamite performances from newcomers Paige Gilmour and Shane Quigley-Murphy.

Red Rooms (Centerpiece Film/East Coast Premiere)
Canada | 2023 | 118 Min. | Dir. Pascal Plante

A serial killer is put on trial for the gruesome murders of three little girls while an enigmatic stranger searches for the missing snuff video needed to indict him.

The Sacrifice Game (Closing Night Film/East Coast Premiere)
USA | 2023 | 97 Min. | Dir. Jenn Wexler

Yuletide terror invades a Catholic school as two teenagers spend the holidays with their teacher.

All You Need Is Death (East Coast Premiere)
Ireland | 2023 | 91 Min. | Dir. Paul Duane

A secret organization seeking out obscure songs unleashes a series of supernatural events when they come across the wrong tune in this uniquely creepy work of Irish folk horror.

Blackout (NYC Premiere)
USA | 2023 | 103 Min. | Dir. Larry Fessenden

After a string of grisly murders rocks his small town, tortured artist Charley (Alex Hurt) starts to suspect that he transforms into a werewolf during his frequent drinking binges.

Booger (U.S. Premiere)
USA | 2023 | 78 Min. | Dir. Mary Dauterman

A woman undergoes a strange transformation following the sudden death of her roommate and best friend.

Breathing In (World Premiere)
South Africa | 2023 | 105 Min. | Dir. Jaco Bouwer

Gaia director Jaco Bouwer returns with a moody, quietly unsettling chamber piece adapted from a South African play, in which a wounded General at the turn of the 20th century looks for help inside the wrong home.

Cannibal Mukbang (World Premiere)
USA | 2023 | 100 Min. | Dir. Aimee Kuge

An introverted nerd finds himself dangerously deep inside the crazy world of mukbanging after he falls head over heels for a mysterious woman.

Conann (NY Premiere)
Belgium, France, Luxembourg | 2023 | 105 Min. | Dir. Bertrand Mandico

Genre cinema’s incomparable auteur Bertrand Mandico returns to Brooklyn Horror with his craziest work yet, a time-jumping and visually wild riff on the Conan the Barbarian story.

Crumb Catcher (NYC Premiere)
USA | 2023 | 105 Min. | Dir. Chris Skotchdopole

Shane and Leah’s already fraught honeymoon takes quite the turn for the worse when they are bombarded with an unexpected visit from an ill-intentioned inventor and his wife.

Femme (NY Premiere)
UK | 2023 | 99 Min. | Dir. Sam H. Freeman, Ng Choon Ping

After suffering a brutal homophobic attack, drag queen Jules emerges back on the scene in this propulsive and ferocious revenge thriller, co-starring George MacKay (1917).

The J-Horror Virus (North American Premiere)
UK | 2023 | 95 Min. | Dir. Sarah Appleton, Jasper Sharp

More than two decades ago, a group of Japanese directors including Hideo Nakata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Shimizu ushered in a new wave of horror cinema that completely changed the game.

Monolith (NY Premiere)
Australia | 2022 | 94 Min. | Dir. Matt Vesely

With her career on the ropes, a journalist (Lily Sullivan, Evil Dead Rise) happens upon a disturbing mystery involving a black brick destroying the lives of those who come across it.

Only the Good Survive (NYC Premiere)
USA | 2023 | 92 Min. | Dir. Dutch Southern

A burglary gone horribly sideways leaves one survivor to tell the tale in this refreshingly unpredictable and vibrant genre mash-up of horror, comedy and heist film.

Property (NYC Premiere)
Brazil | 2023 | 101 Min. | Dir. Daniel Bandeire

On the verge of losing their only source of work and shelter, tensions erupt as a community of exploited farmhands wage bloody rebellion against their employers.

Black and white image of a woman standing in front of trees
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Fear and Focus: Japan

A Page of Madness (with live score)
Japan | 1926 | 88 Min. | Dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa

J-horror’s earliest, and arguably most nightmarish, silent film masterwork is brought to new life courtesy of a live score from The Flushing Remonstrance.

Door 35th Anniversary (NY Premiere)
Japan | 1988 | 93 Min. | Dir. Banmei Takahashi

Smitten with a lonely housewife, a slighted psycho salesman terrorizes her and her young son in this outrageous home invasion classic unreleased outside of Japan until now.

Miskatonic Institute Of Horror Studies: Nightmares of War: Haunted Scientists in Ringu and Gojira

Despite recent Hollywood portrayals of the Manhattan Project (Oppenheimer) and Operation Paperclip (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny), one controversial World War II operation remains largely taboo and obscure: the human medical experiments conducted by Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army. Please join Professor Sigmund Shen for a fascinating analysis of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (1998) and Ishiro Honda’s Gojira (1954) as allegories for the struggles of Japanese historians, journalists, and scientists to reckon with memories of this traumatic past.

Ringu 25th Anniversary (4k Restoration)
Japan | 1998 | 88 Min. | Dir. Hideo Nakata

A seminal work of scary-as-hell J-horror excellence, Hideo Nakata’s classic receives a well-deserved special 25th anniversary screening to give fans and newcomers alike post-viewing sleepless nights.

A woman stands in front of a cathedral wall, blue light emanates from behind it
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Staff Picks

Angst 40th Anniversary
Austria | 1983 | 73 Min. | Dir. Gerald Kargl

Experience one of the most disturbing serial killer films ever made in this special 40th anniversary screening of Austrian filmmaker Gerald Kargl’s brilliant exercise in bleakness.

Maniac Cop 35th Anniversary (with Q&A)
USA | 1988 | 85 Min. | Dir. William Lustig

Celebrate 35 years of ’80s horror excellence as we screen NYC horror royalty Bill Lustig’s raucous classic Maniac Cop, in which an undead police officer goes on a gruesome Big Apple rampage.

Messiah of Evil 50th Anniversary
USA | 1973 | 90 Min. | Dir. Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz

Long before they made 1986’s Howard the Duck, Willard Huyck, and Gloria Katz went in an entirely other direction for this immensely disturbing cosmic horror masterpiece, newly restored by AGFA and Radiance Films.

Torso 50th Anniversary
Italy | 1973 | 90 Min. | Dir. Sergio Martino

Head back to early 1970s Italy and watch the body count rise as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sergio Martino’s exceptional giallo classic with a special late-night screening.

A man is bathed in red light, as his mouth is agape
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Short Films

Nightmare Fuel Block

Stop Dead, dir. Emily Greenwood (UK); A Whim to Kill, dir. Tiange Xiang (China); Leech, dir. George Coley (UK); Mosquito Lady, dir. Kristine Gerolaga (USA); Alicia, dir. Tony Morales (Spain); Ride Baby Ride, dir. Sofie Somoroff (USA); I Wanna See, dir. Max Friedman (USA); The Wyrm of Bwlch Pen Barras, dir. Craig Williams (UK); The Queue, dir. Michael Rich (USA); My Scary Indian Wedding, dir. Ramone Menon (USA).

Head Trip Block

Oddities, dir. Tyler Savage; Catching Spirits, dir. Vanessa Beletic; Every House is Haunted, dir. Bryce McGuire; I Could Just Die, and That Would Be All Right, dir. A.K. Espada; Pruning, dir. Lola Blanc; The Influencer, dir. Lael Rogers; Meadowville, dir. Phillip Clark Davis.

Slayed: LGBTQ Horror Shorts – Presented by Horror Press

Ringing Rocks, dir. Gus Reed (USA); High Fun, dir. Adesh Prasad (India); Pool Party, dir. Ellie Stewart (Canada); In Your Hands, dir. Luigi Sibona (UK); The Angels, dir. Abby Rae Cornelius, Cheri Green (USA); La Vedova Nera, dir. Fiume, Julian McKinnon (France); Vibrator Girl, dir. Kara Strait (USA).

Laugh Now Die Later Block

We Forgot About the Zombies, dir. Chris McInroy (USA); CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man, dir. Brian Lonano (USA); Dead Enders, dir. Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker (USA); Sylvie Made It, dir. Adrien Orville (Belgium); Tiny Thing, dir. Joshua Guiliano (USA); Fck’n Nuts, dir. Sam Fox (USA); Murder Camp, dir. Clara I Aranovich (USA).

Home Invasion Block #1 Presented by Cool Hand Movers

Florence in Customer Care, dir. Jordan Sommerlad, Corey Stonebrook; hArmless, dir. Elizabeth Cappuccino; Beneath Cracked Pavement, dir. Marcus Fahey; All Your Women Things, dir. Madison Bloom; Mercury, dir. Clara Dubau; Rejoice in the Lamb; dir. Will Carington, Courtney Bush, Jake Goicoechea; Ties, dir. Esteban Bailey.

Home Invasion Block #2 Presented by Cool Hand Movers

Red Gloves, dir. Santiago Saba Salem; The Third Ear, dir. Nathan Ginter; Leaving Yellowstone, dir. Kayla Arend; Variations on a Theme, dir. Peter Collins Campbell; Versace Softboi, dir. Charlie Gillette, Sarah Metcalf; Smothered, dir. Heather Luscombe; Boyhoarder, dir. Gabrielle Carrubba.

Poster for Final Exam trivia
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Special Events

Final Exam Horror Trivia – Presented by Dark Sky Films

Do you think you know more about horror films than the rest of Gotham? Then it’s time to prove it via five blistering rounds of expert-level creepy trivia with hosts Ted Geoghegan (director of We Are Still Here and Shudder’s Brooklyn 45) and journalist Michael Gingold (of Fangoria and Rue Morgue fame)! Meet new friends, win amazing prizes, and learn more about horror cinema exclusively at Final Exam!

Certified Forgotten Podcast

Certified Forgotten is a 60-minute bi-weekly horror movie podcast with a focus on underseen films. Hosts Matt Donato and Matt Monagle speak with creators, filmmakers, and critics about their lifelong relationships to the horror genre. Each episode also highlights another unique genre title with ten-or-fewer reviews on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes that’s picked by the guest, letting them champion each episode’s title to their heart’s content.

Still from Maniac Cop
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Leviathan Award

2023 also marks the introduction of the Leviathan Award, Brooklyn Horror’s first-ever tribute award created to honor the luminaries of horror and acknowledge their monstrous contributions to the genre. This year’s recipient is none other than legendary NYC horror filmmaker and conservationist William Lustig. From a catalog of enduring canonical efforts such as Maniac and Maniac Cop to his invaluable contributions to film restoration with his distribution label Blue Underground, Lustig has dedicated a decades-long career to championing genre film. A true lover and supporter of cinema, we can think of no one more deserving of this inaugural award than him. The award presentation will be followed by a special 35th anniversary screening of his 1988 NYC action-horror classic Maniac Cop and a Q&A.

Wow, what a lineup, right?! Again, if you want to grab tickets to the festival, you can purchase tickets here and check out more on their website. It’s going to be an amazing Halloween!

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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