Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: What's On Your Plate?
Next story: Remembering the Federal Theater Project

Homemade Horrors

Confirming trend, two locally produced horror films hit the shelves and screens

The Buffalo area has served as an appealing location for horror filmmakers ever since Harvey Weinstein collaborated on the slasher flick The Burning back in 1981. In recent years, thanks to the affordability of digital video production equipment, our city has seen a spate of micro-budget horrors produced by local aspiring filmmakers. Two new efforts are poised to terrify Queen City residents this month: Daniel Monroe’s House of Horrors: The Movie and the accurately titled Gore, which is the brainchild of 22-year-old filmmaker Adam Steigert.

House of Horrors is a slasher film that jazzes up its body count with subplots involving pistol-packing priests, a troublesome ouija board, pesky demonic possession, and local ghost hunters. It takes place in Buffalo’s oldest Halloween haunt attraction, the House of Horrors, located in Cheektowaga, and was executive produced by Tim Bunch, the owner of that establishment, who makes a “short-lived” appearance. Shooting at such an attraction provided Monroe, who wrote and directed the film and used all local talent, with a wealth of props, production design, and creepy spaces. While the film is geared to B horror movie fans, it offers slick production values far beyond those found in similar films, and some genuine suspense. Given the quality of its cinematography and editing, I was astonished to learn it was made for under $2,000. While Monroe is looking for a distributor, a limited edition DVD can be purchased this month at the House of Horrors or online at

“My main goal while producing this movie was to make a ‘no-budget independent film’ which looks like a film with a larger budget,” says Monroe, who is a professional photographer and musician. “I have seen a lot of other locally made indie-films, and most of the time that’s exactly what they end up looking like. ‘Hey…we got a camera…let’s go make a movie.’ I spent a lot of time studying the angles and cinematography of Hitchcock and John Carpenter.”

Gore is the feature length-version of a series of short films created by Adam Steigert, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie with Stephanie Wlosinski, who also plays a key role in the film. The duo previously collaborated on the zombie comedy Bitez. The title character (portrayed by John Renna, who also supervised the special make-up effects) is a lumbering, disfigured mass murderer—a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Frankenstein’s monster—who returns to his old stomping grounds after escaping from a mental institution. If that sounds like an overly familiar hook, the screenplay is surprisingly ambitious. Michael O’Hear (who also appears in House of Horrors) stars as Gore’s nemesis, a police detective who spends much of the film interrogating Wlosinski’s character about recent acts committed by Gore. O’Hear and Wlosinski show real talent in their sparring scenes. The film features graphic mutilations and cannibalism that will please its core audience but turn off mainstream viewers who would probably avoid it anyway. Gore premieres at the Hamburg Palace Theater at 3:30pm this Saturday, October 10, and will then be available on DVD from

The internet has provided all of these filmmakers with a means to distribute their projects, and anyone hoping to support local talent will have no problem doing so. The Web sites for both productions offer potential customers the ability to view the films’ trailers and judge their appeal for themselves. The question arises, why is there so much independent film activity in this city, and why is so much of it centered around horror?

“Buffalo has always had a lot of creative people,” says O’Hear, who has also appeared in Red Scream Films and Buffalo Nickel Productions, and who is readying his first feature as a director, the vampire film Dusk. “We have more theaters here than most cities other than NYC or Toronto. We have painters, musicians, comic book artists and novelists. We also have so much decay here. Old buildings, once lovely, now look like they belong in a scary movie.”

“Buffalo has a very encouraging community for the arts,” agrees Wlosinski, who is in the minority of women creating indie horror. “I think that reflects on its residents. People seem more likely to dip into the creative pot when they have the outlets to do so. From companies that rent you film equipment to theaters that are willing to show your films, this city has it all. “

John Renna, who is currently contributing make-up effects to Emil Novak’s zombie anthology Decayed, adds, “Filmmakers are starting to realize that within 40 minutes of each other there are suburban, urban, and rural locations. Perhaps most importantly, they see that we’re friendly and helpful. That’s why Lloyd Kaufman came here for Poultrygeist and might return for Toxic Avenger V!”

blog comments powered by Disqus