Back in 1980 in a backwater university known as Northeastern, a friendship began. It was forged over classes, and music, but mostly over movies. When it came to oddball cinema, Tigerpal and I were two peas in a pod. Over our years in college and after, we attended several 24 hour film festivals around the Boston area. These were comprised mostly of the classic and B-level horror, science fiction, and oddball action films that we both love. There were memorable nights at the Somerville theater where the men’s room became unusable after 6 hours or so, and at the Coolidge Corner Cinema, where we were given special passes to put on our windshields so that we could park overnight in the public lot. Of course, with in-between movie breaks and the desire to stay awake, many conversations were held over too many cups of coffee and too many snacks. A plan was decided upon, we would someday do this for our friends in our homes.

Several more years passed, and the idea stayed in the back of my mind. Tigerpal would bring it up when we would get together, and I would shrug it off and say someday. My apathy stemmed mostly from a belief that my apartments over the years were inadequate for what I envisioned. It was a change in apartments that precipitated a change in my attitude. In 1991 K and I moved into a new place. It was exactly what we wanted, in the neighborhood we wanted to live, and we’ve never left. We moved in officially on February 1st, 1991, and I started to think that this apartment could be better for a possible film fest. Since all the festivals we had attended were in the winter, and with New England winters having the propensity to be long, cold, and brutal, I figured that a fun mid-winter break would be an excellent idea.

Film Fest #1 Program cover

I decided upon the weekend of January 18th and 19th, 1992 to debut what has since become known as simply Fest, but then was known as “The First Quasi-Annual Bride of Terror On Murdock St”. I programmed the entire festival, asking Tigerpal to provide me with two movies to round out what I had. She supplied copies of Fearless Vampire Killers, and Rabid Grannies, as well as an extra VCR (yup all VHS tapes for Fest #1), but otherwise, I did everything else. The program was created on a typewriter, and I blocked off areas for the pictures to be inserted later for copying. The festivities commenced on Saturday at noon, when the first movie ever presented at Fest was started, 1935’s classic The Bride Of Frankenstein. The unwieldy title also referenced the three “Bride Of” movies I showed that first year, highlighting the brides of Frankenstein, Re-Animator, and the Monster.

Bride of Frankenstein
Bedazzled (1967)
Demon with a Glass Hand
Creature from the Haunted Sea
Fiend without a Face
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
Evil Dead 2
Real Genius
Bride of Reanimator
Rabid Grannies
Fearless Vampire Killers
Bride of the Monster

The turnout was small, I don’t remember the actual number, but I’m sure it was less than 12 people total, including Tigerpal and myself. A friend who lived in the neighborhood brought his three connected wooden theater seats. There were 13 movies, and one episode of the television show The Outer Limits shown that first year. It was very tightly programmed, with relatively short breaks. A quick addition of the screen times of everything shown reveals 21.2 hours of programming, leaving only 2.8 hours for breaks, woefully insufficient. Another nearly fatal flaw of Fest #1 was the decision to have it run from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. Firstly, it meant devoting the whole weekend to it, and being strung out at work on Monday. Secondly, starting earlier in the day paradoxically meant people started falling asleep earlier in the process than currently. Finally, the amount of work I put into creating the experience, from programming, to the program, to the pot of five alarm chili I made for dinner, put the idea of a second fest far out of my mind.

1993 came and went without Fest, and K thought she had survived a one time thing. No fan of the idea of Fest, nor the thought of that many people, albeit friends, invading her space for 24 hours, K was glad to see Fest in the rearview mirror. 1993 did not come and go without any talk of Fest, however. Tigerpal and K and I would see each other socially, and the idea of a second one would come up, though it never seemed to take any traction. Then sometime in late 1993 Tigerpal had an idea. What if we did it slightly differently? What if she helped program the fest? With Tigerpal offering to shoulder more of the burden, Fest 2 was about to become a reality. Much to K’s chagrin.

Fest #2 saw several other basic changes besides Tigerpal’s increased involvement. The most important was moving the Fest from Saturday noon to Sunday noon, to its still current schedule of Friday 6pm until Saturday 6pm. This change allowed for folks to attend without having to commit to using up their entire weekend, and allowed those who attended the entire Fest to get some rest and relaxation on Sunday prior to returning to work on Monday. The program went to a more manageable format of one film/short per page rather than the newspaper -type format I had used for Fest #1. The second Fest was held at Tigerpal’s Gardner Street apartment, hence the title “The Second Quasi-Annual Howl At The Moon On Gardner St” title. As you can see, the “Quasi-Annual” title indicated that I still hadn’t signed on completely to a definite annual event. We also still hadn’t figured out that we should program less films, with 14 films and one Outer Limits episode on the docket. A glance at the program shows that Tigerpal provided 5 films, with 9 films and the Outer Limits episode being provided by me. Due to the shorter running times we actually had less time programmed, even with the 15 titles shown. Fest two is known primarily in Fest history as coldest Fest ever. The entire weekend fluctuated in temperature from a low of 4 below to a high of 7. Yeah, a high temp of 7. The kind of cold where the inside of your nose freezes a little bit when you breathe in. Over the years there has been snow, rain, cold and warm, but nothing that sticks in the memory weatherwise like that year. The programs for Fest #1 and #2 are in a limited edition of 20.

Fest #2 Program Cover

The Wolfman (1941)
The Guyver
Lobsterman from Mars
Sundown, The Vampire in Retreat
The Zanti Misfits (Outer Limits episode)
The Company of Wolves
Gruesome Twosome
Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
Dead Man Walking (1987)
Brain Damage
The Phantom Empire
The Howling

This history of Fest really is a history of Fest programs. Individual memories of conversations, and such blur with the passage of years, but the programs stand as concrete examples of that particular slice of time. For the years 1995-1998, I was lucky in that K worked at a place with a color copier I could use for free. Taking advantage of this, I set out to replicate the old EC comics of the 1950’s in my program design. For Fest #3, I stole a great Graham Ingalls illustration from The Haunt of Fear, as well as the general layout of an EC comic book. The two horror hosts seen on the cover are Doc Murdock, and The Gardner. These were named for the respective streets that Tigerpal, and I lived (live) on. Programs for Fest #3 and #4 are limited to 25 copies each. From Fest #3 onward Tigerpal and I have shared programming Fest on a fifty-fifty basis. Fest #3 also gave birth to the fest lasagna, supplanting my chili as the fest dinner meal. Even though my chili is beanless, it’s far better to make a lasagna than to spend 24 hours in a room with a bunch of people who ate any kind of chili. Also, as a plus you can feed more people with lasagna than chili.

Film Fest #3 Program Cover

A Chinese Ghost Story
Invasion Of The Saucermen
Wicked City
Fortress 1993
Tales From The Crypt 1972
Sonny Boy
Gamera Vs. Guiron
Wheels On Meals
The Gore Gore Girls
The Ambulance
Meet The Hollowheads

Film Fest #4 Program Cover

A Better Tomorrow II
Santa Sangre
Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life
Re-Animator .
A Chinese Ghost Story II
Dragons Forever
Meet The Feebles
Bucket Of Blood
The Dark Crystal
Castle Freak
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers
Curse Of The Demon

I loved the idea and execution of the cover of the program for Fest #5. An homage to the great Roger Corman’s Little Shop Of Horrors. It was the first “big” year, the fifth film fest. It was also the first time that the term Film Fest was used on a program cover, and not just in the participants conversation. K was pretty much tired of people invading her home once a year, and started on the tactic of asking me to setting an end date for Fest. The first one I said I’d think about was #10. It was about this time as well that K started going away for Fest weekend, so she wouldn’t have to deal with us at all. Fest #6 was a rush job from start to finish, and it’s my least favorite program cover I’ve ever done. It is also one of the rarest, as I have only two copies myself, one of which is very beat up. If someone has one and doesn’t want it anymore, I’d be happy to take it back. I also forgot to put the Doc Murdock and The Gardner logos on the cover, making a pretty crappy cover, even crappier.

Film Fest #5 Program Cover

A Chinese Ghost Story III
The Thief Of Baghdad
Wild In The Streets
The Masque Of The Red Death
The Frighteners
Twin Dragons
Blood Harvest
Bad Taste
The X-Files Case #103, “Squeeze”
God Of Gamblers’ Return
Galactic Gigolo
Riders Of The Storm
Something Wicked This Way Comes

Film Fest #6 Program Cover

El Topo
Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetery Man) s
Mr. Nice Guy
The Secret Adventures Of Tom Thumb
Accion Mutante
Jack Frost 1996
The Tingler
Perversions Of Science: The Exile
Spider Baby
Rollercoaster es
Tales From The Hood
The Untold Story
Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest

Fest #6 did mark an important turn of events for fest, piss poor as the program cover may be. It was the first time that we scheduled just 12 movies, with six each from Tigerpal and myself. It would also mark the last appearance of color on the program for a while, as K changed jobs, and the free color copying ability was lost to the winds. The nice comic book cover program covers were a thing of the past, but inside, I was still using the Doc Murdock and The Gardner characters as ersatz “hosts”. I also was searching for a theme for the program covers. Since the first fest, I’d been doing a random drawing for the cover that really had no relation to what we were watching. I knew I wanted more continuity, but I didn’t know how to achieve it. I would puzzle this out over the next 4 years.

Film Fest #7 Program Cover

The Bride With White Hair
Dark City
Monkey Shines
Love And A .45
Nice Girls Don’t Explode
Highway To Hell
Righting Wrongs (Aka Above The Law)
West Of Zanzibar
Space Truckers (Aka Star Truckers)
Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood

The program cover for Fest #7 was one of my favorites of these four, even though we’ve never shown the movie Killer Klowns From Outer Space at Fest. Fest #7 also marked the permanent change in the title of the program to “Film Fest # blank“. In the program for Fest #8 I introduced Herman, the hairy, single eyed ball with arms who consumed both Doc Murdock and The Gardner.

Film Fest #8 Program Cover

Cube 1997
La Belle Et La Bete 1946
The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
The Unholy Three
The Iceman Cometh
The Beyond (Aka L’aldilá, The Seven Doors Of Death)
Forgotten Silver n
Mad Monster Party?
The Rainbow Thief
Terror At The Opera
Black Sunday (Aka The Mask Of Satan)

Tired of Herman after only one year, I had a big monster squish him on the cover for Fest #9. That put an end to a “host” of the program. Programs for Fests 5-9 were in a limited edition of 30. Fest 9 also holds a special place as the second of only two fests not held at my and K’s apartment. Fest #9 was at Tigerpal’s Watertown abode, but as I prefer having it here, it moved back for Fest #10 and beyond.

Film Fest #9 Program Cover

Maneater Of Hydra Aka Island Of The Doomed
Return To Oz
Idle Hands
Bad Girls Go To Hell
The Unknown
Porklips Now
From Beyond
The Day Of The Beast
The Innocents
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
Flesh For Frankenstein
Cannibal! The Musical
Cat In The Brain 1990

In anticipation of a large crowd, the number of programs made for Fest #10 increased by 5 to 35. For our tenth anniversary, I decided to depict a basic version of my living room on the cover, with a demon eating my eyeball as a snack. The back cover shows me on the chair, eye and leg removed, and Tigerpal on the floor, her midsection savaged as if by some lion, tiger, or bear. I opted to show Tigerpal with her face away from the viewer, as I don’t draw women’s faces well in ink. There’s no sense in doing a poor job depicting my friend. When Tigerpal first saw the cover, she said two things. First she was amazed that I had included the pattern along the sides of her glasses, which I believe were fairly new at the time, and when I explained why you couldn’t see her face said “That’s okay, you’ve given me a much nicer ass than I actually have.” It was the first time that we showed a movie we has previously shown. At Fest #9 we took an informal poll, and the two movies that the most people wanted to see again were Re-Animator, and Meet The Feebles.

Film Fest #10 Program Cover

Cat People 1942
Viy (Or Spirit Of Evil)
Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!
Shock Corridor
Meet The Feebles
Lady In White
Sane Man
The Wicker Man 1973
Naked Lunch

Film Fest #11 Program Cover

Thesis (Tesis)
Session 9
The Specials
Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara)
Blood Freak
The Stuff
Ginger Snaps
Donnie Darko
Dog Soldiers

The Fest #10 program had no hosts or other devices inside or out, but I was still unsatisfied by the lack of tying the artwork on the program to the film programming. With the second of the Lord of the Rings movies out in just a few short months, Fest #11’s program cover became an homage to Gollum, but was my least favorite of the last five black and white covers. It was, however, the last of it’s breed. Somewhere along the way towards drawing it, I arrived at the decision to change the way I did the program covers, starting with Fest #12. I was already fairly far along with the drawing of the Gollum cover for Fest #11, or I would have switched that year to the format that continues today. Finally, a way to tie the programming, and the fest itself, to the program cover. A drawn collage of images from each of the films we will be showing.

Film Fest #12 Program Cover

Happiness Of The Katakuris
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter
Puss In Boots 1988
Inner Senses
Guest House Paradiso
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Desperate Teenage Lovedolls
Ninja Bachelor Party
American Movie
Beyond Re-Animator

I drew the covers with a combination of some reference materials and some artistic license, continuing in this way through Fest #16. Fest #15 was notable for the extra color cover. I opted to pay for 20 color covers for the first 20 out of a total of 30 programs. I took a copy of the original ink cover, hand colored that, then color copied the finished hand colored cover.

Film Fest #13 Program Cover

Bubba Ho-Tep
Haute Tension
King of the Ants
Chained for Life
The Bad Seed
The Baby
Blue Sunshine
Jack Brown Genius
Battle Royale

Film Fest #14 Program Cover

Moon Child
I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Survive Style 5+
The Freakmaker
Blood Diner
The Greenskeeper
Man with the Screaming Brain
Evil Cult
Atomik Circus
The Sentinel
Fire & Ice

Film Fest #15 Program Cover ( Color )

Banlieue 13
Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
The Host
Mr. Sardonicus
The Descent
The Woods
The Penalty
Cromartie High School

Film Fest #16 Program Cover

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Black Sheep
Evil Aliens
Aachi & Ssipak
Food of the Gods
The Manitou
Night of the Living Dorks
Black Cat
El Crimen Ferpecto
The Dark Backward

My issue with my own artwork is that I have issues with perspective, and inking. My pencil work is my best work, but I’ve never had the patience to really translate how that looks to my eye to pen and ink illustration. I felt constrained, however, as usually pencil drawing does not photocopy well, and that was the only affordable way to achieve the programs. I also never liked the way I couldn’t quite capture the images from the films in a way that really pleased me. I came up with the trick of finding pictures that I wanted to use and printing them in the size I wished to use them. I then run a pencil over the back of the picture, completely covering it. I then trace the outline of the major features, and shaded areas. This gives me a very rough outline with which to pencil. After penciling the whole thing, I move on to inking. I liked the results I achieved with this method, and feel that I have gotten better with it every year since.

Film Fest #17 Program Cover

War of the Gargantuas
The Chaser
The Forbidden Zone
Executive Koala
Mother of Tears
Hansel and Gretel
My Name is Bruce
Death Bed the Bed that Eats

Film Fest #18 Program Cover

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed
Azur et Asmar
Island of Terror
Evil Bong
The Cottage
Sukiyaki Western Django
The Housemaid
Detroit Metal City

Film Fest #19 Program Cover

Megashark Vs Giant Octopus
Castaway On The Moon
The Midnight Meat Train
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Easter Bunny Kill! Kill!
The Giant Claw
Dead Snow
Night Of The Eagle (aka Burn, Witch, Burn!)
A Town Called Panic

The final change to the program was achieved this year, when I decided I would try to photocopy a completely penciled version instead of inking the near final pencil artwork as I had always done. Normally I do not try to pencil the cover nearly as extensively as I did for Fest #20 as all that work just gets covered over in ink. Since I really feel that pencil is more my medium, and when I finish a drawing in pencil it has enough gradations of tone, I felt that the newer photocopier machines would be able to copy the artwork better than in the past. I was very pleased with the results, and will continue to draw and copy the covers this way from now on. I hope I can continue to improve the cover artwork every year. Fest #20 was a retrospective of eleven of the more than 240 films we had shown over the previous 19 years. The final spot in the line up was a filmed we entitled Memories of Fest. This was a compilation of 92 clips from other movies we showed over the years, but which didn’t make the cut this time, for reasons various.

Film Fest #20 Program Cover

The Bride Of Frankenstein
Memories Of Fest
Sonny Boy
Dragons Forever
Evil Cult
Puss IN Boots
Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
Cannibal! The Musical!
Survive Style 5+
From Beyond
Evil Dead 2

Every Fest program has a thanks section inside, and there are always plenty to go around, but the one that I mean the most (after K and Tigerpal, of course), is the thanks to those “idiots” as K calls us, who have made a decision to come to Boston in the mid winter, from near and from far, all to sit in a cramped, uncomfortable space, watching strange and unusual movies with like minded individuals. For those who come, it’s become a community, with so many people seeing other Fest goers only that 24 hours a year. There are people who have come to part of one Fest, there are many who have come to part, or most, or all of many Fests. Only Tigerpal, myself, and our good friend D have attended all 20, though D has slept through more than he’s seen. You either get Fest, or you don’t. It’s just that simple. And sorry K, I really have no idea when it will end.

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