Michigan is home to only two major film festivals: Ann Arbor Film Festival and Cinetopia International Film Festival. If you are a regular visitor to this site (or sites like ours) you probably have no idea about these festivals. I don’t mean that in a cool hipster “I was into them before they were popular” way. It’s just the two major film festivals in Michigan have shown absolutely no genre love. I mean zero. Which is sad because Michigan is home to the greatest horror film ever made: The Evil Dead. You think that would spawn a great tradition and love for the horror genre, but sadly that is not that case. When film festivals do pop up in the mitten (that’s middle age suburban talk for Michigan) it grossly neglects us genre fans and usually only shows super boring dramas about french guys smoking cigarettes…. It’s clear I have never been to one of this festivals. Well, Christopher Anderson and Johnathan Barkan have also felt the lack of horror and decided to start their own festival dedicated to all things horrors: Three Corpse Circus.
I met up with Festival Director, Christopher Anderson for drinks, horror movie chit-chat and some of the best goddamned pierogies I have ever had (Seriously! Hit up the Arbor Brewing Co in Ann Arbor Michigan and grab yourself some. THEY SPRINKLE BACON CRUMBLES ON THEM!). Going into its fifth year Anderson and Barkan have set their sights higher and expanded the Three Corpse Circus from a one day, one location event to a multiple venue festival with over 40+ films. Anderson explains to me that submissions have been flowing in from all over the globe. Japan, Poland, France and Spain are just a few countries that will be represented at this years festival. This is a clear sign that Three Corpse Circus is evolving.
“My ultimate goal is create the “Sundance” of horror film festivals,” Chris tells me in between bites of polish dumplings (I cannot stress how great they were. Go get some!). “And what better place to have it than Ann Arbor! We have everything you need for a major film festival. Restaurants, hotels and theaters. Why more horror stuff isn’t happening here blows my mind! ”
I quickly bring up the infamous Sam Raimi qoute were Sam states that film makers who want to work in Michigan have to leave Michigan and Anderson is barely phased.
“Michigan CAN become a great filmmaking state if Michiganders make it happen,” He says as he puts down his beer. “Robert Rodriguez put a studio in Austin, and Texas has become a better filmmaking state because of it. I believe a film studio CAN be built in Michigan just like Ford and the assembly line, Motown, breakfast cereal, and all the other things Michiganders worked hard to create. We just have to build the infrastructure and skill to make it happen.”
Anderson’s passion for the horror genre and the community he grew up in is a love he wears on his sleeve. We go back and forth about movies we love and which directors still “got it”. A conversation that is a whole other article all together. As the pierogies begin to dwindle I casually ask his thoughts on referring to horror as “genre” and Anderson erupts.
“Three Corpse Circus has been and will always be a HORROR festival. I hate when people do that. Silence of the Lambs is a great HORROR movie, but the only way they could get an Oscar nomination was by calling it a thriller. It’s just like when people say that don’t like horror movies, but love Ghostbusters… That’s a horror movie! Just because it has these other aspects doesn’t mean it’s not horror!”
At this point Anderson pulls out his Mac Book and eagerly shows me a few choice selections from 2014’s line-up. First up was a quick animation short titled Mean Teddies from Ontario CA. With only a three-minute run time Mean Teddies features some of the best animation I have ever seen. I was blown away and left wanting more and more is exactly what I got when Anderson hit play on the next short.
Mack Blaster – Die Welt im Fadenkreuz is a short film that feels like a Robert Rodriguez movie if Rodriguez had absolutely no restrictions what so ever. Cannibalism, crack smoking, hookers, space aliens and one badass soundtrack all in 15 minutes. Rarely can a movie make me laugh one second and be completely grossed out the next. Mack Blaster did just that.
With our bellies filled with craft beers and fried deliciousness (I seriously had to use all of my will power to not lick that plate clean. BEST PIEROGIES EVER!) Anderson bids me a fair well. With an impressive line-up and a heart filled with nothing but love for the horror genre, Chris Anderson and company is setting 2014 up for Three Corpse Circus’s best year. For a full line up and to purchase tickets 2014’s festival check out Three Corpse Circus’s Official Website!