Film Legends Meet New Talent at Big Bear Festival
By Richard David Boyle
Legends of Hollywood mingled with some of the best new directors and actors at the Big Bear Horror Film Festival last weekend and the small, intimate parties were the best ever.
Jerry Maren, who handed Judy Garland a lollipop in “Wizard of Oz” told me that the stories of Munchkin orgies were simply not true and he worked hard for his fifty dollars a week in 1939. I also met my adolescent screen idol, Margaret O’Brien, who also starred with Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis” which earned the teen star an Oscar.
Up and coming new directors and actors, such as Richard Swindell and a brilliant ensemble cast created “Pelt” a very funny spoof of the eighties “teens meet killer” horror genre films and won over not only the audience but judges as well, winning for best feature. In an interview with the cast and crew, it was revealed everybody had fun shooting and put in their own ideas in making the horror film shot at Lake Tahoe as well as Big Bear itself.
“Devil’s Creek,” a 10 minute project directed by Mohit Ramchandani about a small town preacher tormented by a park ranger won for best short film. “Red,” by Kevin McGuiness about Little Red Riding Hood won for best animated film however Israeli animator Amit Tishler also got audience approval for his film about Bigfoot called “Winter Hunt.”
I especially enjoyed meeting Christopher Coppola, the son of the former dean of San Francisco State film school, August Coppola, who lured me away from Stanford in 1991 to teach screenwriting at my alma mater. I was sad to learn from director Christopher Coppola his dad passed away last year at age 75, but we also reminisced about my hanging out with uncle Francis Ford Coppola on his yacht at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. A cute little girl on that boat handed me a plate of delicious pasta, with a “special sauce from Tuscany.” A decade later I would vote for Sophia Coppola for best director at the Oscars. “Sophia is a great cook,” said Christopher Coppola, who screened his new horror film, ”Creature from the Sunnyside Up Trailer Park,” to the delight of the audience at the Friday night opening.
Other legends of horror films, such as Ford Austin, who directed “Curse of Lizzie Borden,” and “Slaughter Party,” actor Ken Carpenter, beloved by horror film fans for his role as “camera head” in “Hell Raiser III” and Victor Miller who wrote the original “Friday the 13th“ had fun signing autographs.
Maybe the best horror films were made by video producer Vartan Nazarian, who shot several short promos about the festival, one even starring Carpenter about a real newscaster who is murdered by a woodland killer during an interview.
The parties continued well into Sunday morning at the suite of my wife and me at the Robin Hood Hotel overlooking the glimmering Big Bear Lake. As film festivals go, the Big Bear Horror fest is new, only two years old, but next year we expect the best fright film party in the world.