Texas Theatre Will Host First Texas Terrors Film Festival

The Whistler will play at the festival.
The Whistler will play at the festival. courtesy The Whistler

Jeff Smith, festival director of Texas Terrors Film Festival and Dallas filmmaker, believes short horror films don’t get the attention they deserve.

He decided to organize the inaugural Texas Terrors fest that will showcase 20 independent short films Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Texas Theatre.

“I wanted to have a lot of diversity,” Smith says. “I didn’t want to have 10 zombie movies. I wanted to have a little bit of everything.”

“I didn’t want to have 10 zombie movies. I wanted to have a little bit of everything.” – Jeff Smith

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More than 65 films were submitted to his festival during a four-month period. Smith originally planned to have a one-day, three-hour screening, but because of the high number of submissions, he decided to expand his selections, as well as the screening to five hours. That will give him enough time to show the 20 selected films, conduct Q&As and have a brief intermission. Attendees can expect to see such genres as comedy, creepy, monster, animation and more.

“I was really overwhelmed with the response,” Smith says. “We got a lot of submissions. Especially over the first couple of months. A lot of them just started to pour in. And in a certain point, I thought, 'Wow, how am I going to decide between all these?'”

Smith, who has experience helping organize other film festivals, says he was surprised by the amount of international submissions and selected a few.

“It amazes me,” Smith says, “that these overseas filmmakers are even aware of American film festivals. Especially a tiny first-year festival like mine.”

Smith’s first horror film, Bonk Bonk, has played at several festivals and won for Best Texas Horror Micro Short at Dallas' Lionshead Film Festival in 2017. He is also known for his comic-nerd web series, Stella B. and The Busted League, the superhero comedy SideKICKED and Star Trek spoof Ronnie Redshirt.

Dallas resident Eli Luna's film, Double Exposure, was selected for the Texas Terrors festival.

“It’s kind of about a serial-type of killer that is trying to get exposure,” Luna says. “There’s a little bit of a twist.”

Luna raised more than $800 to make the film. The process to write and brainstorm the film took about three weeks, planning locations took a month, filming took one day and it took six months to edit. He finished just before the festival was announced.

Luna, the co-founder of Dallas VHS Swap meets, found out about the festival from a filmmaker at one of the swap meets.

“They were about to close their submissions, and I just got in like last-minute,” Luna says.

Luna has been a horror-film fan his entire life. But he only intended to make this film for friends to watch, and he never expected his submission would be chosen or that it would be seen on the big screen.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” Luna says. “I love watching horror movies in the big screen. Now, I get to see mine in the big screen. It gives me confidence to submit in other film festivals.”

Smith hopes the festival will became a yearly event. It will all depend on the turnout.

“I’m hoping people will be curious,” Smith says. “Or see something about it. That would be awesome if they say, 'Hey, I’ll give it a shot.'”

Texas Terrors Film Festival selections:

The Dark Hunger
The Watcher
Hell of a Day
The Party
Dead Celebrities
Road Trash
Extreme Man and Insane Boy
Bitch, Popcorn & Blood
Creature Feature
Aliens Night
The Whistler
Seafood Diet
Mother of A Scared Lamb
Fix This Up! With Handyman Mike
Double Exposure
The Scourge
Willow Falls

Admission is $8 at the door.
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