Film fest showcases horror films from around the world

The horror genre encompasses films of a wide variety of horror themes, including slasher, supernatural, animated, psychological and comedic movies. The Horrorigins Film Fest will highlight these different categories of horror from filmmakers and screenwriters from different parts of the world.

The film festival will be held from Thursday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 1, at Galaxy Theatre Tucson.

Along with being extended an extra day to Thursday this year, the festival will also have longer hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The event was founded by Brandon Waites, a Tucson-based filmmaker who has produced films such as “Followed,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Subliminal” and “Greywood’s Plot.”

He has been an avid horror film fan since he was young.

“Growing up, I was a huge fan of ‘The Exorcist’ with Linda Blair. I was also a huge fan of ‘Pet Sematary.’ It creeped me out, and 'Chucky.' My actual favorite slasher is probably Michael Myers from ‘Halloween.’ There’s just something about the way Michael Myers moves. He’s slow, but you can never escape him,” Waites said.

Horrorigins was first held in Chamblee, Georgia, in 2019 before being moved online during the height of COVID-19. When it was held in person and virtually in 2021, it was moved to Galaxy Theatres Tucson.

The festival was designed to showcase horror films and bring together fans of the genre in the Tucson community.

For Waites, it’s a family affair. His six children are all involved with the festival, often greeting attendees when they come into the theater.

“I want them to have these memories of growing up with dad and being part of Horrorigins. We really focus on the family thing, and anyone that goes out will see my family there. … They take it seriously. They love scary movies. I am one of those parents that as long as it’s not mature stuff, I let my kids watch it,” Waites said.

He also wants to create a family atmosphere for filmmakers and writers involved in the festival.

“Once we accept you, you are part of the Horrorigins family. We are always here for you,” Waites said.

This year, the festival will feature films from over 25 different countries. There will be world, North American, United States, Southwest, Arizona and Tucson movie premieres during the event.

Submissions were taken from October through August and judged by writers, producers and directors who work in the film industry.

Waites said judges look at different elements when scoring films and screenplays.

“It’s an average of everything. The structure has to be good. It has to be clean. The overall concept has to be interesting. … We are looking for original stuff. … It’s a whole bunch of little factors that are averaged into what we are looking for,” Waites said.

The top three to five go through a separate judging process where top films and screenplays are decided.

The film festival gives out mummy-themed awards called O’Scares in categories such as best screenplay writer, feature film director, feature film, short film and short film director.

Top writers and filmmakers also have the chance to meet one-on-one with industry professionals.

“These open up doors for writers, directors and filmmakers who have the talent and maybe just need a bit of mentorship,” Waites said.

The festival partners with distribution and streaming companies such as Screambox and Alter. Sometimes, feature films and shorts from the festival are chosen to appear on these platforms.

Emerging and more established filmmakers take part in the festival.

During its first year, the festival featured a short film called “The Hidebehind” by director and writer Parker Finn, best known for the feature film “Smile.” That year, his film won an award for best short.

Waites said participating in different festivals can often help filmmakers and writers to get their work out there and get noticed.

There are some filmmakers that get their start at the festival, especially local filmmakers.

“We want to celebrate the mind of the filmmakers or screenwriters as they’re first starting out,” Waites said.

The films are broken up into different blocks, which often have a mix of different types of films.

“You might see a slasher, but then you might see supernatural. And then you might see a 3-minute horror comedy. We try to give different flavors within each block,” Waites said.

Between blocks, filmmakers will have the chance to get up and talk more about their films if they choose.

One of the blocks is dedicated to local Arizona filmmakers.

Networking is an important part of the festival. In the theater and during after-hours events at places such as Serial Grillers, screenwriters, directors and filmmakers have a chance to meet with each other and talk about their work.

“The screenwriters get to come in and hang out with these filmmakers. One of the big things that we would like is the writers and the filmmakers to mingle and potentially have a movie made together,” Waites said.

There will be several established producers and directors in the audience, including “Host” writer and producer Jed Shepherd, Armen Aghaeian from Fangoria and Paper Street Pictures CEO Aaron Koontz.

Waites said that during the festival, up-and-coming filmmakers and writers often get a chance to interact with industry professionals.

“They will get to see these independent filmmakers’ movies, and hopefully they like something, and relationships build off that,” Waites said. “It’s about the networking as well and getting to meet your future collaborator potentially.”

Horrorigins Film Fest
WHEN: Various times Thursday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 1
WHERE: Galaxy Theatres Tucson, 100 S. Houghton Road, Tucson
PRICE: $150 for VIP festival pass, $45 to $55 all-day pass, $15 block pass
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