Something Wicked This Way Screens

Is it possible to scare the living daylights out of someone in the space of two minutes? The Bijou’s Joshua Purvis says he’s hoping local filmmakers will give it a go when the inaugural 72-Hour Horror Film Fest comes to life Oct. 24 with a kick-off party downtown at First National Taphouse.

The idea is so simple it’s terrifying: Contestants will have 72 hours to write, shoot and edit a 2-3 minute horror film. There is no entry fee, and anyone with a camera (grab your smartphones people!) is invited to participate. The Bijou will provide a single line of dialogue and a single prop that must be utilized in the films.

Finished shorts must be turned in from 6 to 8 pm Sunday, Oct. 27, at The Barn Light; they then will be juried by a collection of event sponsors. The grand prize is $500 and a debut screening prior to the Halloween showing of The Shining at Bijou Metro.

Purvis, the public relations specialist for both Bijou Metro and Bijou Art Cinemas (and a filmmaker himself), points out that anything goes in terms of what folks choose to do with their scary movies, so long as they incorporate the mandated dialogue and prop. “Sci-fi, comedy, romance, as long as it’s horror,” he says, noting that the essential feature of the genre is that “it deals primarily with exploiting fear.”

As a fan of the genre himself, Purvis drops a hint that, typically, the fears being exploited in horror films are wrapped up with some of our most primal instincts, including sex and death. These basic Freudian impulses and fears drive the creeping terror of everything from Hammer classics to the Scream series by Wes Craven. “The psychology is really fascinating,” Purvis says.

The reason for the provided dialogue and prop is to level the playing field and to provide a sort of theme to the batch of short films. “It keeps the production within the 72-hour period,” Purvis says, adding that it would be difficult to start filming until the details are received at Oct. 24’s kick-off party. Also, the line of dialogue and set piece provide “a sort of direction that they lead toward in terms of genre,” he says of the entrants. 

And, as with pop music, the short-film format can be enticing in terms of what can — and, of course, what might not — be achieved in a particular span of time. “Two or three minutes out of the gate is not going to tax an audience,” Purvis explains. “It creates excitement. And two or three minutes is easy to do on a weekend.”

Purvis says that he’s hoping the Metro 72-Hour Horror Fest will prove the first step in kickstarting a stronger interest in local films made by local filmmakers. “I’m in a sense trying to create the opportunities I would like to have as a filmmaker,” he says. “My end game for this is trying to do my part to build and support a film community here in Eugene.”

Horror films, Purvis adds, are a perfect means of garnering interest in local movie production. “It’s low-brow,” he says of the genre. “It appeals to younger audiences. We really want to connect with students. Horror seemed a really good way to tie that together.”

The Bijou Metro 72-Hour Horror Fest kicks off 3 to 5 pm Thursday, Oct. 24, at First National Taphouse, where contestants will be provided packets and props for filming; the wrap-up party will be 6 to 8 pm at The Barn Light, when films are due. For further information, visit