Deadmonton Horror Film Festival


Horror fest reclaims the name for its own nefarious purposes

Like most really great ideas, the name of the Deadmonton Horror Film
Festival owes its origins to a mixture of ingenuity and serendipity.
Sprouting from the roots of the Return to Odd marathon screenings put on by
the departed Oddity video store (since re-named The Lobby, the owner of
which, Kevin Martin, has a hand in running the current incarnation of the
festival), as Deadmonton co-curator and co-head organizer Derek Clayton
explains, they had to improvise when they weren’t able to contact
Oddity’s original owner about using the established brand.


“It all came about because his e-mail account changed, and we
couldn’t get ahold of him,” says Clayton casually. “At
that point, we decided we were going to have to rename it. So we decided to
go with Deadmonton because we thought it might be nice to take the name
back from the naysayers, and what better way to do that than with a horror
festival? Shortly after that, Chris [the former owner] actually did finally
get ahold of us, and he said, ‘You know, you could have used the
name,’ but we figured it was a good time to rebrand it anyway.”


And a fairly good rebrand, to boot. Clayton and fellow curator/organizer
Matt Acosta managed to be at the forefront of a wave of Edmontonians who
were looking to turn the city’s most notorious nickname into a mark
of pride. Though it normally alludes to city streets so sparse that a
zombie infestation would count as a major improvement in terms of foot
traffic, it just happens to be an ideal moniker for a festival that leans
towards the scary, gory and macabre. 


“It’s a slur against the city, but when you’re doing a
horror film festival, it’s really the perfect name,” points out
Clayton, who adds that he’s got the international consensus to back
him up on that fact. “It’s actually garnered us international
attention: I’ve seen postings on websites all over the world about
the movies and the name of the festival. 


“And that’s the best way to turn the insult around, to take it
back: we’re garnering international attention for being a centre of
something,” he continues. “We’ve had a lot of people
saying things like, ‘Wow, look at the lineup those Deadmonton guys
have got.’ We’d really like it if we could put Edmonton on the
map for the genre, and for horror culture in general.” 


If that is indeed their goal, they’ve gotten off to a fabulous start:
the festival itself, which runs over the weekend, has pulled in a number of
prestiguous premieres and revivals that are well worth buzzing about. The
biggest is certainly My Name is Bruce, a film written by and starring the
Evil Dead legend as a washed-up version of himself who gets called on to
fight a real life monster in Oregon, and which Deadmonton will be showing
in its Canadian premiere (and there’s obviously a market: Saturday
night’s showings are already sold out on the strength of its anchor
slot). They scored another big Canadian premiere with Midnight Movie, a
slasher-flick-come-to-life film that has been garnering rave reviews
wherever its shown.


On the revival side of things, they’ve managed to track down a 35 mm
print of Phantasm, which will show on the big screen in Edmonton for the
first time since its release in 1979, and Night of the Creeps, a film
Clayton is particularly excited about, as it doesn’t even yet have a
DVD release, making its Friday screening one of the few ways horror fans
can see it.  


Of course, the quality of films means nothing without an audience, but
Clayton feels confident that Edmonton is ripe for horror, from our
burgeoning metal and psychobilly scenes to our weel-established


“It’s not a pretentious city, and a lot of the more pretentious
elements tend to eschew the horror film,” Clayton says. “We
were at another screening—I won’t say what festival it
was—but every horror film, they called a ‘psychological
thriller.’ And we called that they were going to do that, because
‘horror’ is almost a dirty word. But we’re not a
pretentious city: we know what horror is and we like horror movies.”


Fri, Oct 24 – Sun, Oct 26


Horror Film

Featuring My
Name is Bruce, Midnight Movie, Tokyo Gore Police, Night of the
Creeps, Phantasm, and more


for more
details visit or

1 Comment

  • Deadmonton is still associated with the horror genre. Seems perfect for a zombie apocalypse themed horror. Go to the or to see how it is showing up now. Looks like it will be fun.

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