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Love horror films? Here's how to get a quick fix and support local artists

Fans of horror films can get a quick fix this weekend as the spooky and the grim come to the big screen for multiple screenings of the Eugene Film Society’s 72-Hour Horror Film competition.

Filmmakers had 72 hours to create three-minute long films, and were required to work in a specific line of dialogue - "at least I'm not afraid of ghosts" - and a pair of binoculars as a prop, neither of which is revealed to the creators until the start of the 72 hour countdown.

This is the Eugene Film Society's eighth short and fast horror film competition. This year marks the return of the popular contest after a three year hiatus. Eugene Film Society board member Kate Sullivan, who is also a faculty member in the Department of Writing and Literature at Lane Community College, told KLCC the contest had increased in popularity steadily since its inception 2013 up until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, when everything everywhere shut down.

Media professionals and public audiences will judge this year's entries during scheduled screenings Sunday and Monday at the Art House in Eugene.

Winners in the Jury Award and Audience Award categories will be announced Nov. 3, and each will receive a $666 cash prize.

Past winners have crafted creepy scenes of life being not what it seems amid the mundane, as with the film “unwind,” 2019's audience pick, set in a kitchen as a wife prepares dinner for her husband at the end of the workday. She’s tense. He’s cooped up. They dance, and music from a gritty record player seems to hold the key to what’s really going on.

2017’s jury and audience award winner “The Pick Up” has all of the classic elements of horror and suspense: dusty roads, loners, car trouble, a naive good samaritan, a vintage trailer in the middle of nowhere, and a killer who evades capture. But the short thriller reimagines those themes, and it’s the villain who ends up victim to vengeance.

In the spring, film makers have another chance to craft a visual production, when the film society hosts a music video competition. As with the horror films, there are surprise parameters the teams must adhere to. Judges in both competitions look for how deftly the teams weave those mandated elements into their productions, Sullivan said.

Five public screenings of this year’s 30 accepted entries take place Sunday at the Art House theater in Eugene, beginning at 1:30 p.m. and continuing into the evening. A final public screening takes place Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Jill Burke became KLCC's arts reporter in February, 2023.